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BC-AP Sports Digest

January 2, 2019

The supervisor is Rebecca Miller, followed by John Nicholson at 5 p.m. and Mike Fitzpatrick 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.

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

FBN--WHERE’S THE D?

With all the rule changes and dynamic offenses these days, it’s hard to imagine a defense leading a team on a Super Bowl run the way the Legion of Boom did in Seattle or Von Miller & Co. in Denver did just a few years ago. A few teams will try this season, most notably Chicago and perhaps Dallas and Seattle. By Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow. SENT: 950 words, photos.

FBC--CFP-CLEMSON-MOTIVED TIGERS

CLEMSON, S.C. — No. 2 Clemson waited, grinded and dreamed for more than a year about another chance against top-ranked Alabama. Last season’s loss to the Crimson Tide in the national semifinals shaped this year’s run back to the College Football Playoff championship game. By Pete Iacobelli. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 4 p.m.

BKN--THUNDER-LAKERS

LOS ANGELES — Paul George could hear boos when he faces the Lakers for the first time since the Southern California native declined to meet with them last summer as a free agent, instead staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder. LeBron James is unlikely to play for Los Angeles. By Greg Beacham. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 10:30 p.m.

FBN--EAGLES-UNDERDOGS AGAIN

PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles are back in a familiar role as playoff underdogs, though they have a much tougher road to the Super Bowl this year, trying to become only the third No. 6 seed to win it. They had the luxury of a bye last season and two home games, though few expected them to do much with backup quarterback Nick Foles. By Rob Maaddi. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 6 p.m.

SPORTS SHOWCASE

FBC--PLAYOFF EXPANSION

Expansion of the College Football Playoff seems inevitable, but what the amount of compromise, negotiation and work it will take to make change happens should not be underestimated. Which teams should play? How to pick the teams? When and where more game would be played? How much is ESPN willing to pay? And what happens with all that new money all have to be considered. This could take a while to sort through. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 6 p.m.

SPORTS BETTING-STATES

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The race to legalize sports betting is on now that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed it in all 50 states, but will it provide enough extra tax revenue to make much of a difference for schools, roads or pension debt? Don’t bet on it. Just look to the states that capitalized immediately after the court’s ruling last spring and Nevada, which previously had a monopoly on sports betting. The returns to date have been modest, just a tiny fraction of overall state budgets. By Wayne Parry and Geoff Mulvihill. SENT: 1,040 words, photos.

With:

— SPORTS BETTING FOR DUMMIES — Sports betting may seem easy. It’s not. Here’s why. By Wayne Parry. 1,300 words.

COMMENTARY

BKN--ON BASKETBALL-INTERNATIONAL FLAIR

Luka Doncic is almost certain to be the rookie of the year. Nikola Jokic has as many 15-assist games this season as any other player. Giannis Antetokounmpo has Milwaukee at the top of the NBA and is a major player in the MVP race. The international movement is perhaps bigger than ever in the NBA right now. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 p.m.

NFL

FBN--TEXANS-WATT & WATSON

HOUSTON — Last year at this time, Houston’s J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson were rehabbing after serious injuries cut both of their seasons short and contributed to the Texans’ terrible 4-12 season. Healthy and thriving this season, the stars lead Houston into Saturday’s wild-card game against Indianapolis. By Kristie Rieken. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 8 p.m.

FBN--YOUNG COLTS

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2014. But the roster has undergone a major overhaul. Only four active players are still around from that season, meaning these Colts are about to get a crash course in playoff football. By Michael Marot. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 8 p.m.

FBN--SEAHAWKS-COWBOYS-LINEBACKERS

FRISCO, Texas — Bobby Wagner is still the clear leader of Seattle’s linebacking unit while Sean Lee suddenly finds himself in a supporting role for Dallas behind emerging stars Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. All of them will share the field Sunday in a wild-card game. By Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 9 p.m.

With:

— FBN--SEAHAWKS-PASS RUSH. By Tim Booth. UPCOMING: 600 words by 8 p.m.

FBN--BEARS-TRUBISKY PLAYOFF DEBUT

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Kicker Cody Parkey aside, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is the biggest uncertainty facing the Bears heading into Sunday’s playoff game against the Eagles because it’s his postseason debut. The second-year pro showed some improvement, but there were also spotty performances. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 8 p.m.

FBN--CHARGERS-RIVERS

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Philip Rivers has the Chargers back in the NFL playoffs for the first time in five years, but he has struggled the past three games, including two weeks ago against Baltimore. By Joe Reedy. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 8 p.m.

FBN--RAVENS-JACKSON

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson carried the Baltimore Ravens into the playoffs, and their fate in the postseason will likely depend on his continued success. By David Ginsburg. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 5 p.m.

Also:

— FBN--HEALTHY CHIEFS. By Dave Skretta. SENT: 830 words, photos.

— FBN--GIANTS-GETTLEMAN. By Tom Canavan. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 6 p.m.

— FBN--JETS-DARNOLD EFFECT. By AP Pro Football Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. SENT: 900 words, photos.

— FBN--SAINTS-HEALTH. By Brett Martel. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 7 p.m.

— FBN--STEELERS-ROCKY ENDING. By Will Graves. UPCOMING: 600 words by 7 p.m.

— FBN--POWER RANKINGS. By Simmi Buttar. UPCOMING: 550 words by 6 p.m.

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

LAW

BKC--COLLEGE CORRUPTION

NEW YORK — Former University of Southern California assistant basketball coach Tony Bland pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, admitting to accepting $4,100 in cash to steer players at the school to certain financial advisers and business managers. Bland’s plea makes it likely he’ll spend little or no time in prison after he is sentenced April 2. By Larry Neumeister. SENT: 600 words, photos.

