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Detroit Sports

Blough Struggles In Second Start

The first three plays for David Blough and the Detroit Lions on Sunday were an ominous sign. The rookie quarterback’s first two passes were deflected at the line of scrimmage. Then he was sacked for a 6-yard loss.

The Minnesota Vikings made sure there would be no repeat of Blough’s strong Thanksgiving Day debut.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 08: David Blough #10 of the Detroit Lions gets sacked by Everson Griffen #97 of the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions 20-7. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

In Blough’s first NFL road start, the Lions sputtered toward their sixth straight loss, 20-7 to the Vikings. They failed to score until 2:09 remained in the game. Blough finished 24 of 40 for 205 yards, taking five sacks and throwing two interceptions. His late touchdown pass to Kenny Golladay kept Detroit from being shut out for the first time since 2009.

“Obviously frustrating to start slow,” said Blough, who was given the job in the previous game after injuries to Matthew Stafford and Jeff Driskel. “It’s something we harp on, and it can’t happen for us, can’t happen for me. Got to find a way to get those to our playmakers, because we had guys where they were supposed to be.”

With Stafford missing his fifth straight game due to hip and back injuries, Detroit mustered just 13 yards on 13 plays in the first quarter. Blough was 1 of 6 for 18 yards, a far cry from his debut a week earlier at home against Chicago. He threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Golladay on his second NFL pass attempt in that game and capped the Lions’ first two drives with scoring throws. He finished that game 22 for 38 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 08: David Blough #10, Kyle Sloter #1, and Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions take the field before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The Vikings didn’t let him get close to that until a handful of decent gains in the fourth quarter once they led 20-0.

“They have a lot of packages, a lot of different looks and a lot of flexibility and variability in their defense,” Detroit coach Matt Patricia said. “Just looked like they used a lot of it early, give us some of those looks and different problems that we had to solve. They executed at a high level, especially at home.”

Blough wasn’t done many favors, though.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 08: David Blough #10 of the Detroit Lions calls a play on the line against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

On two of Danielle Hunter’s three sacks, tight ends were lined up against him for the initial block. With the Lions at the 15-yard line and trailing just 10-0 late in the second quarter, Blough drifted out of the pocket and was sacked by Hunter for a loss of 12 yards on third down. Matt Prater missed a 45-yard field goal, and Kirk Cousins drove Minnesota the other way for a touchdown in less than a minute, scoring with 25 seconds left in the half.

“I can’t put us in the position to take those sacks,” Blough said. “I can’t leave those linemen out to dry on some of those. Five is five too many. I can’t hold the ball too long, take us out of field-goal range. Obviously, we talk about the halftime swing a lot. Didn’t help our chances in that position.”

Through three quarters, Blough was 10 of 19 for just 74 yards.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 08: David Blough #10 of the Detroit Lions throws the ball against Stephen Weatherly #91 of the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions 20-7.(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

“We tell him we’ve got his back no matter what,” wide receiver Danny Amendola said. “We’re going to do our job to try to get open, try to make plays and to just get back there and be a gunslinger, man. Get up and let it rip. It’s a learning experience for him, definitely, throughout each week, throughout each game, throughout each series, throughout each situation.”

Stafford hasn’t been ruled out for a return this season, but he has not practiced since the injury. With Driskel on injured reserve, Blough’s backup was Kyle Sloter, who was signed off Arizona’s practice squad on Nov. 30.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 08: Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patrica speaks with players on the bench in the second quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

“David is an extremely competitive guy,” Patricia said. “He’s a tough guy. I love his energy and what he brings every single day to the practices, to the games. He’s competitive. From that standpoint, he’s trying. He’s trying to get it all right.”

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Wolverines Face Crimson Tide In Citrus Bowl On New Years Day

No. 13 Alabama (10-2, SEC) vs. No. 14 Michigan (9-3, Big Ten), Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET 

 

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 26: Donovan Peoples-Jones #9 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates his second half touchdown catch with Shea Patterson #2 in front of head coach Jim Harbaugh while playing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 45-14. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

LOCATION: Orlando, Florida 

TOP PLAYERS 

Alabama: WR DeVonta Smith, 65 catches, 1,200 yards, 13 touchdowns. 

 

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA – SEPTEMBER 28: DeVonta Smith #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide takes this reception in for a touchdown against the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

Michigan: LB Josh Uche, 11.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks. 

NOTABLE 

Alabama: The Crimson Tide missed the College Football Playoff for the first time in the format’s six seasons. Both of the team’s losses came against Top 25 opponents in LSU and Auburn. Alabama should have the bulk of fan support given its much shorter distance from Orlando than its opponent. The Crimson Tide will again be without star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was injured in November and needed season-ending surgery. Even with a victory, this will be tied for the fewest wins in a season in Nick Saban’s last nine seasons with the Crimson Tide. 

 

ANN ARBOR, MI – NOVEMBER 03: Michigan Wolverines Head football coach Jim Harbaugh walks off the bus prior to the start of the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

 

Michigan: The Wolverines had CFP aspirations when the season began, but stumbled in losses to three top 10 programs at the time they played them in Wisconsin, Penn State and playoff-bound Ohio State. Michigan is 2-2 all time against Alabama. The Wolverines have lost their past three bowl games with their last postseason win coming in the Citrus Bowl against Florida to end the 2015 season. Michigan is looking for its fourth 10-win season in the past five years, something that has not occurred since 1876-80. 

LAST TIME 

Alabama 41, Michigan 14 (Sept. 1, 2012) 

BOWL HISTORY 

Alabama: Second appearance in the Citrus Bowl, 71st bowl appearance in school history (includes two each of the past four seasons as part of the College Football Playoff)

 

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA – NOVEMBER 09: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs onto the field before the game against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

Michigan: Fifth appearance in the Citrus Bowl, 48th bowl appearance in school history. Wolverines

 

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Vikings Defense Suffocates Lions 20-7

Minnesota’s long-dominant defense had been slipping for the past several weeks, a proud and seasoned group that needed to get its edge back.

The Vikings gave hardly any ground against the sputtering Detroit Lions.

Danielle Hunter had three of Minnesota’s five sacks to spearhead a resurgence by the defense, and the Vikings sailed past Detroit 20-7 on Sunday to stick the Lions with their sixth straight loss.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 08: (Center) Danielle Hunter #99 of the Minnesota Vikings sacks David Blough #10 of the Detroit Lions in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions 20-7.(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

“It’s important we get a chip back on our shoulder, and I thought we kind of did that,” coach Mike Zimmer said, adding: “We need to keep doing that. That’s why I wish we wouldn’t have let them score.”

David Blough’s touchdown pass to Kenny Golladay with 2:09 left spoiled Minnesota’s bid for its first shutout in two years.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 08: Kenny Golladay #19 of the Detroit Lions pulls in a catch while Mike Hughes #21 of the Minnesota Vikings makes the tackle in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions 20-7.(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

“I can’t say enough good things about our defense. That really created the tenor for the game for us. We didn’t feel that much pressure on offense to have to keep scoring,” said Kirk Cousins, who passed for 242 yards and a touchdown.

Dalvin Cook had 75 yards from scrimmage and a rushing score on 20 touches over three quarters, as the Vikings (9-4) stayed on track for the playoffs and took it easy on their star tailback after an injury to his collarbone area forced him out of the previous game. The defense did not let up on Blough, though.

With Matthew Stafford sidelined by hip and back injuries for the fifth straight game, the rookie quarterback’s first NFL road start was a rough one. Blough went 24 for 40 for 205 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the second half, and the Vikings allowed their lowest score in 31 regular-season games since a 16-0 win at Green Bay on Dec. 23, 2017. The Lions entered the week averaging 5.8 yards per play, the fourth-best in the NFL, but the Vikings held them to 3.2. Six days earlier, they gave up a season-high 37 points in defeat at Seattle.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 08: David Blough #10, Kyle Sloter #1, and Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions take the field before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

“Just going back to the fundamentals, the basics, the techniques and all that,” Hunter said.

For the first time this season, the Lions (3-9-1) never held a lead. They entered the game with 92 first-quarter points, the most in the NFC, but they netted only 70 total yards on 32 plays in the first half and trailed 20-0 until Golladay’s catch pushed the third-year wide receiver past the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season.

“We look at our record and say, ‘That’s not what we are, and we’ve got to do better,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – DECEMBER 08: Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Lions fell to 9-19-1 under Patricia, including 2-5 against NFC North foes, putting the entire front office and coaching staff under scrutiny.

“They ain’t my problem. You have Ms. Ford to deal with that,” said cornerback Darius Slay, referring to team owner Martha Firestone Ford.

The Vikings returned home from a costly defeat to the Seahawks on Monday night to a favorable matchup with the team they’ve beaten 76 times in 59 seasons as a franchise, 16 more than the next-closest opponent. The previous time the Vikings were beaten at home by the Lions at any point during the second half of the schedule was on Dec. 14, 1997.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 08: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings on the line against the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions 20-7. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

“This was a weird one, because it felt like we couldn’t take a big step forward. It was either you don’t get it done and it’s going to be a problem or you win and you kind of shrug your shoulders and move on,” Cousins said. “So we just wanted to make sure we didn’t lose that edge or that energy.”

HUNTING QUARTERBACKS

After a sharp debut on Thanksgiving Day in a defeat to Chicago, one of four losses this year by four points or fewer for Detroit, Blough faced a tougher test in one of the NFL’s noisiest venues.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 08: David Blough #10 of the Detroit Lions gets sacked by Danielle Hunter #99 of the Minnesota Vikings in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions 20-7.(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

The first drive could hardly have been harder. Harrison Smith and Shamar Stephen batted down Blough’s first two passes at the line of scrimmage, and then Hunter became the youngest player in NFL history at age 25 and 40 days to reach 50 sacks by taking down Blough to force the first of five three-and-out possessions for Detroit. Hunter has 11 sacks in nine games against the Lions.

