AP Sports Wrap from December 26 2016
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Detroit Lions have led the NFC North for most of the season, but their playoff chances remain unclear after they became the Dallas Cowboys' latest victims.
Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott led the Dallas offense in a 42-21 win over the Lions. Bryant grabbed a pair of scoring passes from Dak Prescott, who was 15 of 20 for 212 yards and three TDs. Bryant also threw his first career touchdown pass, hitting Jason Witten for a 10-yard score that put the Cowboys ahead 35-21.
Elliott ran for two touchdowns, including a 55-yard burst in the first half. The NFL rushing leader had 80 yards on just 12 carries.
Zach Zenner helped Detroit go into halftime in a 21-21 deadlock. Zenner had a career-high 64 yards and two touchdowns by the half, but he was held to just three yards over the final two quarters.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was 26 of 46 for 260 yards, no touchdowns and an interception that set up Elliott's tiebreaking touchdown early in the third quarter.
The Cowboys are 13-2 following their seventh straight home win. Prescott tied Ben Roethlisberger's (RAWTH'-lis-bur-gurz) NFL rookie record for wins by a quarterback.
The 9-6 Lions are in a virtual tie with Green Bay for first place in the NFC North, although the Packers hold the tiebreaker heading into their season finale in Detroit. Should the Lions lose to the Packers, Detroit will still make the playoffs as a wild-card team if the Giants beat the Redskins.
Seahawks Lockett has surgery on broken leg
UNDATED (AP) 7/8 Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (mar-ee-OH'-tah) will have surgery Wednesday for his broken right leg.
Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey says the recovery process will take four to five months and include a plate inserted over the break.
Mariota was hurt while being sacked in Saturday's loss to Jacksonville.
— Seattle receiver Tyler Lockett has undergone surgery after breaking two bones in his lower right leg in Saturday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Coach Pete Carroll 7/87/8says Lockett has a chance to be up and moving in four to six weeks.
— Bryce Petty has been placed on injured reserve by the New York Jets, ending his short stint as the starting quarterback. He tore the labrum in his left shoulder against New England Saturday.
— Cincinnati has placed tight end Tyler Eifert (EYE'-furt) on injured reserve with a back injury. He missed the first six games of the season because of an ankle injury suffered in last season's Pro Bowl.
— 49ers running back Carlos Hyde has a torn MCL in his left knee and will miss the season finale against Seattle. Hyde got hurt in Saturday's win over the Rams, leaving him 12 shy of his first 1,000-yard rushing season. Coach Chip Kelly says Hyde will not need surgery.
— The Texans are sticking with Tom Savage at quarterback for Sunday's game against the Titans. He made his first career start in place of Brock Osweiler (AHS'-wy-lur) in Saturday's win over the Bengals that allowed the Texans to clinch the AFC South.
Cavs lose as James sits
UNDATED (AP) — LeBron James got a night off a day after the Cleveland Cavaliers won a rematch of last season's NBA Finals. The Detroit Pistons took advantage of his absence as Tobias Harris scored 21 points in a 106-90 rout of the Cavs. Andre Drummond had 11 points and 17 rebounds for the Pistons, who were 16-for-28 from 3-point range.
James was kept out with the Cavaliers playing for the fifth time in seven games. Kevin Love had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavs, who ended a five-game winning streak and fell to 23-7.
In other NBA action:
— The Raptors picked up their team-record seventh straight road win as Kyle Lowry provided 20 of his 27 points in the second half of a 95-91 triumph at Portland. DeMar DeRozan nearly had his first triple-double of the season, with 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to help Toronto deal the Trail Blazers their sixth consecutive loss.
— Houston's James Harden contributed 32 points and 12 assists in just three quarters of a 131-115 rout of Phoenix. Montrezl Harrell had 14 points for the Rockets, who led by 27 entering the final period.
— Nikola Jokic dropped in 24 points and Danilo Gallinari and Will Barton each added 23 as Denver knocked off the Clippers, 106-102 in Los Angeles. The Clippers trailed by 17 at halftime and played without injured starters Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick, their three leading scorers.
— Dwyane (dwayn) Wade scored 21 points and the Bulls ended a three-game skid by topping the visiting Pacers, 90-85. Nikola Mirotic added a season-high 20 points and Jimmy Butler had 16 points as Chicago won despite shooting just 38.6 percent.
— Zach Lavine (lah-VEEN') hit six 3-pointers and scored 21 points in Minnesota's 104-90 triumph over Atlanta. Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points and 11 boards for the Timberwolves, while Andrew Wiggins chipped in with 21 points on 4 of 6 shooting from 3-point range.
— Brooklyn erased a 14-point, second-half deficit and beat the Hornets, 120-118 on Randy Foye's 3-pointer at the buzzer. Bojan Bogdanovic led the Nets with 26 points, Sean Kilpatrick had 23 and Brook Lopez scored 10 of his 21 in the final period.
— Aaron Gordon poured in 30 points to lead seven Magic players in double figures during a 112-102 victory against Memphis. Serge Ibaka (ih-BAH'-kah) and Elfrid Payton had 16 apiece in Orlando's second consecutive win.
— Otto Porter scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Washington's 107-102 comeback win over Milwaukee. Bradley Beal scored 22 points for the Wizards, who trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter before a 15-2 spurt sent them to their sixth straight home win.
