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    If three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer has his way, Major League Baseball's pitch clock will die in the South Florida humidity. 'I know as players that's something that MLB is trying to negotiate,' the Washington Nationals ace said Saturday night. 'I don't think there's negotiation here. As players, it just shouldn't be in the game. Having a pitch clock, if you have ball-strike implications, that's messing with the fabric of the game. There's no clock in baseball and there's no clock in baseball for a reason.' After pushing for an agreement with players last season, management decided on its own to experiment with a 20-second pitch clock during spring training this year, part of the sport's effort to speed the pace of play. Owners have the right to implement the clock for the regular season but would prefer to reach an agreement with the union. Under the phase-in designed to allow teams to get used to the concept without fear of penalty, pitchers and batters who were taking too long in Saturday's games were merely warned to hurry up. When the policy, which has been used in some minor leagues since 2015, is phased in, a ball could be charged in certain situations to pitchers who do not begin their motion in time. Batters delaying the game might draw a strike. Washington played its Grapefruit League opener Saturday night against Houston. Scherzer came close to using the full 20 seconds on a couple of occasions with runners on base, but the clock didn't expire. The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches features a pitch clock beneath the main outfield scoreboard and two at ground level behind home plate near each dugout. 'Now having to actually throw to it, I think it's more of a distraction than anything,' Scherzer said. 'I get that there are parts of the game that we can clean up and I think that there can be meaningful changes. I'm fundamentally against this.' A newly elected member of the Major League Baseball Players Association's executive board, Scherzer felt his first outing dragging a bit, attributing the slow play to a high amount of foul balls. He referenced an article published a few days ago by FiveThirtyEight citing an increase in foul balls as being a major reason for longer games. 'I'm not going to put my name next to this clock,' he said. Scherzer allowed one run on Jake Marisnick's homer, one of three hits he gave up in two innings. He struck out three and walked one while throwing 25 of 44 pitches for strikes. The home run by Marisnick to straightaway center field led off the game and came on a 2-2 fastball. 'It's a fastball right down the middle, that's what it goes back to,' Scherzer said. 'I've got to get that fastball to the edge.' ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • E_Castillo (1), Wendle (1), Solak (1). DP_Tampa Bay 0, Minnesota 2. LOB_Tampa Bay 8, Minnesota 4. 2B_Meadows (1), Lowe (1), Gomez (1). HR_Buxton (1). SB_Brosseau (1), Velazquez (1). CS_Smolinski (1). SF_Brosseau (1), Astudillo (1). HBP_by_Yarbrough (Cruz). Balk_Kolarek. Umpires_Home, Tim Timmons; First, Marvin Hudson; Second, Sam Holbrook; Third, Ramon De Jesus. T_3:07. A_6,626
  • Zach Cooks had two steals, resulting in a layup and a 3-pointer, in the final minutes to help NJIT retake the lead and then hold off Jacksonville 77-73 on Saturday. The Dolphins were up 71-67 at the 2:59 mark after DeAnthony McCallum drove for a layup. NJIT's Shyquan Gibbs answered with a quick 3 to close to 71-70. Cooks stole the ball on Jacksonville's next possession and scored underneath for a 72-71 advantage. He swiped the ball on the following possession and drained a 3 for a 75-71 lead with 1:32 remaining. Cooks finished with 24 points and a career-best 13 rebounds for NJIT (20-9, 8-6 Atlantic Sun Conference) which has won two consecutive games after dropping four straight. Diandre Wilson added 20 points for the Highlanders. JD Notae had 25 points to go with eight rebounds for Jacksonville (12-17, 5-9). McCallum finished with 19 points.
