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BC-AP Sports Digest

December 27, 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



LeBron James, who went to the NBA Finals for the eighth straight year and then changed addresses again, is the AP’s Male Athlete of the Year for the third time. Now with the Los Angeles Lakers, James remained the game’s dominant player, adding even more glitz on a legacy that reached epic status long ago. By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 900 words, photos. With list.


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Nick Saban’s return to the Dolphins’ stadium stirs memories — of his only losing season in 25 years as a head coach, and of his awkward exit after just two years in the NFL. He left for Alabama, where he has won five national titles and awaits a playoff semifinal Saturday against Oklahoma. By Steven Wine. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 4 p.m.

— With:

— FBC--T25-CFP-SEMIFINALS-THE LATEST — Real-time updates throughout day.


TEMPE, Ariz. — Larry Fitzgerald probably hasn’t been on a worse team than this year’s Arizona Cardinals. And when he takes the field in Seattle, it might be his last NFL game in his remarkable 15-year career. By Bob Baum. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 7 p.m.


RALEIGH, N.C. — Duke basketball has earned must-see status with its touted freshmen and No. 1 ranking. Yet No. 4 Virginia is the ACC’s only unbeaten team, with league play set to begin next week. By Aaron Beard. UPCOMING: 800 words and photos by 3 p.m.



Fox has been one of the great successes in sports broadcasting. The network brought viewers closer to the game and its one-hour pregame show heightens the sense of a big production. All of which was put in motion 25 years ago this month when Fox bought NFL broadcast rights for $1.6 billion over four years. By Joe Reedy. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.


College Football Playoff:


ARLINGTON, Texas — Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins is a rare four-year college football star and the leader of the second-ranked Tigers. Wilkins is equally adept at keeping things light and making sure the Tigers don’t lose their edge. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 6 p.m.


ARLINGTON, Texas — Notre Dame is back in championship contention at the end of the season for the first time since 2012 when the Irish were routed by Alabama. This team isn’t bothered by what happened then and is focused only on Clemson. By Stephen Hawkins. UPCOMING. 700 words, photos by 6 p.m.

— With:

— FBC--CFP-COTTON BOWL-QB SWITCHES — By Stephen Hawkins. SENT: 750 words, photos.


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Kyler Murray’s immediate future includes rest, fluids and the Orange Bowl against Alabama. After that, he’s not sure. The ailing Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman winner must decide between football, baseball or both. He’s not thinking this semifinal might be his last football game. By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 400 words, photos.

Thursday Games:


SHREVEPORT, La. — Duke (7-5) plays Temple (8-4) in the Independence Bowl, with the Blue Devils having dropped four of their past six games, including routs by Clemson and Wake Forest. Temple lost coach Geoff Collins to Georgia Tech after the regular season. By David Brandt. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game started 1:30 p.m.


NEW YORK — Wisconsin (7-5) and Miami (7-5) meet in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, with each trying to end on a strong note after seasons that were big disappointments — both were ranked in the top 10 in the preseason. The game is a rematch of last season’s Orange Bowl, a 34-24 victory by the Badgers. By Dan Gelston. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 5:15 p.m.


HOUSTON — Baylor takes on Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl in a game between 6-6 teams. The Bears won just one game a year ago. The Commodores need a victory to reach seven wins for the first time since going 9-4 in 2013. These teams are strangers, having last met in 1954. By Kristie Rieken. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos Game starts 9 p.m.

Friday Games:

— FBC--MUSIC CITY BOWL PREVIEW — Purdue vs. Auburn in Nashville, Tenn. By Teresa M. Walker. UPCOMING: 650 words by 5 p.m. With capsule.

— FBC--ALAMO BOWL PREVIEW — Washington State vs. Iowa State in San Antonio. By Jim Vertuno. UPCOMING: 650 words by 6 p.m. With capsule.

— FBC--CAMPING WORLD BOWL PREVIEW — West Virginia vs. Syracuse in Orlando, Fla. By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 750 words, photos. With capsule.

