Redskins

Vols' Stokes hopes to build on big performance

Vols' Stokes hopes to build on big performance

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) This hasn't been the type of season that Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes expected.

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin called Stokes an ``elite'' player before the season, but the 6-foot-8 sophomore forward has struggled to live up to that description. Stokes has encountered double-teams in the absence of teammate Jeronne Maymon, a former second-team all-Southeastern Conference forward redshirting this season with an injured left knee. He has been unable to avoid foul trouble.

``I definitely have been frustrated this season,'' Stokes said. ``This has been one of the most frustrating seasons, the way we've lost, getting two fouls early in a game and having to sit out an entire half. It's just frustrating. Double-teams and sometimes triple-teams, I haven't quite gotten used to it. I just didn't anticipate that coming into the season. I expected to get a double-double every game.''

Perhaps Stokes' breakthrough performance came Saturday.

Stokes scored 15 points, pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds and made a critical defensive stand in the closing seconds of a 54-53 victory over Alabama. That performance improved his season averages to 11.1 points and 8.1 rebounds, slightly above his 2011-12 totals of 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

He had four fewer rebounds than Alabama's entire roster Saturday and didn't seem frustrated at all after carrying the Vols to victory. Stokes will try to build on that momentum Tuesday when Tennessee (10-8, 2-4 SEC) hosts Vanderbilt (8-10, 2-4).

Stokes' big game Saturday certainly caught the attention of Vanderbilt, which has the SEC's worst rebound margin. Vanderbilt guard Dai-Jon Parker said Stokes' rebounding totals against Alabama seemed like ``Karl Malone numbers.''

``If he's not the strongest guy in the league, he's certainly one of them and one of the strongest guys in the country,'' Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. ``And he knows how to use it. He knows how to position himself and use his body, and he's smart with it. Not only is he big and strong and athletic, he's intelligent in how he uses his strength. Anyway, it's a challenge to box him out for anyone, not just for us. He's a challenge for everybody.''

Stokes attributed his output in part to a shift in attitude.

He said basketball hadn't been as much fun for him as usual this season. That changed against Alabama.

``I think one of the hardest things for a college athlete is probably just to have fun while they're playing,'' Stokes said. ``Don't take everything as a business. It's not always (about) trying to please (the) coach. Just go out there and have fun. I think that game, I just had fun, and I think that was the result. Everything went my way.''

Not much had gone Stokes' way before Saturday.

Stokes hardly ever encountered double-teams his freshman year, but teams have routinely guarded him that way this season without Maymon around. Stokes has fouled out of four games. After Stokes fouled out of a 62-56 loss at Mississippi on Thursday, Martin contacted the SEC about the way Stokes was being officiated.

Martin was quick to point out plenty of other reasons Tennessee lost that game. Mississippi's Marshall Henderson scored 28 points. The Vols committed 21 turnovers and missed free throws down the stretch. But he also wanted to make sure officials weren't using Stokes' enormous size against him.

``With such a physical presence, just because he gets hit on the leg and you can't move him, it's still a foul,'' Martin said. ``He's a physical guy. Whether he's 5-5 or 6-10, a foul's a foul.''

Even when fouls are called against Tennessee opponents, Stokes hasn't always made them pay. Stokes is making just 52.6 percent of his free throws, which added to his frustrations.

Stokes put all that turmoil behind him Saturday. He was aggressive on the boards and assertive with the ball in his hands. He only had two fouls called against him.

If he can build on that performance, Stokes could lead Tennessee on a second-half surge. Tennessee has gone 7-0 in Stokes' career when he makes at least six baskets. Although junior guard Jordan McRae is Tennessee's leading scorer, he considers Stokes the focal point of the offense.

``I know what the numbers say, but you can look at Jarnell and if you didn't know anything about this team, you could look at our team and say Jarnell was probably one of the best players on the team,'' McRae said. ``The fact that he demands a double-team and so much attention is drawn to him, it helps everybody else.

``You can only imagine what he would do if he wasn't being doubled every night.''

---

AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker of Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

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49ers seal rainy victory over Redskins with slip-n-slide celebration

49ers seal rainy victory over Redskins with slip-n-slide celebration

After coming across the country and holding the Redskins scoreless, the 49ers celebrated their victory over Washington in the most appropriate way possible.

In a rain-fulfilled contest that featured poor field conditions, including multiple puddles throughout the playing surface at FedExField, several players on both sides slipped constantly on Sunday. 

On the last play of the game with a San Francisco victory just seconds away, 49ers rookie Nick Bosa sacked Redskins quarterback Case Keenum as the clock winded down. Bosa celebrated with a headfirst slide across the grass, fully embracing the poor field conditions that affected both sides all afternoon long.

But as soon as Bosa hit the turf, several of his 49ers teammates joined him in the act. All of a sudden, dozens of white jerseys were sliding across the wet grass, as the two teams began to commemorate postgame.

"It was a lot of fun. It was definitely worth it," 49ers defensive end Deforest Buckner said. "I saw Bosa out there sliding, so I said, 'Let's do it.' Everybody else started sliding around and everything. It was like a bunch of little kids out there. That's part of the game, having fun. Right now, we're having a lot of fun."

Even head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was likely happier about this victory than many others, considered joining in.

"I did think about it," Shanahan said. "But I don't think I would have done it right."

The head coach wasn't the only 49er to sit the celebration out.

"I spent plenty of time getting wet in the game," tight end George Kittle said. "I let other guys do [the celebration] for me."

"I saw those guys running and diving on the ground," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "I was like, I got out of this one healthy, so I'm just going to go. I'm just going to observe and then jog to the sideline, but it was fun. It was the 'Mud Bowl 2019 Champions.'"

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also sat the celebration out, but not by choice.

"I missed the slide. I was upset about that," he said.

After holding the Redskins to zero points and just 154 total yards, the 49ers deserved to celebrate in any way they wanted. And they did just that.

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Marcus Peters nabs pick-six off Russell Wilson in first game with Ravens

Marcus Peters nabs pick-six off Russell Wilson in first game with Ravens

The Ravens’ secondary was a big area of concern through the first six weeks of the season, as the team had allowed the eighth-most passing yards per game (269.5) in the NFL—and the loss of safety Tony Jefferson to a torn ACL only made the struggles all the more alarming.

So the Baltimore front office went out and traded for Rams cornerback Marcus Peters, shipping linebacker Kenny Young and a 2020 fifth-round pick to Los Angeles for the two-time Pro Bowler. He suited up for his first contest with the team in Week 7 against the Seahawks, and it only took two quarters for him to make a big impact on the game.

Peters returned Russell Wilson’s pass 67 yards to the house, putting Baltimore ahead in the road contest against one of the teams atop the NFC standings. The interception was his third of the season.

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