INJURIES

Lions: LB Jarrad Davis hurt his ankle in the first quarter and left again after aggravating it in the third quarter. … RT Rick Wagner injured his knee in the third quarter and didn’t return. … RB Bo Scarbrough, who rushed for 65 yards on 19 attempts, hurt his ribs in the fourth quarter.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 08: Jarrad Davis #40 of the Detroit Lions is helped off the field after sustaining an injury in the first quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Vikings: CB Xavier Rhodes rolled his right ankle during Smith’s interception and didn’t return. CB Mike Hughes, who took some of Rhodes’ turns in the first half, hurt his oblique muscle in the fourth quarter. … With WR Adam Thielen inactive for the fifth time in six games, rookie Olabisi Johnson again got the start. The seventh-round draft pick contributed his third TD of the season, a leaping catch he secured as he fell on his back in the first quarter.

UP NEXT

Lions: Host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday. Detroit is 5-9 at home in two years with Patricia.

Vikings: Play at the Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday. Minnesota is 1-6 in road games in the Mountain and Pacific time zones under Zimmer, last winning at Oakland on Nov. 15, 2015.

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Spartans Open Big Ten Campaign With Victory Over Rutgers

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — No. 11 Michigan State pulled away and beat Rutgers thanks to two staples of Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo’s program.

Defense and rebounding.

 

EAST LANSING, MI – DECEMBER 08: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts in the second half of a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the Breslin Center on December 8, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

 

Cassius Winston had 23 points and seven assists, helping the Spartans top the Scarlet Knights 77-65 on Sunday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

“It was almost good for us have to grind one out because we’re going to have to do that for a while until we get back on track,” Izzo said.

 

EAST LANSING, MI – DECEMBER 08: Cassius Winston #5 of the Michigan State Spartans drivers to the basket in the first half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the Breslin Center on December 8, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

 

Michigan State (6-3) led by just two points midway through the second half before outscoring the Scarlet Knights 16-7 to take control of what was a closely contested game for much of the night.

“It’s tougher in conference play,” Spartans shooting guard Gabe Brown said. “A lot of those Rutgers players got better.”

Brown scored a season-high 14 points, starting in place of Rocket Watts, who is expected to be out for about a week with a leg injury.

 

EAST LANSING, MI – DECEMBER 08: Gabe Brown #44 of the Michigan State Spartans battles for a rebound against Jacob Young #42 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the Breslin Center on December 8, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

 

“Missing Rocket, that’s another key player who can spread the floor and create,” Winston said. “It’s a little tougher without him, but Gabe came in and did some good things.”

Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman had 14 points and 10 rebounds while Aaron Henry added 12 points on 2 of 10 shooting from the field and 7 of 8 at the line.

The Scarlet Knights (6-3) were competitive despite their leading scorers struggling to make shots. Ron Harper Jr. scored nine points on 4 of 12 shooting and Geo Baker had just four points on 1 of 7 shooting. Both players entered the game averaging 13 points as the team’s only double-digit scorers.

 

EAST LANSING, MI – DECEMBER 08: Head coach Steve Pikiell of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights looks on in the first half against the Michigan State Spartans at the Breslin Center on December 8, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

 

“Geo is going to have nights like this because he’s a good player and teams are going to key in on him,” coach Steve Pikiell said. 

Rutgers reserves Akwaski Yeboah scored a season-high 17 points and Jacob Young had a season-high 12 points.

“I love my bench,” Pikiell said.

 

EAST LANSING, MI – DECEMBER 08: Jacob Young #42 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights drives to the basket in the the second half against Cassius Winston #5 of the Michigan State Spartans at the Breslin Center on December 8, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

 

Michigan State held the Scarlet Knights to 40 percent shooting and had a 40-32 edge in rebounds.

The Spartans shot 43.6% overall and made just 7 of 21 3-pointers, failing to find a groove on offense after looking lost with the ball in an 87-75 loss against No. 10 Duke on Tuesday night.

Michigan State made up for its outside shooting woes by getting to the basket and drawing fouls, leading to its making 22 of 27 at the line.

 

EAST LANSING, MI – DECEMBER 08: Aaron Henry #11 of the Michigan State Spartans grabs a loose ball in the second half in front of Paul Mulcahy #4 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the Breslin Center on December 8, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

 

“There’s only one way we could have won that game and that was to get to the line, make your free throws,” Izzo said. “And, rebound the daylights out of the ball.”

BIG PICTURE

Rutgers: Pikiell potentially has his best team in his fourth season with the Scarlet Knights, who haven’t had a winning record since the 2005-06 season in coach Gary Waters’ last year. “I’m excited about our future,” Pikiell said. Rutgers doesn’t have much depth in the post, but perimeter play and defensive intensity should help it pull off some upsets. The Scarlet Knights entered the game third in the Big Ten in blocks, steals and turnovers forced and showed Michigan State those statistics were legitimate. “They were putting pressure on us the whole game,” Izzo said.

Michigan State: The top-ranked team in the preseason is in a funk. “We’re just going to inch forward, closer and closer, to try and get back,” Izzo said. 

“The Spartans don’t appear to be having much fun during and away from games because they’re still reeling from the death of Winston’s brother a month ago. They also have not made up for the loss of injured senior Joshua Langford or a trio of key players from last year’s team: Matt McQuaid, Kenny Goins and Nick Ward. 

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Michigan State might plummet in the poll on Monday after being dominated by Duke at home in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated and struggling for much of the game against the Scarlet Knights.

UP NEXT

Rutgers: Hosts Wisconsin on Wednesday night.

Michigan State: Plays Oakland on Saturday in Detroit.

 

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Griffin, Drummond Help Pistons Beat Pacers, 108-101

DETROIT (AP) – Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey knew his team’s fourth game against the Indiana Pacers was going to be just as physical as the first three.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 04: Blake Griffin #23 of the Detroit Pistons plays against the Milwaukee Bucks at Little Caesars Arena on December 04, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

He also knew Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond could give the Pistons a big edge in that aspect of the game.

Drummond had 25 points and 22 rebounds, Griffin scored 25 points and made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 41 seconds left, and the Pistons beat the Pacers 108-101 on Friday.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 04: Andre Drummond #0 of the Detroit Pistons drives to the basket past Robin Lopez #42 of the Milwaukee Bucks during the first half at Little Caesars Arena on December 04, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

“We knew this was going to be a playoff-style game, and the way we played down the stretch was indicative of how we wanted to approach this one,” Casey said. “We were boxing out, we were hitting guys and if we got a foul, it was a hard foul. It wasn’t anything dirty, just good physical basketball.”

Detroit led by 11 at the half, but was outscored 31-16 in the third quarter. Drummond felt it was a small victory to only trail 75-71 going into the fourth.

“They are a really good team and we knew they were going to get back into the game,” he said. “We really did a job sustaining ourselves during their run and only being down four going into the fourth.

“Then we played our (butts) off.”

The Pistons had a 25-2 edge in second-chance points, including 12-0 in the fourth quarter.

“Andre was a monster down the stretch,” Casey said. “It wasn’t a pretty game, but he had 25 and 22 and what I’m proud about, the second-chance points. That was huge.”

Derrick Rose had 14 points and set up Griffin’s go-ahead shot. The Pistons have won three of four.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 04: Derrick Rose #25 of the Detroit Pistons plays against the Milwaukee Bucks at Little Caesars Arena on December 04, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

T.J. Warren scored 26 points and Domantas Sabonis added 18 points and 13 rebounds for Indiana. The Pacers lost for the second time in nine games.

“It was execution,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “It’s always about execution. We didn’t get stops when we needed them and when we did force a miss, they got the offensive rebound.”

The Pistons took a 99-97 lead on Luke Kennard’s jumper with 1:55 to play. After Malcolm Brogdon split a pair of free throws, Drummond committed his fifth foul to put Sabonis on the line. He also went 1 for 2, tying the game with 1:22 to play.

Rose and Warren traded short jumpers, making it 101-all, and Griffin took a kick-out from Rose to hit the 3-pointer that gave the Pistons the lead.

“We practice that play all the time, using a bunch of different people,” Casey said. “Derrick ran it just like we drew it up.”

Brogdon turned the ball over under pressure from Bruce Brown and Rose iced it with a pair of jumpers.

“(Rose) was MVP for a reason,” Griffin said. “He’s very poised with the ball in hands and he doesn’t get rattled, especially late in the game.”

The Pistons won the season series 3-1.

“We worked harder on the defensive end and started making some shots to get ourselves back into the third quarter,” McMillan said. “But I thought they were the aggressors all night long. They seemed to want it a little more and they got a 37-point fourth quarter.”


TIP-INS

Pacers: Indiana outshot the Pistons 59% to 28% as it got back into the game in the third quarter. … Victor Oladipo’s knee injury means he won’t play against the Pistons in the regular season.

Pistons: Drummond’s 20-20 game was the 37th of his career, trailing only Dwight Howard (51) among active players.


WINNING THE GAME ON THE BOARDS

Detroit’s 25-2 edge in second-chance points stemmed from their dominance of the boards on both ends. The Pistons grabbed 88% of Indiana’s missed shots and 33% of their own, then upped that to 90% and 60% in the fourth quarter.

“They’re a really physical team, so we knew we had to bring our ‘A’ game,” Drummond said.


UP NEXT

Pacers: At New York on Saturday night.

Pistons: At New Orleans on Monday night.

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Chiefs-Patriots Previews: Can Pats Defense Contain Patrick Mahomes?

(CBS Boston) — The Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) and New England Patriots (10-2) head into Week 14 as favorites in their respective divisions. The Chiefs recently dispatched with the Oakland Raiders, their only real AFC West challenge, in the kind of blowout win that removes all doubt about the division’s best team. The Patriots have won the AFC East the last 10 seasons, so another championship is almost expected. But their lackluster loss to the Houston Texans once again exposed their lingering issues on offense as the team struggles to maintain a one-game division lead.

