Texas Tech Snaps Baylor's Win Streak; Stanford Returns With Huge Upset
The college basketball world ended Tuesday night with no undefeated teams in the country, and you can first thank the 19th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders. They went on the road and pulled off a major road upset of the top-ranked Baylor Bears, 65-62, handing them their first loss of the season. The result snaps the defending champions' win streak at 23 games, dating back to last season before the NCAA Tournament. Kevin McCullar had a key three-pointer late and finished with 12 points, also handing the Bears just their second home loss in the past three seasons. Their last defeat came in the Big 12 Tournament last March, as they drop to 15-1 on the season after winning all six of their tournament games last year. The Red Raiders improved to 12--3 on the season, leading by as many as seven points, and getting their second straight top 10 win after taking down the sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks last Saturday. And the Stanford Cardinal returned from their COVID-19 break on Tuesday evening with a huge upset out west, taking down the fifth-ranked USC Trojans, 75-69, and handing their Pac-12 rivals their first loss of the season. The Cardinal had been off for nearly three weeks and earned this huge win in front of an empty arena. It was their first top-five victory since taking down the third-ranked UCLA Bruins on January 28th, 2007. Harrison Ingram and Spencer Jones scored 21 points apiece, helping the Cardinal snap their 14-game losing streak against top five teams. Isaiah Mobley had 16 points to lead the Trojans, while Boogie Ellis added 14 points, but they were not able to tie their best start in program history, which happened in the 2016-2017 campaign.
Other key scores saw the ninth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks bounce back with a 62-61 win over the 15th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones thanks to Dajuan Harris' late layup. The fourth-ranked Auburn Tigers held off the 24th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, 81-77, behind Jabari Smith's season-high 25 points. And Trent Frazier's 29 points powered the 25th-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini over the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 81-71.
Morant Clutch, Grizzlies Hot; Suns Hold Off Raptors Up North
The Memphis Grizzlies' win streak got the statement win that they needed to show that they are here to stay in the top tier of the Western Conference. Ja Morant had 29 points, including five points over the final minute, as the Grizzlies extended their win streak to 10 straight games with a 116-108 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Ziaire Williams and Tyus Jones added 17 points apiece, as the Grizzlies used a big fourth quarter to hold off the dangerous Warriors at home. Steph Curry led the road team with his second triple-double of the season that included 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, while Klay Thompson had 14 points in his second game back. The Grizzlies led by as many as 18 points in this one and held them off thanks to a late flurry from Jones, who made all five of his shots from three-point range and was 6-for-8 from the floor. This victory ties the Grizzlies with the Utah Jazz at third place in the Western Conference standings. And the first place Phoenix Suns went up a game on the Warriors by holding off the Toronto Raptors, 99-95, in an empty stadium north of the border. Devin Booker overcame a rivalry with Toronto's mascot and had the go-ahead basket with 1:02 to play, finishing with 16 points on the night. Chris Paul added 15 points and 12 assists, helping the Suns snap the Raptors' winning streak at six games, which was their longest of the season. The Raptors lost this game despite the Suns committing 20 turnovers, which led to 18 points for them, as well as them grabbing 22 offensive rebounds and shooting 15 more field goals. Despite all that, Jae Crowder tied a season-high with 19 points, while Deandre Ayton had 16 points and Mikal Bridges contributed 12, as the Suns moved to 31-9, tying the franchise record for their best record through 40 games.
Other key scores saw Kentavious Caldwell-Pope put aside an altercation with teammate Montrezl Harrell at halftime to hit the go-ahead three-pointer late in the Washington Wizards' 122-118 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Los Angeles Clippers rallied from a 25-point third quarter deficit to stun the Denver Nuggets, 87-85. Brandon Ingram hit three three-pointers in the final 1:13 to lift the New Orleans Pelicans over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 128-125. And Nikola Vucevic had 22 points in the Chicago Bulls' 133-87 rout of the Detroit Pistons.
Giants Fire Head Coach Joe Judge
One day after the NFL world was shocked of the New York Giants' silence come "Black Monday," the team made the expected move of firing head coach Joe Judge on Tuesday afternoon. The move comes after Judge spent just two seasons with the team, and one day after general manager David Gettleman retired following four seasons in that position. The first-time head coach went 10-23 over his two seasons with New York, and he is now the third consecutive Giants coach to get fired after two seasons, joining Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur. The Giants' faithful booed the team out of MetLife Stadium in the regular season finale on Sunday against the Washington Football Team, this after they called for consecutive QB sneaks deep in their own territory. That sequence of plays alone had people calling for the 40-year-old's job, and now they add another vacant coaching position in the league, making it eight heading in to this off-season. The now former Giants coach had spent the previous eight seasons as a special teams coordinator with the New England Patriots, but was unable to change any of the Giants' bad direction, despite their being multiple reports from Christmas to Monday of the Giants bringing him back for the 2022 season.
