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    Devin Vassell scored 17 points and pulled down a career-high eight rebounds while Patrick Williams added 16 points as Florida State cruised to an 89-53 rout of Chattanooga on Wednesday night. Ole Miss graduate transfer Dominik Olejniczak scored his first points at Florida State (3-1), going 5 for 6 from the floor for 10 points and grabbed three rebounds. The Seminoles shot 34 of 65 (52.3%) from the floor. David Jean-Baptiste had 15 points for Chattanooga (3-2). Rod Johnson had 11 points and six rebounds for the Mocs, who shot 23 of 59 (39%). Florida State was without two of its starters, forward RaiQuan Gray and guard M.J. Walker, due to injury. Wyatt Wilkes got his first career start and had five points. TAKEAWAYS Chattanooga: The Mocs trailed by double figures most of the game and couldn’t shoot their way back into it. Chattanooga was just 5 of 24 (20.8%) from 3-point range. Florida State: The Seminoles were able to empty the bench and use 15 players, including a few walk-ons. Without Gray and Walker, Florida State still posted a season-high point total and had more than enough to overwhelm the Mocs. UP NEXT Chattanooga plays at Tennessee on Monday. Florida State plays host to Saint Francis, Pa., on Saturday. _____ For more AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • ATHENS Georgia stars have made the short list for two of the most prestigious awards in college football, the Outland Trophy and the Nagurski Award. Junior left tackle Andrew Thomas was named one of six semifinalists for the Outland Trophy, which recognizes the top interior lineman on offense or defense. Outland Trophy semifinalists OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia OC Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin DT Derrick Brown, Auburn OT Penei Sewell, Oregon OG John Simpson, Clemson OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa. Reed, a senior safety, is one of five finalists for the Nagurksi Award, which recognizes the best defensive player in college football. SS J.R. Reed, Georgia DT Derrick Brown, Auburn LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson DB Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota DE Chase Young, Ohio State Georgia DawgNation stories Kirby Smart reveals redshirt plan for Georgia senior defensive lineman WATCH: Gus Malzahn says Auburn 'stuffed' Georgia in 4th quarter WATCH: Georgia QB Jake Fromm says offense must get better Georgia in select company, clinches third-straight SEC East Division title UGA stock report: Bulldogs cash in at Auburn with 21-14 win Georgia game ball, punter Jake Camarda kept Tigers backed up Brian Herrien, Jake Fromm pray for injured UGA photographer The post Georgia stars Andrew Thomas, J.R. Reed semifinalists for Outland Trophy, Nagurski Award appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Falcons can’t explain it. They’ll try to come up with this reason or that, but the perplexed looks betray that they’re just as baffled as everyone else. In a tale of two seasons, Atlanta suddenly looks like the team the Falcons were expected to be all along. Unfortunately, they only showed that form after a 1-7 start, which likely left too deep a hole and not enough time to pull off an improbable playoff run. Still, the mood is a whole lot sunnier around Flowery Branch. Two straight dominating road wins over division opponents will do that to a team. “This is what I hoped we would look like,” coach Dan Quinn said. After romping past first-place New Orleans 27-9 in perhaps the most surprising result of the season, the Falcons (3-7) followed up with a 29-3 rout at Carolina last weekend. Atlanta will try to stretch its out-of-nowhere winning streak to three in a row against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) on Sunday, the first of three straight home games and a chance to vacate last place in the NFC South. What happened? “It’s a question that I’ve obviously been struggling with the first part of the season,” Quinn said. “You looked under the hood and everything looked right, but it just wasn’t running like you’d hoped it would.” After the Falcons’ sixth straight loss, Quinn took advantage of a bye week to thoroughly assess his team. The biggest change was a shake-up of the coaching staff, with Raheem Morris moving over to work with the secondary after serving as receivers coach. Also, while Quinn remains the defensive coordinator, he has largely turned over the responsibility for callings plays to Morris and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich. The results have been striking. The Falcons did not allow a touchdown in the last two games, a streak that actually stretches back 10 quarters to their Week 8 loss to Seattle. They’re suddenly getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, registering 11 sacks against the Saints and Panthers after managing just seven over their first eight games. They had four interceptions against Carolina, further fueling the turnaround. “For whatever reason, our focus has been up and down,” Quinn said. “But what I can say is the players are the ones — man, they really ramped up their focus, their communication, their cohesiveness and their chemistry. When all those things are happening, that’s when