The Chiefs visit Foxborough Sunday to face the Patriots, for a matchup with potential home-field implications in the AFC playoff race. Kansas City’s dismantling of Oakland wasn’t all that much of a surprise. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads one of the NFL’s more explosive passing attacks and is capable of throwing for 400-plus yards and multiple touchdowns any time he steps on the field. But his exploits weren’t really needed, as KC’s much-maligned defense led the charge against the over-matched Raiders.

A bottom-tier unit, the Chiefs defense held the Raiders scoreless for three quarters. (Raiders’ mistakes and penalties helped.) Kansas City mostly shut down Oakland’s outside receiving game, forcing check-downs to running backs and tight ends. Derek Carr was picked off twice, one of which Juan Thornhill returned for a touchdown. The pass rush also bothered Carr much of the afternoon, contributing two sacks. Josh Jacobs ran for 104 yards on 17 carries, and tight end Darren Waller caught seven of his nine targets for 100 yards in an ultimately futile effort. But that was the bulk of their offense.

NFL On CBS lead play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz has been impressed with the Chiefs defense of late. “That defense definitely is playing at a higher level than not only what we saw from Kansas City earlier this year but from what we saw in the playoffs last year against the Patriots and what we saw in the regular season against New England. They have gotten that side of the ball in a better place.”

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Exactly how much credit the Chiefs defense deserves is a little unclear. Chilly temperatures and 40 mph winds certainly impeded both offenses as well. The Patriots are used to those sorts of weather conditions this time of year. (Sunday’s forecast calls for similar temperatures and calmer winds.) What they’re not used to is offensive struggles this late in the season.

The Patriots offense has endured its share of hiccups in recent seasons, but it always seemed to figure things out before the last month of the regular season. Those struggles continued in Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans, however. While Tom Brady passed for 324 yards and three touchdowns, he only completed about half his passes. And the Pats didn’t find the end zone in the first half. After a field goal on their opening drive, the next four drives ended in either interception or punt. The Texans defense is among the NFL’s worst, still it was the fifth consecutive outing in which the Patriots offense struggled in the first half.

Brady’s frustration with his receivers has showed at times. As former wide receiver Brandon Marshall, now with Inside The NFL, recently pointed out, they “aren’t running strong routes in and out of their breaks.” The offensive line also continues to have problems protecting him, which has knock-on effects. Marshall notes that “…their backs can’t get out. And they’ve been really good over the years getting the ball to the running backs in the passing game. Now the backs have to stay in and chip and help out in protection. That’s not their strength.”

The running game was more productive against the Texans than it had been in prior weeks. James White and Sony Michel combined for 124 yards on 24 carries. The pair, or any pair of Patriots backs, hadn’t put up a 100-yard game since the win over the New York Giants in Week 6. The team averages 96.3 yards per game (21st) despite 27.6 attempts (eighth). Their 3.5 yards per carry ranks among the worst in the NFL.

“It’s still a work in progress,” notes Nantz. “It’s been an offense that has been burdened with far too many injuries on the offensive line.” (The Patriots injury report early in the week also included Tom Brady, though it’s nothing serious.) “A revolving door on the outside with a combination of things. I think they’re still trying to put it together, much like they did last year at the end of the season. Trying to figure out a way to play the postseason with a run-heavy offense, that’s what they did last year. And they ran right through the Chargers, the Chiefs in a thriller, and the Rams in the Super Bowl with kind of a different plan of attack than they had all regular season.”

The Chiefs offense also struggles on the ground, having produced only one 100-yard rusher this season. And even that productive outing should be viewed with skepticism, as Damien Williams picked up most of those yards on a 91-yard third-quarter run. The Patriots defense will be more worried about the passing attack, of course. And this may be the matchup — Mahomes and his pass-catchers vs. stingy Patriots secondary — that decides the game.

The Chiefs QB isn’t displaying any ill effects from the dislocated kneecap that sidelined him for two-plus games. Mahomes threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns in his return against the Tennessee Titans a month ago. His mediocre stats against the Raiders last week were more a function of how the game played out than anything Mahomes did or didn’t do. Tight end Travis Kelce leads all KC pass-catchers with 68 receptions, though Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins remain downfield threats.

The Patriots defense is still among the NFL’s best units, despite giving up 28 points to the Texans and 37 points to the Baltimore Ravens in early November. They still allow only 12.1 points per game, by far the lowest in the league, along with just 258 yards. The 163.5 yards passing they give up is second only to the San Francisco 49ers. They’ve intercepted opposing quarterbacks 20 times so far this season.

These teams have plenty of recent history with each other. The Patriots won both a 2018 regular-season shootout and the last AFC Championship by less than a touchdown. All that suggests another close one on Sunday.

The Chiefs play the Patriots Sunday @ 4:25 ET on CBS.


WWE’s Xavier Woods Embraces Inner Media Maven As Achilles Heals

(CBSNY/CBS Local) — WWE Superstar Xavier Woods is expected to be out of action for the foreseeable future after rupturing the Achilles tendon in his left ankle in October. And while he is unable to hone his craft in the ring, he is picking up a new skill — the ability to write with his toes. It may sound strange, but the peculiar task is part of a grueling rehabilitation regimen the popular wrestler must perform to strengthen the damaged heel, as he eyes a return to the ring that could still be as much as nine months away.

Oddities are kind of Woods’ strength. He’s a 33-year-old man pursuing a Ph.D. in educational psychology who proudly boasts of an affinity for unicorns, pancakes, breakfast cereals and video games. He also carries a trombone with him to the ring that he’s named Francesca. Actually, it’s Francesca II since the original instrument died a painful death at the hands of an in-ring rival.

Crowds spring to life whenever they hear the quick bursts of the new brass and begin chanting “New Day rocks” in unison. The audible display is almost as colorful as the attire worn by Woods and his stablemates in The New Day, Kofi Kingston and Big E. The group’s threads are often inspired by characters in video games, which is the tight-knit group has bonded over. Gaming also happens to be an arena where Woods’ popularity rivals that of his status in WWE.

In an effort to duel-brand himself, he created the UpUpDownDown YouTube channel in 2015 which “explores the worlds of video gaming and nerdom.” The channel has become one of the most popular on the streaming platform, amassing more than 2 million subscribers eager to watch WWE Superstars battle it out with controllers rather than clotheslines. There’s even a championship belt for the gamers, and competition to win it is as cutthroat as any WrestleMania main event.

The versatile Woods is continuing to expand his horizons by tapping into the exploding podcast market. THE NEW DAY: FEEL THE POWER is the second offering from the Official WWE Podcast Network following the successful launch of After The Bell with Corey Graves. Woods serves as co-host alongside Kingston and Big E.

The trio are as good of friends outside the ring as they are in it. Their unique blend of chemistry and quirky charisma are what captivates audiences and enables them to develop such a massive loyal following. Listening to their show is like eves dropping in on a barber shop conversation where each story is told with more enthusiasm than the last.

How popular is their brand of humor? The debut episode of the show reached No. 2 on the Apple Podcast charts among sports podcasts. Unwilling to settle for the penultimate position, Woods is promising to eat a habanero pepper on camera if the show reaches the top spot.

He’s insanely busy, a bit peculiar, living life on his terms and successful in doing so. You have to respect that.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Woods to get an update on his rehab process, the new podcast, the genesis of The New Day, becoming a video game guru and the surging popularity of WWE’s NXT brand.

>>READ: Latest from the world of Pro Wrestling

How’s the rehab coming along?

Oh, it’s good. I’m bouncing around the world still. Doing all my stuff for my YouTube channel, UpUpDownDown, all budget gaming stuff. Recently did a quick live stream with a group called Rooster Teeth. We helped raise over a million dollars for children’s hospitals. So that’s been cool. But other than that just kind of working out, keeping mobility in the Achilles area and waiting to come back to wrestling at some point.

Walk me through the rehab process since you’re still out and about and not just becoming a hermit.

That is the scary part, because by a lot of times, especially with professional wrestling, with being on the road as much as we are and having that live experience with crowds, you can fall into a weird dark place when you get injured. Like same thing with any pro athlete or anybody in general. But the rehab process for me currently is just kind of doing all my exercises, writing out my ABCs with my feet. And like I said, making sure that I can kind of increase the mobility in the area, break through that scar tissue.

I just got the cast off (two weeks ago) and got into a walking boot so I can put like 25 pounds of pressure on it and as I go along that’ll hopefully increase as it should. So hopefully in the next 43 days, I’m out of the walking boot and in an actual shoe and then everything’s going from there. But I’ll probably do PT two, three times a week to keep on it. But then constantly while I’m by myself, just doing everything I can to kind of heal it up as fast as possible.

Hold on. You said you’re doing your ABCs with your feet. What does that entail?

[laughs] That’s like if you take your big toe and you use that as your base, and you just draw out the ABCs in the air, because that’s giving your foot a lot of mobility, a lot of different shapes and just do them as big as you can. And then hopefully your ankle in the back Achilles area just continues to get more and more mobile every day that you’re doing that.

So you’re getting adjusted now to life outside of the ring, and the big thing now is that you guys have this new podcast. Are you guys all getting together in a studio to do this, or is it being done remotely?

Everywhere is a studio, my good friend. We are essentially still traveling. We’re traveling around the world doing this, so Kofi and E, my partners, part of the New Day, they’re still traveling, doing all of the wrestling shows that we normally would be doing. So when we need to record, I’ll normally jump on a plane and then come out to whatever show they’re at, because on one hand we’ve got to record this podcast, which is entitled “THE NEW DAY: FEEL THE POWER.”

But then I’m also up there filming stuff for my YouTube channel UpUpDownDown. So it’s two birds, one stone. But being able to do this podcast with two guys who I consider my brothers is awesome.

