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No. 7 LSU’s defense secures 13-10 road win over Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — LSU coach Brian Kelly told Harold Perkins Jr. he reminded him of Michael Jordan after the seventh-ranked Tigers beat Arkansas 13-10 on Saturday.

The freshman linebacker, whose strip-sack of Arkansas quarterback Cade Fortin with 1:17 left clinched the win and kept LSU’s College Football Playoff hopes alive, had the flu before the teams kicked off, the coach said.

When Kelly told Perkins that his effort against the Razorbacks reminded him of MJ against the Jazz in 1997, Kelly said the teenager responded, “Who’s MJ?”

Perkins finished with two forced fumbles, four sacks and eight tackles. His teammate Mekhi Wingo pounced on the loose ball at the Arkansas 44 to clinch the win for LSU (8-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference).

LSU’s defense allowed 249 yards to Arkansas’ offense, which by game’s end was down to its third-string quarterback.

The Razorbacks (5-5, 2-4) attempted to rally in the fourth quarter when Fortin entered in the third quarter to replace an ineffective Malik Hornsby. Fortin threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Matt Landers with 13:12 left to pull Arkansas within three.

But LSU’s offense was little bit better, gaining 284 yards — more than 150 below its season average. Josh Williams ran for 122 of those yards and scored the Tigers’ only touchdown, a 1-yarder, late in the third quarter to provide LSU a 10-point lead. Only one of the Tigers’ 13 series yielded more than 40 yards.

“We are far from a finished product,” Kelly said. “I don’t think anybody in that locker room thinks we have arrived.”

Arkansas sacked LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels seven times, limiting the SEC’s top rusher at the position to 10 yards on 19 carries. Daniels completed 8 of 15 passes for 86 yards and an interception.

“I think the defense played so well that that gave us a chance. They kept us in it,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “I thought when Landers got the long one that we were going to rally around that and it seemed like it was the same story. Just didn’t seem to find a way to be consistent.”

LSU forced Arkansas’ hand by stifling Hornsby, who ran for 37 yards on 18 carries and finished 4 of 9 passing for 24 yards. Daniels found Kayshon Boutte for a 26-yard gain on a single pass one play ahead of Williams’ touchdown with 5:25 left in the third quarter.

The Razorbacks were without their usual starting quarterback, KJ Jefferson, announcing minutes before kickoff that Jefferson would not play due to a shoulder injury. Fortin finished 8 of 13 for 92 yards with the score and the lost fumble.

LSU can clinch the SEC West and a spot in the SEC Championship with a victory in the season finale in two weeks against Texas A&M.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do this journey, but we’re still finding ways to win football games,” Kelly said.

LIKE THE OLD DAYS

Arkansas’ 249 yards is the fewest LSU has allowed an SEC opponent to gain since Texas A&M managed just 169 in 2019. LSU won the national championship that season.

THE INJURY TOLL

Arkansas entered Saturday with 13th best output in total offense in FBS. Jefferson had thrown for 17 touchdowns against three interceptions and had run for 425 yards and six scores.

LSU was able to pack its defense into the box without Jefferson behind center.

“Not seeming to have much success on any of it right now,” Pittman said. “And part of it is they’ve got to respect that the quarterback is going to pull the ball and throw it and if they don’t, you’ve got problems.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

LSU isn’t likely to jump given the margin of victory, but the Tigers won a game they couldn’t afford to lose.

THE TAKEAWAY

LSU: Looked much different Saturday than in last week’s win over Alabama. LSU’s College Football Playoff hopes may hinge on which team shows up at each game.

Arkansas: Remained a game short of bowl eligibility, dropping to .500 in Sam Pittman’s third season. Arkansas won nine games last year.

UP NEXT

LSU: Hosts UAB on Nov. 19.

Arkansas: Hosts Ole Miss on Nov. 19 in its final home game of the season.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/mrxhe6f2

Source: https://apnews.com/article/college-football-sports-louisiana-state-tigers-arkansas-razorbacks-josh-williams-f6d059f48a7b2d9b3f70bf1774b95d60

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Bettman: NHL still committed to keeping Coyotes in Arizona after arena referendum failed

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Commissioner Gary Bettman says the NHL is still committed to Arizona after Tempe voters rejected a referendum for a Coyotes arena.

Bettman said the team is looking at other areas around Phoenix for a long-term home.

“It’s a good market, and if we can make it work, we’ll make it work,” Bettman said. “We’ve had our challenges.”

Bettman, who held his annual state of the league news conference Saturday before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers, said he was surprised and disappointed but not shocked by the result of the vote last month.

“Team-related referendums in all sports don’t do well,” Bettman said. “The Islanders did one (in 2011) and it lost. They got their building. When we were looking at Columbus for an expansion, that building referendum went down.”

The future of the Coyotes is now a major question as they go into a second season playing at a 5,000-seat college rink on Arizona State’s campus.

Marty Walsh, who took over as executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, said members of the Coyotes have expressed concerns about the current arena setup and wants answers about a more permanent solution.

