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BC-AP Sports Digest

December 28, 2018
BC-AP Sports Digest,1777

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Gracious winners, brave losers and a homecoming queen with a kick top the list of PodcastOne Sports Now’s most heartwarming moments of 2018. Sister Jean, the 99-year-old nun who commanded the Final Four, recounts Loyola’s improbable run and reminds us what we like most about sports. Listen at podcastonesports.com, the podcastone app and apple podcasts. https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-weekly-podcast

TOP STORIES

FBC--CFP-RECRUITING NATIONALLY

No. 3 Notre Dame has players who were signed to scholarships out of high school by the Irish from 24 states, plus Washington D.C. and Canada, the most far-flung roster of College Football Playoff semifinalists. These days, though, Notre Dame’s approach is not uncommon — especially among the top programs. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 3 a.m.

BKN--LAKERS-KINGS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Los Angeles Lakers looked just fine for 3 ½ quarters in their first game without LeBron James. Down the stretch it was a different story, when the four-time MVP’s absence was noticeable and costly, even as coach Luke Walton found a variety of other reasons to blame. SENT: 690 words, photos.

FBN--EAGLES-FOLES

PHILADELPHIA — Eagles quarterback Nick Foles plays with a strong sense of inner peace because he doesn’t allow success or failure to define him. Win or lose, he’s the same guy. By Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi. UPCOMING: 590 words, photos by 3 a.m.

MMA--UFC 232-DEFIANT JONES

LOS ANGELES — Jon Jones’ latest troubling drug test compelled the UFC to move an entire pay-per-view show from Nevada to California on six days’ notice, disrupting thousands of fans’ holiday plans and shrinking his fellow UFC 232 fighters’ paychecks. Yet Jones believes he’s also a victim in this whole bizarre situation. By Greg Beacham. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

YE--MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

LeBron James, who went to the NBA Finals for the eighth straight year and then changed addresses again, is the AP’s Male Athlete of the Year for the third time. Now with the Los Angeles Lakers, James remained the game’s dominant player, adding even more glitz on a legacy that reached epic status long ago. By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 900 words, photos. With list.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

College Football Playoff:

FBC--CFP-ORANGE BOWL-SABAN

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. —The placard at the interview table identifying Alabama’s coach was unnecessary, because his gestures did the trick. There was the familiar shoulder shrug, the palm patting the chest, the side of his hand repeatedly tapping the table as he spoke. He made air quotes, drew circles with his index finger and crossed his arms so tightly his crimson sweater seemed to turn even redder. Nick Saban was back in town. By Steven Wine. SENT: 880 words, photos.

FBC--CFP--ORANGE BOWL-MURRAY

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Kyler Murray’s immediate future includes rest, fluids and the Orange Bowl against Alabama. After that, he’s not sure. The ailing Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman winner must decide between football, baseball or both. He’s not thinking this semifinal might be his last football game. By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 400 words, photos.

FBC--CFP-COTTON BOWL-WILKINS

ARLINGTON, Texas — Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins is a rare four-year college football star and the leader of the second-ranked Tigers. Wilkins is equally adept at keeping things light and making sure the Tigers don’t lose their edge. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

FBC--CFP-COTTON BOWL-NOTRE DAME

ARLINGTON, Texas —Notre Dame defensive captain Drue Tranquill and leading receiver Miles Boykin weren’t even Fighting Irish fans the last time they had a 12-0 regular season. Maybe that was a good thing because those current players didn’t have to suffer through how that season ended. By Stephen Hawkins. SENT. 780 words, photos.

Friday Games:

FBC--MUSIC CITY BOWL PREVIEW

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham has put his NFL draft preparations on hold, hoping to help the Tigers get their first bowl victory since 2015. By Teresa M. Walker. SENT: 750 words, photos. With capsule.

FBC--ALAMO BOWL PREVIEW

SAN ANTONIO — Back in September, Iowa State was sitting at 1-3, a record that looked like the Cyclones of old. A season of big expectations — at least bigger than most years in Ames — was on the brink of collapse with a canceled game, an injured senior quarterback and two straight losses out of the gate. Then came a QB change to freshman Brock Purdy. By Jim Vertuno. SENT: 770 words, photos. With capsule.

FBC--CAMPING WORLD BOWL PREVIEW

ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s easy to tell that West Virginia has plenty of respect for Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey, since at least one of the Mountaineers compared him to Will Grier. And that’s high praise. By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 750 words, photos. With capsule.

Thursday Games:

FBC--INDEPENDENCE BOWL

SHREVEPORT, La. —Temple was making big special-teams plays, returning interceptions for touchdowns and looking like a team that might crush Duke for a big postseason win. But the Owls had one problem that couldn’t be overcome: Coach David Cutcliffe doesn’t lose in Shreveport. By David Brandt. SENT: 740 words, photos.

FBC--PINSTRIPE BOWL

NEW YORK —Jonathan Taylor played tour guide for his Wisconsin teammates who had never visited New York. They hit the usual landmarks with trips to Lincoln Center and Times Square. Taylor even gave his buds a taste of the luxe life with a window-shopping jaunt along Fifth Avenue. Taylor gave the Badgers one more dazzling sight to see, and the nation’s leading rusher heads home with his own sweet souvenir — an MVP trophy. By Dan Gelston. SENT: 930 words, photos.