Buccaneers End Sherman's Season on IR
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have ended the season of veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, placing him back on injured reserve Tuesday with an Achilles injury. This is his second stint on IR, which means he will not return for the defending Super Bowl Champions' playoff run, and that begins this Sunday afternoon at home against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Round. The veteran will remain with the team during this run, helping out the defensive backs, which he has been doing since getting signed in Week 4. The five-time Pro Bowler was relied on more than expected due to injuries, making his debut on October 3rd in a 19-17 win over the New England Patriots. He would have a nice return with a fumble recovery, although, playing three games in 12 days after having 288 days off from football caused a hamstring injury in Week 6 against the Eagles. Sherman went on to miss six weeks with that injury, then a calf injury halted his return, and now he is going to focus on being "Coach Sherman" while the Bucs look to return to the Super Bowl.
Bama's Jameson Williams Suffered Torn ACL
Not only did the Alabama Crimson Tide fall short Monday night in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, but one of their star wide receivers suffered a serious injury. It was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon by Adam Schefter that the wideout suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, and doctors believe that he will be able to recover to full strength. Williams will undergo surgery for the injury within the next 10 days, this after going down on a 40-yard catch in the third quarter of their 33-18 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in Indianapolis. He finished the game with four catches for 65 yards, but was ruled out for the rest of the contest with 8:11 left in the third. The young star has not announced if he will return to Alabama next season or enter the NFL Draft, but either way, he will be an x-factor after recording 75 catches for 1,507 yards and 15 touchdowns, good for 20.1 yards per reception. That makes him the top wide receiver prospect and sixth overall for the draft.
Duchene Lifts Predators in OT; Leafs Edge Golden Knights in Shootout
The Nashville Predators enhanced their first place positioning in the Central Division on Tuesday night, as Matt Duchene's second goal of the game gave them a 5-4 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche. Duchene's game-winner came 3:01 in to overtime, while Luke Kunin also scored twice for the Predators, who have now won five straight games. Juuse Saros was solid in net with 40 saves, while getting supported by plenty of offense, including Tanner Jeannot's goal and assist, along with Roman Josi totaling three assists. Cale Makar had a goal and two assists in the loss for the Avalanche, who saw their five-game winning streak come to an end, but did move past the St. Louis Blues in to second place in the division with a point. And the Toronto Maple Leafs escaped Las Vegas with a road win later on in the evening, getting a 4-3 shootout victory over the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Williams Nylander scored the game-winner in the shootout, this after finding the back of the net in regulation. Auston Matthews and Ilya Mikheyev also scored for the Leafs, who are now 5-0-1 over their past six games and 21-4-2 since starting the season 2-4-1. Jack Campbell made 31 saves on the night, improving to 18-5-3 on the year, and 4-1-0 against the Knights. The Leafs have worked around COVID to stay right on the heels of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers atop the division.
Other key scores saw the Evgeni Malkin score twice in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins topped the Anaheim Ducks, 4-1. Logan Couture slammed home the game-winner in the San Jose Sharks' 3-2 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning kept pace with each other getting 6-1 and 5-2 routs of the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks respectively. And Alex DeBrincat had two goals as the Chicago Blackhawks doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-2, on the road.
Rask Returns to Bruins on One-Year Deal
The Boston Bruins are bringing a familiar face back in between the pipes, agreeing to a one-year contract with veteran goaltender Tuukka Rask on Tuesday. The deal is prorated, worth $1 million and will pay him $545,000, as the Bruins bring back their winningest goalie in franchise history, this after he recovered from off-season hip surgery. The 34-year-old will officially return as a backup for Linus Ullmark on Wednesday night against the Montreal Canadiens. Rask was a free agent during his recovery process, but he did confirm after last season that he did not want to play for any other team but the Bruins. He appeared in just 24 games last season due to injuries, but did not deal with the hip injury until after their second round loss to the New York Islanders. Rask claims he never considered retiring and could still provide a major presence for a Bruins team in the thick of the playoff picture. The former 2014 Vezina Trophy winner has a career record of 306-163-66 with a 2.27 goals against average and 52 shutouts, and most recently went 15-5-2 last season with three shutouts, a 2.28 goals against average, and a .913 save percentage.