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    The linebacker was forced to run the defense Sunday in a loss to the Chiefs, but he sometimes didn't look like he was running to the ball.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- New Browns coach Gregg Williams said the search for effort and focus is a full-time time occupation, not a Sunday situation.

    "We really do that day by day by day," Williams said after losing his debut as the Browns boss 37-21 to Kansas City on Sunday.

    "Seriously, it is not just in the game, (it's) every day in how you respond in a meeting, how you respond in practice. The philosophy that we have had and the philosophy that I have been raised with in this league being around some really, really good coaches on the staffs that I have been on is that is an everyday thing.

    "You do not want to wait until Sunday and see it. You want to see it throughout the week. That is what they have been doing all week long."

    OK. So why does linebacker Jamie Collins so often look like he's not going as hard as he can?

    This is one of those things that Browns fans are talking about, and the goal here, whenever possible, is to take what's happening out there and bring it to the Browns. If fans think Collins looks like he's jogging to too many plays, then, what's the deal with Collins looking like he's jogging to too many plays?

    My direct question to Williams on Sunday was whether Collins was going as hard as he could.

    "Jamie is doing a lot of things," Williams said. "Jamie is handling a lot of things for us. He is being the vocal person on the field. He is the quarterback on defense, and he is playing like our quarterback."

    That's not really an answer about effort, but I wasn't going to ask Williams repeatedly to publicly criticize a player in his first postgame news conference as the boss. So I asked once and then made it clear to the Browns that if anyone wanted to inform me otherwise about Collins, my ears were open, because I was going to question his every-down effort.

    So here we are. 

    It seems like Williams likes Collins. He was the first player he mentioned by name after the game, turning a question about the rash of defensive injuries back toward the veteran linebacker. With Joe Schobert out for his third game, and Christian Kirksey leaving in the second quarter with a hamstring injury, Collins took on the role of what Williams called the quarterback of the defense, setting the defensive alignment.

    "We have to tackle better, have to keep the ball in front of us better and have to keep on playing. Those guys did. They never blinked," Williams said. "I thought Jamie Collins did a really good job of continuing to keep people in the game that had to come in and out of the huddles. He did a really good job with that."

    I thought Collins looked overmatched and underwhelming on a first-quarter tackle attempt on Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt. Collins reached Hunt around the 35-yard line and was left flailing at Hunt's wrist. Hunt continued to race to the end zone, turning a screen into a 50-yard touchdown.

    So Williams is publicly praising Collins, no one from the Browns privately disputed that, and he led the Browns in tackles with seven.

    So why be critical of Collins, who according to, the website that tracks professional sports contracts, is the sixth-highest paid linebacker in the league on his deal averaging $12.5 million per year?

    It's hard to believe your eyes are lying.

    Get on Twitter and type in Jamie Collins. Everyone with a TV saw a guy who looked like he was giving half-effort at best. The plan was to ask Collins about this, but he was gone before reporters were allowed in the postgame locker room, leaving behind in his locker two plastic cups filled with pineapple pieces, a plastic white fork sticking out of one tropical cube.

    Collins seems to have a habit, one that didn't just show up Sunday, of what I'm going to call "backgrounding." It's what happens when you don't get close enough to a play to get posterized -- which is what everyone calls it in basketball when a defender has a dunk or great offensive play made right on his head.

    Collins usually doesn't get posterized. You have to throw yourself into the play for that to happen.

    Too often, he doesn't get close enough to the play to get into focus for the poster. 

    He's just close enough to be in the background. He's there as another Browns defender gets posterized. 

    Watch this perfect touchdown throw from Patrick Mahomes to tight end Travis Kelce, who catches it over Browns safety Jabrill Peppers. Peppers is responsible for the coverage, and he plays it pretty well, beaten by two elite offensive players. There, floating in the middle of the field, turning to watch Kelce make the grab without making any kind of play on the ball, without jumping to try to tip the pass or make a hit to jar the ball loose, is No. 51.

    Peppers, who tried, got posterized. Collins got backgrounded.


    Maybe there was nothing Collins could do there. Floating in coverage in the middle of the field, he couldn't be everywhere at once.

    But Collins seems to float a lot. He wasn't quite there on Hunt's 1-yard run at the goal line, floating in the middle just enough to be easily blocked by a tight end as Hunt scored.


    I watched Collins exclusively for about three-quarters of the game Sunday, and his plan often seems to be to get in the area of a play but hope someone else makes the tackle. If that doesn't happen, or the ball carrier cuts right into him, he'll grab him.

    But, at $12.5 million, he doesn't seem to mind letting someone else make a play.

    Williams didn't complain about Collins. The pineapple couldn't speak on Collins behalf. This column would be harsher if Collins had been able to say his peace.

    But Williams, who demands effort from his players from the moment the alarm clock goes off, has seven more games in charge here. The Browns have a future and a plan. On Sunday, they had a new quarterback on defense that a lot of people thought was phoning it in.

    Williams said he looks for effort day by day. You wonder how he could have seen it from the linebacker running the defense Sunday.

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers (1-8) wrap up their two-game road trip against the Orlando Magic (3-6) on Monday night.

    ORLANDO -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (1-8) wrap up their two-game road trip against the Orlando Magic (3-6) on Monday night. 

    When: 7 p.m. 

    Where: Amway Center

    TV: FoxSports Ohio 

    Radio: WTAM 1100 AM; WMMS 100.7 FM, La Mega 87.7 FM

    Online: FoxSports Go apps

    Last meeting: The Cavs got blown out by the Magic 116-98 on Feb. 6, 2018. 

    Cavs minute: Since winning Larry Drew's debut game as acting coach, the Cavaliers have lost two straight by an average of 25.5 points. ... The Cavs have lost six of nine games by double figures. ... This is the first of three contests between the Cavs and Magic in the 2018-19 campaign, with the final two meetings both coming in March (3-3 at CLE and 3-14 at ORL). ... Dating back to Feb. 8, 2013, the Cavs hold a 19-2 record against the Magic, which includes a 9-1 mark on the road. ... The lone road loss came last February. ... Larry Nance Jr. will play in his 200th career game with an appearance Monday night. ... JR Smith (577) needs two 3-pointers to pass Daniel Gibson (578) for the fifth-most 3-pointers made in Cavaliers history. .. Smith returned to Cleveland's rotation Saturday night and scored a team-high 14 points. ... After a 56-point performance from the bench on Saturday, the Cavs' reserves have now put up at least 40 points in eight consecutive games, their longest streak since a nine-game stretch in November 2010. ... Jordan Clarkson has tallied double figures in scoring in all nine games this season. ... Collin Sexton ranks sixth among rookies in points per game (11.1) and seventh in assists (2.2). 

    Magic minute: Orlando snapped its four-game losing streak with a 117-110 win against the Spurs in the first game of a back-to-back Sunday night. ... The Magic have lost four straight at home, with their lone win coming in the opener. ... Jonathan Isaac missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury. ... Aaron Gordon scored 26 points against the Spurs, his third game this season reaching the 20-point mark. Nikola Vucevic, Orlando's leading scorer, has hit double-digits in all nine games. ... By scoring 117 points in the win against the Spurs, the Magic are now averaging more than 100 points, finally joining the 29 other teams and making it all NBA team to average something above that number. 

