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Illinois State Rolls Bradley

DJ Horne had a season-high 23 points as Illinois State defeated Bradley 71-56 on Wednesday night.

 

Josiah Strong had 14 points for Illinois State (5-8, 2-5 Missouri Valley Conference). Antonio Reeves added 11 points. Dusan Mahorcic had nine rebounds.

 

Bradley totaled 25 points in the second half, a season-low for the team.

 

Elijah Childs had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Braves (9-5, 3-2). Sean East II added six rebounds.

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Clinton High School Boy's Basketball Coach Excited to Get Back to Practice

For now, it is only practice, but that is good enough for first-year Clinton High School boy's basketball coach Dan Luketich.

 

Fired up, Coach Luketich says it's 'phenomenal'.

 

 

Coach Luketich says while they were missing a few kids for various reasons, everyone was excited to get back. He is ready to get his system installed.

 

 

Back when school started, the conversation centered around if students would be able to handle wearing masks. According to Coach Luketich, they have had very minimal issues and he credits his kids with being very willing to abide by the rules.

 

 

Coach Luketich is planning to practice with the team Monday through Saturday and go full steam right out of the gate.

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Mavs Top Pacers

Kristaps Porzingis posted season-high totals of 27 points and 12 rebounds in leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 124-111 victory at Indiana on Wednesday night.

 

Luka Doncic added 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as Dallas snapped its first three-game losing streak in almost two years.

 

The short-handed Pacers have lost two straight by double digits, their two most lopsided losses of the season. Malcolm Brogdon had 26 points and Domantis Sabonis finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, giving him a franchise-record 14 in a row.

 

Dallas took the lead for good on the final basket of the third quarter and pulled away with an 11-4 run in the fourth.

 

The Mavericks were in control most of the night after using an early 15-3 run to take a 37-22 lead late in the first quarter.

 

Indiana closed the deficit to 65-63 at the half, then took its first lead when Edmond Sumner's 3-pointer broke a 67-all tie early in the third. It didn't last long.

 

Porzingis scored all of the Mavericks points in a 9-2 run and Dallas eventually extended the margin to 84-76.

 

Again, the Pacers charged back, tying the score at 86 on Brogdon's second 3 of the game, taking an 89-88 lead on his next 3 and then making it 91-88 when Brogdon made a layup.

 

But Dallas answered with a 13-3 run to make it 101-94 and gradually pulled away late to seal it.

Trey Burke scored 22 points off the bench. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 19 points. 

 

Pacers newly acquired guard Caris LeVert sat on Indiana's bench and received a warm welcome from the small crowd when he was introduced late in the first half. 

 

The Pacers host Orlando on Friday after sweeping the Magic last season.

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Sharks Outlast Blues in Shootout Win

Tomas Hertl scored the only goal in a four-round shootout to give the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.

 

Marcus Sorensen scored the tying goal late in the second period and Martin Jones made 22 saves for the Sharks, who snapped a six-game losing streak to St. Louis that started in the 2019 playoffs.

 

Jones denied all four Blues shooters in the tiebreaker. Both of San Jose's wins this season have come via shootout.

 

Brayden Schenn scored in his second consecutive game for St. Louis. Jordan Binnington made 37 saves but couldn't stop Hertl in the shootout.

 

Kevin Labanc appeared to get the game-winner for San Jose with 11 seconds left in overtime, but the officials quickly waved it off for goaltender interference on Ryan Donato. After a replay review, the call was upheld.

 

John Leonard almost gave the Sharks the lead in this one, ringing a drive off the post early in the second period.

 

Instead, Schenn put the Blues on top at 4:27 of the second off Jordan Kyrou's feed. It was the first time in four games that St. Louis scored first.

 

Vince Dunn came close to building on St. Louis' lead, but he hit the post late in the second.

 

The Sharks took advantage, tying the game with 2:03 left in the second as Sorensen made a diving poke off Matt Nieto's shot to even the game 1-all.

 

The teams combined to go 0 for 12 on the power play.

 

Blues defenseman Niko Mikkola saw his first action of the season, filling in for Marco Scandella. Mikkola was paired with Carl Gunnarsson, who made his season debut on Monday for Robert Bortuzzo, who was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

 

The Blues continue their four-game homestand by hosting the Los Angeles Kings in the first of a two-game set Saturday night.

