February 6, 2020 Associated Press For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25___This was generated by Automated Insights, http://www.automatedinsights.com/ap, using data from STATS LLC, https://www.stats.com Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditNo. 18 LSU (17-5, 8-1) vs. No. 11 Auburn (20-2, 7-2)Auburn Arena, Auburn, Alabama; Saturday, 12 a.m. ESTBOTTOM LINE: No. 11 Auburn goes for its fifth straight win over ranked opponents against No. 18 LSU . Auburn’s last loss vs a ranked opponent came against the then-No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats 80-53 on Feb. 23, 2019. LSU fell 99-90 at Vanderbilt on Wednesday. BIG MEN ON CAMPUS: Skylar Mays and Emmitt Williams have led LSU. Mays has averaged 15.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and two steals while Williams has recorded 14.2 points and seven rebounds per game. Auburn have been anchored by Samir Doughty and Isaac Okoro. Doughty has averaged 15.5 points while Okoro has put up 13 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.MIGHTY MAYS: Mays has connected on 34.6 percent of the 81 3-pointers he’s attempted and has made 3 of 14 over the last five games. He’s also made 84.2 percent of his free throws this season.STREAK STATS: Auburn has won its last 12 home games, scoring an average of 84.2 points while giving up 67.9.ASSIST DISTRIBUTION: The Auburn offense has recently used assists to create buckets more often than LSU. Auburn has 31 assists on 67 field goals (46.3 percent) across its past three outings while LSU has assists on 28 of 86 field goals (32.6 percent) during its past three games.DID YOU KNOW: The Auburn offense has scored 79 points per game this season, ranking the Tigers 20th among Division 1 teams. The LSU defense has allowed 71 points per game to opponents (ranked 204th).___ No. 11 Auburn looks to knock off No. 18 LSU
Syracuse (13-8, 6-4 Atlantic Coast) lost its first game in three weeks on Tuesday night against Clemson. The defeat came after five-straight wins and SU will look to get back on track against No. 9 Duke (17-3, 7-2) at 8 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.Here’s what to know about the Blue Devils ahead of the matchup.All-time series: Duke leads, 9-6Last time they played: SU lost the rubber match to Duke, 84-72, in the second-round of the 2019 ACC tournament on March 14. Frank Howard posted a career-high 28 points, Buddy Boeheim added 15 and Oshae Brissett scored 14. Zion Williamson scored 29 points and didn’t miss a field goal. He capped a 7-0 second half run with a layup that pushed Duke ahead for good. The defeat left the Orange firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble.The Duke report: As expected, head coach Mike Krzyzewksi leads one of the best teams in the nation — the second-best one, per KenPom. The Blue Devils are fourth and seventh in adjusted-offensive and -defensive efficiency, respectively, with no glaring weaknesses. They only get 32.4% of their makes from deep, but shoot the 3 ball at a 36.4% clip.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textDuke’s losses, on average, have a five-point differential. After a historic non-conference loss to Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 26, Duke rattled off nine wins — including a 12-point victory over Michigan State. Back-to-back losses to Clemson and Louisville reset Duke’s season, but it has beaten Miami and Pittsburgh in the last week to solidify its stance atop the ACC standings. Vernon Carey and Tre Jones lead the Blue Devils, with Cassisus Stanley and Matthew Hurt providing depth. Carey, Duke’s perennial Wooden Award-nominee, averages 17.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game. He’s also added 34 blocks. Carey represents the interior presence the Orange haven’t been able to guard all year. Jones also is Duke’s lead playmaker, with his 123 assists leading the team.Krzyzewksi has turned to a lineup of 6-foot-2 guard Jordan Goldwire, Jones, Carey, Stanley and Hurt most often through their last five games, per KenPom.How Syracuse beats the Blue Devils: Shoot the 3 and limit Carey. Surprisingly, SU’s winning streak didn’t feature many lights-out shooting performances. In its last five games, Syracuse hasn’t hit more than eight 3s in a single contest. Getting to the 3-point line might disrupt Duke’s 2-3 zone, or at the very least, keep up with a run-and-gun pace that ranks first in the conference. The Blue Devils also clog passing lanes and deny shots