    Probable starters


    F Cedi Osman

    F Sam Dekker

    C Tristan Thompson 

    G Rodney Hood

    G George Hill


    F Wes Iwundu

    F Aaron Gordon

    C Nikola Vucevic

    G D.J. Augustin

    G Evan Fournier

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    "I think everybody matches up pretty well," Myles Garrett said of the Browns defense vs. the Kansas City offense. But the Browns didn't come close to having everybody Sunday. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns pass defense, ranked first in the NFL according to the DVOA formula at, is the real Kansas City comparison point here.

    That wasn't the Browns pass defense Sunday.

    Of course the Browns want quarterback Baker Mayfield to follow the path of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But when the Browns talk about the Kansas City offense, it's not just Mahomes. 

    It's everything. It's a collection of talent in a perfect scheme, and it's putting pressure on you every moment of every play. You never know what's coming next, but you know it could burn you.

    In the right context, defensive end Myles Garrett thought the Browns could handle that, with a defense that player for player could match a KC offense featuring game breakers at receiver (Tyreek Hill), tight end (Travis Kelce) and running back (Kareem Hunt), all of it led by the best young QB in the game.

    "I think everybody matches up pretty well," Garrett said after the Browns 37-21 loss Sunday. "They have a great plan and they execute it very well and they have a nice tempo they go with and they get the ball out of (Mahomes') hand pretty quick. So it's hard to get back there (and get pressure). It goes out quick, then he throws it deep to (Hill), then the next play might be Kareem.

    "Everybody is getting touches, so you don't know where it's coming from next."

    Dream of the moment when you hear an opponent talk about the Browns in the same way.

    The dream should probably be about this defense.

    Mayfield can aspire to the Mahomes path, but the Browns now just need to add their Hill, Kelce and Hunt. Don't bet on Antonio Callaway, David Njoku and Nick Chubb going three for three in reaching that level.

    But if you're looking for a Brown to lead a unit at a Mahomes level, maybe look at Garrett.

    Maybe cornerback Denzel Ward is your Hill and linebacker Joe Schobert your Kelce and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah or defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi or safety Jabrill Peppers or safety Damarious Randall some version of your Hunt.

    Kansas City is winning with electric offense and below average defense.

    If and when the Browns win, the best bet is that the defense lights it up in Cleveland. It's the defense that could have opposing offenses fretting that they "don't know where it's coming from."

    That's why you just want to see this defense healthy.

    Injuries kept Schobert, Randall and cornerback Terrance Mitchell out Sunday. Ward left with an injury, as did corner E.J. Gaines and linebacker Christian Kirksey.

    Ideally, the back seven the Browns wanted to put on the field Sunday was Kirksey, Schobert-Jamie Collins at linebacker, Mitchell and Ward at corner and Peppers and Randall at safety.

    By the second half, five of those seven were out.

    So what are you supposed to do against an offense like that?

    "It doesn't matter how many yards they get, you try to force them to get field goals, and you try to have more conversions for us on third downs than they have conversions," Garrett said. "Just have to make sure that when that time comes to get off the field that you do. You can't keep letting them extend the drive, and that's when those great offenses make plays and get touchdowns."

    To the boxscore: The Chiefs scored touchdowns on each of their first five full drives, interrupted only by a desperation interception at the end of the half.

    Those five TD drives went 99, 76, 90, 95 and 21 yards. The Chiefs converted all four of their third downs on those five drives.

    Garrett said the Browns had to do the best with what they had. They didn't have everyone. But they also didn't come close to stopping Kansas City.

    The plan to hold the Chiefs to field goals didn't work until the seventh drive early in the fourth quarter, and by that time the Browns were down 34-21.

    "I think we ran into some good offenses, and guys who can pass the ball well and run the ball well, " Garrett said of the way the defense is trending, in the last four weeks giving up 38 to San Diego, 26 to Tampa Bay, 33 to Pittsburgh and 37 to the Chiefs. "It's hard to stop both."

    They have stopped neither lately.

    The overall DVOA numbers, a smart formula for overall performance, had the Browns as the 27th-ranked team in the NFL entering the weekend. That was with the No. 3 overall defense, the No. 30 offense and the No. 31 special teams. 

    The Chiefs had the No. 1 offense, and the overall No. 1 ranking, yet their defense was only No. 26.

    One part of the team was carrying the Chiefs. That faced the part of the Browns that should be carrying them. But we didn't see anything close to the real Browns defense.

    Mitchell is likely out for the season because of a broken arm, but Randall, Ward, Gaines, Kirksey and Schobert will be back.

    Over the final seven games, that group should give the Browns the same kind of confidence that the offense gives Kansas City. Not to that level, but moving that direction. That's what the Browns felt early giving up 21 to Pittsburgh, 18 to New Orleans, 17 to the Jets and 9 to Baltimore.

    If that feeling doesn't return, then injuries weren't the only problem.

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    Doug Lesmerises and Stephen Means break down the matchup on the ground in East Lansing on Saturday. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer's quick one-sentence description as he began his news conference Monday was about all Ohio State fans need to know about Saturday's game at Michigan State.

    "They're playing as good a defense as there is in the country," Meyer said.

    So what's Ohio State going to do about that? Consider ...

    * The Spartans are No. 1 in the nation in run defense, allowing 71.7 yards per game.

    * They are No. 98 in pass defense, allowing 253.4 yards per game.

    * They are No. 22 in total defense, allowing 322.1 yards per game.

    * And they are No. 19 in scoring defense, allowing 19 points per game.

    Let's stack all that up against Ohio State's offense. Because this game will come down to whether the Buckeyes can score. If they can, the Spartans, who are 111th in the nation in points per game at 23.4, won't be able to keep up.

    Run game: Ohio State offense No. 55, Michigan State defense No. 1

    Pass game: Ohio State offense No. 3, Michigan State defense No. 98

    Overall yards: Ohio State offense No. 5, Michigan State defense No. 22

    Points: Ohio State offense No. 10, Michigan State defense No. 19

    The Buckeyes ran for 229 yards against Nebraska and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Can they do it against the Spartanas?

    "That's what we're working on right now," Meyer said. "Obviously you're facing the number one rush defense in the country coming up this next week.

    "But our offensive line played very well and our backs, that was their best pad level game as far as dropping their pads and getting through those holes."

    Stephen Means and I talked more about this in the video above, asking whether the run game of Saturday will show up in East Lansing.

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    Haskins' awkward slide against Nebraska was a reminder he shouldn't even try.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The slide? Yeah, Urban Meyer saw it, too. 

    "I know the one you're talking about," Ohio State's coach said Monday. "It wasn't the most graceful."

    The question was about Dwayne Haskins running the ball, and the allusion was to his awkward slide against Nebraska that started a few yards before it absolutely needed to.

    But .... it doesn't matter.

    Because Haskins can't run. Everyone knows it. And Ohio State doesn't need him to.

    The fear with Ohio State's offense before the season was that the Buckeyes would not adjust their style to their new quarterback.

    It turns out that maybe Ohio State adjusted too much.

    As the Buckeyes work back to middle ground with three games left in the regular season, the last thing anyone should want is for Haskins to run more. You should not complain that he can't run, you should not insist that he should run. You should be grateful the Buckeyes allowed Haskins to tear apart defenses with his arm this season.

    And you should prepare for potentially the best OSU offense yet, which would pair Haskins with a tailback run game that works.

    Never, never, never has more Haskins on the ground been the answer. Forget his 22-yard scramble against Michigan last year. He's bigger, stronger, better and less mobile now. But that was never him.

