The soon-to-implode Georgia Dome was site of rough memories for area teams

Published: Saturday, November 18, 2017 @ 4:13 PM

Ohio State guard Daequan Cook, left and teammate Greg Oden congratulate Florida's Taurean Green, second left and Al Horford following Florida's 84-75 victory in the Final Four basketball championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Monday, April 2, 2007. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash
Ohio State guard Daequan Cook, left and teammate Greg Oden congratulate Florida's Taurean Green, second left and Al Horford following Florida's 84-75 victory in the Final Four basketball championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Monday, April 2, 2007. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(Morry Gash)

The Georgia Dome is set to implode Monday after 25 years of hosting the Atlanta Falcons, the Peach Bowl, Georgia State and three NCAA Final Fours. It hasn’t been a pleasant place to visit for local teams. Here’s a quick summary.

- Ohio State’s Thad Five made it to the NCAA men’s basketball title game at the Georgia Dome in 2007, the heralded first recruiting class of Thad Matta. The Buckeye youngsters unfortunately went against a veteran Billy Donovan coached Florida team that included Joakim Noah and a host of others that had won the national title the previous season.

Florida edged Ohio State in Gainesville early in the season 86-80, and with the Buckeyes getting a regular season and postseason run under their belt, Ohio State felt good about its chances. 

But Florida’s veteran squad took an early lead, led 40-29 at halftime and won 84-75. While Greg Oden had a good game for Ohio State in the paint, Florida shut down the rest of Ohio State’s offense.

To make matters worse, Florida also beat Ohio State a few months earlier in the BCS National Title game in football. Florida became the first school to hold both basketball and football national titles in the same calendar year.

The 2007 tournament was the coming out party for then VCU coach and current Dayton coach Anthony Grant, which shocked Duke with a 79-77 win in the first round of the tournament. 

- While the Bengals played the Falcons seven times in the preseason since 1992, when the Georgia Dome opened, the two only played in the Georgia Dome twice in the regular season.

Atlanta drubbed the Bengals 30-2 in 2002 during the third game of the season. It was the last year for Dick LeBeau, who would go back to Pittsburgh and helm the defense for the Steelers during two Super Bowls. 

Meanwhile a tough Falcons defense held the Bengals to 191 total yards and forced interceptions from quarterbacks John Kitna and Gus Frerotte. Michael Vick threw for two touchdowns and rushed for 56 yards while Warrick Dunn rushed for a touchdown.

The Bengals finished the season 2-14 and had the first pick in the draft. They picked USC quarterback Carson Palmer and in the offseason hired head coach Marvin Lewis, who turned the team around immediately, going 8-8 in back to back years before making the playoffs in 2005 and winning the division title. It was the Bengals first playoff appearance since 15 years. 

- The Bengals second trip to the Georgia Dome was more competitive, but came during a rebuilding year. 

The Falcons led 24-3 at halftime until the Bengals scored 22 unanswered points in the third quarter. Carson Palmer threw touchdown passes to Terrell Owens and Jordan Shipley while Adam Jones returned a fumble 59 yards for a touchdown. 

Unfortunately the Falcons got it together in the fourth quarter. Matt Ryan threw a touchdown pass and and Michael Turner rushed three yards for a touchdown to retake the lead. Chad Johnson and Palmer put the Bengals back within seveb late in the fourth with an 8-yard touchdown pass, but by then it was too late. 

- The Cleveland Browns Georgia Dome history is friendlier. The Browns are 11-3 historically against Atlanta. Cleveland lost its first game in the Georgia Dome 17-14 during the 1993 season.

The Browns won there in 2006 17-13, intercepting Atlanta three times and recovering a fumble. Cleveland won again in 2014 beating the Falcons 26-24, giving the Browns a 7-4 record, but Cleveland lost its next five games and missed the playoffs. Brian Hoyer was 23-of-40 passing for 322 yards but threw three interceptions. Isaiah Crowell rushed 12 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns wile Terrance West rushed 14 times for 62 yards. Josh Gordon had eight catches for 120 yards. 