off passes, placing an importance on Joe Girard III’s and Hughes’ ball-handling.Defensively, an upset will start with preventing Carey from taking over like RJ Barrett did in the Carrier Dome last year. SU’s 2-3 zone should keep Jones and Duke’s shooters in check, but Carey’s playmaking can disrupt the Orange game plan. Syracuse’s also must hang in a rebounding battle that Duke usually wins decisively.Stat to know: 27% — Duke allows 27% of its opponent’s buckets to come from 3, fifth-lowest in Division-I.KenPom odds: The Orange have a 26% chance to win the game, with a final score prediction of 78-71 per KenPom.Player to watch: Matthew Hurt, No. 21, ForwardCarey and Jones are the stars, but Hurt has the opportunity to steal the show. The 6-foot-9 freshman leads the Blue Devils in 3s made (33) while shooting 42.3% from deep. The forward has attempted at least four deep balls in each of his last three games and a few conversions on Saturday night could threaten SU’s upset chances. Comments Published on January 30, 2020 at 12:10 am Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez Facebook Twitter Google+
For the second time in eight months, the UFC Octagon touched down in Russia on Saturday, as the premier mixed martial arts organization in the world brought a deep card packed with intriguing prospects from the region and headlined by a heavyweight clash between two of the most experienced fighters on the roster to Yubileyney Sports Palace.Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a year Although the event underwent myriad changes from the time it was initially announced until the first competitor crossed the threshold into the UFC cage to officially kick off the night of action, including having a main card contest between Devin Clark and Ivan Shtyrkov come undone at the 11th hour, Saturday’s debut in Saint Petersburg still produced a ton of action and plenty to talk about going forward.Here’s a look back at what transpired and the impact each result may have going forward.Alistair Overeem stops Aleksei Oleinik for second-straight first-round finishAlistair Overeem moved to 2-0 since joining forces with the Elevation Fight Team in Denver, Colorado with a late first-round stoppage win over Russian Aleksei Oleinik in Saturday’s main event.The two veterans spent the majority of the contest trading blows in tight quarters along the fence, Oleinik working hard uppercuts to the body after closing the distance with overhand rights, while Overeem countered with a series of knees to the head and midsection. Late in the frame, as they broke into space, the Dutch star drove his knee into Oleinik’s head, felling his opponent like a mature oak tree before picking his spots on the ground and forcing referee Marc Goddard to step in and stop the fight. KNEES by @AlistairOverem! pic.twitter.com/Rj9OsIaU4X— UFC (@ufc) April 20, 2019 What it means: On one level, it doesn’t really mean much as this was the eventual outcome that most people anticipated. Overeem is the more complete fighter and the far more fluid of the two, despite their being close in age and experience, so seeing him put away Oleinik isn’t much of a surprise.But Saturday’s outcome does carry significance for the 38-year-old Dutch standout, as he’s now won back-to-back fights and a division where contenders are scarce and his name still carries weight, consecutive first-round stoppage wins should land Overeem on the fringes of contention, with a pairing against another established veteran all but assured in the second half of 2019.That being said, it’s hard to get too excited about Overeem’s championship prospects as of right now because even though he’s looked good in his last two outings, his stoppage losses to Francis Ngannou and Curtis Blaydes weren’t that long ago and both remain ahead of him in the title chase at the moment. He did the right thing by lobbying to face Alexander Volkov next time out in his post-fight interview with Dan Hardy because he’s the only top contender ahead of him in the rankings that he hasn’t faced before that doesn’t have a fight already lined up.This was a tough break for Oleinik, who was originally scheduled to face Walt Harris in Ottawa next month, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to face a far more established name at home in Russia. The loss snaps his tidy two-fight winning streak and reinforces that his upside in the division is limited, but he still acquitted himself nicely in a short-notice assignment against a dangerous