the powerful stuff happens.” Safety Ricardo Allen was all smiles after practice Wednesday. “We’re finally proving to ourselves that if we put in the work during the week, if we go hard enough during the week, if we keep our head down and silence the noise on our side, the sky’s the limit,” he said. Some players are still toying with the idea of making the playoffs, though that seems highly unlikely. The best the Falcons can finish is 9-7, which means the Saints (8-2) only have to win two more games to ensure they can’t be caught by Atlanta in the division race. The wild-card picture is the same, with Seattle (8-2) and Minnesota (8-3) both comfortably ahead of the Falcons. “As a player, as an athlete, as a competitor, absolutely, you’re trying to look at every way,” running back Kenjon Barner said, glancing at his phone to mimic going through all the various scenarios. “OK, if they lose and we win ... yeah, we’ve had those conversations.” Jerome Henderson, the passing game defensive coordinator, credited the players for taking ownership of their predicament. “It’s guys just saying, ‘This isn’t us,’” Henderson said. “A lot more player-led meetings. A lot more getting together and talking through issues and just saying, ‘We’re not going to leave the practice field with any gray.’” In their quieter moments, the coaches and players are surely frustrated that it took so long to find a winning formula. They’re doing their best not to look back. The present — and the future — suddenly looks so much more promising. “I wish you could change the past, but you can’t,” Quinn said. “Now, can we throw everything we have into this moment?” Notes: P Matt Bosher was back at practice, beginning his 21-day window to return from injured reserve. Bosher went on IR after Week 4 with a groin ailment. He is eligible to return to the active roster for the Dec. 8 game against Carolina. ... S Kemal Ishmael (concussion) has already been ruled out and will miss his second straight game. ... The Falcons claimed their second straight NFC special teams player of the week award. Barner was honored after returning a punt 78 yards for a touchdown. ___ Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • The James Wiseman saga finally has a resolution. After months of back-and-forth between Memphis and the NCAA, the sports governing body has cleared the heralded freshman to return to the basketball court on Jan. 12. Wiseman will sit out a total of 12 games under a decision announced by the NCAA. The sports governing body also announced Wednesday that Wiseman must donate $11,500 — the amount of impermissible benefits the NCAA ruled he received — to a charity of his choice to regain his eligibility. The University of Memphis issued a statement that the NCAA informed school officials that Wiseman must sit out nine games for the infraction and three more for the games the freshman already has played this season. “Based on case precedent, the circumstances of this case and other mitigating factors, the University will immediately appeal this decision,” Memphis said. “We expect a more fair and equitable resolution, and we will exhaust all avenues on James’ behalf.” Wiseman had filed a lawsuit to continue playing after the NCAA ruled him “likely ineligible” for receiving the impermissible benefits from Penny Hardaway — who was not the Memphis coach at the time. Wiseman withdrew a lawsuit against the NCAA on Nov. 14 after Memphis played him in the Tigers’ first three games of the season. The 16th-ranked Tigers were 2-1 with the 7-foot-1 center on the court. Once Wiseman withdrew his lawsuit, Memphis held him out of a win over Alcorn State while working to resolve his eligibility status with the NCAA. His first game back will be when the Tigers visit South Florida. The NCAA had ruled Wiseman was “likely ineligible” due to $11,500 Hardaway gave the center’s family for moving expenses from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017. That started a legal battle that featured Wiseman suing the NCAA and obtaining a temporary restraining order to play two games. Memphis said Wiseman will sit out Wednesday night’s game against Arkansas-Little Rock. Wiseman also will miss the Tigers’ game Nov. 28 against North Carolina State in Brooklyn, New York, on Dec. 28. Wiseman will miss a trio of games against Southeastern Conference teams: Saturday vs. Mississippi, Dec. 14 at No. 20 Tennessee and Jan. 4 vs. Georgia. The freshman also will miss the first two games of league play in the American Athletic Conference — pending Memphis’ appeal. The NCAA noted in its release Wednesday that the payment to Wiseman’s family in 2017 was not allowed because of Hardaway’s status as a booster, which included a $1 million donation to the university for the Penny Hardaway Athletic Hall of Fame. “Boosters cannot provide financial assistance to prospective student-athletes, their family members or friends unless that assistance is generally available to other members of the student body and is not given based on athletics ability,” the NCAA release stated. It’s the latest step in the dramatic and much-debated saga over a center who could be the No. 1 pick overall in the NBA draft next June if he leaves Memphis after his freshman season. Through it all, Wiseman had the backing