    No one asks Dre'Mont Jones to play cornerback, no one asks J.K. Dobbins to play left tackle and no one should ask Haskins to be a dual-threat runner.

    Before the season, I predicted Haskins would carry the ball fewer than 70 times this season, knowing that in Meyer's previous six seasons, OSU quarterbacks ran it 236, 228, 243, 179, 217 and 168 times.

    Haskins has 38 carries for 45 yards. He's on pace for 60 carries in a 14-game season. 


    Ohio State switched to a pass-first offense with no QB run this season but lost the tailback run game in the process. That was smarter than keeping Haskins in a zone-read system where he would have carried it 10 times per game. But it also moved the Buckeyes too far the wrong direction.

    Against Nebraska, they tried to get it back. But not with Haskins. 

    Meyer wants him to get as much as possible on scrambles and then get down. He may as well just throw it in the stands.

    He can really throw. If this new run game tweak works, Ohio State can win with that.

    Buckeye Take is a quick 300- to 400-word column on a single aspect of Ohio State football. We're trying to replicate in written form the feel of our Buckeye Talk Podcast, where we drop a multitude of opinions every week. We know not all of you listen to the pod (though you should), and we don't want you to miss out on what we're thinking about the Buckeyes. So enjoy Buckeye Take, which may become a regular feature here.


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    Drew and the Cavaliers reached an agreement Monday evening, a little more than an hour before tipoff in Orlando.

    ORLANDO -- Larry Drew is no longer the "voice" of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He's the head coach for the remainder of the season -- and possibly beyond.

    Drew and the Cavaliers reached an agreement Monday evening, a little more than an hour before tipoff in Orlando.

    "We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Coach Drew to continue leading the team on the court. He brings important experience and many qualities that we expect to translate well with our team as the head coach," general manager Koby Altman said. "We're looking forward to the ways he can impact the team and help our players continue to grow and find success."

    As part of the contract restructuring, Drew will receive a pay raise this season, league sources told

    There is also an option in his deal, which the Cavs control, that could make him head coach for the 2019-20 season. 

    If the Cavs choose not to keep him beyond this year, exercising their option and embarking on a broader coaching search, then Drew will receive a buyout payment. 

    "I first want to thank Dan Gilbert for being patient through this whole process," Drew said. "Certainly when these things happen, you just don't know what the outcome is going to be. But he was patient through this whole thing as far as negotiation was concerned. I really want to personally thank him for that along with Koby Altman. We sat down and been on the phone numerous times and they had been on the phone with my agent and just glad we were able to get it done."   

    Structuring the contract with these specifics allows the Cavs to get a look at Drew in this environment and determine if he's the right coach to oversee the development of these young players before making a final call.

    It also brings some much needed stability to an organization that has been teetering lately.

    "Hopefully calmer waters ahead," a source told

    Drew said prior to Monday's game against the Magic that his finalized deal allows him to focus better on turning this season around. 

    "I've been in this situation before both as a player and as a coach and I know the importance of having defined leadership on board," Drew said. "Because players just look at things in a different perspective if they don't feel whoever is in charge is going to be there or part of the future. When I say the future I mean the immediate future.

    "It was good that it did happen so there's clarity and there's no grey area. Because there's no grey area me and my staff can really just roll our sleeves up and really just try and give our all into helping this team be successful. Is it a big task? Yes it is. I embrace the challenge, my staff embraces the challenge so that's No. 1. Then see where things go."    

    Drew was named associate head coach in September of 2016. He took over as "acting" coach when Tyronn Lue was fired on Oct. 28. 

    Drew will not be adding any new coaches to his staff. He also said there haven't been any conversations between him and Altman yet about what needs to happen for the remainder of this year for Drew to stick around long term. 

    "The discussion that we had and we're on the same page moving forward with what we have and what we want to accomplish," Drew said. "Everybody knows with Collin (Sexton) we want him to develop and do everything in our power to put him in position to be successful. We're going to try and move forward and keep this team competitive and put us in a better position as far as wins and losses are concerned." 

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    The U.S. Olympic Committee is moving to revoke USA Gymnastics' status as the governing body for the sport at the Olympic level, meting out the nuclear option to an organization that has botched its own reorganization in the wake of a sex-abuse scandal involving former team doctor Larry Nassar.

    The U.S. Olympic Committee is moving to revoke USA Gymnastics' status as the governing body for the sport at the Olympic level, meting out the nuclear option to an organization that has botched its own reorganization in the wake of a sex-abuse scandal involving former team doctor Larry Nassar.

    In an open letter to the gymnastics community Monday, USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland said "you deserve better," and that the challenges facing USA Gymnastics are more than it is capable of overcoming as currently constructed.

    The organization, even with a newly constituted board of directors, made repeated mistakes after the revelations Nassar molested Olympians while working as a volunteer.

    Those included the botched hiring of a program coordinator and an interim CEO to replace Kerry Perry, who lasted barely nine months on the job after replacing Steve Penny.

    "This is a situation where there are no perfect solutions," Hirshland said.

    The announcement comes only days after the U.S. team brought home nine medals from the World Championships in the first major meet on the lead-up to the Tokyo Games in 2020. Five of those were individual medals won by Olympic champion Simone Biles, who is among the athletes who have not hesitated to criticize the organization.

    By decertifying USA Gymnastics, the USOC is taking major action against an organization that couldn't grasp its own rebuilding. But the move also leaves a void that cannot be easily filled. In addition to supporting elite and Olympic athletes, USA Gymnastics serves more than 150,000 athletes in 3,000 clubs around the country. There is no other organization standing by to fill that need.

    The federal law that governs the USOC gives the federation final say on which organizations represent each sport at the Olympics, and also establishes a process to decertify the organizations. Hirshland said she has given USA Gymnastics the option of surrendering its recognition voluntarily.

    USAG issued a statement saying it was looking at the USOC letter "and is evaluating the best path forward for our athletes, professional members, the organization and staff."

    The statement detailed the challenges the new board has faced since taking over in June.

    It is in search of its fourth president and CEO in the last 19 months thanks to a series of resignations, all of them under pressure from the USOC or the gymnastics' community at large.

    Penny -- named as a co-defendant in several civil lawsuits filed by former elite gymnasts-- stepped down in March 2017. He was arrested last month and charged with destroying or hiding documents related to Nassar's activities at the Karolyi Ranch, the ex-national training center near Huntsville, Texas, where a number of gymnasts said Nassar abused them.

    The organization named Perry as Penny's replacement but her ineffectual tenure lasted barely nine months. She came under fire from several high-profile gymnasts, Biles included, for failing to offer a clear vision on the way forward and quit in September. Her resignation came shortly after the hiring, then quick removal, of Mary Lee Tracy as elite development coordinator; Tracy had been supportive of Nassar when the allegations first surfaced.

    USA Gymnastics brought on former U.S. Representative Mary Bono to serve as interim president and CEO last month. Bono didn't even make it a week, stepping away after drawing widespread criticism for an Instagram post she made shortly before she was hired that showed her coloring over the Nike logo on her golf cleats in response to the company putting former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick at the forefront of a marketing campaign.

    By EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer. AP Sports Writer Will Graves contributed to this report.

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    Sam Dekker injured his left ankle early in the third quarter and will not return to Monday night's game against the Orlando Magic.

