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BC-AP Sports Digest

January 1, 2019

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@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

FBN--ON FOOTBALL-COACH FIRINGS

Sean Payton despises the term “Black Monday.” And he’s one of the coaches who always survives it. Six head coaches were fired as the NFL season concluded, four of them on Monday. Two, Mike McCarthy in Green Bay and Hue Jackson in Cleveland, didn’t even make it that far. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 760 words, photos.

FBC--CFP-CLEMSON-DABO’S DECADE

Dabo Swinney promised in 2010, after thinking that he might be done, that Clemson was about to have its winningest decade. The No. 2 Tigers certainly have. They will play in their third national championship game in four seasons against top-ranked Alabama. The Tigers have had eight consecutive 10-win seasons and won five ACC titles since that losing record in his second full season. By Stephen Hawkins. UPCOMING. 850 words, photos by 3 a.m.

With:

— FBC--CFP-ALABAMA-SABAN’S DRIVE — By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 850 words, photos.

HKN--WINTER CLASSIC PREVIEW

SOUTH BEND, Ind. —The Winter Classic is going back to college — and it’s bringing along two familiar foes. Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks. Patrice Bergeron and the Boston Bruins. Hockey at the home of Knute Rockne, Paul Hornung and, of course, Rudy. By Jay Cohen. SENT: 850 words, photos.

OLY--RUSSIAN DOPING

The deadline for Russia to turn over samples and other data from its Moscow anti-doping lab has passed, leaving the World Anti-Doping Agency to decide whether to reinstate the ban it had lifted in September. By National Writer Eddie Pells. SENT: 300 words, photo.

YEAR-END STORIES

YE--THINGS TO WATCH FOR IN 2019

By now, nothing that happens in sports should shock anyone. The antics of both athletes and fans in 2018 showed that, and now we brace ourselves for what 2019 will bring. Here’s a look at some of the fun that may be ahead. By Tim Dahlberg. SENT: 800 words, photos.

NFL COACHES

FBN--BEHIND THE CALL

DENVER — Every year, while a dozen NFL head coaches are preparing their teams for the playoffs, nearly as many coaches are called into their general manager’s office and told they’re fired for not being one of those dozen coaches who are preparing their teams for the playoffs. By Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 3 a.m.

FBN--BENGALS-LEWIS FIRED

CINCINNATI —The surprise isn’t that Marvin Lewis is gone, but that it took so long for the Bengals to make the change. By Joe Kay. SENT: 850 words, photos.

FBN--BRONCOS-JOSEPH FIRED

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —John Elway is looking for his fourth head coach in six seasons after firing Vance Joseph for presiding over the Denver Broncos’ worst two-year stretch since the late 1960s. By Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton. SENT: 970 words, photos.

FBN--DOLPHINS-GASE FIRED

MIAMI —The Miami Dolphins’ coaching carousel is spinning again. Adam Gase was fired Monday as part of the latest organizational shake-up after the Dolphins finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the 15th time in 17 years. Owner Stephen Ross ordered a roster overhaul and acknowledged it may take several seasons to build a winner. By Steven Wine. SENT: 800 words, photos.

FBN--CARDINALS-WILKS FIRED

TEMPE, Ariz. —The Arizona Cardinals have fired Steve Wilks after just one season as head coach. Wilks’ firing Monday followed a 3-13 season, the franchise’s worst record in 18 years and the worst in the NFL this season. He is the first Cardinals coach to be fired after one season since Joe Kuharich in 1952. By Bob Baum. SENT: 860 words, photos.

— Also:

— FBN--FALCONS-COORDINATORS FIRED — By Charles Odum. SENT: 800 words, photos.

— FBN--JAGUARS-WHEATLEY FIRED — By Mark Long. SENT: 360 words, photos.

NFL PLAYOFFS

FBN--CHIEFS-MAHOMES VALUABLE PLAYER

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Justin Houston had never heard chants of “MVP!” in the middle of a game. But with Patrick Mahomes under center for the Chiefs, the star linebacker doesn’t think Sunday will be the last time. By Dave Skretta. SENT: 900 words, photos.