FBC--TEXAS BOWL

HOUSTON —Before Baylor met Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl on Thursday night Bears coach Matt Rhule asked his players to think about where they were a year ago after the team finished 1-11. After a moment to reflect, Baylor returned its focus to 2018 and finished its impressive turnaround with a huge performance from quarterback Charlie Brewer to get a 45-38 win. By Kristie Rieken. SENT: 920 words, photos

— Also:

— FBC--T25-PEACH BOWL-NFL DECISIONS — By Charles Odum. SENT: 650 words, photos.

— FBC--VIRGINIA-BELK BOWL — By Hank Kurz Jr. SENT: 640 words, photos.

NFL

FBN--NFL THIS WEEK

In a wild and crazy season, the biggest remaining tumult is in the AFC South. Houston takes the division title by beating struggling Jacksonville. A Texans loss, however, gives the winner of the prime-time game between the Colts and Titans in Nashville the crown, dropping Houston into a wild card. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 2,000 words, photos. For weekend use.

FBN--CARDINALS-FITZGERALD’S FINALE?

TEMPE, Ariz. —Someday, obviously, Larry Fitzgerald will play in his last NFL game. Whether that game is Sunday, when his beleaguered Arizona Cardinals play at Seattle, is anybody’s guess. And don’t expect any hints from him. He doesn’t like to talk about it. By Bob Baum. SENT: 740 words, photos.

FBN--PATRIOTS-COMFY AT HOME

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. —If things go right, the New England Patriots won’t have to play another road game until a potential Super Bowl appearance. SENT: 760 words, photos.

FBN--COWBOYS-ELLIOTT PLAN

FRISCO, Texas —Ezekiel Elliott insists he’s playing and has no hesitation saying the NFL rushing title is on his mind with the Dallas Cowboys locked into the fourth playoff seed as NFC East champions going into their regular-season finale at the New York Giants. By Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon. SENT: 760 words, photos.

FBN--SEAHAWKS-DICKSON

RENTON, Wash. — Considering how easily Michael Dickson has adjusted to the NFL and become one of the best punters in the league as a rookie, hearing that he was a bit anxious about a kicking situation may be a surprise. By Tim Booth. SENT: 700 words, photos.

— Also:

— FBN--CHIEFS-CHRIS AND DEE — By Dave Skretta. SENT: 800 words, photos.

— FBN--FALCONS-JULIO’S HOPES — By George Henry. SENT: 660 words, photos.

— FBN--BEARS-DEFENSIVE HEAT — SENT: 880 words, photos.

NBA

BKN--TRAIL BLAZERS-WARRIORS

OAKLAND, Calif. — Damian Lillard certainly left his mark over the years at Oracle Arena, and again in perhaps his final visit to a building he frequented as an NBA-crazed boy. By Janie McCauley. SENT: 860 words, photos.

BKN--CELTICS-ROCKETS

HOUSTON —HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden thinks he should be in the MVP discussion again this season and showed why on Thursday night. Harden had 45 points and six assists, Clint Capela added 24 points and 18 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets beat the Boston Celtics 127-113 for their eighth win in nine games. SENT: 720 words, photos.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

BKC--ACC PREVIEW

RALEIGH, N.C. — Duke basketball has earned must-see status with its touted freshmen and No. 1 ranking. Yet No. 4 Virginia is the ACC’s only unbeaten team, with league play set to begin next week. By Aaron Beard. SENT: 890 words, photos.

BKC--SEC PREVIEW

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The two teams that shared the Southeastern Conference regular-season title last year look like prime contenders again — No. 3 Tennessee and No. 12 Auburn are the SEC’s two highest-ranked teams. By Steve Megargee. SENT: 700 words, photos.

OTHER

— HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLER-DREADLOCKS CUT — SENT: 140 words, photos.

— SAI--SYDNEY-HOBART — SENT: 330 words, photos.

CAPSULES

— BKN--NBA CAPSULES

— HKN--NHL CAPSULES

— FBC--BOWL CAPSULES

___

Friday Time Schedule (EST)

NBA

Brooklyn at Charlotte, 7 p.m.

Chicago at Washington, 7 p.m.

Detroit at Indiana, 7 p.m.

Toronto at Orlando, 7 p.m.

Atlanta at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

Cleveland at Miami, 8 p.m.

Dallas at New Orleans, 8 p.m.

Oklahoma City at Phoenix, 9 p.m.

San Antonio at Denver, 9 p.m.

L.A. Clippers at L.A. Lakers, 10:30 p.m.

NHL

Montreal at Florida, 7 p.m.

Toronto at Columbus, 7 p.m.

Ottawa at N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.

BOWL GAMES

Music City Bowl at Nashville, Tenn.: Purdue vs. Auburn, 1:30 p.m.

Camping World Bowl at Orlando, Fla.: West Virginia vs. Syracuse, 5:15 p.m.

Alamo Bowl at San Antonio: Iowa State vs. Washington State, 9 p.m.

TOP 25 BASKETBALL

Men

No. 7 Gonzaga vs. North Alabama, 9 p.m.

No. 10 Virginia Tech vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore, 7 p.m.

No. 11 Texas Tech vs. Texas-Rio Grande Valley, 7 p.m.

No. 18 Marquette vs. Southern University, 8 p.m.

No. 20 N.C. State vs. Loyola (Md.), 7 p.m.

Women

No. 4 Maryland at Penn State, 7 p.m.

No. 10 Tennessee vs. Murray State, 7 p.m.

No. 12 Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, 9 p.m.

No. 24 Miami vs. Florida A&M, 7 p.m.

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