    ORLANDO -- Sam Dekker injured his left ankle early in the third quarter and will not return to Monday night's game against the Orlando Magic. 

    Dekker went down in agony while trying to slow down a transition attempt and stayed on the ground writhing in pain until trainer Steve Spiro and teammates assisted Dekker back to the locker room. Dekker couldn't put any weight on his left foot. 

    He was replaced by JR Smith, who spent some time playing the 4 in the second half. 

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    For the most part, Drew pushed that objective to the side on Monday night. He wanted to leave Orlando with a victory so he tried to ride a few of his veterans to the finish line. Only they couldn't close it out.

    ORLANDO -- After a furious second-half comeback, with plenty of key plays in critical moments and a brilliant third quarter, the Cleveland Cavaliers threw away their chance at a much-needed win in the closing seconds.


    Cedi Osman, Kyle Korver and George Hill all made costly mistakes late, leading to a crushing 102-100 loss against the Orlando Magic. 

    Following JR Smith's clutch 3-pointer with 41.9 seconds to put the Cavs up by five points, what seemed to be the dagger, with Smith validating head coach Larry Drew sticking with him, the Cavs were outscored 7-0 the rest of the way and left Orlando feeling like they squandered a win.  

    The biggest blunder came from Osman.

    With the shot clock off and Cleveland clinging to a three-point lead, Osman turned the ball over. All he had to do was hold on and wait for the Magic to foul him. Make one free throw and it's once again a two-possession game.

    Instead, Osman made the play he couldn't, trying to snap a pass into traffic, which gave the Magic life. 

    Then came an inbounds pass to Korver that was swatted out of his hands. Another turnover.

    Korver and the Cavs protested that he was fouled on the play, but to no avail. That miscue led to another Magic tally, as Evan Fournier hit a free throw to tie the game.

    The Cavs had another crack at it. They were in the driver's seat still. A missed shot and it goes to overtime. A made basket and it's a victory.

    But Hill attacked early, used a Tristan Thompson screen and tried forcing a shot that was blocked by starting center Nikola Vucevic. With 1.8 seconds remaining, the officials overturned the call on the floor, said it touched Hill last and Orlando got the final possession.

    The Magic made it count. 

    Fournier hit the game-winning shot from the top of the key following Osman's overplay -- another untimely error. 

    Drew said early Monday morning that mistakes are bound to happen, especially with a young team. The goal is to learn from them. To not make the same ones repeatedly.

    With a win in their clutches, that proved prophetic. 

    That late-game collapse put a damper on a night the Cavaliers fought, the kind of competitiveness players have been demanding from one another. It put a damper what could have been a chance for the chaotic Cavs to steady themselves following a tumultuous first month.

    Thompson recorded season-highs in points (19) and rebounds (16). He took it upon himself as one of the vets to lead by example. But he also missed a pair of free throws at the 3:39 mark of the fourth quarter.

    Hill scored a season-best 22 points on 10-of-12 from the field, hitting a few important baskets in the fourth quarter. But the one he missed, the one that was blocked off him, was the most decisive. 

    Jordan Clarkson came off the bench for 14 points. But he got in the way of that Osman pass intended for Hill and deflected it to D.J. Augustin before tackling him to the ground and sending him to the stripe.

    Smith added 14 as well. 

    This season is partially about player development. One of the primary goals is to get Larry Nance Jr., Collin Sexton, Osman and other youngsters meaningful minutes in pressure-packed situations, hoping they can grow in that kind of competitive environment, experience that firsthand.

    For the most part, Drew pushed that objective to the side on Monday night. He wanted to leave Orlando with a victory, understanding the importance. That's why Drew tried to ride a few of his veterans to the finish line. It looked like the right call, Drew putting his mark on the second win of the season.

    Only the old guard couldn't close it out.

    Call it another teaching moment, especially for Osman. A lesson on what not to do at the end of a game.

    From here, the hope for the Cavs is that Osman learns from it. And next time he's in that same situation, he will make a different decision.  

    Third-quarter burst

    The Cavaliers walked off the floor looking frustrated after a terrible end to the first half. But they quickly turned it around in the third quarter, outscoring the Magic by 20 points and taking a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter.

    Cleveland used its feisty defense to spark the comeback, holding the Magic to 12 points in the quarter.

    The Cavs also stopped making careless mistakes on the offensive end, which led to a much better defensive effort. Their shoddy offensive possessions have taken a toll on the defense at times, making the numbers look even worse.

    After committing eight turnovers in the first half, the Cavs had just three in the quarter. That limited Orlando's transition opportunities as well, holding the Magic to three fastbreak points in the quarter.

    Dekker goes down

    Sam Dekker, starting in place of the injured Kevin Love, hobbled off the court early in the third quarter after suffering a left ankle injury. Dekker was helped back to the locker room, unable to put any weight on his foot and was quickly ruled out for the rest of the night. 

    From a depth perspective, this is one injury the Cavs can't afford. They are already thin in the frontcourt, forced to use Osman, Smith and even Korver for stretches in Love's absence. If Dekker misses any time, the Cavs won't have any healthy 4s. 

    Up next

    The Cavaliers return home to play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. 

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    Nearly 40 minutes after his critical mistake played a key role in Cleveland's painful loss against the Orlando Magic, Osman was still reeling.

    ORLANDO -- With his hood covering his wet hair and Beats headphones around his neck, Cedi Osman stared down at the floor inside the visitor's locker room at the Amway Center.

    He was shaken. Disappointed. Sorry.

    Nearly 40 minutes after his critical mistake played a key role in Cleveland's painful 102-100 loss against the Orlando Magic, Osman was still reeling.

    "Obviously it was a bad pass. That was a huge mistake. I think it cost us the game," Osman said.

    Aaron Gordon had just made a basket for the Magic, cutting the Cavaliers' lead to three points. With the shot clock turned off, JR Smith inbounded the ball to George Hill who snapped a pass to Osman alone across the timeline.

    All Osman had to do was hold the ball, force the Magic to foul and cap a sizable comeback at the free throw line. Instead, Osman tried to get the ball back to Hill, as the veteran point guard was streaking down the opposite side with about three steps on the closest defender.

    "I just saw G Hill because he was wide open and that layup, like if he scored fast the clock will go and at that time JC was running through the middle and I didn't see JC," Osman said, as he replayed his biting mistake. "I should just keep it in my hands and we (win) the game. It was a bad decision."

    It wasn't the only one on this night. At the end of that miscue was Clarkson colliding with D.J. Augustin, being whistled for a foul and sending Augustin -- a 90 percent free-throw shooter -- to the stripe where he cut into the lead even more. That applied immense pressure to the still-learning Cavs and they were visibly rattled. 

    Seconds later, Kyle Korver had an inbounds pass stolen away from him.

    Instead of going to the line with a chance to increase the lead to three points, the Magic were racing to the other end of the floor where Evan Fournier was fouled.

    There was also George Hill attacking quickly, not solidifying the final possession while giving Orlando one last shot at the game-winner.

    Untimely blunders and unfavorable whistles led to Cleveland's undoing. Osman, however, could only think about one play.

    He wasn't sulking over his defense against Fournier on the game-winning shot. Osman felt he did his best and contested the shot well. For him, it was all about that "stupid turnover."

    "It was a huge disappointment from myself," he said. "That was a mistake that for myself as a professional for a lot of years should not have made that. Just a bad decision and I have to live with it. I said I'm sorry to the guys about the game. That's how I feel. It was on me tonight."