Essentially the first couple of episodes are about the origin of New Day, how we got together, how we got started on TV and essentially getting us caught up to where we are now. Just kind of giving some stories that people don’t know and just really letting people in on things that happened that really haven’t seen the light of day.

You guys really do have a lot of fun together. It comes across that you guys aren’t just really good friends in the ring, but genuinely outside of the ring as well. Chemistry is so rare in any industry and even in life sometimes. Do you remember the first time that you met Kofi and you met E and what your first impressions of them were?

I think the first time that I met E was when I got signed to WWE and I went to train at FCW. So before it was NXT, it was FCW, which was Florida Championship Wrestling. And I think my first introduction to E was through Norman Smiley, a fantastic wrestler, one of the teachers down there. And he just explained to me that they’re billing E as like the strongest man in Florida. So have a wrestling match with him, and I think that was the first time that I actually met him and wrestled against him.

Our friendship really didn’t blossom to the degree that it is now until years later, when we started kind of talking about trying to create The New Day. And that’s where we really bonded and got this level of friendship that we currently have.

Then with Kofi, I’d met him multiple times before I signed with the company. There are multiple stories of me finding where the training facilities are and just going in and giving my resume, because I’m just essentially begging for a job. When I was 19, when I was 20, like whatever it was, I’d find where they trained, and I just walk in and talk to somebody. And both times I did that, Kofi happened to be there training. So he saw my physical grind. I’m trying to get a job. And so it’s always interesting. But he was there for those parts of my journey, because I consider them very important parts of my journey in getting to WWE, because you can actually see the sacrifice of telling my teachers, “Hey, so I’m in college, and they all know I want to be a pro wrestler.”

They know that I wrestle around the South Carolina and Georgia area and say, “Hey, I found out where the WWE facilities are. I think that I want to go down there and give them my resume.” It’s like a Thursday, and we’ve got class, and my teacher’s giving me their blessing to go and pursue my dreams. I’ve been very, very lucky in that. So Kofi seeing those things occur really is really cool. Just for the memory banks.

You are building a brand both in and out of the ring. You were an early adopter of new media with the UpUpDownDown show. How important is it that you are on multiple channels now, given the fact that media consumption is so splintered? You have somebody watching over here but not necessarily over there and vice versa.

It’s extremely important to be able to diversify your time and resources. So as far as UpUpDownDown is concerned, yeah, we are a YouTube channel, which I do everything that we can video game-wise, interview-wise. It’s kind of just like a what-interests-me-at-the-time channel. But as far as different platforms, I do stream on Twitch regularly. Then we take some of those clips, cut them up, and then we put them on UpUpDownDown. And then I have a bunch of people in my life who, like I said, they’re on YouTube, they’re on Twitch, they’re on Twitter, on Instagram.

So being able to go and do collaborations with them and make sure that my face is on the other platforms, too. Maybe it’s not my main source of doing stuff, but being able to have the ability to go and show what little skills I have in these other places in hopes that they then decide to follow me and come to my line of work, whether that’s wrestling, whether that’s YouTube stuff with UpUpDownDown. That’s super important to me and especially during this time where I’m injured.

There’s no real time frame on when I’ll be back, because Achilles tears are so different. It could be five months, it could be nine months. There’s a lot of wiggle room in there. So to be able to stay relevant is extremely important in this day and age because the news cycle is so incredibly fast. So if you’re not constantly doing something new, then soon it’s going to be out of sight, out of mind.

So my line of thought is that as long as I can stay visible doing something, then I’m in a good spot. I’m lucky that that’s something is a thing that I’m also extremely passionate about in the world of video games.

We’re seeing a lot now with NXT, and we were talking about building a brand. As a talent, what would your expectations be for building brand awareness for NXT, with all of this exposure that we’ve seen in recent weeks with that build to Survivor Series? Obviously, in the wrestling business, hardcore wrestling fans are very familiar with all three brands. But the majority of people are still only watching Raw and SmackDown. So how important is this time for NXT in your opinion?

It’s very important, especially having the show debut on USA. That’s the first time that NXT has been live on TV with their own spot, prime-time. It’s nice because, like you said, there are the hardcore wrestling fans who have been watching NXT. Now they’re watching it on USA and there’s still that section of wrestling fans that don’t know about NXT. They’re not familiar with the talent, they don’t know the story lines that are going on. There’s so much good talent down there. It’s almost absurd. It’s like they’re overflowing with talent, male and female, trainers, coaches, all types.

So the fact that they were able to work in all of the stuff they’ve worked in for Survivor Series. For instance, Adam Cole had the greatest week that anybody could have in wrestling, what, last week, two weeks ago. Being able to main event all three shows and show, “Hey, this is the guy down in NXT, and this is what he can do.” So, for me, that says, if I like what this guy’s doing, I should check out NXT to see more of this, because maybe there are more people down here who can do awesome stuff like this. And there are.

I think that Survivor Series, in particular, is a great, there has been a great build for the NXT brand and all of the talent that’s down there.

Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.

Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.


Chase Elliott Voted Most Popular NASCAR Driver Again

Chase Elliott’s run as NASCAR’s most popular driver hit two consecutive years when he was voted as the sport’s top star.

Elliott won the award last season, the first since Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired to end his streak of 15 consecutive years as winner. Earnhardt Jr. fell one year short of the record 16 set by Hall of Famer Bill Elliott — Chase’s father.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 05: Chase Elliott accepts the Most Popular Driver Award as he attends the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards at Music City Center on December 05, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The award is based on a fan vote and sponsored by the National Motorsports Press Association. Bill Elliott won the award every year between 1984 and 2002 until he removed his name from consideration. But the honor was returned to his family last year with Chase’s first victory, and the 24-year-old now seems to be a lock to reel off his own impressive run.

Fans are drawn to his workmanlike approach — like his father — and simple and unassuming attitude. Chase Elliott still lives in his Dawsonville, Georgia, hometown and hasn’t let his four seasons driving at NASCAR’s top level for Hendrick Motorsports change his character.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 05: Chase Elliott accepts the Most Popular Driver Award as he attends the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards at Music City Center on December 05, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“It’s more than a trophy or an award, it’s about the people you see at the race track,” Elliott said. “You go to the track and it’s cool to see people wearing your hats and shirts, that’s what drives me. ”

Elliott won three times this season and made it to the third round of the playoffs.

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


NASCAR’s Award Of Excellence Surprises Joe Gibbs

Joe Gibbs was honored with the Bill France Award of Excellence, capping a year in which he was elected to NASCAR’s Hall of Fame, won his fifth Cup championship as a car owner and thoroughly dominated the competition.

Gibbs was surprised with the honor, given at the start of Thursday night’s season-ending awards ceremony.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 05: Joe Gibbs attends the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards at Music City Center on December 05, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

“Our family, we just appreciate everything about this sport,” Gibbs said. “We were worried about coming into NASCAR, and we were welcomed in. It’s a thrill for us.”

The award named for NASCAR’s late founder is not given every year. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the last recipient in 2017 and it was not awarded last year. There have been only 26 winners since the award began in 1965. Gibbs received the award from Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of its namesake.

Gibbs drivers won 19 of 36 races this season including last month’s championship-clinching win by Kyle Busch. Gibbs had three drivers in the four-driver finale and it was Busch who emerged the victor for his second career Cup title.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 05: Cassadee Pope attends the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards at Music City Center on December 05, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

This season was dedicated to Gibbs’ oldest son, J.D., who died in January at age 49 from complications of a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease. A month later, Denny Hamlin led a 1-2-3 Gibbs sweep at the Daytona 500.

Gibbs, who turned 79 late last month, was a three-time Super Bowl champion coach for the Washington Redskins, a team he quit twice, each time surrendering the high-profile job to devote more time to his family and NASCAR.

Gibbs’ sons, J.D. and Coy, followed him into JGR, and it was J.D. who discovered Hamlin at a late-model test at Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina in the early 2000s.

CONCORD, NC – JANUARY 24: J.D. Gibbs, President of JGR, speaks to the media during the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour on January 24, 2013 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)

J.D. Gibbs played defensive back and quarterback at William & Mary (1987-90) while his father coached the Redskins. He transitioned into NASCAR and the family business when the elder Gibbs launched his NASCAR team in 1992. J.D. Gibbs was eventually co-chairman of JGR after starting with with the organization as a part-time driver and over-the-wall crew member.

He even made 13 NASCAR national series starts between 1998 and 2002. He stepped away from JGR in 2015 when it was announced he was suffering from “conditions related to brain function.”

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Reeling Lions Take On The Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings brought back little to show from a trip to one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. Other than additional injuries to important players and perhaps some pride in a fourth-quarter rally in Seattle that fell a bit short, that is.

There’s a reward waiting for them at home, though, with a depleted Detroit Lions team toting a five-game losing streak. The Vikings will make the playoffs if they win out, and the last quarter of the season presents an unprecedented advantage. All three NFC North foes must play this month at U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Vikings are 5-0 this year and 23-7 in the regular season and postseason since it opened in 2016.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – NOVEMBER 4: Minnesota Vikings fan Syd Davies does the Skol clap in the first half against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Lions 24-9.(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Never before in team history have the Vikings had more than two intradivision home games stashed in the final four weeks of the schedule. The NFL first went to a divisional alignment in 1967.

“We need this one, and it’s going to be really important the last quarter of the season, now that we’re three-quarters of the way through, that we finish really strong,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “We’ve still got to go out and earn everything in front of us.”

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 10: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions speaks with Jeff Driskel #2 during the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Even with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford likely to miss his fifth straight game to a back and hip injury, with undrafted rookie David Blough now manning the offense, the Vikings (8-4) ought not to relax about this game. The last time they played at home on Nov. 17, they fell behind 20-0 at halftime to a Denver team that’s now 4-8, before furiously rallying for a 27-23 victory. In the third game of the 2018 season, as a 16 1/2-point favorite at home against a Buffalo team that finished 6-10, the Vikings never even began a comeback and fell 27-6.