— Also:

— FBC--T25-PEACH BOWL-NFL DECISIONS — By Charles Odum. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 3 p.m.

— FBC--VIRGINIA-BELK BOWL — By Hank Kurz Jr. UPCOMING: 550 words, photos by 3 p.m.



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. UPCOMING: 1,700 words, photos by 6 p.m. For weekend use.


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Home is where the wins are. New England Patriots players, puzzled by a perfect record at home while going 3-5 away from Gillette Stadium, look to complete an 8-0 home season against the New York Jets (4-11). UPCOMING: 550 words by 7 p.m.


FRISCO, Texas — Ezekiel Elliott is counting on playing against the Giants even though the Cowboys are locked into the fourth seed as NFC East champs. If he does, it won’t be because coach Jason Garrett wants to secure the rushing title for his star running back. By Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 8 p.m.


RENTON, Wash. — Michael Dickson has proved to be a punting whiz during his rookie season for the Seattle Seahawks. But even he was a little anxious last week when he was nearly called on to drop kick a field goal or extra point. By Tim Booth. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 7 p.m.

— Also:

— FBN--INSIDE THE NUMBERS — By Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow. SENT: 850 words, photos.

— FBN--CHIEFS-CHRIS AND DEE — By Dave Skretta. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 6 p.m.

— FBN--FALCONS-JULIO’S HOPES — By George Henry. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 6 p.m.

— FBN--SAINTS-RANKINS — By Brett Martel. SENT: 650 words, photos.

— FBN--BEARS-DEFENSIVE HEAT — UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 6 p.m.



HOUSTON — James Harden and the first-place Houston Rockets look for their eighth win in nine games when they play the Boston Celtics. Harden scored 41 points on Christmas Day and has had 30 or more in seven consecutive games. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 8 p.m.



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The two teams that shared the Southeastern Conference regular-season title last year look like prime contenders again — No. 3 Tennessee and No. 12 Auburn are the SEC’s two highest-ranked teams. By Steve Megargee. SENT: 700 words, photos.



ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Rafael Nadal is confident he’ll be fully ready to pursue an 18th Grand Slam title when the Australian Open begins in just more than two weeks. Nadal quit his last match — the U.S. Open semifinals — because of a knee injury and had ankle surgery in early November. SENT: 350 words, photos.


— SOC--ITALY-RACISM-RONALDO — Cristiano Ronaldo comes to defense of Italian league player subjected to racist chants. SENT: 300 words, photos.

— SOC--ITALY-FAN DIES — Inter Milan fan dies after clashes with opposing fans. SENT: 250 words, photos.


— HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLER-DREADLOCKS CUT — Family of New Jersey wrestler told to cut dreads or forfeit won’t seek legal action. SENT: 140 words, photos.

— OLY--RUSSIAN DOPING — Russian anti-doping agency seeks Putin’s help to getting lab data. SENT: 300 words.

— SAI--SYDNEY-HOBART — Comanche in front in Sydney to Hobart yacht race. UPCOMING: 250 words, photos by midnight.

— ATH--OBIT-NEW ZEALAND-BAILLIE — Bill Baillie, New Zealander who set world records in obscure running events, dies at 84. SENT: 150 words.






Thursday Time Schedule (EST)


Boston at Houston, 8 p.m.

New York at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.

L.A. Lakers at Sacramento, 10 p.m.

Philadelphia at Utah, 10:30 p.m.

Portland at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.


New Jersey at Boston, 7 p.m.

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

Detroit at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

Carolina at Washington, 7 p.m.

Philadelphia at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.

Buffalo at St. Louis, 8 p.m.

Calgary at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.

Dallas at Nashville, 8 p.m.

Minnesota at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

Vancouver at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

Colorado at Vegas, 10 p.m.

Anaheim at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

Arizona at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.

College Football

Independence Bowl at Shreveport, La.: Temple vs. Duke, 1:30 p.m.

Pinstripe Bowl at New York: Miami vs. Wisconsin, 5:15 p.m.

Texas Bowl at Houston: Baylor vs. Vanderbilt, 9 p.m.

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