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PAC-12 Commissioner Stepping Down at End of June

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is stepping down at the end of June, ending an 11-year tenure in which the conference landed a transformational billion-dollar television deal but struggled to keep up with some of its Power Five peers when it came to revenue and exposure.

 

The Pac-12 announced Wednesday night that the 56-year-old Scott and university presidents who make up the league’s executive committee mutually agreed that he would not seek a new contract.

Scott’s current deal was set to expire June 2022, but instead he will finish out this academic year to assist with the transition to his successor.

 

Scott said the decision came together quickly after a routine meeting with the Pac-12′s executive committee last week.

 

Scott came to the Pac-12 in 2009 with no experience as a college sports administrator after two decades working in professional tennis, including a stint as the chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association. He replaced Tom Hansen in 2009.

 

Under Scott, the Pac-10 became the Pac-12 by adding Colorado and Utah in 2011 and created a football championship game. The additions helped the conference secure a 12-year $3 billion media rights deal with Fox and ESPN that set the standard in the college sports market at the time.

 

That move came after Scott made a bold attempt to raid the Big 12, at first trying to woo Texas and five other schools to create a 16-team conference and then again circling back on Texas and Oklahoma.

 

Scott’s grandest plans never came to fruition. The additions did help the conference secure a 12-year, $3 billion media rights deal with Fox and ESPN. The contract set the standard in the college sports market in 2011 and brought Pac-12 football unprecedented national TV exposure. The Pac-12 also agreed to equal revenue sharing for the first time under the new deal.

 

Those contract are up in 2024 and negotiating the next media rights deals will be a top priority of the next Pac-12 commissioner.

 

Scott’s other daring move has not panned out as well. The Pac-12 Network, launched in 2012, followed the lead of Big Ten Network but never could replicate it as a money-maker for its members.

 

The Pac-12 chose not to partner with an existing cable network the way the Big Ten did with Fox and the Southeastern Conference later did with ESPN.

 

Scott has also been criticized for moving the Pac-12 offices out of Walnut Creek, California, to San Francisco, which drove up operating costs. He is currently the highest paid conference commissioner at $5.4 million for 2019-20, according to USA Today.

 

At the time, though, the move to San Francisco fell in line with the Pac-12 presidents’ charge to Scott: Modernize a conference that had fallen way behind its peers in major college sports.

 

The Pac-12′s highest profile sports, football and men’s basketball, have failed to produce national champions during Scott’s tenure, and some of his long-term plans failed to satisfy the short-term needs of administrators within the conference.

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Clinton High School Girls Basketball Coach Excited For Basketball

Basketball will return next week with limited practices for high schools in Illinois, many hope this will be the proverbial breaking of the seal to bring back sports in the state that have had a moratorium on them since before Christmas.

 

Clinton High School girls basketball coach Josh Williams is excited to get back with his team recognizing they will continue to deal with the challenges of contact tracing and subsequent quarantine issues. 

 

 

According to Coach Williams, with a young team and new kids in the program, they need that practice time. He somewhat anticipated the winds of change as tiers and phases began to be adjusted in Illinois.

 

 

Dealing with the challenges of multi-sport athletes will come into play as girl's volleyball will also be restarting their practices. Coach Williams says those will be challenges they'll have to deal with as they come. He says it will be about doing what is best for each individual. 

 

 

Coach Williams indicates they will ease into their practices and get kids back into the swing of their schedule. He looks forward to the days of Monday through Saturday practices with games twice a week.

 

 

With practices being limited contact and the girls getting back for the first time in months, Coach Williams says they will probably take a slower approach. He reemphasizes his gratitude that they are finally back to playing basketball again. 

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Illinois Rolls Penn State

Kofi Cockburn had 21 points and 12 rebounds, leading No. 22 Illinois to a 79-65 victory over Penn State on Tuesday night.

 

Cockburn leads the nation with 11 double-doubles this season. Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Frazier scored 13 points apiece for Illinois (10-5, 6-3 Big Ten).

 

Myreon Jones scored 20 points and Seth Lundy added 13 for Penn State (3-6, 0-5).

