Top-ranked Oregon has trouble in Paradise, loses to No. 8 Louisville


The question of the season in women’s basketball was always to be Oregon and who else?

With three All-Americans back, including the reigning national player of the year, Oregon had to begin as the team to beat — especially with so many other familiar contenders in transition. But would the Ducks run away with the title? What would happen if they opened the door a crack?

Saturday, Louisville barged right through it, the No. 8-ranked Cardinals beating the top-ranked Ducks 72-62 on a neutral court at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. It was Oregon’s first loss by double digits since a regional final against Notre Dame in the 2017 NCAA tournament.

The result said plenty about the Cardinals, who had to replace four starters this season and introduced two transfers and a freshman into their rotation. It said something about the Ducks, who haven’t played as well under the weight of expectations in the early going as their headline-grabbing exhibition win against Team USA might suggest of the preseason favorites.



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Dabo Swinney says Clemson held to different standard by CFP voters


COLUMBIA, S.C. — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose Tigers extended their winning streak to 27 straight games with a 38-3 rout of in-state rival South Carolina, suggested in one of his vintage rants that his team is being unfairly held by some to a different standard in the College Football Playoff race.

His voice dripping with emotion, Swinney said Saturday’s win was huge from a national standpoint because “Obviously, if we lose this game, they are going to kick us out. They don’t want us there anyway. We’d drop to 20 (had Clemson lost to South Carolina). Georgia loses to this very same team, and it’s, ‘How do we keep Georgia in?’

“We win, against the team that beat (Georgia), and it’s, ‘How do we get Clemson out?’ It’s the dadgummest thing.'”

Later, Swinney added facetiously, “We’ve got to go 30-0. We ain’t got no choice because we don’t play nobody.”

Clemson, No. 3 in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings, has won seven straight this season by at least 31 points going back to a 21-20 escape against North Carolina on Sept. 28. Clemson faces Virginia next week for the ACC championship, the Tigers’ fifth straight appearance in the conference title game.

Swinney said the ACC simply doesn’t get enough credit and that the Tigers are being penalized because they had one close game against North Carolina.

“It’s been that way all year long,” said Swinney, whose Tigers have won two of the last three national championships. “Some guy said the other day on the radio, ‘Y’all are pre-North Carolina.’ What season has (he) watched? It’s like, ‘You want me to agree with that?’ We’ve dominated 11 out of 12 games. Dominated. We’re not any different. There’s no pre-North Carolina. We just had one close game where we stunk. We turned it over, gave up a big play, but we won. There’s nobody that’s been more consistent than us.”

Clemson is the first team since at least 1996 to hold all 12 of its regular-opponents under 300 total yards this season and has scored 38 or more points in 10 of its 12 games.

“Again, our league doesn’t get enough credit,” Swinney said. “Maybe we need some of them ACC guys on some of them big network shows they have. Maybe we ought to put (former Clemson sports information director) Tim Bourret on there.

“All I can tell you is that we’re 10-1 against the SEC in our last 11. We’ve won 115 games this decade. So had Ohio State. So had Alabama. We’ve played both of them (and won the last time they played Alabama and the last time they played Ohio State). Our program is what people don’t focus on. Virginia … they would be 9-3 in any league.”

Swinney joked with the media before finishing his impassioned postgame press conference Saturday that he was giving them some “riveting” footage and B-roll, but emphasized that he wasn’t going to apologize for the Tigers’ schedule or their league.

“At the end of the day, it’s not my job to build a good league. It’s my job to build a good program, and I think we’ve done a nice job of that for a long time,” Swinney said. “This team has gone 12-0. In 124 years of Clemson football, and that’s the fourth time, ever — 1981, 2015, 2018 and 2019. It’s hard to do, and there’s only three undefeated teams in America. So if it was easy to be undefeated, how come there’s not more than three?

“There’s some other weak leagues, as people say. How come they ain’t undefeated?”



