BC-AP Sports Digest,1st Ld-Writethru
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HOUSTON — Deshaun Watson and the Texans go for a franchise-record eighth straight victory when they play the Titans in their first game since team founder and owner Bob McNair died. Houston (7-3) leads the AFC South, with Tennessee (5-5) hoping a banged-up Marcus Mariota can start. By Kristie Rieken. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game starts 8:15 p.m.
FBC--T25-SEC CHAMPIONSHIP-WIN & IN
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Georgia know this: Whoever wins the SEC championship game showdown is definitely in the playoffs. The Crimson Tide could even get in with a close loss. By John Zenor. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 5 p.m.
ATLANTA — The Braves add two free agents following their first division titles in five years, agreeing to one-year contract with third baseman Josh Donaldson and catcher Brian McCann, the AP is told. Donaldson was the AL MVP with Toronto in 2015 but has struggled since. By Baseball Writer Ronald Blum. UPCOMING: 250 words, photos by 3:30 p.m. News conference 4:30 p.m.
BKN--AROUND THE NBA
Under a new format, some teams already are more than a quarter of the way through their schedule. And some things are hard to explain: The Clippers and Nuggets are up. Rockets and Celtics are down. The Warriors already have been both. By Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney. SENT: 900 words, photos.
SOC--COPA LIBERTADORES FINAL
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — South America’s ruling soccer body will decide Tuesday whether to disqualify River Plate from the Copa Libertadores final, force the second leg with archrival Boca Juniors to be played behind closed doors or transfer the match to a neutral site. By Debora Rey. SENT: 500 words, photos.
SOC--WORLD CUP-QATAR’S PREP
DOHA, Qatar — Qatar is four years away from the 2022 World Cup, and the signs of progress across the small Muslim nation are hard to miss. The logistics, however, might be the easy part in a country trying to balance the political and cultural stakes of hosting one of the world’s largest sports events. By Will Graves. SENT: 2,200 words, photos. Abridged version 900 words.
BKC--COLLEGE BKB POLL
Gonzaga jumps to No. 1 after stopping the Duke juggernaut in the Maui Invitational title game without one of its best players. The Zags, third in last week’s poll, edge Kansas for the top ranking. Duke, Virginia and Nevada complete the top five. By Basketball Writer John Marshall. SENT: 650 words, photos.
BKW--WOMEN’S BKB POLL
NEW YORK — Notre Dame and UConn remain at the top of the AP’s poll setting up a 1-vs.-2 matchup Sunday. The Irish won the Vancouver Showcase and the Huskies took the Paradise Jam. They are followed in the rankings by Oregon, Baylor and Louisville. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. SENT: 450 words, photos.
FBN--ON FOOTBALL-NOT QUITE THERE
Unless the Patriots make key improvements over the next month a third straight Super Bowl trip will be problematic. Their victory over the Jets was workmanlike. Given the likes of the Chiefs, Steelers, Chargers and Texans, that might not be enough. By Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 750 words, photos.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jaguars fire offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett after the team’s seventh consecutive loss — a 24-21 defeat at Buffalo in which Blake Bortles finished with 127 yards passing. By Mark Long. SENT: 600 words, photos.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Running back Sony Michel and tight end Rob Gronkowski make solid returns from injury, sending the Patriots past the Jets. New England was looking for this kind of production on offense as it awaits a Vikings defense allowing just 22 points a game. By Kyle Hightower. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 7 p.m.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — First, Keenan Allen disses Denver. Then, JuJu Smith-Schuster says the Steelers beat themselves. Nobody wants to give the resurgent Broncos any credit, and that’s just fine with them. By Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 6 p.m.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There’s a quarterback controversy brewing for Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who might have to choose between Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson when surging Baltimore faces Atlanta this Sunday. By David Ginsburg. UPCOMING: 550 words, photos by 5 p.m.
RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks have been the best run offense in the NFL for weeks. What the Seahawks showed in their win over Carolina is that when needed, they can skill lean on the arm of Russell Wilson. By Tim Booth. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 8 p.m.
— FBN--NFL-ICYMI — By Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich. SENT: 750 words, photos.
— FBN--MESSY STEELERS — By Will Graves. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 7 p.m.
— FBN--VIKINGS-TOUGH STRETCH — By Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 6 p.m.
— FBN--SAINTS-YOUNG RECEIVERS — By Brett Martel. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 6 p.m.
— FBN--49ERS-SHANAHAN — UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 10 p.m.
— FBN--CHARGERS-GORDON — By Joe Reedy. UPCOMING: 550 words, photos by 8 p.m.
— FBN--BUILDING BROWNS — By Tom Withers. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 6 p.m.
— FBN--RAIDERS-GRUDEN — By Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 8 p.m.
— FBN--BUCCANEERS-PIERRE-PAUL — By Fred Goodall. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 7 p.m.
