Update on the latest sports
T25 MEN’S BASKETBALL-SCHEDULE
Nova coach gets milestone win
UNDATED (AP) – Jay Wright has become the 39th men’s basketball coach to win 600 games.
Wright reached the milestone when seventh-ranked Villanova knocked off Butler, 85-66. Collin Gillespie and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl each scored 18 points in the Wildcats’ latest home-opener game ever.
Jair Bolden scored 18 points for the Bulldogs, who trailed by just two in the second half before the Wildcats pulled away to improve to 6-1.
Villanova also announced that Saturday’s game against Virginia at Madison Square Garden has been canceled. The Cavaliers have been dealing with COVID-19 issues that have caused four straight games to be canceled or postponed. The Wildcats will try to schedule a home game for Saturday.
Elsewhere in men’s top-25 basketball action:
– Courtney Ramey nailed five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points and six assists to send 11th-ranked Texas to a 79-63 victory against Sam Houston State. Freshman Greg Brown chipped in 17 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
– Purdue was a 67-60 winner against No. 20 Ohio State as Trevion Williams contributed 16 points, nine rebounds and a career-high eight assists in his second game coming off the bench. Eric Hunter Jr. added a season-best 15 points to help Matt Painter beat a ranked team for the 50th time in 16 seasons as the Boilermakers coach.
– Sophomore forward Matthew Hurt scored 18 points and three Duke freshmen also cracked double digits in a 75-65 win at Notre Dame. D.J. Steward had 16 points to go with seven rebounds, while Jeremy Roach scored 14 and Jaemyn Brakefield added 10 for the 21st-rated Blue Devils.
NCAA OK’s immediate transfer ability
UNDATED (AP) – Transferring college athletes have received good news from the NCAA.
The Division I Council has granted blanket waivers for all athletes to play immediately. The decision includes all Division I sports, but is contingent on certain criteria being met.
Transfers previously were required to sit out a season unless granted a waiver by the NCAA. The NCAA had decided on waivers on a case-by-case basis, but had been more lenient during the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision should have an immediate impact on basketball programs, with some transfers becoming eligible for games on Wednesday.
Brees coming off injured reserve list
UNDATED (AP) – The New Orleans Saints could have Drew Brees (breez) back in the starting lineup as early as Sunday against the defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs.
The record-setting quarterback has been designated to return from the club’s injured reserve list after missing four games with fractured ribs and a punctured lung. Coach Sean Payton has not indicated when he intends to play Brees but has said the signal caller is not someone the Saints would hurry back.
The 41-year-old Brees was injured while being sacked on Nov. 15 against San Francisco. The Saints have gone 3-1 since with Taysom Hill starting.
In other NFL news:
– NFL owners have delayed a decision on implementing a 17-game regular season for 2021. The NFL and the players’ union agreed during collective bargaining talks earlier this year to adding one regular-season game to the schedule, but not before next season. Commissioner Roger Goodell said a scheduling formula for a 17th game was approved unanimously, but did not immediately provide details.
– The 49ers are sticking with Nick Mullens at quarterback for now despite a pair of costly turnovers that led to defensive touchdowns in last weekend’s loss to Washington. Coach Kyle Shanahan had said he would evaluate the position following the loss but ultimately decided to stick with Mullens over C.J. Beathard for Sunday’s game at Dallas. Starter Jimmy Garoppolo remains out with an ankle injury.
– The Ravens have placed receivers Marquise Brown, Mile Boykin and James Proche on the reserve/COVID-19 list, leaving their status uncertain for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. Brown scored a key touchdown for Baltimore in the fourth quarter of Monday’s 47-42 victory at Cleveland. Brown is tied for the team lead with 43 catches and has a team-high 605 yards receiving with five TDs.
– Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer declined Wednesday to commit to using kicker Dan Bailey for the upcoming game against Chicago. Bailey missed three goal attempts and an extra point in Sunday’s 26-14 loss at Tampa Bay. The Vikings released practice squad kicker Tristan Vizcaino this week and had free agent kicker Chandler Catanzaro in for a tryout.
– Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez has returned to practice just 15 days after having surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Colts coach Frank Reich says he is hopeful Sanchez will play Sunday against Houston. Sanchez is averaging 47.2 yards this season with a net of 40.6.
– Seahawks veteran tight end Greg Olsen has returned to the practice field far sooner than most expected. Olsen was designated for return to practice on Wednesday by the Seahawks, less than a month after he landed on injured reserve with a torn fascia in his left foot. At the time of his injury, Seattle estimated Olsen would be out at least a month and potentially upward of six weeks.
– The Bengals have put defensive tackle Geno Atkins on injured reserve with a right shoulder injury. Atkins missed the first four games and has played sparingly since following the injury suffered in training camp. He has one tackle in seven games.
– Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins took snaps with the first team offense on Wednesday while Alex Smith missed practice with a right calf injury. Smith got hurt in the first half of Sunday’s win over the 49ers. Coach Ron Rivera says he would be OK with waiting until just before the team’s next game before deciding who to start at quarterback.
– The status of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has become more iffy for Sunday’s game against Cleveland because of another injury on top of his hamstring problem. Coach Joe Judge said the second-year quarterback also is dealing with an injury to his lower leg. It apparently happened during Sunday’s 26-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
– Browns cornerback Denzel Ward has returned to practice after missing three games with a calf injury. Ward was playing at a Pro Bowl level when he got hurt against Philadelphia last month. He was leading the NFL in passes defensed at the time of his injury.
Kansas State is latest to pass on bowl game
UNDATED (AP) – Kansas State and Virginia Tech are the latest Power Five team to withdraw from consideration for a bowl game, joining Boston College, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Stanford.