These Lions (3-8-1) have led in every game, and each of their losses during the streak have come by eight points or fewer.

“For us, there are positives in all of it and negatives in all of it,” coach Matt Patricia said. “You’d certainly rather be in close games than not close games, that’s for sure.”

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 14: Head coach Matt Patricia of the Detroit Lions watches action during a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 14, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Prior to Minnesota’s 42-30 win at Detroit on Oct. 20, the Lions lost by one point to Green Bay and by four points to Kansas City after leading both of those games with less than 30 seconds to go.

“They have highly paid, highly skilled players, and we barely beat them in Detroit. Barely,’ ‘ Cousins said. “You’d have to be pretty clueless to ever use the word ‘overlook’ in terms of getting ready for this one.”

Blough performed admirably in his debut on Thanksgiving Day, passing for 280 yards and two touchdowns and one late interception against a stout Chicago defense to give the Lions a spark.

DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 28: David Blough #10 of the Detroit Lions throws the ball during the third quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on November 28, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

“It was fun to see the guys have my back and lifting me up,” Blough said.

Here’s a closer look at the matchup on Sunday:

RUDOLPH THE RED ZONE TARGET

Kyle Rudolph, who has nine touchdown receptions in 15 career games against the Lions, has six scores plus a 2-point conversion in the last six games for the Vikings. Cousins has grown increasingly comfortable throwing passes into tight windows to the ninth-year tight end, who has made a habit of one-handed grabs in the back of the end zone.

“I take a lot of pride in trying to make the quarterback right,” Rudolph said.

BRIGHT SPOT BO

Hampered by a knee injury to starter Kerryon Johnson, the Lions have given carries to seven running backs this season. Johnson has returned to practice, but Bo Scarbrough has been a bright spot for the offense in the meantime.

LANDOVER, MD – NOVEMBER 24: Bo Scarbrough #43 of the Detroit Lions attempts to fight off the tackle of Fabian Moreau #31 of the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedExField on November 24, 2019 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

“You can see him breaking tackles at the first level, breaking tackles at the second level. He can finish the run and kind of have that punishing style,” Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “I think he’s just kind of brought a little bit of the mentality that we’re looking for, the blue-collar guy, the physical, punishing style that you’d like to play in this division.”

The Vikings just got done playing against that punishing kind of style, and they didn’t fare well, allowing a season-most 218 rushing yards to the Seahawks on 43 attempts.

“You’ve always got to start with stopping the run. That’s going to set you up for success,” strong safety Harrison Smith said.

BANGED-UP VIKINGS

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has played only a handful of snaps in the five games since hurting his hamstring during a touchdown catch in the first quarter at Detroit. Coach Mike Zimmer said Thielen has “a good opportunity” to return Sunday, but if there’s any question about his condition the Vikings will undoubtedly opt for caution and keep him on the sideline again.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – OCTOBER 28: Adam Thielen #19 of the Minnesota Vikings catches the ball in the end zone for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Running back Dalvin Cook is also uncertain for the game, having departed in Seattle in the third quarter, but his injury to the collarbone area is more about pain tolerance than risk of reinjury.

“I feel good, actually better than I expected,” Cook said. “I’ll be out there.”

RARE AIR

Detroit wide receiver Kenny Golladay has joined Hall of Famer Randy Moss as the only two players in the last 35 years to have at least 45 receptions, average 20-plus yards per catch and score nine receiving touchdowns or more through the first 12 games of the season. Golladay needs 50 yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight year and give the Lions a 1,000-yard receiver for the 10th consecutive season.

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 14: Kenny Golladay #19 of the Detroit Lions catches a pass in the first quarter Kevin King #20 of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 14, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

SECONDARY, A PRIMARY CONCERN

The Vikings have been uncharacteristically vulnerable in pass defense this season, with two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes among the culprits. Golladay is far from the only downfield threat posed by the Lions, with Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola also needing to be accounted for. Jones had four touchdown receptions against the Vikings in the first matchup this year.

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Fantasy Football Start And Sit: Miles Sanders A Top 10 RB Option As Eagles Face Giants

(CBS Local/CBS Philly)- Congratulations, you have made it through another fantasy football season! If you are in the playoffs and in the hunt for the championship, obviously, the matchups over the next few weeks will be supremely important as you chase that elusive title. On the flip side, maybe your league has a consolation bracket that determines whether or not you will have the top pick if you win it (like mine). Either way, just because the regular season is over, doesn’t mean that the fantasy lineup advice stops.

As they have each week through the regular season, the crew from Fantasy Football Today has joined us to give their thoughts on the best and worst matchups of the week. Their start of the week at the quarterback spot won’t surprise you if you’ve been paying attention to this space the last few weeks. New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is once again the guy to start this week because, again, he faces a weak defense. The Miami Dolphins visit MetLife Stadium this weekend fresh off of giving up three touchdown passes to Carson Wentz and the formerly anemic Eagles offense. Now they face Darnold, who, outside of last week’s performance against the Cincinnati Bengals, had begun to find a rhythm fantasy-wise, putting up 28, 25, and 21 points against the Raiders, Redskins and Giants. This week is another opportunity for him to shine.

Along a similar line of thinking, the guys have chosen Eagles running back Miles Sanders as their start of the week at the RB spot. The main reason is that Sanders has taken over as the number-one back in Philly’s offense with Jordan Howard sidelined by a shoulder injury. He had 17 carries for 83 yards and five catches for 22 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins. While the Giants defense hasn’t been one of the league’s worst against running backs, they’re not among the best either. Sanders’ dual-threat capability and likely high workload makes him a top-10 back this week according to Heath Cummings.

You can get more analysis from the guys on this week’s matchups by checking out the video above. And tune in every day to Fantasy Football Today live at 12 p.m. Eastern Time on CBS Sports HQ.

Start

QB: Sam Darnold, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins

RB: Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants

WR: Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sit

QB: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers

RB: Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos @ Houston Texans

WR: Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars


Georgia Must ‘Let Defense Lead The Way’ To Beat LSU In SEC Championship, Says Aaron Taylor

(CBS Local)- Once again, entering the final weekend of the season, the SEC has two teams set up for potential berths in the College Football Playoff. But this year unlike in previous years, it’s not the team that resides in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

In place of Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide stand the #1 LSU Tigers, winners of the West division and purveyors of a modernized offense that fans have wanted for years. But Saban’s presence still looms over the game, as Kirby Smart, one of his proteges, leads the #4 Georgia Bulldogs to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in hopes of clinching the SEC title. The two heavyweights have taken different roads to the conference title game, but one thing binds them: great offensive line play.

CBS Sports Network analyst Aaron Taylor explains that though these two teams run vastly different offensive systems, the success begins up front.

“Both lines have done a tremendous job of allowing their teams to be successful on their side of the ball this season,” said Taylor. “These offensive lines are critical to the success. It might be Jake Fromm and Joe Burrow that we have been talking about all season long, but these offensive lines have a lot to do with that.”

Taylor knows just a bit about offensive line play, having been a two-time All American at Notre Dame before playing six years in the NFL. His study of the position has extended beyond his playing career through his involvement in the awarding of the Joe Moore Award, given annually to the team with the country’s best offensive line. Not surprisingly, LSU and Georgia, along with other playoff favorites Ohio State and Clemson, are among the 10 teams named as semifinalists for this year’s trophy.

However, that is where the similarities end. Because while these two groups of maulers have shown themselves to be among the elite of the position, they have done so in different ways.

“Georgia, their bread and butter is being physical. It’s the biggest line in Bulldogs history, and Sam Pittman once again has done a masterful job of creating a physical presence that is dominant at times,” said Taylor. “LSU has been a work in progress, they had some early suspensions. There were some pieces that moved in and out of the lineup, but they have really turned the tables recently. What is really remarkable about them is how frequently they’re asked to protect in what we call empty sets, no back and no tight end to help out. Mano e Mano. Five o-linemen versus five, sometimes six defensive players, and they hold their own.”

That makes for an interesting contrast of styles heading into Saturday’s affair in Atlanta. The Tigers high-powered offense has yet to be truly slowed down this season, but the Bulldogs present a ball-control, crush-your-opponent’s-will type of running game that can often lead to fewer overall possessions in a game. While the explosiveness of the Tigers presents a problem, Taylor sees UGA as a unit without any holes.

“There really haven’t been any glaring weaknesses that they have had. There have been different sides of the ball that have struggled for a few series or even parts of games but consistently, they have had no weaknesses,” said Taylor. “To quote one of my all-time favorite literary novels, The Jungle Book, ‘the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.’ That has been what is so remarkable. The strength of their defense is there are no stars. There are just really good, solid players, and they don’t make many mistakes.”

The ‘Dawgs defense hasn’t gotten a ton of attention as one of the better units in the country, but they certainly deserve it. As Taylor notes, their pass defense in particular has been suffocating.

“They haven’t given up a touchdown pass in their last three games. They have been remarkable on that side,” said Taylor. “That is a strength-on-strength matchup this weekend that is something to keep an eye on. Also interesting is they haven’t been able to turn the football over on that side of the ball, at least in terms of interceptions, with only six on the year.”

The strength-versus-strength matchup that Taylor alludes to there is the ‘Dawgs pass defense (15th at 186 YPG) against an LSU passing attack led by Burrow, which has rolled up over 390 yards per game (second) and averages over 13 yards per completion and 10 yards per attempt. Watching that battle play out on Saturday will be fascinating, but perhaps more important will be how Georgia operates offensively in the absence of wide receiver Lawrence Cager (ankle), George Pickens (suspended for first half) and a banged-up De’Andre Swift (shoulder contusion).

“Georgia going into this game has struggled as of late on the offensive side of the ball. They have been inconsistent,” said Taylor. “We have watched Jake Fromm complete under 50 percent of his passes three times in 37 starts, and two of those have been losses. Also, when he throws the ball to win ball games if the run game is not there, they have also struggled. There is a potential that could be the case. For the Bulldogs to win they’re going to have to let their defense lead the way and go old-school.”