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Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh testy after his fifth consecutive loss to Ohio State


ANN ARBOR, Mich. – After Ohio State cruised to a 56-27 win over Michigan on Saturday, coach Jim Harbaugh took exception to questions about where the biggest gap is between two programs that seem to be further apart than ever.

Ohio State beat Michigan for the eighth straight time – its longest streak in the series – and Harbaugh dropped to 0-5 against his team’s biggest rival. In their last two games in the series, Ohio State has scored 118 points, leaving Michigan with few answers in the aftermath.

When asked whether the biggest gap involved talent, preparation or coaching, Harbaugh responded, “I’ll answer your questions, not your insults.”

Pressed again about the biggest gap, Harbaugh said, “They played really good. They played better today.”

Harbaugh refused to give much else in response to his team’s struggles to beat Ohio State, saying only, “I thought our team was well prepared. I thought they were playing good football. I thought it was a good football fight, and it got away from us today. Give them credit for playing well.”

After another question about how much he personally wants to beat Ohio State, Harbaugh offered, “We really want to win the game. Yes.”

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields believes something else might be in play.

“We take it more seriously than they do,” Fields said. “Like (strength coach) Mickey Marotti said, ‘We’re preparing for them next year right now.’ It just means more at Ohio State. That’s pretty much the big reason.

“I know a few players on (Michigan) and I just know the things we do in terms of work outs and how serious we take it at Ohio State. So talking to those guys, and getting their perspective on things, I definitely see we take it more serious.”

Those on the Michigan sideline would certainly take exception to that notion, but it is hard to argue with the way Ohio State has made a once competitive rivalry so one-sided. That has led to renewed criticism about Harbaugh and whether he can get Michigan to the same level as Ohio State.

Five years in, this is his team, with his players and his vision, yet the Wolverines have looked lost with so much on the line. His players batted down the idea that there is a mental roadblock when it comes to playing Ohio State despite their recent frustrations.

“We’re just as talented I feel like, and maybe they just made a few more plays than us today, but I feel like we should have been right there, and I don’t think this result should have been the result we should have seen but it’s the one that we have and we’ve just got to live with that,” Michigan linebacker Jordan Glasgow said.

The game Saturday started well enough for Michigan, with an opening touchdown drive that showcased the strides this offense has made over the last six weeks. But Michigan could never slow down J.K. Dobbins or Justin Fields, giving up 577 total yards. Dobbins had 211 yards rushing and four touchdowns.

This is one year after Ohio State scored 62 points, prompting even more questions about defensive coordinator Don Brown and what has gone wrong two straight seasons.

“We’ve got to dig down next year, see what we’ve got,” defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson said. “You’re not going to win ball games when you’re letting up 50, 60 points. It’s not going to happen. We’re a better defense than this. We’re a better team than this. We’re a lot better than the numbers on this sheet.”

Once again, there were too many mistakes for Michigan to overcome, including Shea Patterson’s fumble inside the red zone, a penalty on an Ohio State punt that the Buckeyes turned into a touchdown, and a failed fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter when Hassan Haskins missed a wide open hole and was stopped short.

That all led Michigan players to lament the lack of execution.

“No one’s happy,” Michigan tight end Sean McKeon said. “Definitely really frustrating. Just kind of the same thing every year. We’ve got to execute better and it gets old, but just have to play better against them. “They’re just a team. They’re not an NFL team. Just got to win your one on one matchups and got to have every guy on the field do his job.”

Tom VanHaaren contributed to this report.



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QB Justin Fields’ return from knee injury a ‘magical moment’ for Ohio State


Ann Arbor, Michigan — Late in the third quarter against Michigan, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields had a teammate pushed into his knee, causing it to buckle and reaggravating a sprained MCL he suffered against Penn State.

Fields walked off the field on his own power, went to the medical tent, put on a bigger knee brace than he was already wearing and returned to the field. In his first play after the injury, Fields threw a 30-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to freshman wide receiver Garrett Wilson to put Ohio State up 42-16.

