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BC-AP Sports Digest

January 4, 2019
BC-AP Sports Digest,2138

The supervisor is Bob Lentz, followed by Fred Lief at 9 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. For up-to-the-minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at apcustomersupport(at)ap.org or 877-836-9477. All times EST.

Alabama and Clemson meet in the College Football Playoff for the fourth straight season, playing for the championship for the third time. Cole Cubelic of the SEC Network joins the AP’s Ralph Russo on the AP Top 25 College Football Podcast in breaking down the teams.

https://www.podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast

Marcellus Wiley, a former NFL defensive end and Fox Sports personality, is still on the fence about allowing his young son play football. But he tells co-hosts Jim Litke and Tim Dahlberg on the AP’s PodcastOne Sports Now he likes what the NFL is doing to try to make the game safer. Listen at podcastonesports.com, the podcastone app and apple podcasts.

https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-weekly-podcast

TOP STORIES

BKW--T25-UCONN’S STREAK SNAPPED

WACO, Texas — UConn All-America players Katie Lou Samuelson and Naphessa Collier won a national title and went to two other Final Fours before experiencing this. The team’s only seniors are coming off a loss in the regular season for the first time. By Stephen Hawkins. UPCOMING: 720 words, photos by 4 a.m.

With:

— BKW--T25-UCONN-BAYLOR — By Stephen Hawkins. SENT: 730 words, photos.

FBN--AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

For the first time in a decade, the top seed in the AFC playoffs goes to a team not led by Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. The Kansas City Chiefs earned the No. 1 seed for the first time since 1997 after switching from Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes , the sensational second-year star who reminds so many of Brett Favre. By Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton. UPCOMING: 1,400 words, photos by 4 a.m.

FNB--NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

Half of the NFC playoff field is back from last year, including the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, who wobbled and hobbled into the postseason party as the sixth and final seed after a season-long slog. The Saints earned the No. 1 seed for the first time since 2009, when they beat Peyton Manning and the Colts in Super Bowl 44 for their first championship. By Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton. UPCOMING: 1,500 words, photos by 4 a.m.

FBC--CFP-NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP-MATCHUPS

Clemson and Alabama are playing in the College Football Playoff for the fourth straight season, and the third time for the national championship. With the help of SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic, a former Auburn offensive lineman, a breakdown of some of the key matchups that could decide Tide-Tigers Part IV. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. UPCOMING: 950 words, photos by 4 a.m.

With:

— FBC--CFP-ALABAMA-GAMBLING SABAN — By John Zenor. SENT: 800 words, photos.

BKN--ROCKETS-WARRIORS

OAKLAND, Calif. —A defender on either side of him, James Harden let it fly one last time for an improbable game-winner in the waning seconds of overtime before falling backward and hitting the floor. It took his second triple-double of the week, fifth straight 40-point performance and sheer will to rally Houston past the Warriors 135-134 in a thriller between Western Conference powers. By Janie McCauley. SENT: 880 words, photos.

BKC--STANFORD-UCLA

LOS ANGELES —Mired in a four-game skid and having fired its coach in-season for the first time in the program’s 100-year history, UCLA went back to the past to right itself. By Beth Harris. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

SPORTS SHOWCASE

FBN--NFL TO CURLING

Defensive lineman Jared Allen retired from the NFL in 2015 and wasn’t ready to give up on the competition he’d come to enjoy as a five-time All-Pro in a 12-year career. His solution: Make it to the 2022 Olympics — in curling. Less than a year later, he and three other former NFL players who have never curled before will attempt to qualify for the U.S. championships against curlers who have been throwing stones for most of their lives. By Jimmy Golen. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 4 a.m.

Also:

— ESPORTS-GETTING WOMEN IN THE GAME — By Jake Seiner. SENT: 1,350 words, photos, video.

NFL PLAYOFFS

FBN--NFL THIS WEEK

Some juicy rematches highlight wild-card weekend, and it would be no surprise if any of the eight teams advance. Seattle beat Dallas early this season; Baltimore handled the Chargers late. The Colts and Texans split two games. Only the Eagles and Bears didn’t face off. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 1,200 words, photos. For weekend use.

— With:

— FBN--PRO PICKS — By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 700 words, photos, graphic.