 

Illinois charged to a 13-5 advantage and never relinquished the lead. The Illini led 42-28 at the break. Dosunmu scored just three points in the first half.

 

Illinois held an 18-8 advantage in assists. Dosunmu had 5 assists and freshman guard Andre Curbelo had 4.

 

Illinois shot 46% from the field (26 for 57). Penn State was 21 of 62 (34%).

 

The Illini's game at Michigan State, scheduled for Saturday, was canceled due to COVID-19 issues with the Spartans. Illinois doesn't play again until it hosts No. 4 Iowa on Jan. 29.

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'War on 74' Resumes Tonight

Bradley will look for its sixth straight win in the head-to-head series over Illinois State tonight when the two teams meet at Redbird Arena at 8 pm. 

 

Bradley has won by an average of 10 points in its last five wins over the Redbirds. Illinois State’s last win in the series came on Jan. 17, 2018, a 70-57 win.

 

Elijah Childs is averaging 14.6 points and 7.7 rebounds to lead the way for the Braves. Terry Nolan Jr. is also a big contributor, maintaining an average of 11.1 points per game. The Redbirds have been led by DJ Horne, who is averaging 13 points.

 

Horne has connected on 43.8 percent of the 64 3-pointers he’s attempted and has made 7 of 12 over the last three games. He’s also made 82.4 percent of his free throws this season.

 

The sturdy Bradley defense has held opponents to just 61.5 points per game, the 20th-lowest in Division I. Illinois State has allowed an average of 78.5 points through 12 games (ranked 267th, nationally).

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Panthers Get By Blackhawks in Overtime

Frank Vatrano scored 2:50 into overtime, and the Florida Panthers beat the winless Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Tuesday night.

 

Patric Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeghe each scored two goals for Florida (2-0-0). Keith Yandle had two assists.

 

Hornqvist, who was acquired in a September trade with Pittsburgh, has three goals and an assist in the first two games.

 

Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves for Florida in his first start of the season, but the two-time Vezina Trophy winner was a bit rusty.

 

The 32-year-old Bobrovsky, who is in the second year of a seven-year, $70 million contract, was deemed ''unfit to play'' during most of training camp. He had a .900 save percentage last season, the second-worst of his career.

 

Dominik Kubalik scored his first two goals of the year for Chicago, which has dropped its first four games of the pandemic-shortened season. Patrick Kane also scored, and Phillipp Kurashev posted his first NHL goal.

 

Kevin Lankinen stopped 23 shots in his first NHL start.

 

Kurashev's shot from the high slot gave the Blackhawks their first lead of the season at 4-3 with 13:54 left. Hornqvist tied it at 4 with his second power-play goal.

 

The Blackhawks have surrendered 20 goals in their four losses, but managed to earn their first point of the season.

 

The Panthers are one of only three teams to allow fans. They allow up to 25% capacity and attendance was 3,667 on Tuesday.

 

The Blackhawks host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.

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Tiger Has Another Back Surgery

Tiger Woods has suffered a setback with his back, disclosing Tuesday that he recently had a fifth surgery that will keep him from starting the year until after the West Coast Swing on the PGA Tour.

 

Woods will not play next week in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, which he has won seven times, most recently in 2013. He also won the U.S. Open in 2008 at Torrey Pines, which hosts the U.S. Open again in June.

 

He also will miss the Genesis Invitational on Feb. 18-21 at Riviera, where he serves as tournament host.

 

In a statement from his TGR Foundation, which Woods also tweeted, he did not say when he had the microdiscectomy surgery though Rory McIlroy, speaking Wednesday at a news conference ahead of the Abu Dhabi Championship, said it took place on Dec. 23 and that Woods was “back on his feet the next day.”

 

It was to remove a pressurized disc fragment that was giving him nerve pain during the PNC Championship last month that he played with 11-year-old son Charlie.

 

Doctors said the operation was a success and predicted a full recovery, according to the statement.

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Illinois Drops in Latest College Basketball Polls

Gonzaga and Baylor maintained their grip on the top two spots in The Associated Press men’s basketball poll Monday.

 

If third-ranked Villanova ever plays a game, perhaps it will make a run a them.

