AP NEWS
Related topics

BC-AP Sports Digest

April 5, 2019

The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed by Simmi Buttar at 5 p.m. and Bob Lenz 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 EDT.

AP Sports runs a weekly podcast looking at big moments and issues in sports. The podcast is sent every Tuesday, hosted by columnist Jim Litke. Guests include journalists, athletes and other newsmakers. Listen at podcastonesports.com, the podcastone app and apple podcasts. https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-weekly-podcast

Jalen Hurts is bringing a bit of Nick Saban to Oklahoma. On the latest AP Top 25 College Football Podcast, George Schroeder of USA Today joins the AP’s Ralph Russo to talk about the quarterback’s transition from Alabama to the Sooners.

https://www.podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast

TOP STORIES

BKC--AP PLAYER OF THE YEAR

MINNEAPOLIS _ Duke freshman Zion Williamson is the runaway choice for men’s college basketball player of the year by The Associated Press. The 6-foot-7, 285-pounder made headlines with his overpowering play and thundering dunks. By College Basketball Writer Aaron Beard. SENT: 800 words, photos.

BKW--FINAL FOUR-OREGON-BAYLOR

TAMPA, Fla. _ Baylor, winners of 27 straight, plays Final Four newcomer Oregon in the women’s NCAA semifinals. The Lady Bears have been winning in the tournament by an average of 38 points. Oregon, led by Sabrina Ionescu, upset Mississippi State in the Elite Eight. By Fred Goodall. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game starts 7 p.m.

BKW--FINAL FOUR-UCONN-NOTRE DAME

TAMPA, Fla. _ In the best current rivalry in women’s basketball, defending champion Notre Dame plays UConn in the semifinals. The Huskies have a record run of 12 straight Final Fours. These schools split their six meetings in the Final Four or national title game since 2011. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game starts 9:30 p.m.

_ With:

_ BKW--WOMEN’S FINAL FOUR-THE LATEST _ Real-time updates throughout day.

BKC--FINAL FOUR-DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS

MINNEAPOLIS _ Basketball games can be like video games, where Steph Curry wannabes rule. High-flying offenses are the rage in football. Then came the lowest-scoring Super Bowl and March Madness. Maybe the lesson is this: Defense wins championships. By National Writer Eddie Pells. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 p.m.

_ With:

_ BKC--FINAL FOUR-DEFENSES-HOW THEY WORK _ Virginia, Texas Tech bring tough-edged feel to Final Four. By Aaron Beard. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 6 p.m.

GLF--MASTERS-MANNERS

AUGUSTA, Ga. _ The Masters is the only major held at the same course and the only one run by a private club. And that creates a no-nonsense atmosphere at Augusta National. Fans do not bellow from the gallery, and a player will think twice before throwing an iron in a fit of anger. By Writer Doug Ferguson. SENT: 900 words, photos.

_ With:

_ GLF--MASTERS-TRIVIA QUIZ _ By Doug Ferguson. SENT: 500 words.

_ GLF--MASTERS-CAPSULES _ By Doug Ferguson. Capsule look at 15 contenders. SENT: 1,500 words.

SPORTS SHOWCASE

FBN--JETS-CHANGING THE BRAND

NEW YORK _ New colors, tweaked logo, flashy uniforms, fired-up fans and players. Gone is the familiar hunter green and white. The New York Jets are the latest NFL team to flip the page in its playbook and call for a major rebranding. By Dennis Waszak Jr. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.

FINAL FOUR

Men:

BKC--FINAL FOUR-AUBURN-VIRGINIA PREVIEW

MINNEAPOLIS _ Top-seeded Virginia faces Auburn in a Final Four semifinal Saturday that is a classic matchup of slow vs. fast. The Cavaliers play a methodical brand of basketball. The Tigers are frenetic. By College Sports Writer Ralph D. Russo. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 p.m.

BKC--FINAL FOUR-TRXAS TECH-MICHIGAN ST PREVIEW

MINNEAPOLIS _ Hunker down for this one. The second semifinal features Texas Tech, the team with the best defense in a generation, against Michigan State, the nose-in-the-dirt team whose coach used to put helmets and shoulder pads on his players for practice. By National Writer Eddie Pells. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 p.m.