striker and perennial contender and he should get a more favorable pairing whenever he returns to action.Islam Makhachev earns hard-fought decision over impressive newcomer Arman TsarukyanIslam Makhachev entered his co-main event assignment on a four-fight winning streak that included back-to-back first-round stoppage wins over seasoned vets Gleison Tibau and Kajan Johnson, so when he was paired with 22-year-old promotional newcomer Arman Tsarukyan, the Dagestani grappler might have thought he would have a quick and easy night at the office.But that wasn’t the case.Tsarukyan made Makhachev work from start to finish, engaging in numerous grappling exchanges with the more polished, more decorated contender. He became the first fighter to successfully take Makhachev down and was able to escape a number of dangerous positions where the long-time training partner of reigning champ Khabib Nurmagomedov usually does his best work.Although Makhachev eventually wore him down and collected a well-deserved decision win, Tsarukyan managed to impress in defeat and come away as the athlete most fans and observers were talking about from this matchup. Beautiful takedown by @MAKHACHEVMMA#UFCStPetersburg pic.twitter.com/b8LEwc0drt— UFC (@ufc) April 20, 2019 What it means: There is no denying that Tsarukyan had a tremendous showing and opened a lot of eyes by hanging tough against Makhachev and having a better performance against the emerging contender than a number of veteran talents, however, let’s not ignore the end result while rushing to pat the newcomer on the back.Makhachev did what he needed to do in order to get the win, turning up the pressure and pace in the final round to pull away. In doing so, he pushed his winning streak to five and continued to show that he’s someone to keep an eye on in the deep and dangerous lightweight division.Whether he underestimated Tsarukyan, was dealing with an injury or illness or simply came out a little flat, Makhachev still swept two of the three scorecards and earned a 29-28 on the other.Tsarukyan certainly showed promise and while it’s great to introduce himself to the UFC audience with an impressive first start, Saturday’s showing ratchets up the pressure for his next appearance and that can be daunting, especially for a young, relatively inexperienced competitor. It’s kind of like how Lando Vanatta faltered after going toe-to-toe with Tony Ferguson on short notice — raising your game to meet elevated expectations can be daunting. It will be interesting to see if the UFC leaves Tsarukyan in the deep end of the lightweight talent pool or pulls him back a little, pairing him off with someone a little less experienced, a little less dangerous next time out in order to help him build some positive momentum.Sergei Pavlovich pounds out quick finish of Marcelo Golm for first UFC victoryAfter getting thrown into the fire against Alistair Overeem in his promotional debut last November, Sergei Pavlovich got a more reasonable matchup for his sophomore appearance and made the most of it, stalking and starching Golm to collect a first-round stoppage victory and register his first UFC win.Golm tried to close the distance and get inside Pavlovich’s range right of the chute, but the Russian heavyweight was having none of it, as he countered and backed the Brazilian up immediately. Stuck at range, Golm tried to go shot-for-shot with Pavlovich, but the former Fight Nights champion’s power and precision were far too much to handle.After backing Golm into the fence with punches, Pavlovich uncorked an overhand right that crashed home clean and followed it with an uppercut straight out of Street Fighter II that brought the bout to a close. All of this transpired in just 66 seconds. How’s that for your first UFC win!!#UFCStPetersburg pic.twitter.com/JqvEtq77q7— UFC (@ufc) April 20, 2019 What it means: After two appearances in the Octagon, we now have a good baseline reading for where Pavlovich fits in the heavyweight division. He was clearly overmatched against Overeem and equally too tough for Golm, which lands him squarely in the middle of the division, but trending upward at this point.It’s hard to read too much into this one as Golm has now lost three straight and is probably on his way out of the organization, but Pavlovich has tremendous size, reach and power and tons of room to grow. Throwing him in against Overeem out of the gate was a mistake, but there is no reason he shouldn’t face a tenured UFC heavyweight next time out