 

The Bulldogs again racked up all but the two first-place votes that went to the Bears, while the Wildcats remained firmly behind the preseason top two despite not playing a game since Dec. 23. They had a pair of COVID-19 pauses broken up by a single day, including one involving coach Jay Wright, effectively sidelining them for a month.

 

The last five in were Oregon, Illinois, Connecticut, UCLA and Saint Louis. Illinois dropped two games at home in between a mid-week postponed game against Nebraska. 

 

The same teams made up the top 5 this week, though Iowa and Texas swapped places.

 

Tennessee climbed from 10th to sixth and was followed by Michigan, which remained No. 7 after losing its first game of the season to No. 17 Minnesota. Houston climbed three spots to eighth, Kansas fell three spots to ninth and Wisconsin rounded out the top 10 after following up a lopsided loss to the Wolverines with a gritty win at Rutgers.

 

Creighton was No. 11, followed by the Red Raiders and Virginia, which rose five spots after its blowout win over No. 20 Clemson. West Virginia and Ohio State were next, with Virginia Tech climbing four spots to No. 16 on the heels of a win over Duke, which knocked the Blue Devils from the Top 25 for the first time since Feb. 8, 2016.

 

The Golden Gophers were followed by Auburn, one of this week’s poll newcomers, Missouri and Clemson.

 

Duke dropped to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the ACC after losing to the Hokies last week. Its streak of 91 consecutive weeks in the Top 25 was second only to Kansas, which extended its record to 229 weeks. Gonzaga is now No. 2 at 87 weeks.

 

This week’s AP poll is the first since Dec. 18, 1961 — when only 10 teams were included each week — in which Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina are all unranked.

 

 

 

On the strength of two quality wins in conference play this week, both Alabama and Ohio State jumped eight spots in the latest Coaches Poll released on Monday. The Crimson Tide rose from No. 24 to No. 16 after crushing Kentucky at Ruppa Arena then beating Arkansas at home in similarly dominant fashion. The Buckeyes went from unranked in the poll to No. 18 after beating Northwestern at home then claiming a signature win over Illinois.

 

Illinois, who had a postponed mid-week game with Nebraska sandwiched by two home losses to Maryland and Ohio State. Illinois goes from No. 13 last week to No. 24 this week. 

 

Ohio State was one of three teams to join the poll this week after being unranked last week.

 

Colorado and Florida State also cracked the poll, at No. 23 and No. 25, respectively. The Buffaloes extended their winning streak to four games after wins over Cal and Stanford this week, and FSU claimed wins over NC State and North Carolina in consecutive games to join the poll.

 

As for the top of the rankings, Gonzaga held steady at No. 1 once again, earning 28 of a possible 31 first-place votes, while Baylor garnered the remaining three first-place votes and stayed at No. 2.

 

Villanova also stayed at No. 3, while Iowa leapt four spots to No. 4 and Texas fell to No. 5. Rounding out the top 10 this week is No. 6 Tennessee, No. 7 Michigan, No. 8 Houston, No. 9 Kansas and No. 10 Wisconsin.

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Bulls Topple Harden-Less Rockets

Zach LaVine scored 33 points, and the Chicago Bulls overcame a strong effort by Victor Oladipo in his Houston debut, beating the Rockets 125-120 on Monday night.

 

LaVine led seven Bulls players in double figures and added seven assists. He scored nine points in the closing minutes of the third to help send Chicago to the final quarter with a 93-86 lead.

 

The Bulls made enough shots down the stretch to win for the second time in as many days after losing four straight by four points or fewer.

 

Lauri Markkanen finished with 18 points. The 7-footer from Finland nailed a 3-pointer in the closing minute to make it a six-point game, helping Chicago squeeze out a tight win after an easy victory at Dallas. And the Bulls hit 20 of 45 from beyond the arc.

 

Oladipo looked good in his first game for Houston, setting season highs with 32 points and nine assists. The two-time All-Star was acquired from Indiana as part of the four-team trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn last week after he said the Rockets weren't ''good enough.''

 

Christian Wood scored 30 and grabbed nine rebounds. Eric Gordon added 21 points after missing back-to-back games because of tightness in his lower left leg. The Rockets lost for the fourth time in five games.

 

Oladipo nailed a 3 to cut it to 114-111 with 1:50 remaining. LaVine answered with a finger roll layup for Chicago.