of his coach, the university and all Memphis as he battled the NCAA off the court. Wiseman played Memphis’ opener, then went to court on Nov. 8 for a temporary restraining order that allowed him to play in a rout of Illinois-Chicago as a starter less than an hour after a judge signed the paperwork. He played in a loss at then-No. 14 Oregon and remains Memphis’ leading scorer averaging 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds. He dropped the lawsuit and his attorneys said it had become clear the lawsuit was an issue between the university and the NCAA. The lawsuit had stated the NCAA first ruled Wiseman eligible in late May before sending Memphis a letter just before the season opener that the freshman was “likely ineligible” for what the governing body deemed impermissible benefits from Hardaway, before the former NBA star became Memphis’ coach. Both Hardaway and Wiseman’s lawsuit stated the coach had disclosed the money given for moving expenses in 2017 before Wiseman played at East High School as a junior for Hardaway. The university said in a statement that Wiseman didn't know about the money given to his family. Hardaway was hired by his alma mater as head coach in March 2018. Wiseman committed to Memphis and Hardaway in November 2018 as the gem in the nation's No. 1 recruiting class for Hardaway. ___ More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • Eastern Kentucky (3-2) vs. Florida International (2-2) Entertainment & Sports Arena, Washington; Friday, 3:30 p.m. EST BOTTOM LINE: Eastern Kentucky and Florida International both look to put winning streaks together . Both teams earned blowout victories on Tuesday. Florida International earned a 107-61 road win over Cleveland State, while Eastern Kentucky won easily 99-63 at home against Alice Lloyd College. LEADING THE CHARGE: Florida International's Devon Andrews has averaged 17 points and four rebounds while Osasumwen Osaghae has put up 12 points, seven rebounds and 4.5 blocks. For the Colonels, Ty Taylor has averaged 11.6 points and 4.4 rebounds while Darius Hicks has put up 8.8 points and 7.2 rebounds.TERRIFIC TY: Taylor has connected on 33.3 percent of the 36 3-pointers he's attempted and has made 10 of 29 over the last three games. He's also made 75 percent of his foul shots this season. ASSIST DISTRIBUTION: The Colonels have recently converted baskets via assists more often than the Panthers. Florida International has 57 assists on 105 field goals (54.3 percent) over its past three games while Eastern Kentucky has assists on 63 of 109 field goals (57.8 percent) during its past three games. DID YOU KNOW: The Eastern Kentucky defense has forced opponents into turnovers on an impressive 28.6 percent of all possessions, which ranks the Colonels 10th among Division I teams. Florida International has turned the ball over on 22.3 percent of its possessions (ranking the Panthers 288th, nationally). ___ 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
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired head coach Mike Babcock and replaced him with Sheldon Keefe. Babcock had a record of 9-10-4 in 2019-20 for the struggling Leafs, who are 0-5-1 in their last six games, including five straight losses in regulation. Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan flew to Arizona on Wednesday to break the news to Babcock along with general manager Kyle Dubas. Shanahan said that he felt he should be present as he hired Babcock in the spring of 2015. 'It wasn't an easy conversation to have and it wasn't pleasant, days like today are not,' Shanahan said in Scottsdale, Arizona. 'But it was what we felt was important for the club. Once you realize there's something you should do, and have to do, then it's best to act on it.' Toronto, two points out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, fell 4-2 to the Golden Knights in Vegas on Tuesday night. Babcock's last win for the Leafs, on Nov. 7 against Vegas, was the 700th of his NHL career. He has a career record of 700-418-19 with Toronto, Detroit and Anaheim. Hired as part of a massive rebuild, the 56-year-old Babcock went 173-133-45 in his four-plus seasons with Toronto. He joined the Maple Leafs with an impressive resume, having won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008 and back-to-back Olympic gold medals with Canada in 2010 and 2014. After signing the richest coaching contract in NHL history at US$50 million over eight years, Babcock got Toronto to the playoffs the last three seasons, but was unable to advance beyond the first round. The 39-year-old Keefe, who has a long history with Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, was in his fifth season as head coach of the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies. Keefe was 199-89-31 with the Marlies and helped secure the franchise's first Calder Cup championship in 2018. 'Our relationship has grown,' Keefe said about Dubas in May. 