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BC-AP Sports Digest

December 29, 2018

The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed by John Nicholson at 5 p.m. and Bob Lentz at 1 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@ap.org or 877-836-9477. All times EST.

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-ORANGE BOWL

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Alabama looks to advance to the College Football Playoff final for the fourth year in a row when it faces Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and high-scoring Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. By Steven Wine. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos. Game starts 8 p.m. Sidebars on merit.

FBC--CFP-COTTON BOWL

ARLINGTON, Texas — No. 2 Clemson faces No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff in a matchup of unbeaten teams. The Fighting Irish are making their first playoff appearance. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. UPCOMING: 800 words, with photos. Game starts 4 p.m. Sidebars merit.

SKI--WCUP-WOMEN’S SLALOM

SEMMERING, Austria — Mikaela Shiffrin becomes the most successful female slalom skier by winning the year’s last race. With her 36th World Cup slalom victory she overtakes Marlies Raich, who competed as Marlies Schild. Only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark has more slalom wins (40). By Eric Willemsen. SENT: 850 words, photos.

BKC--T25-KENTUCKY-LOUISVILLE

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — No. 16 Kentucky visits archrival Louisville in the annual battle for Bluegrass bragging rights. The Cardinals are looking for a signature victory under first-year coach Chris Mack. The Wildcats will face a raucous crowd in their first true road game of the season. By Gary B. Graves. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos. UPCOMING. Game started 2 p.m.

MMA--UFC 232

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — On a compelling end-of-the-year card, Jon Jones returns from suspension and attempts to reclaim the UFC light heavyweight title at the Forum in a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson. Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes also moves up to challenge featherweight champ Cris “Cyborg” Justino. By Greg Beacham. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Main event starts about midnight.

COMMENTARY

FBN--ON FOOTBALL-OFFBEAT AWARDS

The AP will hand out its individual NFL awards on the night before the Super Bowl in Atlanta. Until then, here are some off-the-beaten track honors to consider. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 1,300 words, photos. First sent Dec. 28 for weekend use.

YEAR-END STORIES

YE--ODE TO SPORTS

The AP sends off the sports year in a volley of rhyme, a year in which the Crimson Tide gets 2018 going (“Bama turns from Hurts to Tua/Saban’s tribe sings hallelujah”); LeBron James “leaves the home he loves the most/for purple and gold on the coast”; and closes with “a heavyweight feast, fierce and raw” in which “Wilder, Fury fight to a draw.” By Fred Lief. SENT: 900 words, photos.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

College Football Playoff:

FBC--CFP-CHAMPIONSHIP

Oklahoma and Notre Dame are standing in the way of Alabama-Clemson Part IV. The national championship game is Jan. 7 is in Santa Clara, Calif. The Crimson Tide and Tigers have met in the last three playoffs and have split two title games. SENT: 140 words, photos. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. By Stephen Hawkins. To be sent after Oklahoma-Alabama game.

— With:

— FBC--CFP-CHAMPIONSHIP-THE LATEST — Real-time updates throughout day, starting about 3 p.m.

Other Saturday Bowls:

FBC--PEACH BOWL

ATLANTA — No. 8 Michigan (10-2) tries to bounce back from its loss to Ohio State to end the regular season when it faces No. 10 Florida (9-3) in the Peach Bowl. The Gators have made a great turnaround under coach Dan Mullen after going 4-7 in 2017. By Charles Odum. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game started noon.

— Also:

— FBC--BELK BOWL — South Carolina (7-5) vs. Virginia (7-5) in Charlotte, N.C. By Steve Reed. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game started noon.

— FBC--ARIZONA BOWL — Arkansas State (8-4) vs. Nevada (7-5) in Tucson, Ariz. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game started 1:15 p.m.

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: 1,700 words, photos by 6 p.m. For sent Dec. 27 weekend use.

NBA

BKN--WARRIORS-TRAIL BLAZERS

PORTLAND, Ore. — Two days after beating the Warriors on Damian Lillard’s overtime 3-pointer in Oakland, the Portland Trail Blazers host Golden State in a rematch. The Warriors have dropped their last two and lead the Pacific Division by 1 1/2 games. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 10 p.m.

BKN--ROCKETS-PELICANS

NEW ORLEANS — James Harden, with at least 30 points in eight straight games, leads the first-place Rockets against the Pelicans. Houston has won eight of nine and will be without injured Chris Paul. New Orleans, powered by Anthony Davis’ 48 points, is coming off a win that ended a five-game skid. By Brett Martel. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 7 p.m.