 

Wood made a pair of free throws for Houston with just over a minute remaining. But Markkanen hit a 3 from the wing off a feed from LaVine after a driving Coby White passed out to the perimeter, making it 119-113 with 46.9 seconds left.

 

The Bulls held out rookie forwards Patrick Williams (bruised right hip) and Otto Porter Jr. (strained lower back). Williams, the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, started Chicago's first 13 games.

 

The Bulls play at Charlotte on Friday before the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers visit on Saturday.

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Blues Outlast Sharks

Jordan Kyrou got the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period, Justin Faulk scored twice and the St. Louis Blues rallied to beat the San Jose Sharks 5-4 Monday night.

 

Mike Hoffman scored his first goal as a Blue and Brayden Schenn also scored for St. Louis, which beat San Jose for the fourth straight time on home ice. Jordan Binnington made 22 saves.

 

Logan Couture had two goals and an assist, Brent Burns had a goal and two assists, and Kevin Labanc also scored for the Sharks. Devan Dubnyk stopped 27 shots.

 

Kyrou's wrist shot snapped a 4-all tie midway through the third. It was his second career game-winner after getting his first in the Blues' season-opener at Colorado on Wednesday.

 

Faulk got his second goal when he tipped in David Perron's pass with one minute left to cap a back-and-forth second period and give the Blues their first lead of the game. It was his first multi-goal game since recording a hat trick as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 13, 2018.

 

Couture countered with his second of the game, from a severe angle, to tie it at 4 at the 4:17 mark of the third period.

 

The Sharks took an early lead with first period goals from Labanc and Couture. Labanc deflected in Burns' slapshot with 8:22 left in the first period, and Couture followed with a power play tally a few minutes later.

 

The Blues tied it with quick goals by Faulk and Hoffman early in the second period.

 

Faulk got the Blues on the board at the 2:36 mark moments after he finished serving a tripping penalty. Ivan Barbashev hit him with a breakout pass as he exited the box, and Hoffman tied it at 2 just 93 seconds later, deflecting Colton Parayko's shot from the point.

 

Burns regained the lead for San Jose with a power-play goal with 7:54 left in the second.

 

St. Louis responded two minutes later with Schenn's shot that knuckled its way across the goal line.

The teams conclude their two-game set in St. Louis on Wednesday night.

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Padres Acquire Joe Musgrove in Three-Team Deal

The San Diego Padres are adding yet another pitcher to their rotation, agreeing to bring right-hander Joe Musgrove to his hometown team in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to a person familiar with the deal.

 

Another person confirmed the New York Mets were also involved in the trade, acquiring left-hander Joey Lucchesi from San Diego.

 

Musgrove, who played at Grossmont High in suburban El Cajon, California, will join a rotation that includes Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, who were obtained in blockbuster trades after Christmas.

 

Musgrove will head from a Pirates team that had the worst record in the majors during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season to a Padres club that ended a 13-year playoff drought and believes it can contend for the World Series title.

 

Lucchesi is likely to compete for a spot at the back of New York’s rotation behind two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman and David Peterson. The Mets also expect to have Noah Syndergaard back from Tommy John surgery some time after May.

 

The 27-year-old Lucchesi made 56 starts for San Diego over 2018 and ’19 but struggled in limited duty last season. He made two starts and one relief appearance, going 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA.

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Ex-Cubs Pitcher Lester Agrees to 1-Year Deal With Nationals

Left-hander Jon Lester and the Washington Nationals have an agreement in principle in place for a one-year contract, pending the successful completion of a physical exam, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to The Associated Press.

 

ESPN was first to report an agreement between Lester and the Nationals, whose manager, Dave Martinez, was the bench coach for the Chicago Cubs when the starting pitcher helped that club win the 2016 World Series for its first title in 108 years.

 

Lester is expected to fill the need for a No. 4 starter in Washington, slotting into a rotation that is led by three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, 2019 World Series MVP and lefty Patrick Corbin.

 

Coming off a last-place finish in the NL East in 2020, Washington’s busy offseason already included adding outfielder Kyle Schwarber via free agency — like Lester, from the Cubs — and first baseman Josh Bell in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

Lester turned 37 this month and will be heading into his 16th season in 2021. He has a 193-111 record and 3.60 ERA for his career, which mostly was spent with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, plus part of one season with the Oakland Athletics.

