The Ohio State Buckeyes feel as if they should've been a part of the final four in the College Football Playoffs, but after last year's debacle, maybe a Cotton Bowl placement wasn't too bad after all. J.T. Barrett ran for two touchdowns on Friday night to lead his Buckeyes over the USC Trojans, 24-7, in Dallas. The Buckeyes' defense was short-handed early on with Denzel Ward sitting out after declaring for the NFL Draft, but their other weapons stepped up to shut down USC. Most notably, Damon Webb returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown, giving his team a 17-0 lead at the time, and leading to a win in the same stadium that OSU claimed their first CFP Title. They were held out of this year's playoffs after an upset loss to Iowa and a blowout loss at home to Oklahoma. The Trojans committed four turnovers in what was their third loss in the past 23 games, coming off a Rose Bowl victory season, which is a College Football Playoff semifinal site this season. Quarterback Sam Darnold fumbled the ball twice and threw for 356 yards but no touchdowns in what could be his final game with the Trojans. Reports are now speculating after the game that Darnold could skip out on the draft this season and stay one more year with USC. If that's the case, the Trojans will begin next season as an early favorite in the Pac-12 and for the College Football Playoffs.
Wizards Hand Rockets Another Loss
The Houston Rockets have officially come back down to earth after their red hot start, as they are now looking up at the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. They suffered their fifth straight loss on Friday night, 121-103, in Washington against the Wizards. Otto Porter Jr. scored 26 points, while Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 21 apiece for the Wizards, who shot 53 percent from the floor on the night. The losing streak for the Rockets is their longest since dropping seven in a row from January 9th-19th in 2013, and this comes after a 25-4 start to their season. They did get Chris Paul back on Friday after he missed four games, but he just contributed eight points and six assists in 26 minutes. James Harden was held to a season-low 20 points in the loss, as this skid comes after their impressive 14-game win streak. This loss comes one day after blowing a 26-point lead to the Celtics in Boston, as they were held to 29 percent shooting from beyond the arc, which has been their bread and butter all season long. They will play host to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday in a possible streak-snapping game, while the Wizards will stay home to battle the Chicago Bulls that same day.
Giannis, Bucks Edge Westbrook, Thunder in Controversial Fashion
In a battle of two of the hottest stars in the NBA, it's only fitting that we had a wild finish in OKC on Friday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo had the game-winning basket with 1.3 seconds left to lift the Milwaukee Bucks over the Oklahoma City Thunder, 97-95. The finish was questionable and controversial due to replay showing that Antetokounmpo stepped out of bounds before driving to the game-winner, which was not caught by the officials. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan begged for the play to be reviewed, but officials Derek Stafford, Ben Taylor, and Leon Wood refused to do so. Nonetheless, the Greek Freak had 23 points to send the Bucks to their 19th win of the year, moving them back to the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference standings. On the other end, the Thunder saw their six-game win streak come to an end despite Russell Westbrook's 40 points, 14 rebounds, and nine assists, as the reigning MVP set up the wild final seconds with a game-tying three-pointer with 4.7 seconds left. The Thunder fell to 11-4 in the month of December, as they were without Paul George due to knee soreness. The other part of their star trio, Carmelo Anthony, was held to just 12 points in the loss. The Bucks got 20 points from Khris Middleton and 18 from John Henson in a balanced attack, a night after rallying from a 20-point deficit for a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Milwaukee will do battle with the Raptors in Toronto on New Year's Day, while the Thunder play host to the Dallas Mavericks on New Year's Eve.