FBN--TEXANS-PLAYOFFS

HOUSTON —Wild-card games have been a good place for the Houston Texans. The Texans return to the playoffs Saturday for the third time in four years when they host the Indianapolis Colts in a wild-card game. The Texans have won three of their previous four such games. By Kristie Rieken. SENT: 710 words, photos.

FBN--RUST-FREE COWBOYS

DALLAS —Dak Prescott barely played over a three-week span before losing in his postseason debut as a rookie quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys two years ago. Rust won’t be an excuse in his second playoff game against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks (10-6) on Saturday night. By Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon. SENT: 690 words, photos.

— Also:

— FBN--SEAHAWKS-SLUGGISH FINALE — By Tim Booth. SENT: 710 words, photos.

— FBN--CHARGERS-FAMILIAR FOE — By Joe Reedy. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— FBN--PLAYOFF-BOUND BEARS — By Andrew Seligman. SENT: 790 words, photos.

— FBN--SAINTS-PLAYOFF PREPARATION — By Brett Martel. SENT: 720 words, photos.

— FBN--RAVENS-PLAYOFFS — SENT: 550 words, photos.

— FBN--RAIDERS-GM — By Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow. SENT: 980 words, photos.

— Wrapups on all teams that missed playoffs. Stories on coach firings or team hirings will stand as wrapups.

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@ap.org

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Tuesday Bowl Games:

FBC--ROSE BOWL

PASADENA, Calif. —Urban Meyer sees the Rose Bowl nestled in verdant Arroyo Seco on a sunny winter day and thinks back to the formative days of his coaching career. By Greg Beacham. SENT: 950 words, photos. With capsule.

FBC--SUGAR BOWL PREVIEW

NEW ORLEANS —Texas coach Tom Herman has needed less than two years to pull the football program out of mediocrity and get to a prestigious bowl game on New Year’s Day. The 14th-ranked Longhorns will face No. 6 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night looking to continue their resurgence on the national landscape. By David Brandt. SENT: 700 words, photos. With capsule.

FBC--FIESTA BOWL PREVIEW

GLENDALE, Ariz. —Central Florida has carried the chip on its shoulder all the way from Orlando to the Arizona desert. By John Marshall. SENT: 780 words, photos. With capsule

— Also:

— FBC--OUTBACK BOWL PREVIEW — Iowa vs. Mississippi State at Tampa, Fla. By Steven Wine. SENT: 650 words, photos. With capsule.

— FBC--CITRUS BOWL PREVIEW — Kentucky vs. Penn State at Orlando, Fla. By Fred Goodall. SENT: 580 words, photos. With capsule.

Monday Bowl Games:

FBC--HOLIDAY BOWL

SAN DIEGO —A cold, hard rain in normally warm, dry San Diego made the Northwestern Wildcats feel right at home, especially as they enjoyed a downpour of Utah turnovers in the Holiday Bowl. By Bernie Wilson. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

FBC--LIBERTY BOWL

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Oklahoma State hung on for dear life to win a Big 12-style Liberty Bowl against its former conference rival. By Steve Megargee. SENT: 920 words, photos.

FBC--GATOR BOWL

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —Trayveon Williams strolled around the field, his white pants covered in dirt and grass stains, his Gator Bowl hat turned sideways and his MVP trophy secured tightly in his left hand. He posed for pictures, hugged teammates and friends, and blew kisses to the crowd. It sure looked like a farewell party. By Mark Long. SENT: 840 words, photos.

— Also:

— FBC--REDBOX BOWL —SENT: 940 words, photos.

— FBC--MILITARY BOWL —By David Ginsburg. SENT: 828 words, photos.

— FBC--SUN BOWL — SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

NBA

BKN--PELICANS-PAYTON’S PLACE

NEW ORLEANS — As far as the reeling New Orleans Pelicans were concerned, starting point guard Elfrid Payton couldn’t come back soon enough from his broken finger. After an absence that spanned six weeks and 22 games, his return was short of spectacular, but helped steady the Pelicans in the critical final minutes of a close game— something they’ll need more of if they’re to make a push back into playoff contention. By Brett Martel. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 4 a.m.