 

Lester is a workhorse who has topped 200 innings in eight regular seasons and still threw at least 170 in each of the past three full years.

 

He’s also been a postseason star, putting up a 2.51 ERA across 154 innings while helping Boston win a pair of World Series championships before being a part of Chicago’s title run.

 

Lester pitched 61 innings across 12 starts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, going 3-3 with a career-high 5.16 ERA for the Cubs.

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Optimism Growing Over High School Sports Resuming

Last week felt like a turning point in the fight towards the return of high school athletics in Illinois.

 

Jon Kerr of the Kerr Report has been following the up-and-down battle to bring back high school sports in Illinois and says last week felt like a turning point as several high-profile people began using their platforms to advocate for student athletes. Kerr is as optimistic as he's been in this whole process.

 

 

A lack of transparency from the Governor's office has long been a frustration for administrators, coaches, parents and athletes. Kerr points out the frustration is only growing watching all the surrounding states successfully execute sports seasons.

 

 

According to Kerr, the good news is that there is finally movement in the dialogue between the IHSA, IDPH and the Governor's office, as the three entities recently met to discuss what is next.

 

 

Kerr says the IHSA has kicked the can to the end of the road and now decisions have to be made. In about a month, the rescheduled high school football and volleyball seasons are tentatively scheduled to start back up. 

 

Friday, it was announced Illinois regions reduced their COVID mitigations, opening the door for some prep sports to return. 

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IHSA Executive Director Confident Outdoor Sports Will be Played This Year

IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson feels confident about traditional spring sports like baseball, softball and track having seasons this school year.

 

 

The IHSA is still waiting on “return to play” and will meet again on Jan. 27. They are still hoping all sports--even “high risk” sports such as football, basketball and wrestling—can still have seasons this school year.

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Bradley Rolls Evansville

Ja'Shon Henry had 16 points off the bench to lead Bradley to an 86-55 wire-to-wire win over Evansville on Sunday.

 

The Braves built a 23-6 lead on a 3-pointer from Ville Tahvanainen seven minutes into the game.

 

Terry Nolan Jr. had 13 points for Bradley (9-4, 3-1 Missouri Valley Conference), which earned its fifth consecutive home victory. Tahvanainen added 12 points. Elijah Childs had 10 points.

 

Iyen Enaruna had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Purple Aces (6-8, 4-4). Noah Ferderking added nine points, Jax Levitch added nine rebounds.

 

Jawaun Newton, whose 12.0 points per game coming into the contest ranked second on the Purple Aces, was held to 5 points on 2-of-11 shooting.

 

Bradley defeated Evansville 69-60 on Saturday.

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Indiana State Beats Illinois State

Tyreke Key scored 18 points as Indiana State turned aside a late rally to defeat Illinois State 74-68 on Sunday.

 

Randy Miller Jr. had 13 points for Indiana State (6-7, 3-5 Missouri Valley Conference). Tre Williams added 11 points and three blocks. Tobias Howard, Jr. had 11 points.

 

Key scored four of the Sycamores last eight points as Illinois State cut a 15-point gap down to 72-67 on a Dusan Mahoric basket with 17 seconds left.

 

Dedric Boyd had 19 points for the Redbirds (4-8, 1-5). Antonio Reeves added 14 points. Mahorcic had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

 

Indiana State defeated Illinois State 73-65 on Saturday.

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Clippers Throttle Pacers

Marcus Morris scored a season-high 20 points to lead seven players in double figures, and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Indiana Pacers 129-96 on Sunday night for their first four-game winning streak of the season.

 

With sharpshooter Lou Williams sidelined, Morris came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers, tying his season-high. He was coming off an 18-point performance at Sacramento on Friday. The Clippers made 19 of 39 from long-range, outdueling the Pacers, who were 11 of 38.

 

Fellow reserve Luke Kennard added season highs of 20 points and five 3-pointers. Paul George also had 20 points. Kawhi Leonard had 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Clippers.

 

Doug McDermott led the Pacers with 23 points, making five 3-pointers. Domantas Sabonis added 19 points and 14 rebounds.

