AP Sports Digest
The highlights of Monday’s AP Sports report. An up-to-the minute listing of all stories planned, including games and events, is available in Coverage Plan on AP Newsroom, http://newsroom.ap.org/coverageplan You can also find a link to Coverage Plan on the left navigation of the Newsroom home page, http://newsroom.ap.org
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The AP’s Ralph Russo hosts the latest AP Top 25 College Football Podcast. https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/idhttps-podcasts-apple-com-us-podcast-ap-top-25-college/id1138957862
NEW ORLEANS -— From small-town Ohio kid to Louisiana Legend, Joe Burrow capped his record-breaking, Heisman-winning season by bringing a national championship to LSU. Burrow threw five touchdown passes, ran for another score and capped one of the greatest seasons in college football history by leading No. 1 LSU to a 42-25 victory against No. 3 Clemson Monday night to win the national championship. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 900 words, photos.
FBC—COLLEGE FOOTBALL POLL
NEW ORLEANS — LSU has finished No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the third time in school history, with Clemson No. 2 and Ohio State No. 3. The Tigers beat Clemson 42-25 in the national championship game Monday night and then received all 62 first-place votes from the media panel. LSU was No. 1 for the final eight weeks of the season and set a record by beating seven teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game. Georgia was fourth and Pac-12 champion Oregon was fifth. Florida was sixth and Oklahoma, which made the playoff, was seventh. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 500 words, photos.
HOUSTON — The Houston Astros fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow after the pair were suspended by Major League Baseball for a sign-stealing scheme during the Astros’ run to the 2017 World Series title. Commissioner Rob Manfred strongly hinted that current Boston manager Alex Cora will face equal or more severe punishment. Cora was the Astros bench coach in 2017 and Manfred said he developed the electronic sign-stealing system used by the team. The Red Sox are under investigation for sign stealing in Cora’s first season as manager in 2018, when Boston won the title. The Astros were fined $5 million and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks as punishment. By Ronald Blum and Krisite Rieken. SENT: 800 words, photos.
BBO—TIM DAHLBERG-CHEATING ASTROS
AJ Hinch won’t be managing in the big leagues any time soon, if at all. Alex Cora will soon join him in the unemployment line, and it’s hard to believe anyone will give ever give him another job that involves being a leader of men. The punishments — technically Cora’s is still to come — fit the crime, and for that baseball commissioner Rob Manfred deserves a pat on the back. Give another one to Astros owner Dayton Crane, who did his part to clean up an increasingly smelly mess in Houston by immediately firing both his manager and general manager. By Sports Columnist Tim Dahlberg. SENT: 800 words.
Washington State is close to finalizing an agreement with Hawaii’s Nick Rolovich to take over as the Cougars’ head football coach, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the hiring had not been announced by the school. By Tim Booth. SENT: 500 words, photos.
TEN--AUSTRALIAN OPEN-AIR QUALITY
MELBOURNE, Australia — Smoke haze and poor air quality from wildfires has caused problems for players in practice and qualifying for the Australian Open. Tennis Australia said further decisions on the state of play at Melbourne Park would be made in consultation with its medical team and scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency. Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic was leading when she retired from her first-round qualifier because of breathing difficulties. At the Kooyong Classic, former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova struggled in the heat and smoke and her match against Laura Siegemund before it was called off. Officials decided to stop play at 5-5 in the second set. Siegemund won the first set. SENT: 400 words, photos.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The NFL’s most frequent playoff matchup of the last quarter century will have its eighth edition when San Francisco hosts Green Bay in the NFC championship game. The 49ers beat the Packers 37-8 in November. By Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow. SENT: 750 words, photos by 7 p.m.
BKN—AROUND THE NBA
The midpoint of the NBA season arrives this week and it’s time to look at some stat trends around the league. The 3-point record is going to fall yet again but a look at the numbers suggests that the skyrocketing growth rate of dependency on the long ball may be finally slowing down. James Harden’s scoring numbers will have him in the MVP race but he’ll have to buck some history. And LeBron James might be in line to become the oldest first-time NBA assist champion. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 1,000 words.
BKC—T25-TOP 25 THIS WEEK
The Big East is back in the spotlight with Butler moving to No. 5 in The Associated Press college basketball poll. The Bulldogs are joined by Villanova, Seton Hall and Creighton, giving the Big East more teams in the Top 25 than the Atlantic Coast, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences. Now, some of those streaking schools will begin trading haymakers, starting with the Bulldogs facing the No. 18 Pirates on Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse. By Basketball Writer Dave Skretta. SENT: 600 words.
BKC--T25-COLLEGE BKB POLL
Baylor climbs to No. 2 in the AP‘s men’s college basketball poll after resounding road wins over Texas Tech and Kansas. Gonzaga stays at No. 1 while Duke drops to third and unbeaten Auburn rises to fourth. Butler rounds out the first five. By Basketball Writer Dave Skretta. SENT: 750 words, photos.
BKW--T25-WOMEN’S BKB POLL
NEW YORK -- South Carolina leads the women’s poll after a week in which 11 ranked teams lost. Baylor, Stanford, UConn and Louisville complete the top five. Eight Top 25 teams fell to unranked schools, underlining greater parity in the game. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. SENT: 650 words, photos.
Tuesday Time Schedule (EST)
No. 3 Duke at Clemson, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Kansas at Oklahoma, 9 p.m.
No. 7 San Diego State at Fresno State, 11 p.m.
No. 11 Louisville at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
No. 12 West Virginia vs. TCU, 9 p.m.
No. 13 Dayton vs. VCU, 8 p.m.
No. 14 Villanova vs. DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
No. 17 Maryland at Wisconsin, 9 p.m.
No. 21 Ohio State vs. Nebraska, 6:30 p.m.
No. 23 Texas Tech at Kansas State, 8 p.m.
No. 4 UConn at Memphis, 8 p.m.
Phoenix at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
Utah at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.
Houston at Memphis, 8 p.m.
New York at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.
Cleveland at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 p.m.
Dallas at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.
Vegas at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Boston at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Detroit at N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.
Minnesota at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Los Angeles at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.
New Jersey at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Chicago at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Vancouver at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.
San Jose at Arizona, 9 p.m.
Dallas at Colorado, 9 p.m.
Nashville at Edmonton, 9 p.m.