The Tigers and Bulldogs are set for kick-off from Atlanta on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time on CBS.


Well-Known CMU Sports Broadcaster Don Chiodo Killed In Crash

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) — A Central Michigan football and basketball radio broadcaster has died in a car crash.

Don Chiodo was 54-years-old.

Police say Chiodo died in a crash Wednesday on M-46 in Gratiot County, just a few days before CMU plays for the Mid-American Conference football championship in Detroit.

“Don was an important part of our athletics family and his passing is a great loss,” said CMU athletic director Michael Alford. “Don was one of the fiercest advocates for all our programs and had a passion for telling the great stories of our student-athletes.”

Football coach Jim McElwain said Chiodo was a “true CMU Chippewa.”

Chiodo, a 1990 CMU graduate, was a 10-year veteran of the Chippewa Sports Network. He had a long career in broadcasting and also worked as a financial adviser.

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


NASCAR Leaves Vegas For Nashville

Kyle Busch toted his championship trophy all over Nashville for photo opportunities. He opened his celebratory week with an appearance on WWE’s “Raw,” then joined industry heavyweights for a NASCAR-themed night at the Grand Ole Opry.

There are burnouts on Broadway and a Wednesday night party with country music star Blake Shelton where fans were camped outside Ole Red for the “Bash on Broadway” and a glimpse of NASCAR’s stars or super fan Shelton.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 04: Denny Hamlin performs a burnout during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Burnouts on Broadway on December 04, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)

NASCAR this year shifted its season-ending awards celebration to Nashville after 10 years in Las Vegas in a move designed to reconnect with core fans and pump some life back into the traditional party. The event was a New York City spectacular at the old Waldorf-Astoria until the 2009 decision to go west, but that annual week-long romp had become a chore.

“Vegas, it was so fun out there the first few years, and then it just lost its luster a little bit,” said Clint Bowyer, who thinks Nashville “just felt right” for the two-day gathering that includes autograph sessions, driver appearances, meetings, news conferences, cocktail parties, Thursday night’s ceremony and an after-party headlined by rapper Nelly.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 04: Clint Bowyer and Blake Shelton pose for a photo prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Burnouts on Broadway on December 04, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

There is also work to be done as drivers emerged from a two-week slumber following the Nov. 17 season finale where Busch beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing to win his second championship.

Hamlin is fresh off shoulder surgery, frustrated the rehabilitation has left the avid athlete unable to play basketball or golf. The one thing Hamlin isn’t bothered about? The bizarre pit call crew chief Chris Gabehart made at Homestead that cost Hamlin a shot at a title.

Gabehart went for an aggressive aerodynamic call and it backfired when a piece of duct tape caused Hamlin’s car to overheat. Hamlin recently spoke to Gabehart and the crew chief was puzzled why his driver wasn’t asking about the gaffe.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 04: Denny Hamlin performs a burnout during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Burnouts on Broadway on December 04, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

“I just have succumbed to whatever he’s doing, he’s doing for a reason and I am sure he had a reason,” Hamlin said Wednesday. “I can’t go back. If I know more, maybe it just makes me feel crappy for a day. I don’t care. I can’t go back and fix it, and he can’t go back and fix it.”

Kyle Larson opened his offseason with three wins in three sprint car races, and will soon be the top free agent in NASCAR.

Larson is entering the final year of a contract with Chip Ganassi, but the looming retirement of seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson from Hendrick Motorsports and a potential opening at Stewart-Haas has moved Larson to the top of the list of coveted drivers. Hendrick wasn’t such a fan of Kasey Kahne’s extracurricular sprint car races when Kahne drove there, but Stewart-Haas is part-owned by sprint car lover Tony Stewart.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 04: Kyle Larson performs a burnout during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Burnouts on Broadway on December 04, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Larson knows he has a big decision ahead of him.

“I enjoy what I am doing with Chip and I am a free agent at the end of next year, so I guess I am excited about that, just to hear what people have to say, but if I do end up with Chip I will be perfectly happy with that,” Larson said. “Wherever I end up, that’s going to be a priority for me, still being able to race quite a bit on dirt tracks, and I think teams understand that.”

Bowyer and Aric Almirola opened the day with an announcement from Stewart-Haas on a crew chief swap for next year, while Brad Keselowski remained in North Carolina with his family following the birth of his second daughter.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 04: Aric Almirola and Nick Bonino pose for a photo prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Burnouts on Broadway on December 04, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)

MUSIC CITY MEMORIES

NASCAR had a jam-packed itinerary as the series catered to a loyal fanbase hungry for a return of big league racing. The Cup Series ran 42 times at the old Fairgrounds from 1958 through 1984, and the lower-level Xfinity and Truck Series last raced there in 2000.

Nashville Superspeedway held Xfinity and Truck events until 2011. NASCAR also used to host an annual “Sound and Speed” event that mixed its stars and country artists at events around Nashville until 2010.

Bowyer was an active participant in the “Sound and Speed” festivals and believed this year’s awards ceremony is very similar. But he was hoping to take it up a notch at the burnout show by getting Shelton in the car with him to scare his speed-fearing friend.

“People don’t realize how big of a NASCAR fan he is, and was with his father, and that’s no bull crap,” Bowyer said. “He listens to the radio, the scanner, he’s a full-blown NASCAR fan.”

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Lions QB Blough To Honor Tyler Trent

David Blough is ready to honor Tyler Trent with his shoes.

Blough, now a quarterback for the Detroit Lions, showed off a special shoe Wednesday with Trent’s likeness on it. Trent was the inspirational Purdue fan who died of bone cancer at age 20 on Jan. 1. Blough, who played at Purdue, said he’s planning to wear the shoes in Detroit’s game at Minnesota this weekend.

“I wanted to honor Tyler Trent and his life, obviously a good friend of mine,” Blough said. “Really cool deal, some guys put this together for us, so I thought it’d be sweet to be able to honor Tyler and his life with that.”

BLOOMINGTON, IN – NOVEMBER 24: Purdue fan Tyler Trent holds the Ol’ Oaken Bucket following the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Trent was first diagnosed with a rare bone cancer at age 15. He entered Purdue in 2017 while undergoing chemotherapy and received national attention last year by becoming the adopted captain of the football team.

Blough was on that Purdue team, then entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie. He made his pro debut last week when he started for the Lions on Thanksgiving against Chicago. He threw touchdown passes on his first two drives, although Detroit lost 24-20.

It’s safe to say Blough is more well known than he was a couple of weeks ago, so it’s a good time for him to honor Trent with his special shoes.

DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 28: David Blough #10 of the Detroit Lions runs the ball during the third quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on November 28, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

“To be able to wear them after last week with all the attention for Tyler is just special,” he said. “It brings light to his legacy, his life, his story, what he stood for, and I hope with my actions and play that that can be well represented.”

Blough’s opportunity last week came because of injuries to Matthew Stafford and Jeff Driskel. Stafford has missed the past four games — all losses — with back and hip injuries. Driskel injured his hamstring and is now on injured reserve.

Blough’s performance against Chicago was all the more impressive because of the short week of preparation leading up to it. Blough will have had a lot more time to get ready for this next game against the Vikings.

DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 28: David Blough #10 of the Detroit Lions throws the ball during the third quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on November 28, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

“It definitely helps. You get all of those reps with the first-team guys and just last week kind of going through the week, the walk-through, things like that,” he said.

Stafford was also in the Detroit locker room Wednesday. He said his recent injury problems haven’t affected his long-term outlook.

“I want to play for a long time,” Stafford said. “I felt like I was playing really good ball this year, and something that’s kind of a freak deal that happened, and obviously got to take it in stride and listen to doctors, my body, coaches, everybody, kind of figure out what’s best. But I was having a lot of fun playing when I was out there.”

NOTES: The Lions signed free agent TE Cole Herdman to the practice squad and released LB Anthony Pittman from the practice squad. Herdman is also an undrafted rookie from Purdue.

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Pistons Win Streak Ends At Two With Loss To Bucks

DETROIT (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo was ready to go toe to toe with Blake Griffin during a second-quarter flareup between division rivals Milwaukee and Detroit.

The game was turning contentious. It wouldn’t stay close for long.

 

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 04: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives to the basket against Blake Griffin #23 of the Detroit Pistons during the second half at Little Caesars Arena on December 04, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Milwaukee won the game 127-103. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

“They’re just a great defensive team and just play really physical,” Antetokounmpo said. “They want to be physical, they want to be dirty. They want you to get out of your game, and whenever you come in Detroit, you expect that.”

Antetokounmpo scored 35 points to lift the Bucks to their 13th consecutive victory, 127-103 over the Pistons on Wednesday night. The last time the Bucks had a longer winning streak than this was when they won 16 in a row spanning the end of the 1972-73 season and the beginning of 1973-74. They also had a 13-game run shortly after that 16-game streak ended.

Milwaukee won all eight matchups with the Pistons last season — four in the regular season and four in the first round of the playoffs. The Bucks also beat Detroit last month in their first meeting of 2019-20.

 

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 04: Robin Lopez #42 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts after a second half three point basket while playing the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on December 04, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Milwaukee won the game 127-103. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

There were six technical fouls in this game, and there were words exchanged during a couple mild altercations. The first involved Antetokounmpo and Griffin after those two collided around midcourt in the second quarter.

“There’s going to be a lot of teams that are going to come out and try to be physical with me — try to hit me, knock me down to the floor,” Antetokounmpo said. “I just got to keep my composure.”

In the third quarter, Antetokounmpo fell to the ground after being fouled, and then Griffin stepped over him. Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton came over to confront Griffin. Three technicals were assessed after that.

 

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

“That’s going to happen. In a competitive game, it’s going to happen,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “If anything, that should get you more focused, more riled up, more ready to play, more ready to compete and more ready to be physical and finish at the rim. All those things you have to do in a competitive game like that, a physical game like that.”