“If we don’t have, in the near future a new location, we have to have a serious conversation,” Walsh said after Bettman’s news conference. “These players can’t continue to play in a college hockey rink as National Hockey League players. You just can’t do it. It doesn’t look right. It doesn’t feel right.”

Asked Saturday why the league has been so patient about keeping the Coyotes in Arizona amid turmoil over the years from ownership changes to arena uncertainty, Bettman pointed to the size of the market and the team being a bit of a “victim of circumstance.” While there were questions raised about interest for a team in Quebec City or Salt Lake City — or a second in Toronto — relocation is not currently being considered.

“We’re in a better position to resist moving than maybe we were 20 or 30 years ago,” Bettman said. “We want to make sure we explore all options at this stage of where we are before we would consider having to relocate a club, and I’m hopeful we won’t have to.”

At the other end of the spectrum are the Ottawa Senators, who are close to being sold for what Bettman expects will be around a billion dollars — “give or take.”

“I’ve always felt that we’ve been undervalued, so this, to me, is just an affirmation that our franchises are more valuable than Forbes or Sportico or many investment bankers have said,” Bettman said. “Our competitive balance is extraordinary, and that should somehow be equating to higher values, and I think you’re beginning to see that.”

When the final ends, Bettman may meet with executive Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville, whom he must reinstate for either to take another job with a team. Bowman resigned as Blackhawks GM and Quenneville as Panthers coach in October 2021 after an investigation into Chicago’s 2010 sexual assault scandal revealed their roles in the team mishandling the situation.

Bettman said Bowman and Quenneville each requested a meeting and that his office told them he’d deal with them after the playoffs are over.

HOCKEY CANADA INVESTIGATION

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league’s independent investigator has wrapped up work looking into Hockey Canada’s sexual assault scandal and expects the NHL will have a report to review in early summer.

The league began the process of holding its own review after news surfaced that Hockey Canada settled a lawsuit with a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by eight members of the country’s world junior team at a gala in 2018 in London, Ontario. Several players from that gold medal-winning team are currently in the NHL.

“We have been in contact with the London police and continue to want to be in contact with them, make sure that there’s visibility with respect to what our process is and to the extent we can understand theirs is, that would be the goal,” Daly said. “And then I can’t prejudge what happens from there.”

OUTDOOR GAMES IN NEW JERSEY

The league announced two outdoor Stadium Series games next season in East Rutherford, New Jersey, at MetLife Stadium — home of the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants. The Philadelphia Flyers are set to play the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 17 followed by the New York Rangers against the Islanders on Feb. 18.

This is the first time the NHL is playing outside in the state of New Jersey. It comes 10 years after the Rangers played a pair of games, one each against the Islanders and Devils, at Yankee Stadium.

The Rangers played the Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field in the Winter Classic in 2018. This is the Devils’ first outdoor game since 2014, and it comes on the heels of their second playoff appearance over the past 11 years.

“When a team is on the rise, we want to showcase them,” NHL senior executive VP and chief content officer Steve Mayer said. “The time is right.”

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Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Spectacular debut: Rose Zhang shoots 66 to take lead into Mizuho Americas Open finale

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Much was expected of Rose Zhang when she turned professional last week, and she is already delivering.

The two-time NCAA champion moved into position to win in her pro debut, shooting a 6-under 66 on Saturday to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mizuho Americans Open.

“I’ve been in this position before, but I haven’t been in this position as a professional, since this is my first week, so I’m really just learning everything that I could,” Zhang said. “Tomorrow, I’ll be just trying to figure out what it feels like to be in the final group, navigate my way through, and I’m sure by the end of the day I’ll be able to, you know, just build my character more.”

The former Stanford star had six birdies in a bogey-free round on a raw, overcast day at Liberty National in jumping to the top of the leaderboard. It’s nothing new for the 20-year-old who won 12 of 20 events in her two years in college, with many viewing it as a sign of things to come.

Event 1 is certainly shaping up that way a day to go, and it could have been better. Zhang settled for a tap-in birdie at the driveable 16th hole after hitting her tee shot within about 5 feet.

Cheyenne Knight, who was tied with Minjee Lee for the halfway lead at 7 under, was tied for second with Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand and Aditi Ashok of India, who both shot 68s. Knight had a 69, making a bogey at No, 17 and missing a 10-footer for birdie on the final hole.

Lee (72) was 7 under in fifth place, a shot ahead of Jennifer Kupcho (69) rookie Hae Ran Ryu (66) and Eun-Hee Ji (70).

Stephanie Kyriacoiu of Australia had the best round of the day, shooting a 65 that included an eagle, six birdies and an early bogey. The 22-year-old was at 5 under along with top-ranked Jin Young Ko (73) and fellow South Korean player Sei Young Kim (70).

They will all have to catch Zhang, who was the No. 1 women’s amatuer for 141 weeks. She also is on a roll, having won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur this year and her second straight NCAA title last month.

This has been a hectic week for Zhang. Not only did she turn pro, but she has shown a lot of composure on the course and off with the sheer volume of interview requests.