NHL

HKN--RED WINGS-STARS

DALLAS — The Stars play the Detroit Red Wings a day after Dallas CEO Jim Lites ripped the play of captain Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Lites says that unless both high-priced forwards lift their game the Stars will be in danger of missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 seasons. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos. Game starts 8 p.m.

SKIING

SKI--WCUP-MEN’S SUPER G

BORMIO, Italy — Italy’s Dominik Paris makes it two World Cup victories in two days on home snow by winning a super-G by 0.01 seconds. Paris, who won a downhill on Friday, edged Olympic champion Matthias Mayer for a record fourth victory on the Stelvio course. SENT: 350 words, photos.

OTHER

— SOC--ENGLISH ROUNDUP — Second half of Premier League season begins with Liverpool looking to stay undefeated when it plays Arsenal. By Steve Douglas. SENT: 250 words, photos. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 4 p.m. With separates on six games.

— BOX--MAYWEATHER-NASUKAWA — Floyd Mayweather promises entertainment when he fights Japanese kickboxer in three-round New Year’s Eve exhibition in Tokyo. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 350 words, photos.

— TEN--AUSTRALIAN OPEN-HEAT POLICY — New extreme heat policy set for next month’s Australian Open. SENT: 200 words.

— TEN--HOPMAN CUP — Britain, host Australia wins openers of eight-team Hopman Cup. SENT: 250 words, photos.

CAPSULES

— BKN--NBA CAPSULES

— HKN--NHL CAPSULES

— FBC--BOWL CAPSULES

— BKC--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

— BKW--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

___

Saturday Time Schedule (EST)

NBA

Brooklyn at Milwaukee, 5 p.m.

Houston at New Orleans, 7 p.m.

Charlotte at Washington, 7 p.m.

Cleveland at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.

Boston at Memphis, 8 p.m.

New York at Utah, 8 p.m.

Denver at Phoenix, 9 p.m.

Golden State at Portland, 10 p.m.

San Antonio at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 p.m.

NHL

Carolina at New Jersey, 1 p.m.

Vegas at Los Angeles, 4 p.m.

San Jose at Edmonton, 4 p.m.

Minnesota at Winnipeg, 4 p.m.

Boston at Buffalo, 7 p.m.

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

Washington at Ottawa, 7 p.m.

Montreal at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.

Philadelphia at Florida, 7 p.m.

Pittsburgh at St. Louis, 8 p.m.

N.Y. Rangers at Nashville, 8 p.m.

Detroit at Dallas, 8 p.m.

Chicago at Colorado, 9 p.m.

Arizona at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

Vancouver at Calgary, 10 p.m.

College Football

Peach Bowl at Atlanta: Florida vs. Michigan, noon

Belk Bowl at Charlotte, N.C.: South Carolina vs. Virginia, noon

Arizona Bowl at Tucson, Ariz.: Arkansas State vs. Nevada, 1:15 p.m.

Cotton Bowl Classic (CFP Semifinal) at Arlington, Texas: Notre Dame vs. Clemson, 4 p.m.

Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal) at Miami Gardens, Fla.: Oklahoma vs. Alabama, 8 p.m.

College Basketball (Top 25)

Men

No. 3 Tennessee vs. Tennessee Tech, 1 p.m.

No. 5 Kansas vs. Eastern Michigan, 2 p.m.

No. 6 Nevada at Utah, 2 p.m.

No. 8 Michigan State vs. Northern Illinois, 2 p.m.

No. 12 Auburn vs. North Florida, 5 p.m.

No. 13 Ohio State vs. High Point, noon

No. 14 North Carolina vs. Davidson, noon

No. 15 Wisconsin at Western Kentucky, 5:30 p.m.

No. 16 Kentucky at Louisville, 2 p.m.

No. 17 Arizona State vs. Princeton, 4 p.m.

No. 19 Mississippi State vs. BYU, noon

No. 21 Buffalo at Canisius, 7 p.m.

No. 22 Houston vs. NJIT, 4 p.m.

No. 24 Iowa vs. Bryant, 8 p.m.

Women

No. 6 Stanford vs. Cal State Northridge, 5 p.m.

No. 11 Oregon State vs. Cal State Bakersfield, 4 p.m.

No. 13 Texas vs. Northwestern State, 2 p.m.

No. 18 Kentucky vs. Sacred Heart, 11:30 a.m.

No. 19 DePaul vs. Creighton, 8 p.m.

No. 20 Gonzaga at Loyola Marymount, 5 p.m.

No. 22 Marquette vs. Providence, 3 p.m.

No. 23 Texas A&M vs. Texas-Rio Grande Valley, 1 p.m.

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