FBC--BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP
EVANSTON, Ill. — This is a signature moment for Northwestern. The Wildcats await Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, and the stakes haven’t been this high for them since coach Pat Fitzgerald starred on the team that made it to the Rose Bowl more than two decades ago. By Andrew Seligman. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 6 p.m.
FBC--T25-BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas last played in the Big 12 championship game in 2009 when the Longhorns looked destined to be there many, many times. The Longhorns have been through three head coaches and a whole lot of losing since then. By Jim Vertuno. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 p.m.
— FBC--T25-AP TOP 25 HEAT CHECK — By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 1,350 words, photos.
— FBC--STAT WATCH — By Football Writer Eric Olson. SENT: 500 words, photos.
— FBC--NC STATE-NORTH CAROLINA BRAWL — SENT: 350 words, photos.
PHILADELPHIA — The Flyers fire general manager Ron Hextall, with the team struggling and coming off a 6-0 loss to Toronto. He was dismissed after 4 ½ seasons on the job. The Flyers have a 10-11-2 record and already have used five goalies this season. By Dan Gelston. SENT: 850 words, photos.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Once the NHL’s first team to finish 31st in the standings, the Sabres are among the league’s elite two months into this season. Buffalo is riding a league-best 9-0 run and is second in the Eastern Conference. By Hockey Writer John Wawrow. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos by 7 p.m.
BKC--T25-HOLIDAY HOOPS-WHAT WE LEARNED
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Gonzaga and Virginia sent clear reminders to not discount experience. While Duke and its vaunted freshmen were the talk college basketball for the season’s first two weeks, Gonzaga and Virginia walked away with Thanksgiving tournament titles. By Basketball Writer Aaron Beard. SENT: 950 words, photos.
NEW YORK — It was a great week of basketball in Canada at the Vancouver Showcase. No. 1 Notre Dame won the inaugural tournament. Oregon State knocked off South Carolina in the semifinals. Facing two ranked teams will help the Beavers in the long run. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. SENT: 550 words, photos.
CHARLOTTE, Mich. — The former president of Michigan State makes her first court appearance since being charged with lying to investigators about what she knew during the investigation into sexual assault allegations against imprisoned Larry Nassar. By David Eggert. SENT: 350 words, photos.
— GYM--DOCTOR-SEXUAL ASSAULT-THE LATEST — Real-time updates throughout day.
TEN--YEAR-END ATP RANKINGS
The Big 3 are the year-end top three, something that last happened in 2014. With Novak Djokovic at No. 1, Rafael Nadal at No. 2 and Roger Federer at No. 3 that trio of tennis greats leads the season’s final ATP rankings for the seventh time. By Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING 400 words, photos by 3 p.m.
TOKYO — A corruption case involving a powerful IOC member is likely to overshadow meetings this week in Tokyo with local Olympic organizers, IOC officials, and the heads of 206 national Olympic committees. By Stephen Wade. SENT: 700 words, photos.
SPORTS & POLITICS
SEOUL, South Korea — Divided for about seven decades, North and South Korea together win international recognition of Korean traditional wrestling from UNESCO as a world cultural treasure. South Korea’s president calls it a result of recent cooperation. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 550 words, photos.
— BBA--TWINS-CRON — Twins claim first baseman C.J. Cron off waivers after 30-homer season with Rays. SENT: 130 words.
— BBN--BRAVES-MCCANN — Catcher Brian McCann returns to Braves, the AP is told. By Baseball Writer Ronald Blum. SENT: 130 words, photos.
— BBO--POSTSEASON SHARES — Full share for World Series champion Red Sox tops $416,000. SENT: 170 words.
— BKC--OBIT-HANSON — Tony Hanson, UConn star who led Huskies to the Sweet 16 in 1976, dies at 63. SENT: 130 words, photos.
— SOC--CHAMPIONS LEAGUE-LOOKAHEAD — Real Madrid, Bayern Munich return to Champions League play Tuesday after domestic league setbacks. By Ciaran Fahey. SENT: 850 words, photos.
— JAPAN-PACIFIC SWIM — French-American man abandons attempt to swim Pacific. SENT: 200 words, photos.
— BKN--NBA CAPSULES
— HKN--NHL CAPSULES
— BKC--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES
— BKW--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES
Monday Time Schedule (EST)
Tennessee at Houston, 8:15 p.m.
Houston at Washington, 7 p.m.
Milwaukee at Charlotte, 7 p.m.
Minnesota at Cleveland, 7 p.m.
Boston at New Orleans, 8 p.m.
San Antonio at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Indiana at Utah, 9 p.m.
Orlando at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.
Washington at N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.
Ottawa at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m.
New Jersey at Florida, 7 p.m.
Boston at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Columbus at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
College Basketball (Top 25)
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. North Dakota State, 9 p.m.
No. 18 Oregon vs. Texas Southern, 11 p.m.
No. 25 Mississippi State vs. Alcorn State, 8 p.m.
No. 5 Louisville vs. Miami (Ohio), 7 p.m.
No. 16 DePaul vs. Savannah State, 8 p.m.