That was one example of the fantastic performance Fields put on in Ohio State’s 56-27 win over rival Michigan.

“I thought it was a magical moment,” coach Ryan Day said. “I thought it was a Heisman moment, for him to go down, take that injury, puts the brace on, comes back out and makes a throw that we didn’t design that way. There were some plays that we design that played out just the way we thought they would today, but that was not one of them.”

Day went on to commend his quarterback for ad-libbing and making a play.

“That’s about as good of a throw I’ve seen in a long time,” Day said. “He put it right in the back of the end zone and that just goes to show what’s inside of him. His heart, his character and his competitive toughness is as good as I’ve ever been around.”

Fields started the game only completing three of his first nine pass attempts for 43 yards, but finished the game 14-of-25, throwing for 302 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Those four touchdowns moved him to second all-time at Ohio State in touchdowns thrown in one season with 37, behind the 50 touchdowns Dwayne Haskins threw last season.

He moved into third for most touchdowns thrown in a single season for Big Ten quarterbacks, behind Haskins and Drew Brees (39).

Fields’ performance Saturday against Michigan helped give the Buckeyes the second most points allowed by the Wolverines under Jim Harbaugh, second only to the 62 points Ohio State scored last season.

Fields didn’t do it all on his own, however, as running back J.K. Dobbins rushed for 211 yards and four touchdowns on 31 attempts and the Ohio State defense shut down Michigan’s offense in the second half, holding quarterback Shea Patterson to 4-of-24 passing in the third and fourth quarter.

It was a full team effort, but Day emphasized the fortitude from his quarterback that ultimately helped push this team to its eighth straight win against Michigan and gave Day his first as the Ohio State head coach.

“You talk about tough, wow. I’ve never been around a tougher quarterback than (Fields),” Day said. “He’s competitively tough, he’s physically tough and then to come in and make that play like that (in the third quarter). That was one of the best throws I’ve seen in a long time.

“In that spot after taking that hit, after just putting a brace on, I don’t even know what to say. It was a magical moment and I’m just proud to have been a part of it.”



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Alabama vs. Auburn – Game Summary – November 30, 2019




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Dion Waiters practices with Heat, apologizes for plane incident


Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters issued a statement Saturday expressing remorse for an airplane incident that led to the veteran being suspended for 10 games.

“I would like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, basketball staff, the fans and the entire organization for the incident that happened on the team plane,” Waiters said in a statement. “I was wrong and take responsibility for what happened and am sorry for what it put everyone through.

“I am happy to be back with my teammates and am looking forward to getting back on the court playing basketball.”

Waiters returned to Heat practice Saturday, and coach Erik Spoelstra said Waiters addressed the team.

“His conditioning is at least at a level where we can work with him and get him to the next step,” Spoelstra said. “And we just want to put this all behind us, get him with the team, and move on from here.

“Look, we’ve had enough time around each other, we understand that a lot of things happen over the course of an NBA season. What we discussed in the sanctuary of our locker room, I just want to keep between us. But we want to move on from this and get him back with the team.”

Waiters experienced a “panic attack” on Nov. 7, during Miami’s flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles, after consuming a THC-infused edible, sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski.

The incident led to Waiters being suspended 10 games without pay by the team — that suspension ended with Friday night’s win over the Warriors.

Though cleared to return, it is uncertain when Waiters will actually make his season debut for the Heat.

He has only been active for two of Miami’s 18 games this season, but has yet to dress and sit on the bench for a game.

The team suspended Waiters for its season opener for “conduct detrimental to the team” after he expressed frustration about his role on the team on social media. He also missed time during the preseason for what the team labeled personal reasons.

The Heat (13-5) enter play Saturday third in the East and next play Sunday in Brooklyn against the Nets.



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Georgia wide receiver George Pickens ejected for fighting vs. Georgia Tech


ATLANTA — Georgia receiver George Pickens was ejected in the third quarter of Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech after trading punches with a Yellow Jackets defensive back.