 

Indiana had won two straight, but was idle since Thursday at Portland. The team's game at Phoenix on Saturday was postponed because of COVID-19 issues.

 

The Pacers host Dallas on Wednesday.

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Bulls Roll Mavs

Lauri Markkanen had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Garrett Temple scored 15 of his season-high 21 points in the second quarter and the Chicago Bulls ended a four-game losing streak with a 117-101 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

 

Dallas star Luka Doncic passed Michael Jordan on the career list with his 29th triple-double, finishing with 36 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists, including a behind-the-back pass to Willie Cauley-Stein for a dunk. Doncic is tied with Grant Hill for 15th place.

 

Doncic had his European sidekick in Kristaps Porzingis, who scored 20 points, after both missed a loss at Chicago this month. But the 7-foot-3 Latvian was 0 of 7 from 3-point range as Dallas players not named Doncic shot 10% from deep (2 of 20).

 

Zach LaVine, who had 21 first-quarter points in the earlier win over Dallas, didn't get his first bucket until the third quarter while going 1 of 8 from the field and making all eight free throws to finish with 10 points and 10 assists.

 

Chicago native and Dallas guard Jalen Brunson, who scored a season-high 31 points when Doncic was sidelined by a quadriceps injury in Chicago, was listed as questionable on the COVID-19 list and didn't play. 

 

Chicago visits Houston on Monday to finish its fourth back-to-back. The Bulls have lost each of the first three back ends.

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Panthers Blast Blackhawks

Keith Yandle got his 100th career goal, Chris Driedger made 23 saves and the Florida Panthers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Sunday night.

 

Eetu Luostarinen scored his first NHL goal, and Aaron Ekblad, Patric Hornqvist, and Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for Florida, which had three goals in the third period to pull away in its delayed opener. The Panthers were to have played Dallas last week twice, games that were called off because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Stars.

 

Alex DeBrincat and Connor Murphy scored for the Blackhawks. Collin Delia stopped 24 shots.

 

As late as last Friday, it seemed as if Yandle was going to be scratched from this game and break his string of playing in 866 consecutive regular-season games, the longest active streak in the NHL.

 

Instead, Yandle scored the goal and extended his streak to 867.

 

The Blackhawks have given up 15 goals in three games.

 

The teams finish their two-game set on Tuesday.

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Illinois Football Coach Enters 'Return to Play' Dicsussion

A snap hasn't been taken and practice hasn't been held but recently hired Illinois football coach Bret Bielema is diving into the 'return to play' discussion in Illinois.

 

Bielema has been on the job barely a month but a tweet earlier this week from the Illini football coach is grabbing the attention of many and giving hope to many perhaps the hiring of Bielema will mean more than just wins on the football for the University of Illinois. 

 

Jon Kerr who runs his own sports website, The Kerr Report, says this week seems to be significant in people with a platform beginning to advocate for kids to be playing sports.

 

 

The move could have a two-fold purpose for Bielema. Bielema, who won three Big Ten championships in his time at Wisconsin and was Coach of the Year in 2006, has said he wants to keep the best and brightest high school football players in Illinois. Kerr says advocating for athletes to get back to playing football would allow him to see the players in Illinois and could help on the recruiting trail.

 

 

Kerr is optimistic about a meeting recently with the IHSA, IDPH, and the Governor's office. He hopes with mitigations expected to be lessened in the days ahead, plus cases dropping and the vaccine rollout there might be a possibility we end up playing sports very soon. 

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Packers Host Rams for Chance at NFC Title Again

No NFL team scored more points during the regular season than the Green Bay Packers. Nobody has played better defense than the Los Angeles Rams.

 

That sets up an intriguing showdown of strength vs. strength when MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (13-3) host All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the Rams (11-6) in an NFC divisional playoff game Saturday.

 

The Packers have won six straight games and have been held below 22 points just once all season. Los Angeles got to this point by sacking Russell Wilson five times in a 30-20 victory at Seattle last week.

 

Rodgers has set franchise single-season records for touchdown passes (48) and completion percentage (.707) this year while throwing just five interceptions for an offense scoring 31.8 points per game. Donald calls Rodgers a ''great quarterback that's playing lights out this year.''