    Following the game, head coach Larry Drew told Osman to "keep his head up."

    "He knows that if he could do it all over again he would've held onto the ball," Drew said. "Be strong with the ball, make them foul us. We'll learn from that. We get in this situation again, we'll know what to do."

    Tristan Thompson, one of the team leaders who recorded season-highs in points (19) and rebounds (16), had a similar message before heading back to Cleveland.

    "Many plays and many stretches where we could have put ourselves in better position," Thompson said. "The last minute is a great learning experience for us. It's great to have Cedi out there, Rodney out there and Jordan Clarkson out there to be in those situations. We trust them.

    "I think it's a great learning experience for them and if ever in that situation again we will learn from that and continue to grow. I think no one should hold their head down. As long as we compete we will give ourselves a chance to win ballgames and that has to be our mentality moving forward and that's what we did today."

    A win is the only thing that will help break the Cavs out of this rut. Everyone understands that. But all was not lost on Monday night. 

    As hard as it is for some to hear and as difficult as it is for some within the organization to admit, the Cavaliers are rebuilding. There are steps along this arduous journey. With that comes growing pains. They need to show pride in sufficient performances like these because they're no longer a given.

    Many of these players are being thrust into new spots. It takes time to learn how to win. It takes experience in those pressure-packed situations before being fully comfortable.  

    When the Cavs were plowing through the Eastern Conference and earning trips to the Finals, Osman was either overseas or cheering from the bench. Same with Clarkson, who also earned meaningful crunch time minutes on Monday night. When the Cavs won their first game of the season against the Atlanta Hawks, it was a rout, no need to make the proper plays at the end.

    Monday was the first time they had taken a lead into the fourth quarter. It was the first time they were in a one-possession game that late. It was the first time they had to go to someone other than LeBron James to seal a win in the closing seconds. Admittedly, they didn't handle it well.

    But Osman, who owned his mistake, was the only person leaving the Amway Center with his head down because efforts like Monday, apart from the ghastly final 30 seconds, provide a roadmap to future success.

    "The more you're in those situations, the more you know what to do," Drew said. "And like I said, I'm a big stickler in, even losses, let's make sure we have a takeaway. And the takeaway in those situations, we know what the takeaway is. We'll be in that situation again. We put ourselves in that position game after game after game, we'll win some games."

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    NCAA senior VP for basketball Dan Gavitt says new metric was needed to replace outdated RPI for NCAA Tournament selection process. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - The 2018-2019 college basketball officially tips off Tuesday night with several marquee games, helping turn the focus of the sport from the criminal courts to the basketball courts.

    The sport was dealt a blow in late October when two former Adidas employees and an aspiring sports agent were found guilty of fraud for funneling money to the families of recruits who then committed to college teams sponsored by Adidas.

    What impact, if any, that has on college basketball remains to be seen, beginning tonight when many of the top teams begin their seasons.

    In the Champions Classic in Indianapolis, No. 1 Kansas will play No. 10 Michigan State at 6 p.m., followed by No. 2 Kentucky against No. 4 Duke. Both games are on ESPN.

    Locally, Cleveland State begins its season at Davidson at 7 p.m. tonight. On Saturday, CSU plays host to the Coaches vs. Cancer doubleheader featuring Akron vs. Youngstown State at 4 p.m. and CSU vs. Kent State 7 p.m.

    Akron also is home Tuesday against Cedarville at 7 p.m.

    Recently, Dan Gavitt, senior Vice President NCAA Basketball for men and for women, was in Cleveland to speak with the Mid-American Conference athletic directors.

    Gavitt has no vote on the annual NCAA Tournament selection committee to pick the 68 teams for the tournament, but is arguably the most knowledgeable person in the room, considering he watches from 30 to 40 games a season in person along with 100 or more on TV.

    He is the NCAA liaison for all the different NCAA basketball committees, for basketball administrators, officials, coaches. He reports directly to NCAA president Mark Emmert.

    Over the last year Emmert has empowered a commission to come up with changes in the sport, as a counter to the FBI investigation into the sport. In addition to the recently concluded trial in New York, more trials are still to come.

    Also, late this summer, the NCAA passed new recruiting legislation, effective in 2019, that will greatly impact college basketball recruiting as an internal response to the FBI probe. It has not been well received.

    Gavitt, son of longtime basketball administrator Dave Gavitt, answered a few questions for The Plain Dealer about where college basketball currently stands, and the major change coming in selecting teams for the 2019 NCAA Tournament and beyond. The interview was conducted before the end of the trial in New York.

    Q: How do you see the current state of college basketball, 2018-2019 season?

    A:  On the court, I think the game of college basketball is very healthy. The level of play, the style of play, the talent level and the coaching in college basketball is really strong right now. Obviously there are some off the court challenges. But I think the game itself, globally and collegiately is very healthy.

    Q: You mentioned off-the-court challenges. What is your view on the trial in New York?

    A: It is very unfortunate for the game, but we don't have any more inside knowledge on the trial (other) than what we read. But clearly it is a black eye for the sport, and unfortunate.

    Q: Doesn't it seem, so far, to be the summer basketball circuit (AAU tournaments), that's the breeding ground for these issues that many believe?

    A: Yes, I think time will tell, when all these trials, not just this one but the ones set for the spring play out. We'll have the ability then to connect the dots, to the fullest extent possible. You know, we're trying to work collaboratively with everyone involved with the game, and cares about the game.

    Q: It seems like some of the NCAA decisions regarding changes to summer basketball are - I'll say premature instead of heavy handed - based on what we've heard from the trial. What is your opinion on that?

    A: I think the (Mark Emmert's basketball) commission tried to recommend and find some improvements without upending the business altogether. They left one (out of three) of the certified events for the first weekend in July. They did change the other two certified events weekends, one to the fall and they (coaches) can't be out and recruit there.

    And the third weekend is the start of our NCAA youth development camp, which I think the goal there is to go back to college campuses, having a little more control around them, more education, so the prospects and their families understand what this all means, and what the opportunities are.

    The intent here is not to put anybody (shoe companies, AAU) out of business. There's a lot of good that happens in the summer.

    Q: Explain the new NCAA Tournament metrics, and how are these metrics going to change the opportunities for more teams outside of the power conferences, or is this a new way to get the same results?

    A: Well, let me first say the NCAA evaluation tool is a new more contemporary, more sophisticated, analytics tool than the RPI. The RPI was 37 years old. This metric is both more of a results oriented metric and well as a predictive oriented metric. It has both elements to it. The RPI was results oriented.

    So, we think this is better way to evaluate the strength of teams. However, just to let you know, the goal of the new metric was not to try to solve something that's really a structural issue in college basketball. Part of the challenging with mid-majors is scheduling, and getting opportunities to play games at home or on a neutral sight against some of the best teams in the country.

    No metric can solve that, and that was not the intent of this, either.

    Q: But the problem is, you see these power conferences going to 20 conference games, instead of scheduling the quality mid-major basketball teams. That does not help opportunities for scheduling, it eliminates them. Many major conference teams will play some neutral site games, but rarely play more than one or two true non-conference road games. Those are the kind of things that need to be addressed.

    A: Yep. And the other thing is, and the committee has talked about this, is how do you evaluate a team based on the true numbers of opportunities against high quality opponents.