The SEC confirmed that, per NCAA rules, Pickens would be suspended from playing in the first half of next week’s SEC championship game against No. 2 LSU.

Another concern for UGA heading into the SEC championship game: star tailback D’Andre Swift appeared to injure his left shoulder on a run in the third quarter and didn’t return. He was hurt after taking a direct snap and fumbling the ball with 7:26 to go in the third quarter.

Pickens and Georgia Tech cornerback Tre Swilling fought in the corner of the end zone on Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock’s 9-yard touchdown, which gave the Bulldogs a 38-7 lead with 4:28 to go in the third.

Under NCAA rules, players who are ejected for fighting in the second half of a game are “disqualified for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next game.”

Pickens, from Hoover, Ala., didn’t play in the first half against Georgia Tech for what UGA officials described as a “coach’s decision.” He returned for the No. 4 Bulldogs’ first offensive play of the second half.

He caught a 41-yard touchdown pass to put UGA ahead, 31-7.

The Bulldogs are already playing without leading receiver Lawrence Cager, who will miss the next several weeks with an ankle injury, according to sources.



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Georgia wide receiver George Pickens ejected for fighting


ATLANTA — Georgia receiver George Pickens was ejected in the third quarter of Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech after trading punches with a Yellow Jackets defensive back.

The SEC confirmed that, per NCAA rules, Pickens would be suspended from playing in the first half of next week’s SEC championship game against No. 2 LSU.

Another concern for UGA heading into the SEC championship game: star tailback D’Andre Swift appeared to injure his left shoulder on a run in the third quarter and didn’t return. He was hurt after taking a direct snap and fumbling the ball with 7:26 to go in the third quarter.

Pickens and Georgia Tech cornerback Tre Swilling fought in the corner of the end zone on Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock’s 9-yard touchdown, which gave the Bulldogs a 38-7 lead with 4:28 to go in the third.

Under NCAA rules, players who are ejected for fighting in the second half of a game are “disqualified for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next game.”

Pickens, from Hoover, Ala., didn’t play in the first half against Georgia Tech for what UGA officials described as a “coach’s decision.” He returned for the No. 4 Bulldogs’ first offensive play of the second half.

He caught a 41-yard touchdown pass to put UGA ahead, 31-7.

The Bulldogs are already playing without leading receiver Lawrence Cager, who will miss the next several weeks with an ankle injury, according to sources.



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Terrelle Pryor expected to make full recovery after stabbing


Free-agent receiver Terrelle Pryor is expected to make a full recover after he was stabbed Friday night according to his agent.

Pryor was stabbed in the chest and shoulder at his Pittsburgh apartment and was in critical condition following surgery a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Family members are with Pryor at the hospital, according to Gregory Diulus of Vantage Management Group, which represents Pryor. They have been told he’s expected to make a full recovery. Diulus said he expects to see Pryor on Sunday.

An unidentified woman is in police custody according to WTAE-TV.

Police said they are investigating after officers were called for a male stabbing victim who had walked into the hospital just after 4:30 a.m. ET.

Pryor, 30, entered the league in 2011 and has played with the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

He hasn’t played this season after he was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars in September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Euro 2020 draw Will Germany, France or Portugal be the odd ones out? England, Croatia meet again


Now the Euro 2020 draw has been made, the previews and predictions can begin! The tournament can be viewed LIVE in the U.S. on ESPN networks, from June 12 to July 12.

Jump to: Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F

Group A

Prediction: 1. Italy 2. Wales 3. Turkey 4. Switzerland

Overview: Italy were one of two teams (Belgium) to finish qualifying with a perfect record, but avoiding France and Portugal must come as a relief. Turkey took four points from six against France and go to the Euros with the best defensive record on the continent; an almost impregnable wall comprising Merih Demiral, Ozan Kabak and Caglar Soyuncu. Wales went the furthest of any of these teams at Euro 2016 and we all know where Gareth Bale‘s priorities lie. Switzerland have a wily coach in Vladimir Petkovic and keep games close.