The Wildcats paused all football activities indefinitely on Wednesday amid an outbreak of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing that would have prevented them from fielding enough players to play.
Kansas State lost its last five games but was in line for a bowl game because it finished seventh in the Big 12. The NCAA has also waived minimum wins required for bowl eligibility.
More than 125 games since late August have been postponed or canceled because of the pandemic.
Hokies coach Justin Fuente said Wednesday the players decided to bypass a bowl game, ending their pandemic-hit season at 5-6. Fuente said he has players who would like to go home for Christmas, adding that he thinks they’ve sacrificed enough.”
In other college football news:
– Coastal Carolina football coach Jamey Chadwell has accepted a contract extension through 2027. Chadwell and the ninth-ranked Chanticleers are enjoying a breakout undefeated season in just their fourth year in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Among their eight wins are victories against eighth-ranked BYU and No. 21 Louisiana.
– Azusa Pacific is ending its football program this month after 55 years of Division II and NAIA competition. Athletic director Gary Pine says the decision was prompted by other four-year schools in California dropping the sport over the last 30 years. The reduced schedule selections have given Azusa Pacific fewer in-state opponents to play, which has led to high travel costs.
Harden sidesteps trade talk
UNDATED (AP) – Houston Rockets disgruntled guard James Harden spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since reporting late to camp amid reports that he wants to be traded.
Harden sidestepped questions about his trade demand, saying he’s focused on being in Houston. He brushed off the suggestion that the trade rumors could be a distraction for the team.
Harden appears to be in worse physical condition than he was during Houston’s last playoff game. Social media went wild with jokes about his apparent weight gain after he was seen in uniform Tuesday night for the first time in months.
Also around the NBA:
– The Grizzlies have exercised the 2021-22 options for reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke and Grayson Allen. Morant started 67 games last season and led the team in scoring average at 17.8 points. Jackson has averaged 15.5 points in 113 starts over two seasons.
– The NBA says only one new case of coronavirus was found in test results from 549 players taken since Dec. 10. The league now has reported 57 player positive tests since the week preceding the start of training camps. Of those, 48 came in the first week of testing, followed by eight the following week and now one more.
School says Johnson improving
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin told WRUF radio that Gators forward Keyontae Johnson continues to make progress after collapsing on the court during Saturday’s game at Florida State.
Stricklin said Johnson is “trending in the right direction, but we still have a lot of questions.”
Witnesses said Johnson was standing near midcourt and suddenly fell forward and landed on his face.
Rays ink Zunino
UNDATED (AP) – The Tampa Bay Rays have signed free agent catcher Mike Zunino (zuh-NEE’-noh) to a one-year, $2 million contract that includes a $4 million club option for 2022.
The 29-year-old is considered a solid defender and has significant power but has struggled to make contact, hitting .147 with four homers and 10 RBIs in 25 starts this year.
Zunino hit .170 but had four home runs and drove in eight during the Rays postseason run to the American League pennant.
In other MLB news:
– Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani has signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Giants. DeSclafani went 1-2 with a 7.22 ERA in 33 2/3 innings over nine games, including seven starts this year. The 30-year-old DeSclafani can earn an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses based on innings pitched.
– Left-hander Alex Claudio has agreed to a one-year, $1.125 million contract with the Angels, adding the sidearm reliever to their bullpen makeover. Claudio is 15-8 with 13 saves and a 3.44 ERA in his major league career, which began with the Rangers in 2014. He ranks third in appearances among all major league hurlers since 2017, taking the mound in 239 games and leading the majors with 83 for the 2019 Brewers.
– Big league managers say that Major League Baseball has instructed them to prepare for spring training to start on time in mid-February despite uncertainty around the coronavirus. Rays manager Kevin Cash says the league is optimistic about an on-time start after the commissioner’s office spoke with managers Tuesday. Managers say they expect the 2021 season to start with health protocols in place to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, but they also don’t plan to mandate vaccines for players when one is made available.
– Longtime major league shortstop Omar Vizquel is denying accusations of domestic abuse made by his wife. Blanca Vizquel described two alleged acts of physical violence by the 11-time Gold Glove winner in a story published Wednesday by The Athletic.
Australian Open pushed back
LONDON (AP) – The Australian Open is set to begin Feb. 8, three weeks later than planned.
The change is part of a pandemic-altered 2021 tennis calendar released by the men’s professional tour Wednesday.
The ATP said that men’s qualifying for the season’s first Grand Slam tournament is being moved to Doha, Qatar, from Jan. 10-13. That will be followed by a period of about 2 1/2 weeks set aside for travel to Melbourne and a 14-day quarantine period for players and their coaches or other support staff.
A 12-team ATP Cup, the relocated Adelaide International and an additional men’s tournament will be held in Melbourne to give players a chance to prepare for the hard-court Australian Open.
With Stalock injured, Wild sign goalie Hammond for insurance
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The Minnesota Wild have signed goaltender Andrew Hammond to a one-year, two-way contract as depth following a long-term injury for Alex Stalock (STAY’-lahk).
Hammond spent the last two years in the AHL, with the Minnesota affiliate Iowa Wild and the Buffalo affiliate Rochester Americans. He was 16-12-3 with a 2.53 goals against average last season.
Supreme Court agrees to hear NCAA athlete compensation case
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court has agreed to review a court decision that the NCAA has said blurred “the line between student-athletes and professionals” by removing caps on education-related money certain football and basketball players can receive.
The case will be argued in 2021 with a decision expected before the end of June.
The high court’s action comes after a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in May. The panel upheld a lower court ruling barring the NCAA from capping education-related compensation and benefits for student-athletes in Division I football and basketball programs. Division I conferences can still independently set their own rules.