The Bucks went on a 13-2 run late in the second quarter to lead 57-39, and although Detroit closed within 11 at the half, the Pistons never made a major run during the final two quarters. Antetokounmpo scored 12 points in the third, and Milwaukee led 92-72 after three.

 

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 04: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots over Andre Drummond #0 of the Detroit Pistons during the second half at Little Caesars Arena on December 04, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Milwaukee won the game 127-103. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

“I liked our fire in the second quarter. I liked our fire in general,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think the guys, they’re in a good place. They’re playing good basketball. So we’ll keep it going.”

Andre Drummond had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Detroit. Middleton had 17 points for the Bucks.

TIP-INS

Bucks: Milwaukee had led start to finish in each of its previous two games, but the Bucks trailed 24-22 after the first quarter in this one. 

Pistons: Detroit came into the game shooting a league-leading 39.9% from 3-point range. The Pistons went 11 of 36 (30.6%) on Wednesday. … The Pistons were without G Luke Kennard (knee). G Reggie Jackson has played only two games this season because of a lumbar stress reaction. The team announced Tuesday that he’ll be evaluated again in a couple weeks.

BLOWOUTS

This game probably became a bit more anticipated after the Pistons routed their previous two opponents by 34 and 33 points. But the Bucks had won their previous two by 41 and 44, and this one wasn’t close either.

“They’re at the top of the league, really, for a reason,” Griffin said. “It was a good test for us, the second time we played them on the second night of a back-to-back. But we’ve just got to be better.”

UP NEXT

Bucks: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

Pistons: Host the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.

 

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Wolverines & Spartans Fall In ACC-Big Ten Challenge

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Vernon Carey Jr. showed Michigan State exactly what it’s missing.

Carey had 26 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks to help No. 10 Duke dominate the 11th-ranked Spartans in an 87-75 victory Tuesday night.

The 6-foot-10, 270-pound freshman was recruited hard by Michigan State and seemed very interested in attending the school, but ended up signing with the Blue Devils and came back to haunt coach Tom Izzo.

 

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 03: Vernon Carey Jr. #1 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after a second half basket against the Michigan State Spartans at Breslin Center on December 03, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. Duke won the game 87-75.
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

“He’s a load in there,” Izzo said.

Duke (8-1) looked like one of the top teams in the country and not a rebuilding one a week after losing at home to Stephen F. Austin.

“If we played like this last week, we would’ve won two games instead of one,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “But we didn’t because we’re learning.”

 

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 03: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils reacts from the bench while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Breslin Center on December 03, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Blue Devils guard Tre Jones scored 20 points, matched a career high with 12 assists and made three steals as part of a defensive effort that forced several turnovers early in the game and a total of 14.

Cassius Winston made a 3-pointer to pull the Spartans within eight early in the second half.

 

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 03: Cassius Winston #5 of the Michigan State Spartans takes a first half shot over Vernon Carey Jr. #1 of the Duke Blue Devils during the first half at Breslin Center on December 03, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Carey answered the surge with a three-point play and a layup to restore a double-digit advantage the Blue Devils had no trouble maintaining.

Xavier Tillman, perhaps wearing No. 23 for the last time because Draymond Green’s jersey was retired by Michigan State at halftime, scored 20 points and Marcus Bingham added 13.

 

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 03: Vernon Carey Jr. #1 of the Duke Blue Devils takes a shot over Xavier Tillman #23 of the Michigan State Spartans during the second half at Breslin Center on December 03, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. Duke won the game 87-75. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Aaron Henry was held to two points after entering the game averaging 12-plus for the Spartans.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: Carey and Jones looked like the sort of stars the Blue Devils can build around to become one of the best teams in the country.

“We’ve got to be more consistent with this play now,” Jones said. “We can’t have any lapse like we did last week.

 

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 03: Tre Jones #3 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates a first half basket with teammates while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Breslin Center on December 03, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Michigan State: Izzo has a lot of work to do in trying to rally a team that has been reeling since Winston’s brother died last month.

“It’s my job to get them ready and I’m going to do a better job of getting them ready,” Izzo said. “I won’t panic like most fans because I’ve been here before.”

IN THE RAFTERS

Green’s jersey was retired during a halftime ceremony that included a slew of former Spartans, including Steve Smith, whose No. 21 has also been retired.

 

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 03: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors and his familey during his college jersey retirement at a game between the Duke Blue Devils and Michigan State Spartans at the Breslin Center on December 03, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. Duke won the game 87-75. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

The Golden State Warriors star said he isn’t sure if he’ll let Tillman continue to wear his number, adding he isn’t sure he has that much power.

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville players and coach Chris Mack cared more about protecting the basket against Michigan than defending their new perch atop the rankings.

Fulfilling that priority helped the Cardinals succeed in their season debut as the nation’s No. 1 team.

 

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – DECEMBER 03: Chris Mack the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals gives instructions to his team against the Michigan Wolverines at KFC YUM! Center on December 03, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

 

Jordan Nwora had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Louisville held No. 4 Michigan to a season-low 26% shooting mark for a 58-43 victory Tuesday night in its first game since returning to No. 1.

The Cardinals (8-0) shot just 37% but their defense stifled Michigan (7-1) much of the night as they earned a signature victory in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge one day after claiming the top spot in the AP Top 25 for the first time in six years. Though their second-year coach has downplayed rankings, the win was significant for a program he has guided back into the national championship discussion following a sex scandal and the school’s involvement in a federal corruption investigation of college basketball.

Players seem more focused on building on it.

 

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – DECEMBER 03: Lamarr Kimble #0 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball during the 58-43 win against the Michigan Wolverines at KFC YUM! Center on December 03, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

 

“Our season’s not over yet,” Cardinals guard Lamarr Kimble said. “No. 1’s just a number. We’re going to continue to get better.”

As for Mack, he was most satisfied with how his team denied just about everything Michigan attempted while passing or shooting, holding the Wolverines to just better than half their scoring average (82.4 points per game). That mattered on a night when baskets were nearly as hard to come by for the Cardinals.

“The story of the game was just our defensive effort, from the beginning of the game all the way through,” Mack said. “We probably played 38½ minutes as good a defense as we can play, outside of maybe the first minute of the second half.”

Louisville answered the Wolverines’ 6-0 spurt that got them to 30-26 with a 10-0 run keyed by six points and a couple of pivotal rebounds from Nwora, who tied his season high on the boards.

 

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – DECEMBER 03: Jordan Nwora #33 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates during the 58-43 win against the Michigan Wolverines at KFC YUM! Center on December 03, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

 

“That’s really been a big focus for us, being strong on D,” Nwora said.

The Cardinals also kept the Wolverines and first-year coach Juwan Howard from adding another top-10 upset to the ones that helped them enter the Top 25 and match Kansas (1989) for the biggest jump from being unranked in the 70-year history of the poll.

“Give them credit,” Howard said. “They do a great job of defending. Unfortunately, they did a good job of keeping us out of the paint.”

Steven Enoch had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Dwayne Sutton pulled down 11 boards as Louisville topped Michigan 48-41 in that category.

 

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – DECEMBER 03: Jon Teske #15 of the Michigan Wolverines shoots the ball against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on December 03, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

 

Jon Teske had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolverines, who were seeking their first victory over a No. 1 team since beating Duke 81-73 at home on Dec. 13, 1997.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: After a strong shooting stretch that keyed wins over No. 6 North Carolina and No. 8 Gonzaga to take the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, the Wolverines fell back to Earth. They began 2 of 13 from the field and never really recovered. They were outscored 22-16 in the paint, and getting those points was a challenge against the pack line defense.

 

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – DECEMBER 03: Juwan Howard the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines gives instructions to his team against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on December 03, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

 

Louisville: The Cardinals weren’t sharp by any means but passed their first big test against high-profile competition. Their defense limited chances inside and forced Michigan into perimeter shots that often missed. They also were able to string together enough small runs to gain some space.

 

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Pistons Win Back To Back For First Time

The Detroit Pistons are suddenly on a roll.

Blake Griffin scored 24 points, Andre Drummond had 17 points and 14 rebounds, and the Pistons routed the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-94 Tuesday night to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Pistons thumped San Antonio 132-98 on Sunday and put together another dominant performance, shooting 54% and hitting 18 of 35 3-point attempts.

“We’re building it, we’re getting better,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer.”

Griffin played just 24 minutes and was 8 of 13 from the field, including 6 of 7 from deep. Drummond played 31 minutes as Detroit’s starters were on the bench for the fourth quarter.

Griffin scored 16 points in the first quarter with four 3-pointers. The 6-foot-10 forward missed training camp and the first 10 games of the season with a hamstring injury.

“He didn’t have an exhibition season, so he’s still getting his sea legs under him and is playing his way back into shape,” Casey said.

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Griffin was called for traveling after Detroit won the opening tip but hit a 3-pointer a minute into the game.

“I don’t think we’ve called the first play of the game for me all season, but that’s OK,” he said with a smile. “It’s not how I really get into it. I just do my thing and take what they give me.”

Detroit hit 10 3-pointers in the first half and built a 57-38 lead, a margin that steadily grew and reached 35 in the fourth quarter.

Cleveland has lost 10 of 11. The Cavaliers were coming off a loss to Milwaukee in which they cut a 22-point margin to three late in the game.

“It’s really a tough one for us,” Cleveland forward Kevin Love said. “We were pretty happy with most of the game last game and how we played. Tonight we came out and laid an egg.”

Collin Sexton scored 22 points, and Tristan Thompson had 10 points and 14 rebounds.

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Cleveland coach John Beilein removed all five of his starters late in the third quarter with the Cavaliers trailing 87-60. Cleveland’s starters returned in the fourth quarter, but the lead reached 111-76 midway through the period.