X factor: The atmosphere at the Stadio Olimpico, starting with the tournament opener on June 12 against Turkey. Italy manager Roberto Mancini has talked up replicating the fervour he experienced at Italia `90 and doing so could give an intrepid and fresh-faced side an edge, providing an emotional charge their opponents will find tough to play against.

Must-watch game: Italy vs. Wales (June 21) If Italy knock their heads against Turkey’s brick wall and find it hard to play through a stodgy Switzerland side, the Wales game at the end of this group could light some fireworks. For all his troubles in Madrid, Bale is the arguably the one attacking player in this group who can win a game on his own, while Aaron Ramsey will know all about that Italy backline, having spent a year either training or playing against it.

Group B

Prediction: 1. Belgium 2. Denmark 3. Russia 4. Finland

Overview: No.1 in the FIFA rankings, Belgium had the best attack and defence in qualification and should not be worried by Russia, having beaten them 7-2 on aggregate during their journey to the finals. The Danes are an altogether different proposition and will fancy their chances. Finland, meanwhile, have nothing to lose after reaching a major tournament for the first time in their history. Teemu Pukki scored 10 goals in qualifying.

X factor: Looking beyond Belgium’s array of stars, Christian Eriksen ended qualifying as Denmark’s top scorer and qualifying’s second-best chance creator behind Antoine Griezmann. Out of contract in the summer, unless he extends with Tottenham, the playmaker could be playing to attract the calibre of interest he was unable to arouse [Real Madrid] at the end of last season.

Must-watch game: Finland vs. Russia (June 17) Saint Petersburg is a ferry-ride away from Helsinki so expect the boats to be full. Routinely biffed by bigger neighbours, the Finns impressed in qualifying and Pukki’s battle with Artem Dzyuba, the towering Zenit striker with the best xG numbers of any forward in qualifying [inflated by games against San Marino, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and Scotland], should be fun.

Group C

Prediction: 1. Netherlands 2. Ukraine 3. Kosovo (assuming qualification) 4. Austria

Overview: After missing the last two major tournaments, Netherlands’ run to the Nations League final, combined with Ajax making the final four of last season’s Champions League, is undoubtedly to the benefit of the Euros. Ukraine were so good in qualifying that they forced their way into the top seeds, dumping France into pot two. Austria are reliant on maverick striker Marko Arnautovic, but have talent elsewhere in Marcel Sabitzer, Valentin Lazaro and David Alaba. Of the playoff teams competing to complete the group, Kosovo were such a joy to watch in qualifying that it’s hard not to root for them to reach their first major tournament.

X factor: The Dutch have arguably the best centre-back partnership at the Euros. No centre-back has gone closer to becoming the first defender to win the Ballon d’Or since Fabio Cannavaro than Virgil van Dijk, while his partner Matthijs de Ligt emerged as perhaps the brightest talent of his generation in that position. Moreover, the pair also present a real threat from attacking set-pieces.

Must-watch game: Netherlands vs. Ukraine (June 14) Andriy Shevchenko’s side are a tough cookie, having kept five clean sheets in eight unbeaten qualifiers. Draws in Portugal and Serbia indicate Ukraine won’t be fazed in Amsterdam, meaning it is a trap game for the Dutch. Atalanta playmaker Ruslan Malinovskyi looks like he came through Ajax’s finishing school, such is the refinement of his technique, while Gent striker Roman Yaremcuk — four goals in seven qualifiers — could not wish for a better mentor than Sheva himself.

Group D

Prediction: 1. England 2. Croatia 3. Norway (assuming qualification) 4. Czech Republic

Overview: If England go one better than at the last World Cup when Gareth Southgate’s team reached the semifinals, five of their seven games will be at Wembley. World Cup runners-up Croatia should push them for top spot, although the Czechs beat England in qualifying. When it comes to the playoff teams, a home nations game between England and Scotland appeals, but what about Norway and the talent emerging in their ranks? Don’t you want to see Erling Haland, Martin Odegaard and Sander Berge putting on a show?