BKC--FINAL FOUR-BIG TEN BLUEPRINT

MINNEAPOLIS _ It’s been nearly two decades since the Big Ten won a national title. But even if Michigan State does not end the drought, the team that emerges will have a coach who followed the fierce Big Ten blueprint _ play like it’s November on the gridiron. By Dave Skretta. SENT: 800 words, photos.

_ Also:

_ BKC--FINAL FOUR-THE LATEST _ Real-time updates throughout day.

_ BKC--FINAL FOUR-INJURED STARS _ Michigan State’s Joshua Langford, Auburn’s Chuma Okeke are injured but playing key roles. By Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 850 words, photos.

_ BKC--FINAL FOUR NUTRITION _ Proper nutrition is now a big player for teams. By Basketball Writer John Marshall. SENT: 800 words, photos.

_ BKC--FINAL FOUR-MICHIGAN ST-IZZO _ Michigan State’s Tom Izzo may have done the best coaching job of his Hall of Fame career. By Larry Lage. SENT: SENT: 900 words, photos.

_ Coaches:

_ BKC--VANDERBILT-STACKHOUSE _ Vanderbilt, winless in SEC, hires Grizzlies assistant, ex-NBA star Jerry Stackhouse as coach. Teresa M. Walker. SENT: 150 words, photos. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 4 p.m.

_ BKC--GEORGIA STATE-LANIER _ Georgia State hires Tennessee assistant Rob Lanier as coach. SENT: 250 words, photos.

Women:

BKW--FINAL FOUR-GOTTLIEB’S ANALYSIS

TAMPA, Fla. _ Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb faced three of the four women’s Final Four participants this season. She says this might be the most competitive Final Four in many years. By Lindsay Gottlieb. SENT: 900 words, photos.

BKW--FINAL FOUR-DAVENPORT-MOVING FORWARD

TAMPA, Fla. _ Alabama high school basketball player Maori Davenport is back playing with USA Basketball. She drew national attention when she was suspended by state officials for accidentally accepting a check from the governing body that her family repaid. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. SENT: 600 words, photos.

_ Also:

_ BKW--FINAL FOUR-IONESCU DECISION _ Sabrina Ionescu will soon decide whether she’s returning to Oregon or entering WNBA draft. By Doug Feinberg. SENT: 700 words, photos.

BASEBALL

BBA--MARINERS-WHITE SOX

CHICAGO _ Yusei Kikuchiof the Mariners makes his first start since his father died of cancer last weekend, facing the White Sox in Chicago’s home opener. The Japanese pitcher stayed in Seattle, respecting his father’s wishes. By Andrew Seligman. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game started at 2:10 p.m.

BBO--RED SOX-DIAMONDBACKS

PHOENIX _ The Red Sox play Arizona, with Boston 2-6 and off to the worst start for a defending champion since the stripped-down Marlins ran up 108 losses in 1998. Rick Porcello, who gave up nine runs in his first start in 2 2-3 innings, pitches for Boston. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts 7:10 p.m.

GOLF

GLF--LPGA TOUR

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. _ Ally McDonald tries to build on her strong start in the ANA Inspiration, the first major championship of the golf season. She leads by a stroke on a tough, tight course in which only 28 of the 112 players broke par in the first round. By John Nicholson. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos by 10:30 p.m.

GLF--AUGUSTA WOMEN’S AMATEUR

AUGUSTA, Ga. _ Augusta National has never been this busy on a Friday leading into Masters week. The 72 players at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur_ even the 42 players who failed to make the cut _ were on the course preparing for the final round. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 p.m.

_ Also:

_ GLF--VALERO TEXAS OPEN _ Si Woo Kim, the 2017 Players Championship winner, leads by a shot entering second round at Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 9 p.m.

NBA

BKN--NBA PLAYOFF PICTURE

There are 13 games on Friday’s schedule and 11 have playoff implications. With six days left in the regular season plenty remains undecided. But this much is clear: the road to the NBA Finals goes through Milwaukee. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 800 words, photos.

NHL

HKN--LIGHTNING SUPERSTAR KUCHEROV

Nikita Kucherov would rather set up a goal than score himself and that mindset has turned him into one of the NHL’s biggest stars. The Russian winger is the best player on the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning and should cruise to MVP honors. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

HKN--PLAYOFF-PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH _ Erik Gudbranson called his mother. Nick Bjugstad tried to play it cool. The playoffs have been a rite of spring for more than a decade for the Penguins. Not so for the new additions that helped Sidney Crosby & Co. extend the postseason streak to 13 years. By Will Graves. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 6 p.m.

