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BC-AP Sports Digest

December 29, 2018

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

FBC--CFP-COTTON BOWL PREVIEW

DALLAS —The question was about sustaining high-level success in college football and Dabo Swinney’s answer lasted 3 minutes, 40 seconds. Brevity is not the Clemson coach’s strong suit. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 850 words, photos. With capsule.

FBC--CFP-ORANGE BOWL PREVIEW

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. —Nick Saban knows Alabama cannot win every game. The Crimson Tide merely come close. This is the fifth year of the College Football Playoff, and the fifth Alabama appearance in the four-team tournament to decide the national champion. Saturday the top-ranked Crimson Tide (13-0) take on fourth-ranked Oklahoma (12-1) in the semifinals at the Orange Bowl. By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 700 words, photos. With capsule.

With:

— FBC--CFP-CHAMPIONSHIP — Oklahoma and Notre Dame are standing in the way of Alabama-Clemson Part IV. UPCOMING: 140 words, photos by 4 a.m. Will be updated after late game.

BKN--CLIPPERS-LAKERS

LOS ANGELES —Even while playing without LeBron James on the tail end of a back-to-back set, the Los Angeles Lakers managed to carve out a double-digit lead in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers. That’s when the Clippers’ four toughest defenders clamped down and Sweet Lou went wild to win this basketball-loving city’s first rivalry game of the season. By Greg Beacham. SENT: 870 words, photos.

BKL--WNBA CROSSROADS

NEW YORK — The WNBA ends 2018 at a crossroads. The play on the court has never been better and TV ratings were up more than 30 percent. But that has yet to fatten anyone’s wallet. The WNBA says it has lost significant money the last 22 years, including $12 million last season. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. SENT: 890 words, photos.

SPORTS SHOWCASE

BKC--MID-MAJOR SCHEDULING SHAKEUP

Conference USA has radically altered its league basketball schedule in an effort to get more teams into the NCAA Tournament and get better seeds. The conference is one of a handful of mid-major leagues rethinking schedules in hopes of more success on Selection Sunday. By David Brandt. SENT: 850 words, photos.

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. For weekend use.

YEAR-END STORIES

YE-SPORTS DEATHS

Sports deaths in 2018 were marked by the losses of three touchstones from the 1960s: Stan Mikita, the embodiment of powerful Chicago Blackhawks teams; Jim Taylor, the punishing Green Bay Packers fullback; and big-hitting Willie McCovey of the San Francisco Giants. By Fred Lief. SENT: 1,700 words, photos. With abridged version (900 words, photos), list.

YE--GAMES OF THE YEAR

From the college football championship to the women’s Olympic gold medal game to an 18-inning marathon at the World Series, this was a year when some of the most memorable contests required working overtime. By National Writer Paul Newberry. SENT: 1,150 words, photos.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Other Saturday Bowls:

FBC--PEACH BOWL PREVIEW

ATLANTA — There may be no better way for No. 10 Florida to conclude its comeback season under first-year coach Dan Mullen than to beat No. 8 Michigan in the Peach Bowl. Michigan is 4-0 in the series, including a runaway win in the 2017 season-opening game. By Charles Odum. SENT: 750 words, photos. With capsule.

FBC--BELK BOWL PREVIEW

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jake Bentley threw for 510 yards and five touchdowns against No. 2-ranked Clemson last month, so don’t expect the South Carolina quarterback to be afraid of anyone — even though his best wide receiver won’t play Saturday against Virginia in the Belk Bowl. By Steve Reed. SENT: 750 words, photos. With capsule.

FBC--ARIZONA BOWL PREVIEW

TUCSON, Ariz. — Nevada is back in Tucson, where it won the inaugural Arizona Bowl in 2015. Wolf Pack coach Jay Norvell also is returning to the desert, where his last visit ended in a blowout loss to Arizona. By John Marshall. SENT: 500 words, photos. With capsule.

Friday Bowls:

FBC--MUSIC CITY BOWL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Auburn finished its up-and-down season with a spectacular performance. A record-setting encore in the Music City Bowl. Jarrett Stidham threw for a career-high 373 yards and five touchdowns and Auburn pounded Purdue 63-14. By Teresa M. Walker. SENT: 830 words, photos.