The Cavaliers had a 15-0 run to go ahead 28-24 late in the first quarter, but Detroit outscored Cleveland 38-18 over the final 13:25 of the half.

Svi Mykhailiuk scored 15 points for Detroit, which had six players in double figures. Langston Galloway had 14.

TIP-INS

Pistons: Detroit is 2-9 on the road. … The Pistons and Cavaliers played for the first time this season and will meet three times in January.

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Cavaliers: Cleveland didn’t shoot a free throw until the 2:29 mark of the second quarter when it trailed 59-40. … Rookie G Dylan Windler, who has been out all season with a stress reaction in his left leg, is expected to play for Canton of the G League on Thursday. Windler, the 26th pick in the draft, practiced with the Cavaliers on Sunday and Monday.

INJURY UPDATE

The Pistons announced point guard Reggie Jackson, who has missed the last 19 games because of a stress reaction in his lower back, is showing progress in his recovery and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Jackson, who played in all 82 games last season, was injured against Atlanta on Oct. 24.

“That is encouraging news,” Casey said. “Bruce (Brown) has done a good job treading water at point guard after being a forward in college, but we’re looking forward to getting Reggie back.”

FAMILIAR TERRITORY

Beilein coached against the Pistons for the first time since leaving Michigan and taking over the Cavaliers job. It was pointed out before the game the Wolverines lost a total of 15 games under Beilein the last two seasons. Cleveland is 5-15 this season.

“Thanks for reminding me,” he said with a laugh.

The Cavaliers have lost four of five on a homestand that ends Friday against Orlando.

UP NEXT

Pistons: Host Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Pistons are 0-9 against the Bucks over the last two seasons.

Cavaliers: Host Orlando on Friday. The Magic makes its second visit to Cleveland in a 10-day span, having won 116-104 on Nov. 27.

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 14: 49ers RB Carousel Continues, Raheem Mostert Now Top Option With Breida Out

By Matt Citak

(CBS Boston/CBS Local)- If you are reading this, then congratulations are in order. You reached the fantasy playoffs, something that only a few people in your league can say.

While making the postseason is great, it is far from your goal. Now that you’re here, let’s get you over the hump so you can take home that fantasy championship.

Bye weeks are over, so we are now going to focus on guys that look like they could have a big impact in the final few weeks of the fantasy season.

Here are the top waiver wire adds for Week 14, a.k.a the first round of the fantasy playoffs.

QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans– Tannehill struggled this past Sunday, finishing the day with just under 14 fantasy points after throwing for 182 yards and two touchdowns, but losing a fumble. While this performance was far from ideal in the biggest week of the fantasy season, Tannehill’s production over the last month cannot be ignored. Week 13 was the first time in five games that the veteran QB did not finish with at least 18.5 fantasy points, including two outings with at least 23 points. The Titans faced the Colts on Sunday, who have a surprisingly stingy pass defense. Over the next two weeks, Tennessee faces off against the Raiders and Texans, both of which rank in the top-7 in most fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. If you’ve been streaming QBs all season, Tannehill could be the guy to get you to the championship.

Credit: Harry Aaron/Getty Images

QB Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars– Minshew Mania is back! After Nick Foles put up a dismal first half against one of the league’s worst pass defenses in the Buccaneers, Minshew took over in the second half and finished with over 10 fantasy points. We have already seen what the rookie quarterback can do when starting under center this season. The Jaguars take on the Chargers in Week 14, which is far from an easy matchup. However, things get a lot easier in Weeks 15 and 16, as Jacksonville will hit the road to face off against the Raiders and Falcons, both of which serve as great fantasy matchups for opposing QBs. With Jacksonville’s season all but over, the team is handing the reins to the rookie QB for the final few weeks of the season, making Minshew a solid streaming option.

RB Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers– Everyone knows that the 49ers love to pound the rock. With Matt Breida sidelined and Tevin Coleman continuing to struggle, it was Mostert that exploded for San Francisco on Sunday. Going up against a tough Ravens defense, Mostert ran the ball 19 times for a whopping 146 yards and a touchdown, good for an average of 7.7 yards per carry. It is unclear how long Breida will be sidelined, and even if he does return, he likely will not be 100%. Unless Coleman is magically able to turn his season around, Mostert could end up leading the 49ers backfield in touches in the final stretch of the season. That is a very valuable role in the NFC’s top team’s offense. Go grab Mostert in case he becomes the guy for the 49ers these next few weeks.

RB Patrick Laird, Miami Dolphins– I never thought I’d be saying this, but how about those Dolphins! Miami picked up its third win of the season in Week 13, defeating the Eagles by six. Laird did not have the most dazzling stat line, finishing with 10 carries for 5 yards and a touchdown along with four receptions for 43 yards. But Kalen Ballage appeared to suffer a serious leg injury in this contest, and if he were to miss any time, then Laird would step up as the lead back in Miami’s backfield. The Dolphins’ offensive line is still very bad, but it is not often that you get a chance to pick up a feature back at this point of the season. With Miami’s offense somehow actually rolling, Laird could offer FLEX value over the next few weeks if Ballage is out.

RB Alexander Mattison, Minnesota VIkings / Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys / Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens– With the playoffs getting underway, it is officially handcuff season. Whether you own the starting back on any of these teams or you just have an extra roster spot at the end of your bench, it would be wise to go out and pick up one of these handcuffs for the fantasy postseason. Injuries occur every week, and if anything were to happen to Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott or Mark Ingram, their backups would immediately become borderline RB1s. Don’t test fate during the playoffs. If you have a top back, make sure you add his handcuff before the postseason kicks off.

Credit: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

WR Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears– Want to hear a crazy stat? Over the last three weeks, Mitchell Trubisky has targeted Miller 33 times. No, that is not a typo. Miller has turned those 33 targets into 21 receptions for 271 yards, and is coming off of a nine-reception, 140-yard performance on Thanksgiving. Trubisky does not have good arm strength, and while that would scare me away from most outside receivers, it actually plays right into Miller’s strengths as the team’s slot receiver. Chicago’s final three matchups are against Dallas, Green Bay and Kansas City, all of which have strong outside corners. With Chicago back at 6-6, there is still hope (albeit small) that the Bears can make the playoffs. Trubisky will have to target Miller early and often over the next three weeks, which makes the second-year receiver an interesting fantasy play during the fantasy postseason.

WR Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons– Gage took over as Atlanta’s number three receiver following the trade of Mohamed Sanu to New England. While it took a few weeks for him to get going, Gage has look rather impressive over the last two games. He has caught 13 passes on 19 targets for 128 yards and a touchdown, and with Julio Jones being a potential shutdown candidate due to his shoulder injury, Gage could be looking at a much bigger role over the final few weeks of the season. With how bad Atlanta’s defense is, the Falcons have been playing from behind all season. That is unlikely to change here in the final stretch of the year. Keep an eye out for news on Jones, but be proactive and go snag Gage while you have the opportunity.

WR Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers– Davante Adams is the clear no. 1 receiver on the Packers, and frankly, it isn’t remotely close. However, Green Bay has been looking for someone to step up as the team’s no. 2 receiver all season. Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jake Kumerow and even Ryan Grant have all been given chances, but it is Lazard that has been the only one able to take advantage of the opportunity. Lazard caught all three passes thrown in his direction Sunday, totaling 103 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Rodgers has spoken at length about Lazard’s abilities and hard work, and it is clear that the two-time MVP loves throwing him the ball. With an appetizing matchup against Washington this week, Lazard could find himself open for another deep touchdown in Week 14.

Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images

TE Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams– With Gerald Everett ruled out, Higbee got the start on Sunday for fantasy’s greatest matchup: a tight end going up against the Cardinals. As expected, Higbee shined in this one, catching seven of eight targets for 107 yards and a touchdown. It was a huge game for the Rams offense, as Jared Goff threw for 424 yards and LA seemed to get back on track. The Rams next two matchups are against Seattle and Dallas, and while they aren’t as strong of a matchup as the Cardinals, they both land in the top-10 for most fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends. As long as Everett is out, Higbee will remain the only reliable tight end in the Rams offense, making him a solid TE1.

TE Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins– Another Dolphin on the list? I know, I’m surprised as you are. Over the last two weeks, Ryan Fitzpatrick has targeted Gesicki 14 times (seven in each game), and in each one, the young tight end was able to find the end zone. Against the Eagles in Week 13, Gesicki reeled in five passes for 79 yards and the score. The second-year tight end and the veteran quarterback have appeared to develop a strong connection, which has played a large part in Miami’s offense actually looking decent. If your season-long search for a tight end has continued into the fantasy postseason, then Gesicki might just be your answer.

Matt Citak is a contributing writer for CBS Local. Follow him on Twitter here for all things fantasy football, New York Giants and more.


Daytona 500 Pre-Race Concert To Feature Darius Rucker

Three-time Grammy Award winner Darius Rucker will perform a pre-race concert before the Daytona 500 in February.

It will be Rucker’s fourth appearance at Daytona International Speedway and first at the “Great American Race,” which will again serve as NASCAR’s Cup Series season opener. The 500-mile race is scheduled for Feb. 16.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 04: Darius Rucker of Hootie & the Blowfish performs onstage during Hootie & the Blowfish at The Troubadour on November 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Hootie & the Blowfish)

Track president Chip Wile says Rucker’s appeal “is massive, encompassing fans of both rock and country music, making him a perfect fit for fans” at Daytona.

Rucker served as frontman for Hootie & the Blowfish until venturing into country music as a solo artist in 2008. He has since released five albums and notched nine No. 1 singles on country radio, earning him induction into the famed Grand Ole Opry in 2012.

Hootie & the Blowfish returned to the road in 2019 for their Group Therapy Tour and released “Imperfect Circle” last month, their first new album in nearly 15 years.

Rucker twice performed at Daytona before the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in July (2002, 2010). Hootie & The Blowfish took part in the Dale Earnhardt Tribute Concert in 2003.

© 2019 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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