'He really opened my eyes to how much there is to learn and how to look at things a little bit differently.' Toronto's last four in-season coach firings — Pat Burns, Ron Wilson, Randy Carlyle and now Babcock — all took place with the team on the road. The Maple Leafs are set to take on Coyotes on Thursday night. Shanahan, Dubas and Keefe were all scheduled to speak with the media Thursday morning. Babcock's Leafs stumbled this season despite a star-studded forward group led by Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, a defense corps headlined by Morgan Rielly, Tyson Barrie and Jake Muzzin, and goalie Frederik Andersen. Toronto was unable to find traction after a summer of change that saw a number of Babcock's trusted veterans leave town as part of a salary cap crunch precipitated by big-money contract extensions handed to Matthews and Marner. In fact, Toronto's Big 4 forwards chewed up nearly half of the $81.5-million cap, leaving Dubas to try and fill in the roster around the edges with young players and discount veterans. 'Our game is not really meeting our expectations,' Shanahan said. 'We're mistake-prone on defence, the attention to details aren't there, and even the explosive offence that our team was known for has been missing for a while now, so there's a lot of work for Sheldon to do and there's a lot of work for the players to do.' The young Leafs surprised many by making the playoffs in 2016-17 before falling to the Washington Capitals in six games. Babcock was unable to get Toronto past the Boston Bruins the last two springs, losing both series in seven games. The 2019 series was especially frustrating given that the Leafs led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 with a chance to close things out at home in Game 6 before the Bruins fought back to win two straight. While there's no questioning Babcock's track record, there seemed to be a disconnect between the coach and GM in terms of roster construction and style of play after Dubas took over the top job from Lou Lamoriello in May 2018. Driving by data and analytics, Dubas focused on skill and speed — basically trying to win with four first lines — rather than the grinding type of player Babcock had previously preferred in his bottom-6 forward group. Toronto's lack of attention to detail in the defensive zone the last two seasons and sub-par specialty teams were both troubling aspects Babcock was unable to rectify, even after changing assistant coaches this season. Backup goalie was also a constant headache after the Leafs lost veteran Curtis McElhinney on waivers before the start of the 2018-19 campaign. Garret Sparks never gained Babcock's trust, while Michael Hutchinson secured just one point in five starts before getting demoted to the AHL. Before the season, Dubas was asked about his relationship with Babcock, who was heavily criticized for his deployment of Matthews in Game 7 of Toronto's first-round playoff exit last spring. 'We talk a lot,' Dubas said at the start of training camp. 'We disagree, as any coach and GM do a lot. We agree on a lot of things and we work through it all. The key is, on areas that you disagree, that you respect one another and you work through all that.' 'We communicate all the time,' Babcock added in September. 'We don't agree all the time. I've enjoyed it. We're excited about our opportunity.' Babcock also knew he'd be on the hot seat if things went sideways. 'I do, for sure,' Babcock said. 'The expectation each and every year should be greater than the previous year if you're going in the right direction.' ___ More AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/NHL and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Florida coach Mike White insists his team can shoot. The stats say otherwise. The Gators (2-2) rank last in the Southeastern Conference in scoring, averaging a paltry 62.5 points a game, and are 331st in the nation (out of 350 teams) in 3-point shooting (24.1%). They've missed 60 of 79 shots from behind the arc, a dismal start that led to two losses and resulted in White's team dropping from No. 6 to out of the rankings in less than two weeks. 'We are just very dysfunctional offensively right now,' White said. 'We all know that.' White expects it to get better beginning with Thursday's game against Saint Joseph's (2-2) in the Charleston Classic. Florida will play three games over four days, a chance to find something — anything, really — to build on moving forward. 'We're just in a slump right now,' point guard Andrew Nembhard said. 'I think we've all shot our worst kind of game so far. So, I think you can only go up from there.' White never expected this kind of start to the season. After all, his guys make shots regularly in practice, in scrimmages and in shoot-arounds. It's just not translating to games. He said shot selection and tempo were among the most concerning problems in losses to Florida State and UConn. But don't look for him to make any wholesale changes before the tournament that also includes Miami, Missouri State, Xavier, UConn, Towson and Buffalo. 'I don't think it's in our best interest to hit the panic button,' White said. White believes the shots will start falling, confident that Nembhard, Kerry Blackshear Jr., Noah Locke, Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann are capable of shooting a much higher percentage. White is making one tweak, though. After ignoring all the preseason hype that surrounded the team for weeks, the coach has decided to hold a team meeting and ask a variety of questions in hope of creating an open dialogue about dealing with expectations, pressure and adversity. It's an about-face from how White's handled outside noise for years. 