Win streak has Texas feeling good about itself


Win streak has Texas feeling good about itself

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) The Texas Longhorns are feeling good again

They've won three in a row, quarterback David Ash is coming off his best game of the season and fan discontent with coach Mack Brown has cooled a bit with a 31-22 road win at Texas Tech.

Even the much-maligned defense has a shot of confidence.

``We're getting better,'' sophomore defensive tackle Desmond Jackson said Monday. ``We're getting a lot better.''

Next up for No. 19 Texas (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) is Iowa State (5-4, 2-4), the team that ripped the heart out of the Longhorns' season in 2010. Texas had just returned from an upset win at Nebraska - which until Saturday had been its last win over a ranked opponent - only to stumble to a 28-21 loss to the Cyclones that sent the Longhorns skidding to a 5-7 finish.

Brown certainly remembers that one. It took him about 30 seconds to bring up that loss during his weekly meeting with reporters and said he had already talked to his team about avoiding a similar letdown.

``It's a team that wants to do well. It's a team that wants to grow up,'' Brown said. ``This is a huge week for us.''

The Longhorns seem to have the ingredients to avoid a meltdown similar to 2010. Although inconsistent over the last month, the offense seemed to find its groove again against Texas Tech. Ash shook off getting benched the week before against Kansas to pass for 264 yards and three touchdowns, two to wide receiver Mike Davis.

``I had a lot of desire to redeem myself for the week before,'' Ash said.

Oddly enough, Ash refused to give his opinion on the Longhorns at this stage of the season. Others were more willing.

`''If we put it together and play as a team like we did last week, we can be really good,'' senior guard Mason Walters said.

``We're gaining confidence each week,'' sophomore cornerback Carrington Byndom said.

Brown heard a lot of similar comments back in 2010. Texas had snapped a two-game skid with a big win at Nebraska that was supposed to get the Longhorns back on track. Instead, Texas came out flat for a game that started at 11 a.m. and had several turnovers.

``This is a team that played inconsistent,'' Brown said. ``What I told them is it's time to grow up. If you're playing in a parking lot you should still win.''

There is little doubt the defense played arguably its best game against the Red Raiders. The Longhorns allowed just two touchdowns and forced the Red Raiders to kick three field goals where earlier this season opponents had little trouble marching to the end zone.

Brown, who had said he would get more engaged with coaching the defense, downplayed his role in the resurgence on Monday.

``They seem to be playing with more confidence and more urgency the last two weeks,'' Brown said. ``We're at least covering people.''.

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It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

NBC Sports Washington

It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

You may think the odds are against Alex Ovechkin winning yet another Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals. Ovechkin turned 33 on Sept. 17 and since the trophy was first introduced in the 1998-99 season, only one player over the age of 30 has ever won it.

That player was Ovechkin. He’s done it twice.

Let’s take a minute to appreciate just how dominant a scorer Alex Ovechkin has been through his career. Only three times has a player reached the 50-goal plateau in the past five seasons. Those players are Ovechkin (50 goals in 2015-16), Ovechkin (53 goals in 2014-15) and Ovechkin (51 goals in 2013-14).

Normally, it would be crazy to think a player over 30 could lead the league in goals. It would be crazy to think a player over 30 could score 50.

Ovechkin -- who has led the league in goals in five of the past six seasons -- is anything but normal.

After winning his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy last season and showing no signs of fatigue or decline in a dominant Stanley Cup championship run that won him a Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, it’s not crazy to think he can do it again at age 33.

Maybe his 50 goal days are behind him. But even if he doesn’t hit that mark, he should still be in contention considering no one else in the league has scored 50 goals since the 2010-11 season when Corey Perry netted 50. Forty-nine goals was all it took last season for Ovechkin to lead the league.

With a balanced line of Evgeny Kuznetsov in the middle and Tom Wilson on the wing and a still dominant power play that will continue to be coached by Todd Reirden and Blaine Forsythe, Ovechkin will be able to light the lamp and will absolutely be in contention to lead the league in goals yet again.


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Wizards coach Scott Brooks is begging Otto Porter Jr. to shoot more 3-pointers


Wizards coach Scott Brooks is begging Otto Porter Jr. to shoot more 3-pointers

Scott Brooks is doing just about everything he can to get Otto Porter Jr. to shoot the ball.

The Washington Wizards coach doesn't know how to convince Porter to take more shots -- especially when he's open -- instead of passing the ball. So he jokingly tried to enlist the help of reporters Monday at the team's media day. 

"I know you guys aren't trying to do me any favors here, but if you guys can do me one favor, just yell at him every time he doesn't shoot the ball," Brooks said. "I mean, just scream at him and ask him questions about that every time. 'Otto, why don't you shoot?' He needs to shoot more."

Throughout his five years with the Wizards, Porter's 3-point shooting percentage has progressively improved. In the 2017-18 NBA season, he was shooting 44.1 percent from beyond the arc -- up from 43.4 in 2016-17 and 36.7 in 2015-16. Last year, his field goal percentage was also at 50.3 percent.

But it sounds like Brooks thinks those numbers could be higher if Porter would just take advantage of the open looks.  Brooks estimated the 6-foot-8, 198-pound forward passes up three or four good shots per game.

"I tell him, I can't make it any greener for him," the head coach said. "It's green, shoot. Shoot the ball every time you get an open shot. Do not hesitate. He's one of the best perimeter shooters in the league, and we need more threes.

"We want to shoot more threes this year. We've been trying to do that for two years, and we've got one of our best shooters passing up shots."

While speaking exclusively with NBC Sports Washington at media day, Porter said he's been working with the coaches to see "where I can be more aggressive, where I can help this team get to the next level."

That surely means always having an eye on the basket.

However, Brooks said it's hard to fault Porter for wanting to help get his teammates the ball. But he needs the small forward to be selfish sometimes. 

"It's frustrating, but I love what he does," Brooks added. "He's about team, so he's doing the right thing, you know, always looking for the next play. But to me, sometimes the right thing is taking your best shooter and making sure he shoots shots.

"He's had a great summer, and we're looking forward to him continuing to improve his game."