    Q: Finally, you see from 30 to 40 games in person every season. How do you get the selection committee members to actually go out and see more teams in person, instead of relying on TV and the built-in biases that come with that.

    A: Well, they're seeing a lot more than you think they are. They are doing their homework. I have to think about that one, but I do think they are prepared.

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    How the Buckeyes arrived on a red-zone package that could cure the offense.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Firmly in the red zone, trailing by five with just under six minutes left in the third quarter Saturday, Ohio State finally inserted a highly-rated redshirt freshman into the game in an effort to fix the Buckeyes failings inside the 20-yard line.

    It wasn't 5-foot-11, 207-pound quarterback Tate Martell.

    It was 6-foot-4, 315-pound guard Wyatt Davis, who was taking the field in his new role as the Buckeyes tight end in their jumbo package.

    They're both players everyone wanted. Martell was the No. 56 overall recruit in the Class of 2017. Davis was No. 24 overall. Both are natives of Southern California, though Martell played high school football in Las Vegas at national power Bishop Gorman.

    Either might have helped. The Buckeyes went big.

    After failing to score a touchdown on eight trips inside the 20-yard line against Minnesota and Purdue, the Buckeyes had to change something. All year, we have asked about Martell and whether a zone-read package with Martell as a true run threat at quarterback would make sense in the red zone.

    We asked because Urban Meyer is obsessed with evening up the numbers in the run game, so that 11 defenders don't get to attack 10 offensive players, with the quarterback out of the play after handing off.

    But there is more than one way to even up that battle. Instead of a quick, little quarterback, Meyer and the Buckeyes settled on a big, tough tight end.

    How'd they get to that point?

    By diving in over their week off between the Purdue loss and the Nebraska game, Meyer hammering time and again how much studying the staff did. They looked at film of other teams. They revisited what Meyer has done in the past. They engaged in a healthy offensive debate among the coaches led by Meyer and offensive coordinators Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson.

    "That's exactly what goes on," Meyer said Monday. "First of all, it's our offense."

    That's what Meyer always says. It's the Ohio State (aka the Meyer) offense, which is a spread attack built on a power run game, often with a quarterback providing that power, but a tailback can do it, too.

    "So we'll go back in time and say, 'What did we have, what did we do when we didn't have the J.T. (Barrett) or the (Tim) Tebow or even Alex (Smith) as a runner?" Meyer said.

    In Barrett at Ohio State, Tebow at Florida and Smith at Utah, Meyer had quarterbacks who could become red zone battering rams. 

    In 2004, Smith had 10 of Utah's 36 rushing touchdowns (28 percent).

    At Florida, Tebow had 57 of Florida's 185 rushing touchdowns in his career (31 percent).

    With the Buckeyes, Barrett had 43 of Ohio State's 147 rushing touchdowns (29 percent).

    Overall, between 2004 (his second season at Utah) and 2017, in 13 seasons Meyer's teams compiled 450 rushing touchdowns. Of those, 175 came from players who took the snap as a quarterback. That's 39 percent

    This season, the Buckeyes have only 15 rushing touchdowns. Of those, three are by quarterbacks - one by Dwayne Haskins and two by Martell. That's 20 percent. The quarterbacks are really much less of a red-zone run threat than that. Without Martell, it's really zero percent.

    So Meyer said the Buckeyes see teams play defenses that almost force them to throw in the red zone. But that's not what they want to do.

    "When teams are loading the box on you, especially last week and a defense a lot of teams are playing down there is called Bear Zero, which is just two extra hats wherever you go," Meyer said. "So you have to throw it. And we want to run the ball."

    So they had to find a way to run - somehow.

    The result? 

    More tight ends. Not a different quarterback.

    Day was asked directly during the bye week if more tight ends in the red zone was a consideration.

    "We're looking at all those things," he said then. "It's a good point. You get a bigger surface over there and maybe the extra hat in some form is a little bit further away."

    That's football coach talk for if you put another blocker on the line, by adding tight ends, you make it harder for the another defender, or "hat," to get to your running back.

    And then Day dove back into the discussion of evening up the numbers, and how not having a running quarterback makes that more difficult.

    So let's look hard at the numbers on Ohio State's three red-zone touchdown runs against Nebraska, and how the numbers worked out.

    * The first red-zone touchdown, a J.K. Dobbins 10-yard run, saw the Buckeyes with two receivers and two tight ends. The wide sets of the receivers took two corners out of the play. That left nine defenders.

    Offset tight end Rashod Berry went in motion right and blocked an edge defender. Left tackle Thayer Munford and tight end Luke Farrell then each sealed off a defender on the left side to create a lane for Dobbins. 

    Seven OSU blockers clearly blocked seven Cornhuskers. That left two safeties unblocked, but they were late to the hole, and Dobbins lowered his head, took on both of them at the 2-yard line and dove into the end zone.

    Ohio State won that numbers game.

    * The Buckeyes failed on their next red-zone trip, to open the third quarter, when Haskins was intercepted in the red zone from the 18-yard line.

    They went back to the run next time. A 7-yard pass from the 14-yard line made it second-and-3 at the 7-yard line. In came the heavy package, with Davis on the right side of the line at tight end, and tight ends Jeremy Ruckert and Farrell in the backfield as lead blockers for Dobbins.

    Add in receiver Parris Campbell, and the Buckeyes had nine blockers.

    They blocked seven Cornhuskers, the six on the line and the first linebacker to hit a gap. But that left four defenders unaccounted for, and three unblocked Cornhuskers tackled Dobbins after a gain of 4 yards.

    The next play, with the same personnel, the Buckeyes won.

    Davis, again on the right side, stood up a linebacker. Farrell led to the right side and took out the edge defender. Ruckert slid across the formation on the snap and led Dobbins through a hole on the right side. Nine Buckeyes clearly blocked nine defenders, and the two free Nebraska players in the secondary were in a hole on the left side, out of the play while Dobbins plowed in on the right for a 3-yard touchdown.

    * On the last red zone trip, the Buckeyes went without the extra tight ends from the 10-yard line and took out five defenders with six blockers. Mike Weber met an unblocked linebacker and gained only a year.

    On second-and-goal from the 9-yard line, with extra tight ends again, the Buckeyes flipped it to Campbell as he came on a jet sweep from left to right. He took off for the right edge, with only three defenders who could tackle him.

    Right tackle Isaiah Prince took out the end, Farrell wiped out the linebacker and Ruckert led the way and eliminated the safety, as Campbell hit the end zone untouched.

    Three defenders, three blockers, and another numbers win.

    "The run game in the red zone, I think we pounded the ball in there pretty good," Meyer said after the win. "We worked ad nauseam at that. The amount of time that we spent at that was over the top, and I felt the line of scrimmage change."

    He liked the way Dobbins lowered his pads and took on free defenders. He thought Farrell played his best game as a Buckeye, and the tight end clearly made multiple big blocks. The Buckeyes named the entire offensive line as players of the game for what they did.

    Against Purdue, the Buckeyes made five red-zone trips and scored six points. Purdue, in that same game, made three red-zone trips and scored 21 points.

    That had to change. It did. Saturday saw four trips and 21 points.  

    "I'm just frustrated that we've done so many good things but didn't quite have a lot to show for it," Day said during the bye week. "We need to play better situational football.

    "We need to do a better job in that area. If we solve that, we're really where we want to be."

    They're there. Not with Martell, but with a change just as drastic and as vital.