FBC--CAMPING WORLD BOWL

ORLANDO, Fla. —Syracuse sent Eric Dungey out a winner, and got a good look at its future. Dungey capped his record-setting college career by throwing for 303 yards and 17th-ranked Syracuse got its first 10-win season since 2001 by topping No. 15 West Virginia 34-18 in the Camping World Bowl. By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 750 words, photos.

FBC--ALAMO BOWL

SAN ANTONIO —Gardner Minshew II and that glorious mustache conjured up a final bit of magic in a grand finale for No. 12 Washington State in a 28-26 win over No. 25 Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl on Friday night. By Jim Vertuno. SENT: 930 words, photos.

NFL

FBN--BILLS-WILLIAMS RETIRING

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. —Kyle Williams knows he’s more than capable of returning for a 14th season. What the Buffalo Bills defensive tackle wasn’t sure he can handle is spending another spring and summer of practice and training camp watching his children play T-ball and soccer on FaceTime. By John Wawrow. SENT: 980 words, photo.

Also:

— FBN--RAMS-GURLEY OUT — By Greg Beacham. SENT: 700 words, photos.

— FBN--PATRIOTS-BRADY — SENT: 630 words, photos.

— FBN--JETS-ENUNWA EXTENSION — By Pro Football Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. SENT: 150 words, photos.

NBA

BKN--MAVERICKS-PELICANS

NEW ORLEANS — Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle called it “breathtaking.” Anthony Davis called it just another day at the office, admittedly with a few extra deep breaths. Davis hit a go-ahead, fall-away jumper with 43.9 seconds left and scored a season-high 48 points to outduel rookie Luka Doncic and lift the New Orleans Pelicans over the Mavericks 114-112. SENT: 780 words, photos.

Also:

— BKN--CAVALIERS-MCCAW — By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 190.

— BKN--LAKERS-RONDO SURGERY — SENT: 250 words, photos.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

BKC--PAC-12 PREVIEW

PHOENIX — No. 17 Arizona State enters conference play on a roll. Most of the Pac-12, however, missed on early opportunities. The league could have as few as two NCAA Tournament bids unless a few more teams pick up the pace during the Pac-12 season. By John Marshall. SENT: 850 words, photos.

— Also:

— BKC--UCONN-OLLIE — By Pat Eaton-Robb. SENT: 350 words, photos.

— BKC--HAWAII PACIFIC-PLAYER DEATH — SENT: 140 words.

SOCCER

SOC--BROWNS-CREW PURCHASE

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns agree to buy the operating rights to the Columbus Crew, guaranteeing the soccer team will not relocate. Before the NFL team’s ownership became involved there was a strong chance the Crew, one of the MLS’s founding franchises, would move to Austin, Texas. By Tom Withers. SENT: 400 words, photos.

UFC

MMA--UFC 232

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Dana White knew the UFC would take some pretty big hits, both financial and otherwise, when he moved its traditional end-of-the-year show from Las Vegas to Southern California on six days’ notice to keep Jon Jones on the card despite his latest positive drug test. Some hits are more damaging than others, however. By Greg Beacham. SENT: 870 words, photos.

SKIING

SKI--WCUP-WOMEN’S GS

SEMMERING, Austria — Petra Vlhova of Slovakia wins a World Cup giant slalom for the first time, overtaking first-run leader Mikaela Shiffrin. Shriffin, the Olympic champion who had won five straight races, made mistakes in the second run and dropped to fifth. By Eric Willemsen. SENT: 550 words, photos.

SKI--WCUP-MEN’S DOWNHILL

BORMIO, Italy — Dominik Paris and Christof Innerhofer give Italy a 1-2 finish before home fans in a demanding World Cup downhill on the Stelvio course. Bryce Bennett of the U.S. is fourth. Slovenia’s Klemen Losi crashes and is airlifted to a hospital with suspected facial trauma. SENT: 550 words, photos.

OTHER

— OLY--SAFESPORT CEO — By National Writer Eddie Pells. SENT: 320 words, photos.

— HKO--WORLD JUNIORS — SENT: 449 words, photos.

— TEN--AUSTRALIAN OPEN-HEAT POLICY — SENT: 200 words.

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.

BOWL GAMES

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.

TOP 25 BASKETBALL

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. 2 Notre Dame vs. Coppin State, Noon

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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