_ Also:

_ HKN--BLUE JACKETS-RANGERS _ Blue Jackets can clinch last remaining playoff spot by beating struggling Rangers. By Vin A. Cherwoo. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 7 p.m.

HORSE RACING

RAC--SANTA ANITA

ARCADIA, Calif. _ Santa Anita awaits a big day of racing Saturday amid a drumbeat of criticism and calls for the track to be shut after the deaths of 23 horses in three months. By Racing Writer Beth Harris. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 7 p.m.

AUTO RACING

CAR--NASCAR-BRISTOL

BRISTOL, Tenn. _ NASCAR moves to the Tennessee mountains, racing with its new rules package at Bristol Motor Speedway. Standings leader Kyle Busch has seven victories at Bristol. By Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Qualifying starts 6:10 p.m.

CAR--INDYCAR-ALABAMA

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. _ The IndyCar series returns to Barber Motor Park for the 10th year, with four of the five previous winners competing on a popular NASCAR road course. By John Zenor. UPCOMING: 550 words by 5 p.m.

SOCCER

SOC--PREMIER LEAGUE-TOP FOUR

The race for the title isn’t the only one likely to go down to the wire in the Premier League. Below Manchester City and Liverpool, four big teams chasing the final two qualification spots for next season’s Champions League. By Steve Douglas. SENT: 8000 words, photos.

_ With:

_ SOC--SOUTHAMPTON-LIVERPOOL _ Liverpool can return to first in Premier League by beating relegation-threatened Southampton. UPCOMING: 400 words, photos by 4 p.m.

BOXING

BOX--SHIELDS-HAMMER SHOWDOWN

NEW YORK _ Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer fight for the undisputed middleweight championship on April 13 in Atlantic City, N.J. They are the first female boxers featured on Showtime’s All Access. By Melissa Murphy. SENT: 900 words, photos.

OTHER

_ TEN--CHARLESTON _ Sloane Stephens plays Madison Keys for semifinal spot in clay-court tournament in South Carolina. UPCOMING: 150 words by 6 p.m.

_ FBN--BROWNS-SIGNINGS _ Browns address hole in secondary, sign former Packer, Steelers safety Morgan Burnett. By Tom Withers. SENT: 350 words, photos.

_ HKW--WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS _ Russia vs. Switzerland, Czech Republic vs. France in preliminary round of women’s hockey worlds in Finland. UPCOMING: 150 words by 4 p.m.

_ RADIO HOST ARRESTED _ Former New York sports radio host Craig Carton gets 3½ years in prison in ticket scam. SENT: 120 words, photos.

CAPSULES

_ BBO--BASEBALL CAPSULES

_ BKN--NBA CAPSULES

_ HKN--NHL CAPSULES

___

Friday Time Schedule (EDT)

Women’s Final Four

At Tampa, Fla.=

Baylor vs. Oregon, 7 p.m.

UConn vs. Notre Dame, 9:30 p.m.

Baseball

Seattle at Chicago White Sox, 2:10 p.m.

L.A. Dodgers at Colorado, 4:10 p.m.

San Diego at St. Louis, 4:15 p.m.

Tampa Bay at San Francisco, 4:35 p.m.

Minnesota at Philadelphia, 7:05 p.m.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 7:05 p.m.

Minnesota at Philadelphia, 7:05 p.m.

Boston at Arizona, 7:10 p.m.

Toronto at Cleveland, 7:10 p.m.

Miami at Atlanta, 7:20 p.m.

Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee, 8:10 p.m.

Oakland at Houston, 8:10 p.m.

Texas at L.A. Angels, 10:07 p.m.

NBA

Atlanta at Orlando, 7 p.m.

San Antonio at Washington, 7 p.m.

Toronto at Charlotte, 7 p.m.

Boston at Indiana, 8 p.m.

Detroit at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m.

Miami at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

New York at Houston, 8 p.m.

Memphis at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Sacramento at Utah, 9 p.m.

New Orleans at Phoenix, 10 p.m.

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

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

Portland at Denver, 10:30 p.m.

NHL

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

Dallas at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

Los Angeles at Anaheim, 10 p.m.