  • When South Florida closed within one late in the first half, Corey Davis Jr. said the Cougars got greedy. Houston quickly extended its lead and never looked back. DeJon Jarreau scored 17 points, Davis added 15 and No. 9 Houston won its 11th straight with a 71-59 victory over South Florida on Saturday night. 'When we get into situations like that, we just somehow, some way find a way to make the right plays, get the right defensive stops, get a rebound, hit some 3s,' Davis said. 'It always falls in our favor. I think that all comes down to us playing how hard as we usually play.' Houston (26-1, 13-1 American Athletic Conference) shot 48 percent and never trailed in its 33rd straight home victory. Davis was 4 of 9 on 3-pointers as the Cougars shot 8 of 21 from behind the arc. 'I think this late in the season, you're trying not to be openly analytical,' Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. 'I can come out with a litany of things we need to get better on, but I thought the key tonight was our halfcourt man-to-man defense was outstanding.' David Collins had 12 points on 2-of-14 shooting from the field and grabbed eight rebounds, and Alexis Yetna added nine points for USF (18-9, 7-7). 'We had some clean looks, and when you play them, every open shot feels like you have to make every one,' USF coach Brian Gregory said. 'We needed an 'A' shooting night against them, and obviously, we didn't get that. A lot has to do with their defense.' The Bulls shot 31 percent from the field. 'That's as good a defensive team as there is in the country,' Gregory said. 'Not only are they really solid defensively, but they got multiple bodies that can be thrown at you.' Houston jumped out to an 11-0 lead, hitting its first four field goals, including two 3-pointers from Davis. Trailing 23-13 with 8:44 left in the first half, USF went on a 10-1 run to cut the lead to one on Yetna's layup with 5 minutes remaining. Houston finished the half on a 10-3 run to take a 34-26 halftime advantage behind seven points from Jarreau and Fabian White Jr. The Cougars scored the first seven points out of the break to push the lead to 41-26 on Davis' 3-pointer 1 ½ minutes in the second half. USF got no closer than 12 the rest of the way. BIG PICTURE South Florida: The Bulls started 0 for 7 from the field and finished the half 7 for 25. USF struggled from behind the arc, shooting 8 for 27, but also committed 15 turnovers. The Bulls outscored Houston in second-chance points 13-4. Houston: The Cougars had great ball movement throughout, finishing with 13 assists on 25 field goals. Houston also controlled the paint, outscoring the Bulls 30-14. Houston committed 12 turnovers. 'Our point guard play was outstanding for 40 minutes,' Sampson said. 'Galen (Robinson Jr.) is really good at what Galen does; DeJon is really good at what DeJon does. They allow us for 40 minutes to keep pressure at the point of attack.' POLL IMPLICATIONS With the win in their lone game of the week, the Cougars could rise in the rankings. FACES IN THE CROWD Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and Ravens linebacker Tyus Bowser sat courtside next to Houston's radio, while Saints running back Alvin Kamara sat next to the USF bench. Kamara is a friend of Jarreau's. 'That is somebody I met through mutual friends,' Jarreau said. 'He was close to my cousin who passed away. I met him as soon as he got drafted to the Saints. From there, we gained a relationship and bonded and he took me under his wing. He is kind of mentoring me because he took the same route that I took going to a school, transferring to a (junior college) and coming back and having success at another college.' UP NEXT South Florida: Hosts Central Florida on Wednesday. Houston: Travels to East Carolina on Wednesday.
  • First Period_1, Florida, Trocheck 6 (Dadonov), 11:56. 2, Los Angeles, D.Brown 13, 13:59. Penalties_Walker, LA, (interference), 4:36; Doughty, LA, (tripping), 18:39. Second Period_3, Florida, Huberdeau 17, 13:33. 4, Florida, Barkov 25 (Hoffman, Yandle), 18:16 (pp). 5, Florida, Yandle 9 (Barkov, Huberdeau), 19:22 (pp). Penalties_Iafallo, LA, (hooking), 2:50; Huberdeau, FLA, (interference), 11:27; Forbort, LA, (tripping), 16:36; Fantenberg, LA, (high sticking), 18:00. Third Period_6, Florida, McGinn 1, 6:14. 7, Florida, McCoshen 1 (Borgstrom, Brouwer), 6:42. Penalties_None. Shots on Goal_Los Angeles 7-8-4_19. Florida 8-9-8_25. Power-play opportunities_Los Angeles 0 of 1; Florida 2 of 5. Goalies_Los Angeles, Quick 11-16-5 (23 shots-17 saves), Campbell 7-11-0 (2-2). Florida, Luongo 13-13-1 (19-18). A_14,290 (19,250). T_2:21. Referees_Eric Furlatt, Chris Rooney. Linesmen_Tyson Baker, Tony Sericolo.
