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Purdue shows just how dangerous it can be as the No. 6 Boilermakers hold off No. 18 North Carolina

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Jaden Ivey, at times, appears to hold the game on a string. 

That’s the thrill, and the danger, of it all. 

As enrapturing as Ivey’s game can be, he also still has the penchant to vex. Just four games into his sophomore season, though, evolution and progress are taking shape. Just over midway through the second half of sixth-ranked Purdue’s 93-84 win vs. No. 18 North Carolina in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday, the Tar Heels finally found a way to earn the lead — their first — against the Boilermakers. Talented Marquette transfer Dawson Garcia hit a 3-pointer from the wing with 9:21 remaining to make it a 65-64 game.

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Carolina didn’t know it, but this was its window. And it was going to shut, in real time, in less than three minutes. After Purdue center Zach Edey went 1 for 2 from the foul line on the ensuing possession, UNC had a chance to retake the lead. Tar Heels guard Kerwin Walton missed a 3-pointer, and the game was set to tilt permanently in Purdue’s favor.  

Ivey flipped it in a flash. He grabbed Walton’s miss near the baseline, then pushed up the floor. As Ivey continued to make headway to the rim, he duped three UNC defenders into his area like a tractor beam. 

Sasha Stefanovic — who’d already sank four 3s — was ready, alone and waiting. Ivey delivered a whip-back pass. Splash. Purdue’s up three. 

Next play: UNC’s Caleb Love can’t convert on a move inside. Ivey picks up the rebound and is off to the races again. He’s blazing until he’s not. He’s got Carolina’s defenders in retreat, but he stops right of the foul line and sends a pass to his left — Isaiah Thompson’s wide open in the corner. He hasn’t made a shot yet. Until now. Ivey’s pass hits Thompson in stride perfectly. Up and — swish. 

Three breaths and it’s 71-65 Purdue. 

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One more. On the ensuing possession, Walton tries to cut the lead to four with a shot close to the rim. No go. Edey — a massive human; he’s 7-foot-4 and looks every centimeter of that — interrupts matters. Edey rebound, pass to Thompson, who — hello! — has Ivey trailing him until he’s not, because they’re side by side. The pass is made, Ivey angles in, draws contact and makes an awkward bucket in transition. Purdue is now up eight and Ivey is gesturing at the crowd as if to say, “This is my game!” (only he didn’t say “game”) and North Carolina has no idea what’s happened. 

The game has been capsized. Purdue just snatched back all that UNC had worked for. A steak would die on Saturday. Purdue ended an eight-game skid to North Carolina that dated back to 1977. Ivey grew up in this one. Those three consecutive possessions showed why. Game on a string. Just don’t get careless.

“He’s made strides in that area,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said of Ivey’s passing. “He needs to be able to do all the time. Any talented guy you’ve been around, sometimes they try to take on too much. And he’s got shooters with him, he’s got size with him, and he still needs to be aggressive. But I just thought they were great passes. Getting them to play athletic guys that can attack the rim, getting them — when it’s not there — to play off two feet and just do something simple. Sometimes it’s a hard thing for a coach to get across. And both of those plays that he made there were just simple plays.” 

Simple, but effective and deflating for UNC. Ivey (22 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals) had the best game of his career, and his first double-double in Purdue threads.

“He still has a ways to go,” Painter said. “He can dominate a game through his passing. Sometimes it’s not always through his scoring.”

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Painter’s had some special teams at Purdue; four of them have finished top-10 level at KenPom. The one he’s coaching this season is currently No. 4 in that metric; he’s never had a team finish that high. This one can. And it’s not just because of Ivey, though he’s a special player who had many NBA scouts on hand at Mohegan Sun Arena convinced he’s lottery-pick material nine months from now. 

“I’m just being a better playmaker,” Ivey said. “Just try to make the right reads for my teammates. I put in countless hours in the gym. I know it’s gonna be teams that are going to play me to score the ball. And I know I’m just trying to make the right reads to my teammates.”

But consider the potential that Purdue could be the most well-rounded offensive team in the country. It rates No. 2 to Gonzaga in offensive efficiency, but unlike Gonzaga, Purdue returned its starting five. In the first half, it wasn’t Ivey or Edey or preseason All-American Trevion Williams who carried the load. It was senior sharpshooter Sasha Stefanovic, who had 16 points and four assists. Stefanovic finished 23, while Ivey had 22 and Williams had 20. The last time three Purdue players put up 20 apiece: almost 24 years ago to the day (Nov. 24, 1997).