    Maybe there's still a package eventually for the running QB. But the Buckeyes will certainly lean on Farrell, Ruckert and Davis as blockers who will even up the numbers.

    It was a big change. If it keeps working, it might change everything.

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    Additional evaluation, including an MRI at the Cleveland Clinic, confirmed a sprain.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Sam Dekker will be out approximately 2-4 weeks with a sprained left ankle. 

    Dekker went down awkwardly early in the third quarter of the Cavs' 102-100 loss against the Orlando Magic on Monday night and was assisted back to the locker room, unable to put any weight on his left foot. 

    Additional evaluation, including an MRI at the Cleveland Clinic Tuesday, confirmed a sprain. 

    Dekker entered the season as the team's lone backup power forward. He had been starting in place of the injured Kevin Love, who remains sidelined following surgery  on his left foot. Love was to be re-evaluated following six weeks from his operation, which was conducted on Nov. 2. 

    Without Love and Dekker, the Cavs are out of true 4s. Head coach Larry Drew has been using JR Smith, Cedi Osman and Kyle Korver at that spot in stretches. David Nwaba may also get a chance to fill some of those minutes. But Dekker's loss is significant, robbing Cleveland of what little depth it already had. 

    Dekker, 24, is averaging 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 18.8 minutes during his first season with the Cavaliers. 

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    Check here for tee times for the PGA Tour's Mayakoba Classic 2018 this week.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Ryan Armour, Patton Kizzire and Aaron Wise are among notables in the field at the PGA Tour's Mayakoba Classic 2018 this week in Mexico.

    Site: Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
    Course: El Camaleon GC at the Mayakoba Resort. Yardage: 6,987. Par: 71.
    Purse: $7.2 million. Winner's share: $1,296,000.
    Television: Thursday-Sunday, 1-4 p.m. (Golf Channel).
    Defending champion: Patton Kizzire.
    Last week: Bryson DeChambeau won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.
    FedExCup leader: Xander Schauffele.
    Notes: Jordan Spieth makes his first appearance in Mayakoba, and his final appearance before getting married. ... Rickie Fowler and Tony Finau give the field three of the top 15 players in the world. ... For the second straight week, a fall event on the PGA Tour has a higher strength-of-field rating than the Rolex Series event on the European Tour. ... Chris Stroud is the only player to compete at Mayakoba every year since it began in 2007. ... Abraham Ancer is among seven Mexican professionals in the field, three of whom have full PGA Tour cards. ... Fred Funk won the inaugural tournament at age 50. ... Graeme McDowell is the only player born outside the U.S. to have won in Mayakoba. ... Kizzire, who beat Fowler by one shot last year, won twice in four tournaments when he added a title at the Sony Open. He didn't have another top 10 the rest of the season and got the last spot into the Tour Championship.
    Next week: RSM Classic.
    (Fact box from Associated Press.)

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    Manny Machado's highly anticipated free agency period is starting and many are wondering what his price tag will be. Watch video

    Manny Machado's highly anticipated free agency period is starting and many are wondering what his price tag will be. Many feel his talent at the plate, and in the hole, warrant a huge contract. Others believe Machado has no business making all of that money when his desire and hustle have been questioned his entire career. What do you think?


    Do you want the complete package in terms of talent? Look no further than Manny Machado. Not only can he get you 35 home runs a year and bat above .300 with runners in scoring position, but he can also play Gold Glove-worthy defense at third base. 

    Manny Machado is one of the brightest stars in MLB. He is definitely worth $300 million.

    No one doubts Machado's talent, but is he worth all the trouble? His issues were on full display last season when he kicked Jesus Aguilar's foot off first base and showed lapses in hustle. This is a guy who acts like he's bigger than the game. No one should pay $300 million for this headache.

    Manny Machado not worth the trouble for the Yankees

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    The Buckeyes saw Kentucky drop behind them and West Virginia move ahead of them.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- More important things are happening in the world than Ohio State staying No. 10 in the second College Football Playoff rankings, so we're going to keep this short.

    If something had really happened to shift the future of the Buckeyes, we'd let you know. 

    It didn't.

    No. 10 in the first rankings last week, the Buckeyes stayed there because they moved past former No. 9 Kentucky (which lost to Georgia), but were jumped by former No. 13 West Virginia (which beat Texas).

    Ohio State also remained behind two-loss LSU, which fell from No. 3 to only No. 7 after getting smoked and shutout by No. 1 Alabama. There's a little too much SEC love there.

    But it won't matter. As before, the Buckeyes have a playoff path, and if the 12-1 Big Ten champion is either Ohio State or current No. 4 Michigan, that Big Ten champion will probably make the playoff.

    It helped the Big Ten some that Michigan State appeared in the rankings at No. 18 after not making it last week. Five Big Ten teams were ranked: No. 4 Michigan, No. 10 Ohio State, No. 18 Michigan State, No. 20 Penn State and No. 21 Iowa.

    I have no idea why the 6-3 Hawkeyes are ranked. Too much Big Ten love.

    Here's the full playoff top 25, with how the teams moved from the week one to week two rankings.

    1. Alabama (even)

    2. Clemson (even)

    3. Notre Dame (up one)

    4. Michigan (up one)

    5. Georgia (up one)

    6. Oklahoma (up one)

    7. LSU (down four)

    8. Washington State (even)

    9. West Virginia (up four)

    10. Ohio State (even)

    11. Kentucky (down two)

    12. Central Florida (even)

    13. Syracuse (up six)

    14. North Carolina State (up seven)

    15. Florida (down four)

    16. Mississippi State (up two)

    17. Boston College (up five)

    18. Michigan State (jumped into poll)

    19. Texas (down two)

    20. Penn State (down six)

    21. Iowa (down five)

    22. Iowa State (up two)

    23. Fresno State (even)

    24. Auburn (jumped into poll)

    25. Washington (jumped into poll)

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers will try to snap their three-game losing streak, as they host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers (1-9) will try to snap their three-game losing streak, as they host the Oklahoma City Thunder (5-4) on Wednesday night. 

    When: 7 p.m. 

    Where: Quicken Loans Arena

    TV: FoxSports Ohio 

    Radio: WTAM 1100 AM; WMMS 100.7 FM, La Mega 87.7 FM

    Online: FoxSports Go apps

    Last meeting: The Cavs topped the Thunder 120-112 in Oklahoma City on Feb. 13, 2018. 

    Cavs minute: In the Cavs' loss against Orlando on Monday night, they had at least six players score in double figures for the sixth time this season (George Hill-22, Tristan Thompson-19, Jordan Clarkson-14, JR Smith-14, Rodney Hood-11, Cedi Osman-11). ... Since Oct. 30, Thompson is averaging a double-double, with 12.0 points and 11.0 rebounds. ... Smith (579 triples) moved past Daniel Gibson for the fifth-most 3-pointers made in franchise history. ... Osman recorded his second career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in 43 minutes against the Magic. ... The Cavs are 5-2 in the last seven games against the Thunder, which includes a 3-1 mark at The Q over that span. ... Sam Dekker (sprained left ankle) is out. Dekker has started five of nine games at power forward this season. ...  Kevin Love (foot surgery) will miss his seventh straight game. Love's initial timetable has him sidelined until at least December. 