FBN--COLTS-VINATIERI

INDIANAPOLIS — At 46, Adam Vinatieri knows his time in the NFL is limited and his next loss could be his last game. But another playoff run — the Colts play Houston on Saturday in a wild-card game — has the league’s oldest player feeling young again. By Michael Marot. SENT: 930 words, photos.

Saturday Games:

FBN--TEXANS-HOPKINS

HOUSTON —DeAndre Hopkins had the best season of his career, carrying Houston’s receivers in a year the group was decimated by injuries. Now the self-described best receiver in the NFL will need another big performance for the Texans to get a win over the Colts in the wild-card game on Saturday. By Kristie Rieken. SENT: 890 words, photos.

FBN--SEAHAWKS-COWBOYS-RUN GAME

FRISCO, Texas —Ezekiel Elliott won his second NFL rushing title in three seasons for a Dallas offense that has been defined by the ground game for several years now. Seattle takes the league’s No. 1 rushing offense into a wild-card playoff against the Cowboys on Saturday night, led by Chris Carson, but with more help from others than your average pro backfield .By Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon. SENT: 830 words, photos.

— With:

— FBN--SEAHAWKS-INJURIES — By Tim Booth. SENT: 500 words, photos.

Sunday Games:

FBN--CHARGERS-JAMES

COSTA MESA, Calif. —Most rookies hit the figurative wall late in the season as the rigors of a full first year in the NFL catch up quickly. Derwin James, though, still feels like he did at midseason. By Joe Reedy. SENT: 630 words, photos.

— With:

— FBN--RAVENS-MARTINDALE — By David Ginsburg. SENT: 790 words, photos.

FBN--EAGLES-JEFFREY RETURNS

PHILADELPHIA —Alshon Jeffery is all business this week. The talented wide receiver is playing in Chicago for the first time since he left the Bears after five seasons and joined the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s not feeling sentimental. By Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi. SENT: 570 words, photos.

— With:

— FBN--NAGY’S RISE — By Andrew Seligman. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

— Also:

— Capsules on four wild-card games.

— Separate stories on four bye teams: Chiefs, Rams, Patriots, Saints.

AP Sports Extra: NFL Playoffs. A paginated preview of the NFL playoffs, which start Saturday, is available in AP Newsroom by searching for “Sports Extra” under the Graphics tab. Three page sizes are available — full broadsheet, half broadsheet and tabloid — with space for local advertising or content. The pages look at the top seeds and playoff schedule. They include some content that was sent Sunday night. The next Sports Extra pages will preview the Super Bowl and will be available Jan. 23. For any questions, contact Barry Bedlan at bbedlan(at)ap.org

NFL

FBN--FOSTER-ARRESTED

TAMPA, Fla. — Prosecutors will not pursue a domestic violence charge against Washington linebacker Reuben Foster, citing insufficient evidence. The NFL, however, is still reviewing the matter and could discipline him. The Redskins claimed Foster after his release by the 49ers. SENT: 300 words, photos.

FBN--HALL OF FAME FINALISTS

First-time eligibles Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed and Champ Bailey are among 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2019. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 370 words, photos.

— Also:

— FBN--NFL--CASINO DEAL — SENT: 400 words, photos.

— FBN--FALCONS-QUINN — By George Henry. SENT. 650 words, photos.

— FBN--VIKINGS-ZIMMER — By Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell. SENT: 800 words, photos.

AP Sports Extra: NFL Playoffs. A paginated preview of the NFL playoffs, which start Saturday, is available in AP Newsroom by searching for “Sports Extra” under the Graphics tab. Three page sizes are available — full broadsheet, half broadsheet and tabloid — with space for local advertising or content. The pages look at the top seeds and playoff schedule. They include some content that was sent Sunday night. The next Sports Extra pages will preview the Super Bowl and will be available Jan. 23. For any questions, contact Barry Bedlan at bbedlan(at)ap.org

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

FBC--CFP-CLEMSON-TITLE PLANS

CLEMSON, S.C. — Christian Wilkins says he hasn’t reached his destination yet. The All-American defensive tackle is among several Clemson starters who put off NFL careers for a final year with the Tigers in hopes of winning a national title. By Pete Iacobelli. SENT: 700 words, photos.

FBC--CFP-ALABAMA-GAMBLING SABAN

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban, meticulous down to the tiniest detail, showed there’s some gambler in him in Alabama’s past two victories in the national championship game. Don’t be surprised if he goes that route again when the Tide plays Clemson on Monday night. By John Zenor. SENT: 800 words, photos.