 

Donald leads a defense that allowed the fewest points and yards of any team during the regular season.

 

This will be the first time the NFL's top-ranked scoring offense and scoring defense have faced off in the postseason since the New England-Atlanta Super Bowl on Feb. 5, 2017. The Patriots had the top-ranked defense and the Falcons had the No. 1 offense that year.

 

This also will be the Rams' first playoff game at Lambeau Field. These two franchises have met in the postseason just twice before, with the Packers winning 28-7 in Milwaukee on Dec. 23, 1967, and the Rams winning 45-17 in St. Louis on Jan. 20, 2002.

 

John Wolford started at quarterback for the Rams against Seattle, but left early in the game with a neck stinger that will prevent him from playing Saturday. That means the Rams will turn to Jared Goff, who is less than three weeks removed from thumb surgery.

 

The Rams' most important offensive players right now might be rookie running back Cam Akers and left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Although both are recovering from recent injuries, they're the keys to a revitalized ground game that racked up 164 yards rushing last week.

 

Green Bay has outscored opponents 299-163 in the first half this season, including a 219-92 edge in the second quarter. The Packers actually have been outscored 124-107 in the fourth quarter and overtime, but they've made up for that by building such big early leads.

 

The Rams are 37-0 in games they've led at halftime during McVay's four-year tenure.

 

The Packers won't have All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice on Dec. 31.

 

Green Bay's offensive line fared well without Bakhtiari in a 35-16 victory at Chicago to close the regular season, but his absence is more of a concern against a Rams team that led the NFL with 53 regular-season sacks.

 

Donald left the Seahawks game last week with injured ribs, but the Rams have expressed confidence the six-time All-Pro will play Saturday.

 

The Packers will be playing a home game in front of paying spectators for the first time this season. The Lambeau Field crowd will include about 6,500 season-ticket holders as well as invited frontline health-care workers and first responders plus a league-mandated allotment for the visiting team.

 

Green Bay hadn't allowed any spectators for its first four regular-season home games due to the pandemic. In late November, the Packers made seating available to team employees and their immediate family members. The last two home games also featured hundreds of frontline workers who were invited to attend.

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Pacers Get By Blazers

Domantas Sabonis had 23 points and 15 rebounds, and Indiana held Portland's dynamic backcourt duo in check for a 111-87 victory Thursday night.

 

Malcolm Brogdon added 25 points and seven assists for the Pacers, who improved to 4-1 on the road this season and snapped an 11-game losing streak in Portland. Indiana led by 25 in the second quarter and maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.

 

CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard each scored 22 for the Blazers, playing the second of a back-to-back.

 

The loss was costly for Portland: During the third quarter, center Jusuf Nurkic left the court holding his right wrist and the Blazers later announced he had sustained a fracture.

 

The Trail Blazers (7-5) won in Sacramento 132-126 on Wednesday night. Lillard had a season-high 40 points in that one and Portland tied a franchise record with 23 3-pointers.

 

The Blazers lead the NBA in 3s but they were off against the Pacers, making just 13 of 43 (30.2%).

The Pacers (8-4) were coming off a 104-95 road victory over the Warriors on Tuesday night, when Myles Turner had a season-best 22 points. He finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds against the Blazers, along with four blocks.

 

The Pacers traded Victor Oladipo to the Rockets as part of the four-team blockbuster Thursday that sent James Harden from Houston to Brooklyn. Indiana got guard Caris LeVert from the Nets and a draft pick in the deal.

 

Indiana led by six in the opening quarter, but the score was tied at 26 going into the second. A 12-0 run capped by McDermott's layup put the Pacers up 40-28.

 

Indiana extended its lead to 25 before going into halftime up 59-36. The Pacers outscored the Blazers 33-10 in the second period.

 

Portland was hurt in the third when Nurkic headed to the locker room after appearing to injure his right hand. The Blazers announced he fractured his wrist, but additional details were not available.

But the Blazers chipped away at Indiana's lead, pulling to 82-71 late in the third on Carmelo Anthony's 3-pointer.

 

The Pacers were scheduled to play the Suns in Phoenix on Saturday, but that game was postponed because of COVID-19 protocols. Indiana's next game is at the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

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