    Thunder minute: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City's leader in points and assists, will not play because of a sprained ankle. ... The Thunder are 0-2 without Westbrook this season. ... The Thunder have won five straight games since getting off to a slow start, winning by an average of 11.6 points over this current stretch. ... Oklahoma City leads the league in steals per game (11.6) and most turnovers forced per game (19.2). ...  Paul George ranks first in the NBA with 2.56 steals per night.

    Probable starters:


    F Cedi Osman

    F JR Smith

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Rodney Hood

    G George Hill


    F Paul George

    F Jerami Grant

    C Steven Adams

    G Terrance Ferguson 

    G Dennis Schroder

    See Cavs stats

    See Thunder stats

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    The Baseball Hall of Fame's Today's Era induction committee's field includes Cleveland-connected Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Orel Hershiser, Charlie Manuel and George Steinbrenner.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Albert Belle, pending further review of his stormy career, just might end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame after all.

    Denied induction in the Baseball Writers of America voting years ago, Belle is one of three Cleveland Indians players, a manager and a Cleveland-born owner whom the Today's Game Era committee will consider for enshrinement on Dec.9.

    In addition to Belle, also nominated are Joe Carter, Orel Hershiser, Charlie Manuel and the late George Steinbrenner. Another nominee,  Davey Johnson, has a Cleveland connection as an opponent. 

    Albert Belle

    How will the committee, made up of 11 baseball writers and columnists, assess Belle's impact?

    Perhaps it could be his effect on the taunting fan in the left field stands whom he drilled with a fastball appendectomy scar high.

    Or the chin music he orchestrated for former Cleveland Press and Sports Illustrated photographer Tony Tomsic. His sin was to snap shots of Belle before a game with a long-range lens for an SI cover.

    Or sportscaster Hannah Storm, whom he cursed in the dugout during the World Series.

    What about the trick-or-treaters who egged Belle's house and survived when he  tried to make road pizza of them in his SUV?

    Then there's reliever Eric Plunk, who, when asked for his thoughts on the day Belle blew off the unveiling of a candy bar named for him, said: "I wouldn't  do a damn thing for that guy."

    Remember "The Great Wall,"  a distant, asymmetrical center field structure at old Municipal Stadium in the 1980s?  It was built to provide alleys to exploit the speed of Alex Cole?

    Asked if it were dismantled "because it was driving Albert crazy," manager Mike Hargrove said, "Wouldn't have to drive him far, would you?"

    Joe Carter

    Carter hit home runs in clusters rather than consistently.

    Before he hit the only walk-off homer to change a World Series defeat into victory  and to clinch the championship for Toronto, he was an MVP -- Most Valuable Protector -- for a jaunty local sports columnist.

    This fine fellow used the surname of struggling Indians' closer Ernie Camacho instead of "fire" in a piece that loosed critical thunderbolts at the pitcher.

    Fourth of July "Camachoworks" displays were referenced; mention was made of the Dalmatian usually found at the "Camacho house" and of the movie "Chariots of Camacho."

    An attempt to dismember the scribe failed when Carter, joined by Andre Thornton and clubhouse man Cy Buynak, held Camacho down in the clubhouse, pinning his arms and legs while the writer tiptoed around him.

    Buynak stood maybe five-feet tall and was nearly spherical in build. "Wow. It took three men to subdue Ernie," said the columnist, whom, blush, I know well.

    "Two and a half men," said a colleague.

    Neither of us received a penny from the TV series of that name that debuted years later.

    Orel Hershiser

    Was he a man of faith with a name that suggested a complicated toothbrush or a cheater? 

    In 1997 ALCS against the Tribe, Johnson, the Baltimore manager, was adamant that Hershiser threw a spitter.

    Wrote the Washington Post's Tony Kornheiser, "Local farmers believe the area's drought could be ended if Orel would come by and throw it around a little."

    Charlie Manuel

    The morning after the Yankees eliminated the Indians in the 1998 ALCS, Manuel, then the Tribe hitting coach, was asked about a crucial two-run triple by Derek Jeter.

    A favorite Manuel pupil, right fielder Manny Ramirez, raced to the wall, leaped high, arm straining .  . . and the ball nearly hit him in the foot, landing just above  the warning track.

    "I have no idea what that (expletive deleted) was doing," said Manuel.

    In the hood in ancient Greece, they called Oedipus that.

    George Steinbrenner

    After he bought a Florida racetrack, the native Clevelander and Yankees owner slapped on it the slogan "It's a whole new ballgame."

    The man who made winning at any cost his life's work owned a filly running in a stakes race there on a rainy day. Before the race, a tractor pulled a heavy roller behind it, "sealing" and compacting the sloppy track near the rail. 

    Guess whose horse had the pole position and won?

    It was the same old ballgame.

    Davey Johnson

    In the 1986 NLCS, the Mets' manager, Johnson, charging ball doctoring,  displayed  several foul balls that were scuffed and slashed between the seams in Houston ace Mike Scott's previous start.

    "You should have him autograph them," said a reporter.

    "He already has," said Johnson.

    Some of their names will be on Cooperstown plaques soon.

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    Doug Lesmerises and Stephen Means on what Ohio State is getting right and what the Buckeyes have to face in Michigan State and Michigan.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- No. 10 Ohio State isn't much of a favorite (just 3.5 points) at No. 18 Michigan State on Saturday, and the Buckeyes are looking like they'll be underdogs when they host No. 4 Michigan to end the regular season.

    Kind of a weird spot for Ohio State at the moment.

    At 8-1 and 5-1 in the Big Ten, are the Buckeyes about to play their best game of the year, or will they continue to be stuck and searching, at least in a few areas?

    On this episode of Buckeye Talk, new OSU writer Stephen Means joins for his first full midweek podcast, after debuting in the postgame podcast following the Buckeyes 36-31 win over Nebraska.

    You had a lot of questions for him about his food preferences, and we got to those. But first, we looked at the Buckeyes from a positive angle, as requested and suggested by one listener who found the postgame pod a little too negative.

    This isn't a perfect team, but for at least the first part of this episode, we looked at what is working for the Buckeyes and how it might continue. 

    Subscribe to Buckeye Talk at any of these places:

    Buckeye Talk on iTunes

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    Thank as always to and for supporting Buckeye Talk.

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    The Blue Devils destroyed No. 4 Kentucky, riding a talented group of first-year players. Watch video

    Duke's prodigious freshman class got its first real test passed with flying colors. The Blue Devils destroyed No. 4 Kentucky, riding a talented group of first-year players, and many are already seeing a national championship in this team's future. Still, many teams look great in November only to falter later in the year. It's too early to determine a champion. What do you think? 


    If you watched Duke obliterate Kentucky, you would understand why this team is destined for greatness. 

    From the top down, the Blue Devils have talent that has rarely been seen in college basketball. Zion Williamson was electrifying and R.J. Barrett looked unstoppable, but Cam Reddish and Tre Jones look like they will push this team to new heights. 

    There will be no team that can keep up with Duke. The Blue Devils will win the national championship. 

    Look out: Duke freshmen crush Kentucky, 118-84

    Every year, Duke is supposed to be the team to beat. The Blue Devils earned that reputation, but it doesn't mean they'll run their way through the season. 

    Like every other team, one bad loss can end an entire season of greatness. In 2012, Duke had a team expected by many to win a national championship, only it didn't. The school was upset by 15-seed Lehigh in the first round of the tournament. Even talented teams can get caught. Duke has to earn the championship in March just like every other school. 

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