X factor: Haland firing Norway to the Euros would be a fantastic story, particularly in the same year he became the first teenager to score in his first five Champions League games. Not guaranteed to see that, we can at least count on the presence of Harry Kane, who finished top scorer in qualifying with 12 goals in eight games.

Must-watch game: England vs. Croatia (June 14) Group D’s opener is a repeat of the 2016 World Cup semifinal and a Nations League tie, in which England came from behind to win late, even if much has changed in recent times. After winning the Ballon d’Or on the back of inspiring his country to the final in Russia, Luka Modric has had one of the worst years of his career, while Ivan Rakitic is on the margins at Barcelona. England, meanwhile, have more talent with Jadon Sancho having burst onto the scene, but have not necessarily pushed on in the last two years.

Group E

Prediction: 1. Spain 2. Poland 3. Sweden 4. Bosnia and Herzegovina (assuming qualification)

Overview: Tensions are high in the Spain camp following Luis Enrique’s return and subsequent war of words with former assistant Robert Moreno; whether the ripple effects are still felt by June remain to be seen. Poland have the best striker in the world in Robert Lewandowski, skilful midfielders like Piotr Zielinski and Wojciech Szczesny, who is overlooked whenever there is a conversation about the best goalkeepers on the planet. Sweden made the quarterfinals of the last World Cup — without Zlatan Ibrahimovic — and look to have found an exciting talent in Dejan Kulusevski. Joining this trio through the playoffs could be Bosnia and Herzegovina. Edin Dzeko would be the third-most prolific international goalscorer at the tournament behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lewandowski, while watching Miralem Pjanic against Spain’s midfield would be quite something.

X factor: Look no further than Lewandowski. Just when you thought he could not get any better, particularly in an unsophisticated and poorly-coached Bayern team — that is, until Hansi Flick replaced Nico Kovac — the 31-year-old is hitting new heights and has scored 31 goals already this season, including four in 14 minutes against Red Star in the Champions League. There is not a more complete No. 9 on the planet.

Must-watch game: Spain vs. Poland (June 20) The question is whether talented Poland can fulfil their potential has been an issue for them since the 1982 World Cup [hosted by Spain]. Watching Lewandowski against Sergio Ramos will be one of the match-ups of the group stages and while Spain have a ridiculous amount of skill and can fold in the winners of last summer’s Under-21 Euros, it is also true that they no longer inspire the same fear as a decade ago.

Group F

Prediction: 1. France 2. Germany 3. Portugal 4. Romania (assuming qualification)

Overview: Didier Deschamps (France) laughed, Joachim Low (Germany) looked ashen-faced and Fernando Santos (Portugal) stared into the distance. Group F, with its six European Championship titles, features holders Portugal and the most recent two world champions in France and Germany, all three of whom reached the semifinals in 2016. Whichever team makes up the numbers via the playoffs, it will be hard to avoid the thought they have simply won the right to finish bottom.

X factor: This could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final international tournament and, recently, his best form has been reserved for Portugal, with 10 goals in qualifying. The 34-year-old is 11 goals away from passing Ali Daei’s mark of 109 as the most prolific international goalscorer of all-time. Ronaldo tends to turn it on against elite nations; remember that hat trick against Spain in the last World Cup?

Must-watch game: France vs. Germany (June 16) Since the end of Spain’s dominance, France and Germany have become Europe’s pre-eminent nations, with one knocking the other out of two of the last three major tournaments. Recent results suggest France have the edge; Antoine Griezmann, for example, inspired a comeback win in the Nations League. This game will set the tone for the rest of the group and eyes will be on Low. Can he go again after disappointing at the last World Cup and in the Nations League, where Germany only avoided relegation because the competition got restructured and expanded.

For more on the Euro 2020 finals, click here; details of the playoffs for the final four places can be found here.



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