'I was sticking with the same philosophy. At what point does it become stubborn?' he said. 'So we're just going to get it out. We're going to get it out and talk about it. It may be detrimental, but I'm going to try it. This whole thing is trial and error, right? I don't know that we can shoot it more poorly than we're shooting it. 'We're just going to have an open conversation. When we've done that in the past with these guys about other topics, it's been great. It's been really healthy conversation. It's a great group. We'll figure it out.' White hopes the talk will help his team's confidence, too. 'The biggest thing I've learned lately is that if they're not getting messages from me, they're getting them from someone else, somebody else, some device, what have you,' White said. 'And not that I think it any way decreased their level of work or focus 'cause we've had great practices. ... But the body language, the lack of confidence, the 'Oh, no, the sky is falling look' on some of these guys' faces lets me know that it definitely has affected us. It definitely has. 'So where do we go from here? Let's talk about. We'll see how it works.' ___ More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • Charles Barkley has issued an apology for a comment he made to a female political reporter about hitting her. Axios reporter Alexi McCammond wrote on Twitter Tuesday night that when she questioned Barkley on his indecisiveness over the Democratic presidential hopefuls, Barkley told her “I don’t hit women but if I did I would hit you.” McCammond says when she objected to his remarks, Barkley told her she “couldn’t take a joke.” Barkley, a former NBA player who works as a basketball analyst for TNT’s Inside the NBA, issued an apology on Wednesday through TurnerSportsPR on Twitter saying his comment was “inappropriate and unacceptable.” Barley said in the statement that “it was an attempted joke that wasn’t funny at all. There’s no excuse for it and I apologize.” ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Bethune-Cookman (2-2) vs. Incarnate Word (1-3) Alice P. McDermott Convocation Center, San Antonio; Friday, 1 p.m. EST BOTTOM LINE: Bethune-Cookman goes up against Incarnate Word in an early season matchup. Bethune-Cookman won easily 100-42 over Trinity Baptist on Friday. Incarnate Word lost 57-55 to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday. LEADING THE WAY: Incarnate Word's Drew Lutz has averaged 12.3 points while Vincent Miszkiewicz has put up 7.5 points and 7.8 rebounds. For the Wildcats, Cletrell Pope has averaged 12 points, 12.5 rebounds and three blocks while Isaiah Bailey has put up 14.8 points.DOMINANT DREW: Lutz has connected on 40 percent of the 15 3-pointers he's attempted and has gone 5 for 10 over his last three games. He's also made 62.5 percent of his free throws this season. THREAT BEHIND THE ARC: Bethune-Cookman's Joe French has attempted 24 3-pointers and connected on 58.3 percent of them, and is 8 for 14 over the last three games. PASSING FOR POINTS: The Cards have recently used assists to create baskets more often than the Wildcats. Incarnate Word has an assist on 37 of 75 field goals (49.3 percent) over its past three games while Bethune-Cookman has assists on 30 of 71 field goals (42.3 percent) during its past three games. DID YOU KNOW: Bethune-Cookman is ranked first in Division I with an average of 82.8 possessions per game. ___ 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
  • The 42 minor league teams identified by Major League Baseball as targets to be dropped from their current circuits in an initial proposal for a revised Professional Baseball Agreement that would start in 2021. Current major league affiliation in parentheses: Double-A Eastern League Binghamton, N.Y. (New York Mets) Erie, Pa. (Detroit) Southern League Chattanooga, Tenn. (Cincinnati) Jackson, Tenn. (Arizona) Class A Advanced California League Lancaster (Colorado) Carolina League Frederick, Md. (Baltimore) Florida State League Daytona (Cincinnati) Kissimmee (Atlanta) Class A Midwest League Burlington, Iowa (Los Angeles Angels) Clinton, Iowa (Miami) Quad Cities, Iowa (Houston) South Atlantic League Charleston, W.Va. (Seattle) Hagerstown, Md. (Washington) Lexington, Ky. (Kansas City) Class A Short Season New York-Penn League Auburn, N.Y. (Washington) Batavia, N.Y. (Miami) Lowell, Mass. (Boston) Mahoning Valley, Ohio (Cleveland) Norwich, Conn. (Detroit) State College, Pa. (St. Louis) Staten Island, N.Y. (New York Yankees) Vermont (Oakland) Williamsport, Pa. (Philadelphia) Northwest League Salem-Keizer, Ore. (San Francisco) Tri-City, Wash. (San Diego) Rookie Advanced Appalachian League Bluefield, W. Va. (Toronto) Bristol, Va. (Pittsburgh) Burlington, N.C. (Kansas City) Danville, Va. (Atlanta) Elizabethton, Tenn. (Minnesota) Greeneville, Tenn. (Cincinnati) Johnson City, Tenn. (St. Louis) Kingsport, Tenn. (New York Mets) Princeton, W. Va. (Tampa Bay) Pioneer League Billings, Mont. (Cincinnati) Grand Junction, Colo. (Colorado) Great Falls, Mont. (Chicago White Sox) Idaho Falls (Kansas City) Missoula, Mont. (Arizona) Ogden, Utah (Los Angeles Dodgers) Orem, Utah (Los Angeles Angels) Rocky Mountain, Colo. (Milwaukee)