GOLF

GLF--TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Charles Howell III finished practice and spent the afternoon with his two children, ages 8 and 7, who weren’t even born the last time he was at Kapalua. No tournament is harder to qualify for than the Sentry Tournament of Champions. No one knows that as well as Howell. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 8 p.m.

NBA

BKN--NUGGETS-THE JOKER

DENVER — Nikola Jokic doesn’t exactly have the most athletic look and certainly doesn’t jump out of the gym. Hardly matters as the 7-footer nicknamed The Joker is taking the Western Conference-surprising Denver Nuggets to new heights this season. He is in line to become Denver’s first All-Star since Carmelo Anthony in 2010-11 and is even being name-dropped in the MVP conversation. By Pat Graham. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos by 7 p.m.

BKN--SPURS-KAWHI RETURNS

SAN ANTONIO — For the first time in nearly a full year, Kawhi Leonard is about to play basketball in San Antonio. Leonard and the Toronto Raptors visit the Spurs on Thursday night — the first time the 2014 NBA Finals MVP has faced his former club, and the first time DeMar DeRozan has squared off against the Raptors as well. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 6 p.m.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

BKC--T25-OKLAHOMA-KANSAS

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Big 12 play starts with a bang when No. 23 Oklahoma, one of the surprises of the nonconference season, heads to Allen Fieldhouse to face No. 5 Kansas. The Jayhawks are beginning pursuit of their 15th consecutive conference crown. By Dave Skretta. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 9 p.m.

BKC--UCLA-BARTOW’S TURN

LOS ANGELES — Murry Bartow is starting a new year with a new gig — interim coach at UCLA. The Bruins have lost four in a row, which hastened Steve Alford’s demise, and Pac-12 play begins on Thursday. By Beth Harris. UPCOMING: 650 words by 7 p.m.

NHL

HKN--AROUND THE NHL

DENVER — No lead is safe in the National Hockey League these days with third-period comebacks on the rise. There have been 110 third-period comeback wins spanning 611 league-wide games. The research department for the NHL says that’s the third-most in league history. By Pat Graham. SENT: 930 words, photos.

Also:

— HKN--CAPITALS-OVERCHKIN-ALL-STAR — Alex Ovechkin to skip All-Star Game, will be suspended 1 game. SENT: 200 words, photos.

TENNIS

TEN--BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL-NADAL OUT

BRISBANE, Australia — Rafael Nadal withdraws from the Brisbane International with a strained left thigh on the eve of his first scheduled competitive match of the season. The second-ranked Nadal had a bye in the first round and arrived in Australia after withdrawing from an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi following one match. By John Pye. SENT: 600 words, photos.

SOCCER

SOC--ENGLISH ROUNDUP

Manchester United is a different proposition under interim coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is looking for his fourth straight win at the helm in a match at Newcastle. Among the five other matches, fourth-place Chelsea hosts Southampton. By Steve Douglas. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 6 p.m.

Also:

— SOC--CHELSEA-PULISIC — Christian Pulisic to join Chelsea as most expensive American player. SENT: 530 words, photos.

— SOC--MLS-GALAXY-SCHELOTTO — LA Galaxy hire Guillermo Barros Schelotto as new coach. By Greg Beacham. SENT: 500 words, photos.

OTHER

RUN--SOUTH AFRICA-100 MARATHONS

JOHANNESBURG — Crazy, overwhelming, deeply exhausting. Mina Guli, an Australian activist seeking to highlight global water shortages and encourage people to conserve, talks bluntly about her goal of completing 100 marathons in 100 days across the world. By Christopher Torchia. SENT: 520 words, photos.

Also:

— BBA--YANKEES-TULOWITZKI — AP source: Troy Tulowitzki agrees to 1-year deal with Yankees. By Baseball Writer Ron Blum. SENT: 370 words, photo.

— BBA--TWINS-CRUZ — Twins, DH Nelson Cruz agree to 1-year-deal with option for 2020. SENT: 150 words.

CAPSULES

— BKN--NBA CAPSULES

— HKN--NHL CAPSULES

— BKC--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

— BKW--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

___

Wednesday Time Schedule (EST)

NBA

Atlanta at Washington, 7 p.m.

Dallas at Charlotte, 7 p.m.

Miami at Cleveland, 7 p.m.

New Orleans at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.

Detroit at Memphis, 8 p.m.

Minnesota at Boston, 8 p.m.

Orlando at Chicago, 8 p.m.

Philadelphia at Phoenix, 9 p.m.

Oklahoma City at L.A. Lakers, 10:30 p.m.

NHL

Pittsburgh at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m.

Calgary at Detroit, 7 p.m.

Vancouver at Ottawa, 7 p.m.

New Jersey at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Edmonton at Arizona, 9:30 p.m.

San Jose at Colorado, 9:30 p.m.

College Basketball (Top 25)

Men

No. 5 Kansas vs. No. 23 Oklahoma, 9 p.m.

No. 6 Nevada vs. Utah State, 11 p.m.

No. 8 Michigan State vs. Northwestern, 8:30 p.m.

No. 11 Texas Tech at West Virginia, 7 p.m.

No. 15 North Carolina vs. Harvard, 7 p.m.

No. 19 Houston vs. Tulsa, 8 p.m.

No. 24 Nebraska at Maryland, 6:30 p.m.

Women

No. 13 Texas vs. Oklahoma State, 8 p.m.

No. 25 Iowa State vs. Kansas State, 7:30 p.m.

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