— DeMarcus Cousins nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 20.9 seconds remaining and added a clutch free throw moments later to carry Sacramento past Philadelphia, 102-100. Cousins finished with 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the Kings' season-high fourth straight win.
— Anthony Davis had 28 points and 16 rebounds to lead New Orleans past Dallas, 111-104. Langston Galloway was 5-for-5 from 3-point range and delivered 17 points in the Pelicans' third win in four games.
League says refs missed two calls in Cavs-Warriors game
NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA says two calls were missed in the final moments of Cleveland's win over Golden State on Sunday, both of which aided the Cavaliers.
The league says LeBron James should have been assessed a technical foul for deliberately hanging on the rim after his dunk with 1:43 remaining, and that Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson should have been called for fouling the Warriors' Kevin Durant on the game's final play.
Cleveland pulled out a 109-108 win over the Warriors on Kyrie (KY'-ree) Irving's shot with 3.7 seconds left.
Bowl wins for Bulldogs, Eagles and Wolfpack
UNDATED (AP) — The first two bowl games of the day went down to the wire before Mississippi State and Boston College earned victories.
Nelson Adams blocked Nick Dowd's 37-yard field goal attempt with five seconds left to preserve the Bulldogs' 17-16 win over Miami of Ohio in the St. Petersburg Bowl. Dowd was trying to help the RedHawks end the season on a seven-game winning streak following an 0-6 start. He also had an extra point blocked in the first half.
Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald rushed for 142 yards and two scores as Mississippi State finished the season 6-7.
Boston College stopped Maryland on downs in the closing seconds and played stingy defense on the Terrapins' last three possessions to complete a 36-30 victory in the Quick Lane Bowl at Detroit. Boston College was ahead 29-13 at halftime after Patrick Towles threw a 49-yard TD pass to Michael Walker. Towles threw for two TDs and grabbed a 20-yard scoring pass while the 7-6 Eagles were building a 23-point lead.
Maryland got near the goal line twice in the final 4:02 but came away with just one field goal to finish the year 6-7.
Monday's final bowl game was a rout by North Carolina State as Jaylen Samuels caught three touchdown passes from Ryan Finley in a 41-17 throttling of Vanderbilt at the Independence Bowl. Nyheim Hines returned a kickoff 100 yards for a TD to help the Wolfpack finish the year 7-6. Finley completed 19 of 30 passes for 235 yards.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-FBC PLAYOFF
Tide, Huskies arrive in Atlanta
UNDATED (AP) — Top-ranked Alabama and No. 4 Washington have arrived in Atlanta to continue preparations for Saturday's Peach Bowl.
The 13-0 Crimson Tide are appearing in the College Football Playoff for the third consecutive year as they look to repeat as national champs. It's the first trip to the title series for the 12-1 Huskies.
The other semifinal will have Ohio State against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl Saturday. The Tigers will be back in the same stadium where they absorbed a tough 45-40 loss to Alabama in last year's title game. The Tigers and Buckeyes last played in the 2014 Orange Bowl, with Clemson winning 40-35.
T25 MENS' BASKETBALL-POLL
Wildcats No. 1 in poll with little change
UNDATED (AP) — Villanova again tops The Associated Press college basketball poll this week.
A light week of non-conference action saw very little movement in the poll from last week.
The 12-0 Wildcats got 56 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel. UCLA stays second, followed by Kansas, Baylor and Duke.
Louisville jumped four spots to No. 6 after its three-point win over Bluegrass State rival Kentucky. Gonzaga is seventh, while Kentucky falls to eighth.
North Carolina and Creighton round out the top ten.
T25 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL-POLL
Huskies are a unanimous pick
UNDATED (AP) — A stringe of 86 straight wins continues to earn UConn a unanimous vote as the No. 1 team in the week's Associated Press women's college basketball poll.
The 11-0 Huskies are four wins short of matching the NCAA record of 90 straight wins established by UConn from 2008-11.
The Huskies have a showdown with No. 4 Maryland on Thursday.
Notre Dame and Baylor are second and third this week and Mississippi State is ranked fifth.
Sullivan gets extension
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Penguins coach Mike Sullivan has earned a three-year contract extension after taking over in midseason and leading Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup championship last season.
The deal keeps Sullivan with the team through 2019-20.
The 48-year-old Sullivan is 55-24-10 with Pittsburgh, the second-best point total in the NHL over that span. The Penguins are currently second in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind Columbus.
HOCKEY-WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
Americans open with win
TORONTO (AP) — The U.S. was a winner in its opening game at the world junior hockey championships in Canada.
Clayton Keller scored twice and the Americans dominated the last two periods to beat Latvia 6-1. Colin White snapped a 1-1 tie 6:29 into the second period for the United States, which faces Slovakia on Wednesday.
Canada also was victorious as Coyotes draft pick Dylan Strome (strohm) scored a pair of power-play goals in a 5-3 verdict over Russia.
AP-FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Biles capture honors
UNDATED (AP) — Simone (sih-MOHN') Biles has been named The Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year after tying a women's gymnastics Olympic record with four gold medals.
Biles picked up 31 of 59 votes from a panel of U.S. editors and news directors.
U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky finished second with 20 votes after a four-gold, one-silver performance in the pool in Brazil.
Wimbledon champ Serena Williams was third in the balloting, followed by women's NCAA basketball player of the year Breanna Stewart.