BKN--GRIZZLIES-ROCKETS

HOUSTON —While Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni and James Harden’s teammates raved about his latest big game on Monday night, the Beard was busy critiquing himself and pointing out ways he could have played better. By Kristie Rieken. SENT: 840 words, photos.

BKN--BUCKS AT THE TOP

MILWAUKEE — The Bucks ended 2018 with the best record in the NBA — quite the impression left by Mike Budenholzer in his first three months as the coach. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and a tough defense, they have won eight of 10 and lead the Central Division. By Genaro C. Armas. SENT: 650 words, photos.

SKIING

SKI--SHIFFRIN’S CHARGE

Each day, there’s a new ski racing record Mikaela Shiffrin hears about that she’s either broken or close to breaking or on pace to eventually break. Her name is certainly getting attached to plenty of them. By Pat Graham. SENT: 830 words, photos.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

BKC--T25-TOP 25 THIS WEEK

RALEIGH, N.C. — Fourth-ranked Virginia begins pursuit of a second straight Atlantic Coast Conference championship by meeting No. 9 Florida State to headline the week’s AP Top 25 schedule. The schedule includes three matchups of ranked teams in the Big Ten. By Aaron Beard. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 3 a.m.

BKC--COLLEGE BKB POLL

RALEIGH, N.C. — After a light Christmas week schedule, top-ranked Duke and everyone else at the top of the AP Top 25 stayed put in a poll with few major changes. Things could be more volatile with conference play set to get rolling this week. By Aaron Beard. SENT: 640 words, photos.

BKW--WOMEN’S BKB POLL

NEW YORK —UConn, Notre Dame and Louisville remain the top three teams in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll. With most teams taking a break for the holidays, there wasn’t much movement in the Top 25 poll Monday. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. SENT: 470 words, photos.

BKC--UCLA-ALFORD FIRED

LOS ANGELES —Steve Alford was fired as UCLA basketball coach in his sixth season on Monday, with the Bruins mired in a four-game skid that included losses at home to Belmont and Liberty. By Beth Harris. SENT: 900 words, photos.

TENNIS

TEN--HOPMAN CUP

PERTH, Australia — In her first competitive match since her meltdown at the U.S. Open final, Serena Williams overcomes a sluggish start to power past Maria Sakkari in straight sets at the Hopman Cup. SENT: 550 words, photos.

— Also:

— TEN--SHENZHEN OPEN — SENT: 170 words, photos.

— TEN--BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL — SENT: 350 words.

— TEN--ASB CLASSIC — SENT: 300 words.

FIGHTING

BOX--MAYWEATHER-NASUKAWA

SAITAMA, Japan — It took less than three minutes for Floyd Mayweather to knock down Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa three times in a New Year’s Eve exhibition. Nasukawa’s father in the corner throws in the towel. Mayweather praises Nasukawa as a “young hungry lion” and says it’s “all about having fun.” By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 350 words, photos.

CAPSULES

— BKN--NBA CAPSULES

— HKN--NHL CAPSULES

— FBC--BOWL CAPSULES

— BKC--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

— BKW--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

___

Tuesday Time Schedule (EST)

NBA

Utah at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

Detroit at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.

New York at Denver, 9 p.m.

Portland at Sacramento, 9 p.m.

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

NHL

Boston vs. Chicago at South Bend, Ind., 1 p.m.

Philadelphia at Nashville, 8:30 p.m.

Los Angeles at Vegas, 9 p.m.

BOWL GAMES

Outback Bowl at Tampa, Fla.: Mississippi State vs. Iowa, Noon

Citrus Bowl at Orlando, Fla.: Kentucky vs. Penn State, 1 p.m.

Fiesta Bowl at Glendale, Ariz.: LSU vs. UCF, 1 p.m.

Rose Bowl at Pasadena, Calif.: Washington vs. Ohio State, 5 p.m.

Sugar Bowl at New Orleans: Texas vs. Georgia, 8:45 p.m.

TOP 25 BASKETBALL

Men

No. 9 Florida State vs. Winthrop, 2 p.m.

No. 10 Virginia Tech vs. Notre Dame, 1 p.m.

No. 16 Marquette at St. John’s, 7 p.m.

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