The Boilers’ 55.7% shooting was their most accurate through four games. Something good is underway here.

Painter told CBS Sports after the win that Williams is unlike any other player he’s coached before in this regard: he’s never had someone who’s so slow to start a game yet so reliable to end it. 

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“Trevion Williams is a great finisher — he’s never been a good starter of a game,” Painter said. “He’s never been consistent as a starter, but I’ve never been around somebody that can just have an awful first half, then be the best player in college basketball in the second half. Like, he finishes games, and when things count just makes play after play. It’s amazing.” 

Williams ranked sixth in our preseason list of the best players in college basketball. And now he’s not even starting. Being that he’s a big, and so is Edey, Painter doesn’t put both on the floor at the same time. As anyone who knows basketball will tell you, the important time is how you finish. Williams is a closer. After combining to score six points in 12 minutes with Edey in the first half, Williams effectively ended UNC’s hope. 

If Ivey’s sequence flipped the game back, Williams’ array of plays ended all doubt. UNC cut the Purdue lead to 74-72 with 6:39 to go. At that point Painter knew it was time for Williams to stay in for the remainder of the game, so he checked him in. On the first play, he backed down Garcia in the post and got a bucket. He had 10 points and three rebounds in the final six-plus minutes. 

“At that point in the game it was about who was going to be tougher,” Williams said. “I knew when I came in I had to be aggressive. I’ve been in these situations before. I know when the game comes down to the line, I’ve got to step up and make big plays.”

Williams is a classic to watch on the block. Aggressive post moves, but a delicate touch and a sense of how to use angles. His spin on Garcia on the block that led to a kiss off the glass and put Purdue up 81-72 with 4:59 to go was the nail. Williams’ efficiency is absurd, by the way. He had 20 points in 13 minutes on Saturday; few players can do that at this level. Painter said Williams’ per-40 stat line equated to 60 points. For the season, Williams is at nearly 30 points per 40 minutes. 

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Accepting coming off the bench — despite being your team’s best player on many nights — is uncommon humility in modern college basketball. 

“This dude is a leader,” Ivey said of Williams. “A team player. He loves this team, he love all of us. That’s my brother. … Just to have him on our team is a blessing, for real.”

And then there’s the 7-4 Canadian (Edey) who’s only in his fifth season of organized basketball (and is only getting better). Purdue’s potential is so much fun. What a show this team put on Saturday, which doubled as its first real test of the season. The Big Ten’s been iffy to start, but the Boilermakers are an exception to that. Painter’s team is averaging 94.3 points. Saturday marked the first time the Boilers started a season dropping 90 or more in four straight games.

Painter said this team can’t average 90 for the season, but still: this could wind up being as complete of a group on the offensive end as he’s had. (Conspicuously, Purdue had only two second half turnovers on Saturday.) Defensively, there’s obviously concerns. And given Painter said it’s “kind of impossible” to properly prepare for No. 5 Villanova (who defeated No. 17 Tennessee 71-53 in the first game of this four-team event) on a one-day turnaround, keep an eye out for that when the teams play Sunday in the championship here at Mohegan Sun. 

The offense, though. Fluid, dynamic, efficient, something for everyone. Purdue looks as vigorous with the ball as any team could hope to be this season. In Ivey they have a potential college superstar and probable lottery pick. In Edey they have the largest human in college basketball. In Williams they have one of the toughest and most reliable big men in the country. In Stefanovic they have a career 41% 3-pointer shooter who is a blue-hot 53.3% through four games this season. 

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No one looks like this team. Maybe no one will be able to play or score like them, either. 





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Aaron Rodgers to the Jets? Giants' free agency options & Mike McCarthy's future with Cowboys | Ask Jay Glazer

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Jay Glazer discussed whether Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will head to the New York Jets, the New York Giants’ free agency options, and breaks down Mike McCarthy’s future with the Dallas Cowboys.



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Super Bowl LVII: Chiefs and Eagles will meet for title in Arizona

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Patrick Mahomes finally got the best of Joe Burrow. 

All he needed was a little shove.

Harrison Butker made a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left — after Cincinnati’s Joseph Ossai was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for shoving Mahomes after he was out of bounds — and the Chiefs beat the Bengals 23-20 in the AFC championship game to make it back to the Super Bowl.

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Kansas City will face the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona. 

The Eagles opened as a 1 1/2-point favourite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

There are no shortage of storylines: Kansas City coach Andy Reid goes against his old team — which he led to Super Bowl 39 — in a game that’s also the first matchup of Black starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl with Mahomes and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts. 