in order to continue to narrow down his place in the pecking order.Veteran Roxanne Modafferi edges out Antonina Shevchenko in a classic clash of stylesIt always sounds cliché when analysts and journalist say the outcome of a fight hinges on where it takes place and who is able to impose their will best, but then you see a fight like this and the truth behind those words becomes so apparent.On the feet, Shevchenko outworked Modafferi, picking at her with counters as the veteran pressed forward and showing her years of experience as a striker. However, as soon as “The Happy Warrior” was able to get into the clinch and bring the fight to the floor, the pendulum swung in the other direction, with Modafferi dominating the action.In the end, Modafferi’s ability to secure takedowns and control things on the ground earned her the split decision victory. “The Happy Warrior” @RoxyFighter pulls off the SD win at #UFCStPetersburg pic.twitter.com/ePj4J2sOjl— UFC (@ufc) April 20, 2019 What it means: Honestly, not as much as you would think given the way people reacted to Modafferi’s win on Twitter.Judging by social media, you would think the popular veteran had punched her ticket to a title shot or beaten a Top 5 opponent, when in actuality, she edged out an unranked fighter who entered the contest with just seven professional MMA bouts to her name.It’s a good victory and another reminder that Modafferi is a tough out who continues to work hard at expanding her game, however, there was nothing about this performance that made me believe she’s on her way to challenging for championship gold in the not-too-distant future.For Shevchenko, Saturday’s contest showed her limitations, as she was unable to keep Modafferi from getting inside and avoid getting taken down. As much as her striking was on point and she was touching the beloved veteran up on the feet, Modafferi took her down with ease and controlled her the majority of the time they were on the canvas.While being the older sister of the reigning flyweight champ makes her a bit of a name and people seem to really like when they do choreographed open workout routines together, the elder Shevchenko is currently a middle of the pack talent in MMA and isn’t likely to progress too far beyond that point in the UFC.Krzysztof Jotko dominates Alen Amedovski to snap lengthy losing streakAs much as Frankie Edgar’s “there are levels to this” quote probably gets overused, it was 100-percent applicable here.Entering on a three-fight skid, but with a wealth of UFC experience, Jotko thoroughly outclassed the promotional newcomer Amedovski, who entered with an unblemished record and a string of blistering first-round stoppage wins.After planting a spinning back elbow between Amedovski’s eyes midway through the first, Jotko showed the versatility in his game by taking the fight to the floor, where he kept the new arrival’s shoulders pinned to the canvas for long stretches of the final 12 minutes. Once there, the Polish middleweight advanced to the crucifix position, unleashing a non-stop barrage of punches and elbows that prompted at least one 10-8 score from each judge and a lopsided result when the tens and nines were tallied. DOMINATING round for @JotkoMMA!#UFCStPetersburg pic.twitter.com/YqRHKA5rnD— UFC (@ufc) April 20, 2019 What it means: Jotko needed this one. Not only did it snap his three-fight losing streak, but it was also a dominant showing that has to bolster his confidence going forward. He got back to mixing things up and playing to his strengths rather than trying to stand and slug it out and it paid dividends. After considering retirement, he opted instead to work with a sports psychologist and keep at it, resulting in one of the best performances of his career.The big takeaway from Amedovski is one that was mentioned by the broadcast crew during the bout and that is that he looks like a guy stuck between two weight classes. Being slightly undersized is fine when you’re slinging leather against lesser competition on the regional circuit, but when you’re swimming with a shark on the UFC stage, it’s tough to be a tweener.Amedovski has clear power and it will be interesting to see if whether he stays at middleweight or attempts to move down to welterweight, where he wouldn’t be as physically overmatched as he was on Saturday. If he sticks around at ’85, he better get working on his takedown defense because Jotko just laid out the blueprint for how to beat him without having to worry too much about his power.