FBC--ALL-BOWL TEAM

The AP offers an all-bowl team leading to Monday night’s title showdown. By Steve Megargee. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

GOLF

GLF--TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

KAPALUA, Hawaii —Kevin Tway first played Kapalua as a 15-year-old a week before his father competed in the Sentry Tournament of Champions for the first time, an experience memorable for Bob Tway getting stung by a centipede and having to only watch. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. SENT: 900 words, photos.

— With:

— GLF--MAUI MUSINGS-BUBBA — Bubba Watson explains why the Ryder Cup is so special to him. By Doug Ferguson. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos.

NBA

BKN--RAPTORS-SPURS

SAN ANTONIO —The Spurs’ suffocating defense, scoring runs and fans’ unrelenting contempt for the opposing team’s star player have often overwhelmed the opposition. Kawhi Leonard has seen it many times in San Antonio, but the Toronto star never experienced it from the opposing bench until Thursday night. It was worse than he expected. SENT: 900 words, photos.

Also:

— BKN--GRIZZLIES-BULLS TRADE — By Andrew Seligman. SENT: 140 words, photos.

— BKN--CAVALIERS-LOVE UPDATE — By Tom Withers. SENT: 480 words, photos.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Men:

BKC--T25-TENNESSEE-BONE’S BREAKTHROUGH

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s Jordan Bone has a game built on speed, but his slow and steady development into one of the SEC’s top point guards required patience. The junior is playing his best ball as the No. 3 Volunteers enter the league schedule. By Steve Megargee. SENT: 760 words, photos.

TENNIS

TEN--BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL

BRISBANE, Australia — U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka gets a reality check from her coach and proceeds to rally past Anastasija Sevastova for a spot in the Brisbane International semifinals. By John Pye. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— Also:

— TEN--HOPMAN CUP — SENT: 400 words, photos.

— TEN--ASB CLASSIC — SENT: 300 words.

— TEN--MAHARASHTRA OPEN — SENT: 160 words.

— TEN--SHENZHEN OPEN — SENT: 100 words.

BASEBALL

BBA--MARINERS-KIKUCHI

SEATTLE —Yusei Kikuchi smiled wide for the cameras, pointing to the back of his No. 18 jersey — a celebrated number for Japanese pitchers. In the city where one of his childhood idols, Ichiro Suzuki, became a major league star, Kikuchi is eager to prove he belongs in America, too. By Tim Booth. SENT: 720 words, photos.

SOCCER

SOC--MAN CITY-LIVERPOOL

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Liverpool can’t now win the Premier League unbeaten. Manchester City has renewed hope it won’t be surrendering the trophy at all. By Global Soccer Writer Rob Harris. 670 words, photos.

OTHERS

— OLY--WADA-BULLYING — By National Writer Eddie Pells. SENT: 225 words.

— OBIT-JIM MARGRAFF-JOHNS HOPKINS — SENT: 160 words.

— OBIT-MAGEE — SENT: 120 words.

CAPSULES

— BKN--NBA CAPSULES

— HKN--NHL CAPSULES

— BKC--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

— BKW--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

___

Friday Time Schedule (EST)

NBA

Utah at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.

Brooklyn at Memphis, 8 p.m.

Dallas at Boston, 8 p.m.

Indiana at Chicago, 8 p.m.

Orlando at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

Washington at Miami, 8 p.m.

Atlanta at Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m.

L.A. Clippers at Phoenix, 9 p.m.

New York at L.A. Lakers, 10:30 p.m.

Oklahoma City at Portland, 10:30 p.m.

NHL

Winnipeg at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

Nashville at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.

Columbus at Carolina, 7:30 p.m.

Washington at Dallas, 8 p.m.

New Jersey at Arizona, 9 p.m.

N.Y. Rangers at Colorado, 9 p.m.

Vegas at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

TOP 25 BASKETBALL

Men

No. 20 Buffalo at Eastern Michigan, 9 p.m.

Women

No. 5 Oregon vs. Washington, 9 p.m.

No. 6 Stanford vs. Southern Cal, 11 p.m.

No. 11 Oregon State vs. Washington State, 10 p.m.

No. 18 California vs. UCLA, 10 p.m.

No. 20 Marquette vs. No. 24 DePaul, 8 p.m.

No. 22 Arizona State at Utah, 9 p.m.

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