“I still think I’m human so I do feel little small butterflies here and there,” the Irvine, California, resident said, “I’ve been pretty comfortable when I’ve been on the golf course. I’ve been able to tap into my zone and I’ve just been trying to think about how this is the sport that I’ve been playing for the last ten or so years. I’m just doing what I need to do and going back to what my body knows.”

Seven women have won their first start as a pro on the LPGA Tour since 1992, with Hinako Shibuno of Japan the last in the 2019 Women’s British Open.

Knight also has been in her zone looking for her second win on tour and first since 2019. She has been in the top 10 after 36 holes in her last four events.

“I’m excited, but, I mean, yeah, Minjee I think shot 8 under yesterday. Marina (Alex) did, too. It’s out there,” Knight said. “I’m excited to attack, and, yeah, just give myself some chances tomorrow and hopefully they drop.”

Ashok has had only one bogey in three rounds in her search for her first win on this tour.

“I think this golf course especially makes you think a lot,” said Ashok, who has had two top three finishes in recent weeks. “If you get the right angles and if you play it smart I think it’s easier to not drop shots.”

No. 3 ranked Lydia Ko, who was a shot behind the lead entering the round, and No. 8 ranked Brooke Henderson, who was two shots off the pace, finished at 1-under. Ko shot 77, and Henderson 76.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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McIlroy tied for lead at Memorial by making fewest mistakes

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Rory McIlroy felt like he was hanging on for dear life Saturday at the Memorial. He had to scramble for bogey to start the back nine. He went five holes without hitting a green. And all the while, he never really lost ground.

When he had to scramble for par on the fourth-easiest hole at Muirfield Village, the par-5 11th, he said he told caddie Harry Diamond he only wanted to try to break 70.

McIlroy wound up with a 2-under 70. That was enough to take him four shots behind at the start of the day to a share of the lead going into Sunday.

“That’s what happens when conditions are like this,” McIlroy said. “You just have to hang on.”

It helped that Hideki Matsuyama went from leading to dropping off the leaderboard in a span of six holes. And that Patrick Cantlay went into the water and over the green on his way to a triple bogey on the front nine. David Lipsky bogeyed his last two holes.

What remained amid a few rumbles of thunder — but no weather delays — was an opportunity for just about everyone who had a tee time Sunday.

Thirteen players were separated by two shots. Nine more were only three shots out of the lead.

Lipsky’s two closing bogeys gave him a 72, while Si Woo Kim overcome two double bogeys for a 71. They joined McIlroy at 6-under 210.

It’s the highest 54-hole lead since 1990, when the weather was so atrocious that the final round was canceled and Greg Norman won at even-par 216.

McIlroy, doing his best to keep in play on the fast fairways that have been baked all week by a hot sun, picked up three birdies over the last seven holes, just not on the holes he imagined.

He chipped in for birdie on the dangerous par-3 12th. He reached the par-5 15th in two after a 344-yard drive. His approach to a back pin on the 17th rolled past the cup to 7 feet and set up one of only eight birdies on that hole for the day.

Just as sweet was the 18th, where his putt from the back of the green to a front pin ran nearly 10 feet by the cup and he holed that for par. McIlroy had several par putts from between 5 and 8 feet, all of them important on a day like this.

“I was really happy with how I scored out there, and how I just sort of hung in there for most of the day,” McIlroy said.

He will be in the final group with Kim, who one-putted his last seven holes, saving par from a front bunker on the 18th.

All this was made possible largely by Matsuyama, a former Memorial winner, who birdied his first two holes and looked to be on his way. And then it quickly fell apart — a bad chip on the par-3 eighth, a three-putt on the ninth and his big blunder on the par-3 12th — tee shot into the water, then over the green from the drop area and a triple bogey.

Cantlay, a two-time Memorial winner, had only one big mistake. He went for the green from the rough on the par-4 sixth and came up short and into the water, then went long into the rough and didn’t get up-and-down, making a triple bogey.

Otherwise, Cantlay made 14 pars, a pair of birdies and a bogey. He and Matsuyama, despite a big number on each of their cards, were two shots behind going into Sunday.

The big move came from Keegan Bradley, who made the cut on the number. He teed off at 8:15 a.m. and finished as the leaders were just starting to warm up. Bradley made nine birdies in his round of 65, and now he’s only two shots behind.

Viktor Hovland (69) and Mark Hubbard (72) were in the large group one shot behind at 5-under 211. Hubbard bogeyed his last three holes for the second time this week. He didn’t let it bother him on Thursday, and he felt the same way Saturday.

“I’m not happy with my finish again, but at the same time, I made three pretty good bogey putts,” Hubbard said.

His strategy on a day like this: “Just try and make a lot of birdies on the par 5s and not make doubles on the hard holes.”

Justin Suh, the 36-hole leader, didn’t stay there for long. He started bogey-bogey, then found the water on No. 3 for a double bogey. He didn’t make his first birdie — his only one — until the 14th hole. Suh had a 77.

He was still only three shots behind, along with Jordan Spieth (72).

Of the 22 players separated by three shots, nine have never won on the PGA Tour. One of those was Lipsky, who doubts he’ll get too wrapped up in looking at the leaderboard.

“It’s too hard to focus on anything else but your game,” he said.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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