AP Sports Digest
The highlights of the 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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LOS ANGELES — Markelle Fultz faked LeBron James off his hip, weaved through traffic in the waning seconds and scored the final bucket of his phenomenal triple-double performance. Fultz then dropped to the court with a cramp. The Orlando Magic rushed to their valuable teammate’s aid, with Nikola Vucevic swiftly stretching out Fultz’s foot to make sure he could finish. Fultz had bigger plays and so did a half-dozen contributors to what was likely the Magic’s best win of the season. By Greg Beacham. SENT: 800 words, photos.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nate Oats and Alabama had two achievements to celebrate: a huge win and knocking rival Auburn from the dwindling ranks of the unbeaten. Kira Lewis Jr. scored 25 points and the Crimson Tide easily handled the fourth-ranked Tigers with an 83-64 rout. By John Zenor. SENT: 640 words, photos.
BBA—RED SOX-CORA OUT
BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox need to find a new manager, and it sounds like they haven’t gotten over their old one. Heaping praise on Alex Cora a day after showing him the door, Red Sox owner John Henry said on Wednesday the team was going to miss “just about everything” about the man who led Boston to the 2018 World Series title only to be torpedoed in a cheating scandal. By Jimmy Golen. SENT: 660 words, photos.
BBO—SIGN STEALING-THE 1951 SCANDAL
NEW YORK — The sign-stealing scheme that the Houston Astros used in 2017 has brought back memories for former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine. Now 93 years old, Erskine vividly recalls a spyglass-and-buzzer system the New York Giants rigged up in 1951. That was baseball’s most famous sign-stealing scandal until this week. By Baseball Writer Ben Walker. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 3 a.m.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans benched Marcus Mariota in mid-October. That doesn’t mean the Titans aren’t making sure to tap the quarterback for help during their playoff run. Mariota has been busy in practice mimicking the upcoming quarterback from Tom Brady to Lamar Jackson and now Patrick Mahomes as the Titans prepare to play the Chiefs in the AFC championship game. Mariota says he’ll do whatever he can to help the Titans. By Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker. UPCOMING: 710 words, photos by 3 a.m.
FBN—TIM DAHLBERG-TAGLIABUE HOF
Paul Tagliabue’s selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is vindication for the business part of his 17 years of running the NFL. His legacy to some, though, will never go past his refusal to acknowledge the devastating role of concussions and brain injuries in the sport he once led. By Sports Columnist Tim Dahlberg. SENT: 1,000 words, photos. With FBN--Hall of Fame-Centennial Class (sent).
NEW YORK — While the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox took decisive action in jettisoning their managers after Major League Baseball concluded they were involved in nefarious sign stealing, the New York Mets have stayed silent on Carlos Beltrán’s future. By Baseball Writer Ronald Blum. SENT: 790 words, photos.
FBN—INSIDE THE NUMBERS
King Henry is running wild in the postseason. Derrick Henry has the Tennessee Titans one step away from an unlikely trip to the Super Bowl. They got this far because their running back is unstoppable. Henry has led the Titans to a pair of upset wins on the road, becoming the first player with two games of 175 yards rushing or more in the same postseason. By Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi. UPCOMING: 680 words, photos by 3 a.m.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rarely do massive contracts in any sport truly pay off. The Kansas City Chiefs know that all too well. But the deals they gave Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu have them on the cusp of playing in the Super Bowl, making them wise investments indeed. By Dave Skretta. SENT: 970 words, photos. With Titans separate on Jurrell Casey (sent).
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Rookie Nick Bosa has had a major impact transforming San Francisco’s defense and helping the 49ers make it to the NFC championship game. By Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow. SENT: 820 words, photos. With separate on Packers-Adams (sent).
HKN—GOLDEN KNIGHTS-GALLANT FIRED
Gerard Gallant was abruptly fired by the Vegas Golden Knights less than two years after leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season of existence and winning NHL coach of the year honors along the way. Peter DeBoer, fired last month by the San Jose Sharks, takes over immediately. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. SENT: 720 words, photos.
PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby returned from a two-month layoff stressing the need to simply fit in on a Pittsburgh Penguins team that remolded itself during his absence. The captain’s brilliant return during a rout of Minnesota highlighted how far the Penguins have come ... and hinted at how far they can go. By Will Graves. SENT: 900 words, photos.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — When college stars like Cole Anthony are injured they are faced with the question of whether they should return or just sit out to protect their looming draft prospects. Most want to return to the basketball court, which has proven to be a good option — provided they’re healthy. The more prospects can showcase on how they handle game situations certainly helps in their NBA draft evaluations. By Aaron Beard. SENT: 950 words, photos. With separate on Zion Williams scheduled to debut for the Pelicans on Jan. 22 (sent).
BKW—T25-SOUTH CAROLINA-UPCOMING HURDLES
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 1 South Carolina is the latest team to ascend to No. 1 in women’s college basketball. But the Gamecocks are not a finished product and their upcoming schedule is challenging, so they’ve got work to do to stay on top. By Pete Iacobelli. SENT: 680 words, photos.
Thursday Time Schedule (EST)
Phoenix at New York, 7:30 p.m.
Boston at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.
Utah at New Orleans, 8 p.m.
Denver at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.
Orlando at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Boston, 7 p.m.
Carolina at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Los Angeles at Florida, 7 p.m.
N.Y. Rangers at N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.
Montreal at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Calgary at Toronto, 7 p.m.
New Jersey at Washington, 7 p.m.
Vegas at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Anaheim at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Buffalo at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
San Jose at Colorado, 9 p.m.
Arizona at Vancouver, 10 p.m.
Men’s Top 25
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. Santa Clara, 11 p.m.
No. 8 Oregon at Washington State, 9 p.m.
No. 20 Colorado at Arizona State, 9 p.m.
No. 22 Memphis vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m.
Women’s Top 25
No. 1 South Carolina at Missouri, 8:30 p.m.
No. 3 Stanford at No. 6 Oregon, 9 p.m.
No. 4 UConn at UCF, 6 p.m.
No. 5 Louisville at Boston College, 7 p.m.
No. 9 N.C. State vs. No. 13 Florida State, 6 p.m.
No. 10 Mississippi State vs. LSU, 8 p.m.
No. 11 Kentucky vs. No. 12 Texas A&M, 6:30 p.m.
No. 15 Indiana vs. Northwestern, 7 p.m.
No. 16 Gonzaga at Santa Clara, 10 p.m.
No. 20 Maryland vs. Nebraska, 8 p.m.
No. 22 Iowa at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
No. 24 Tennessee at Florida, 6 p.m.
No. 25 South Dakota at North Dakota State, 8 p.m.