  • Malik Maitland and Cletrell Pope scored 20 points each and Bethune-Cookman defeated Florida A&M 67-54 on Saturday. Maitland added seven assists and four steals while Pope grabbed 12 rebounds for his 19th double-double this season. The Wildcats (13-15, 8-6 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) led 28-24 at halftime then shot 50 percent in the second half in outscoring the Rattlers (11-18, 8-6) by nine. Justin Ravenel scored 19 points for Florida A&M, making 4 of 8 from the arc and contributing four steals. Bethune-Cookman outscored the Rattlers 24-11 off turnovers and 32-14 in the paint in posting their 10th victory in a row over Florida A&M. The Wildcats took the lead for good on a tip-in by Pope with 15:54 remaining. ---- More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • Garrett Sams had 20 points, including six 3-pointers, as North Florida narrowly beat Liberty 75-70 on Saturday. Caleb Homesley's 3-pointer drew Liberty to within two points, 72-70 with six seconds remaining. The Flames then fouled J.T. Escobar who made both free throws to seal the win. Wajid Aminu had 19 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for North Florida (14-16, 8-7 Atlantic Sun Conference), which won its fifth consecutive game. Carter Hendricksen added 13 points. Ivan Gandia-Rosa had 12 points and seven assists for the hosts. Caleb Homesley had 17 points for the Flames (23-6, 12-2), whose five-game win streak came to an end. Scottie James added 16 points and 14 rebounds. Keenan Gumbs had 14 points. The Ospreys evened the season series against the Flames with the win. Liberty defeated North Florida 70-64 on Jan. 19. North Florida finishes out the regular season against Stetson at home on Tuesday. Liberty faces Kennesaw State at home on Tuesday. ___ For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25 ___ Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights, http://www.automatedinsights.com/ap, using data from STATS LLC, https://www.stats.com
  • Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau was at the perfect place at just the right time against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Huberdeau dashed out of the penalty box and scored on a breakaway to help lift the Panthers to a 6-1 win over the Kings, as Florida closed out a seven-game homestand. With the game tied at 1-all in the second period, Huberdeau stepped out of the penalty box and collected an errant slap shot by Anze Kopitar that wrapped around the boards and skidded beyond defenseman Drew Doughty. Huberdeau then skated in on goalie Jonathan Quick and scored his 17th goal of the season at 13:33, giving the Panthers a lead they never relinquished. 'That was the difference, I thought, in the game,' Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. 'All of a sudden he gets out of the box and he gets a goal and it's 2-1 and you see the bench automatically stand up a little bit.' The Kings' captain said he has to make a better play in that situation. 'The second goal, I'll take full responsibility for that,' Kopitar said. 'You've got to hit the net there, and the puck goes around the wall right to the guy, he's got a breakaway and he scores. That's really a momentum-changer.' With Florida set to begin a 5-on-3 power play, Boughner called a timeout because his players were 'huffing and puffing,' and Aleksander Barkov and Keith Yandle responded with goals. Barkov netted his 25th goal at 18:16 for a 3-1 lead. Yandle then pushed it to 4-1 when he scored the second power-play goal, his ninth, at 19:22, through plenty of traffic in front of Quick. 'We had a power play and a chance to get in front,' Los Angeles coach Willie Desjardins said. 'They got a break coming out of the box to make it 2-1. We were still there, and then they got the 5-on-3 and they got two off that.' Vincent Trocheck, Jamie McGinn and Ian McCoshen also scored, and Barkov, Huberdeau and Yandle added assists for the Panthers, who have won four of five and are 10-5-0 in their last 15. Florida's Roberto Luongo stopped 18 shots and tied Ed Belfour for third place in career wins among goaltenders with 484. 