On top of that, there’s a brother-against-brother showdown between Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.

“Officially done being a Chiefs fan this season!! ” Jason Kelce tweeted immediately after the Chiefs won.

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The Chiefs have been making deep postseason runs on a regular basis ever since Mahomes came to town as the franchise quarterback. 

This was their fifth straight trip to the AFC title game and will be their third Super Bowl appearance in that span. They beat the 49ers for the NFL title in the 2019 season, but lost to the Bucs the following season.

The Eagles clobbered the Niners 31-7 in the NFC title game earlier Sunday. They’ve looked dominant in the playoffs so far, also beating the New York Giants 38-7 in the divisional round.

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Philadelphia is back in the Super Bowl five years after beating the New England Patriots 41-33 on Feb. 4, 2018. 

Now a mostly new generation of Eagles — led by coach Nick Sirianni and Hurts — will come to Arizona to try and win another title.

The Chiefs-Bengals game looked as if it was going to overtime before Ossai’s ill-advised play. Mahomes — who was playing on a badly sprained ankle — was running to get a first down in the final seconds as Ossai desperately tried to track him down. 

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Mahomes was out of bounds when Ossai gave him a shove, sending both players tumbling to the turf. The ensuing 15-yard penalty was enough to push Butker into field-goal range and the kick split the uprights.

A distraught Ossai sat on the bench with his head in his hands, well after the game was over.

The Bengals and Chiefs were playing for the fourth time in less than 400 days and Cincinnati had won the previous three meetings — all by three points. This one was decided by a field goal, too, and all Burrow could do was watch.

The Bengals lost to the Rams in last year’s Super Bowl and they just missed another chance at returning to the title game.

NO DRAMA IN NFC

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Oddsmakers thought fans were in for some close conference championship games. 

They’ll have to settle for a 50% success rate.

The NFC title game was a blowout. Niners rookie quarterback Brock Purdy was injured in the first quarter when Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick drilled his right arm on a play that was ruled a fumble. The Eagles recovered that fumble and the injury proved to be a game-changer.

With Purdy hurt, San Francisco turned to 36-year-old journeyman Josh Johnson, who couldn’t do much before eventually leaving with a concussion. Purdy came back into the game, but could barely throw, and the Eagles cruised to the win.

The 49ers dealt with quarterback injuries all season, losing Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo before turning to Purdy, a seventh-round draft pick out of Iowa State. Purdy stepped into a starter’s role in December and won his first seven games before Sunday’s injury. 

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Here’s a few things to know about the upcoming Super Bowl:

WHAT’S THE UPCOMING SCHEDULE?

FEB. 5

Pro Bowl flag-football game, 3 p.m. EST, ABC/ESPN

FEB. 12

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Super Bowl LVII, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 6:30 p.m. EST, Fox

RIHANNA AT HALFTIME

Rihanna will take center stage as the headline act for this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

With sales of more than 250 million records worldwide, Rihanna ranks as one of the best-selling female artists ever. Her most recent album was 2016′s “Anti.” Rihanna last performed publicly at the Grammy Awards in 2018.

The singer said she turned down a similar opportunity for the 2019 Super Bowl that was ultimately headlined by Maroon 5. At the time, many artists voiced support for Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who protested police brutality against Black people and minorities by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

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Country music star Chris Stapleton will sing the national anthem, while R&B legend Babyface will perform “America the Beautiful.” 

PRO BOWL MAKEOVER

The Pro Bowl is getting a major makeover this year after the NFL eliminated its full-contact all-star game and replaced it with weeklong skills competitions and a flag football game.

The flag football contest is Feb. 5 in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium, one week before the Super Bowl.

The Pro Bowl debuted in January 1951 in Los Angeles and stayed there for 21 seasons before the game moved to different cities from 1972-80. Hawaii hosted from 1980-2009, and the game has had several homes in the years since, including Miami, Phoenix, Orlando and Las Vegas.

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“The game was kind of silly, I guess,” Saints two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk said back in September when the news was announced. “Guys weren’t out there playing true football. Hopefully, there’ll be a lot of interactions with the fans and guys will get their opportunity to go out there and show some skills. I could see that being a good change.”

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Ohio State hires James Laurinaitis & Tennessee extends Huepel's contract | Joel Klatt Show

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Joel Klatt discussed Ohio State Buckeyes hiring former linebacker James Laurinaitis as a defensive GA. Joel believes that Laurinaitis can help transform the defense into a powerhouse like the offense is for wide receivers. He then discussed the Tennessee Volunteers giving Josh Huepel a contract extension after their 11-win season.



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