'Listen, it's nice obviously to get those recognitions, but at the end of the day I just want to get wins for our club and obviously make a push here and try to sneak in back in the playoffs,' Luongo said. Dustin Brown scored for the Kings, who dropped their seventh straight. Quick stopped 17 of 23 shots before being lifted in the third period. Jack Campbell made two saves in relief. Trocheck skated into the left circle in the second period, took a pass from Evgenii Dadonov and scored his sixth goal, and first since Jan. 21 at 11:56 of the first. Brown tied it at 1 when he stole a pass just outside the blue line, raced in on Luongo and scored his 13th goal at 13:59. Brown, who ended a run of 12 games without a goal, nearly scored his second to give Los Angeles its first lead on a short-handed breakaway in the period's last minute, but Luongo denied him. McGinn and McCoshen scored their first goals of the season in the third period — McGinn at 6:14, McCoshen 28 seconds later — for the final margin. NOTES: Brown's goal was his first since Jan. 17. . Doughty skated in his franchise-record 389th consecutive game. . Florida concluded its seven-game homestand with a 4-3-0 mark. . The Panthers scratched C Derick Brassard ahead of Monday's trade deadline. The club acquired the unrestricted free agent Brassard and C Riley Sheahan (also a UFA) plus three 2019 picks from Pittsburgh on Feb. 1. . Barkov's fourth consecutive multi-point game is the longest such streak of his career. . McGinn skated in his 600th NHL game. UP NEXT Kings: At Tampa Bay on Monday. Panthers: At Colorado on Monday. ___ More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • A quirk in Houston's early spring training schedule will force manager A. J. Hinch to use veteran stars such as outfielders George Springer and Michael Brantley earlier than he'd like. Hinch isn't pleased that his Astros will play split-squad games — at the New York Mets, home vs. Atlanta — on Sunday, the second day of their Grapefruit League play. 'Tomorrow we have a split squad, which is probably the worst possible scenario for the beginning of camp because I don't really love playing guys this early,' Hinch said. 'As we push the season earlier — into March now — spring training games, now it feels like mid-February, and we're revving guys up. The position players don't need as long a time to get ready for a season.' The 2017 World Series champion Astros field a veteran team and many of those guys entered camp with injury questions. Using the designated hitter spot as sort of a half day off, one of Hinch's toughest tasks, especially early in spring, will be choosing who gets those at-bats. Springer, a two-time All-Star and the 2017 World Series MVP who is coming off a thumb injury, will make his debut on Sunday as a designated hitter. Brantley, a three-time All-Star who signed with Houston as a free agent, will DH the other game and won't play the field for at least a week. The 10-year veteran played 141 games last season but only 101 combined games in 2016-17 because of injuries. Returning from offseason knee surgery, 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve won't debut until Monday, when he'll DH instead of playing second base. 'We have a predominantly veteran team that's been around,' Hinch said. 'We have a team where there's few questions and outside of a few health questions and a few decisions we have to make there's not a lot of stress going into this spring as to what we need to implement.' Saturday night's lineup for the Astros' Grapefruit League opener against Washington wasn't exactly indicative of the team Hinch intends to field when Houston opens the season on March 28 at Tampa Bay, lacking any regulars from last season. Outfielder Jake Marisnick, the closest thing to a regular in the lineup, led off the game by homering against Max Scherzer. Derek Fisher and Kyle Tucker completed the started outfield while the Astros regulars watched from the dugout. 'I have to play them tomorrow,' Hinch said. 'Springer will player tomorrow, (Josh) Reddick will play tomorrow. Yuli (Gurriel) will play tomorrow. Everybody that you recognize is on our team will likely play tomorrow, minus the infielders.' Third baseman Alex Bregman, who underwent offseason elbow surgery, isn't expected to make his Grapefruit League debut until the weekend. Unlike his other teammates, Bregman won't be eased back into Grapefruit League play by starting at DH. 'He'll play third base as soon as he's ready,' Hinch said. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Leo Goodman had 16 points as Stetson narrowly beat North Alabama 63-60 on Saturday. Christiaan Jones had 15 points and six rebounds for Stetson (7-22, 3-11 Atlantic Sun Conference). Abayomi Iyiola added 12 rebounds. Tavon King scored a season-high 21 points for the Lions (9-20, 6-8). Kendarius Smith added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Kendall Stafford had 12 points and seven rebounds. Jamari Blackmon, who led the Lions in scoring heading into the contest with 15 points per game, scored 2 points on 1-of-10 shooting. The Hatters leveled the season series against the Lions with the win. North Alabama defeated Stetson 63-62 on Jan. 19. Stetson matches up against North Florida on the road on Tuesday. North Alabama faces Jacksonville at home on Tuesday. ___ For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25 ___ This was generated by Automated Insights, http://www.automatedinsights.com/ap, using data from STATS LLC, https://www.stats.com