Bruins fall short of completing comeback: What we learned from UCLA’s loss to Oregon State

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 8:39 PM

UCLA-loses-oregon-state-what-we-learned

At the under-12-minute timeout, UCLA (13-6, 4-3) faced its largest deficit of the night. It didn’t take long for the Bruins to erase it.

What followed was a back-and-forth, bucket-trading thrilling 11 minutes, but it ended in a 69-63 loss for UCLA.

The Bruins fell thanks to a final 3-minute stretch in which Oregon State (11-7, 3-3) had 3 different players make clutch baskets to turn a 1-point deficit into a 7-point advantage. Stevie Thompson Jr. (12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) canned a 3-pointer to extend Oregon State’s lead to 5 and put UCLA into a hole out of which it couldn’t climb.

Here’s what we learned from UCLA’s loss to Oregon State.

Take the lids off, please

This game started about as ugly as they get. Both Oregon State and UCLA struggled to get anything to fall — layups, putbacks, jumpers, you name it. Multiple close looks rolled off the rim, and at the 10-minute mark, the score was 11-10 with Oregon State in the lead. That stagnant start helped Oregon State both stick around and figure out how to get to UCLA’s offense, which has struggled so much lately, it even has troubles on the fastbreak.

Oregon State held UCLA to 37.9 percent from the floor, riding its defense and 8-rebound advantage along the way. A 4-of-13 night from senior center Thomas Welsh didn’t help things, either.

Resilient Bruins

UCLA’s slow start and 8-point deficit could have sank a mentally weaker team, but credit the Bruins for battling back to take a small lead in the latter portion of the second half. A pair of Chrises — Chris Smith and Kris Wilkes — led the comeback.

UCLA also finished 12 of 14 from the line, taking advantage of most opportunities it was afforded. For a moment late in the second, it looked as though the Bruins would escape Corvallis with a win. But then…

Team leaders, stand up

Oregon State’s late surge was as much the doing of the Beavers as it was poor defensive rotation. While Aaron Holiday (22 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds) did as much as he could to help the offense throughout the contest (including getting to the line 12 times, making 11 of those attempts), his defensive effort late allowed Thompson to get open for the corner 3 shown above. Tres Tinkle made a key 3-pointer during that stretch, and poor post defense allowed Drew Eubanks (12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) to get a great look, which he converted for 2 points that ended up being the clincher in Oregon State’s win.

The ugliest part of this sequence, though, came on the offensive end, where UCLA lacked a clear leader.

Kris Wilkes drilled a 3 to cut Oregon State’s lead back to 5 and slow the celebration, but most everyone watching was surprised to see Holiday not demand the ball late.

The result were a few disjointed possessions that downed any comeback hopes for UCLA.

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Washington doesn’t go down easy: What we learned from the Huskies’ loss to Utah

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 7:38 PM

Washington entered Thursday night’s game against Utah with the better record, but didn’t look like it for much of the night.

The Huskies found a way to stay within striking range for the majority of their contest against the Utes, closing Utah’s lead to 4 in a late-game surge, but the earlier mistakes and deficit that followed ended up being too much to overcome in a 70-62 loss. For Utah, the win snapped a 4-game losing skid.

Utah guard Justin Bibbins led all scorers with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Washington guard Jaylen Nowell led the way with 17 points and 8 rebounds for the Huskies.

Here’s what we learned from Washington’s loss to Utah.

Huskies get sloppy

Washington’s 12 turnovers would sink the Huskies on a typical night, but on Thursday, they were bested by the Utes’ 14 miscues of their own. Forcing these turnovers was really the only way Washington remained in the game. All but one of Washington’s starters had at least 2 turnovers each. And yet, in the final minutes of the game, there they were, just a possession from tying the game and another from taking the lead. While Mike Hopkins’ crew needs to clean things up, they should find pride in their relentless push, even if it came up short. Washington was a cleaner game from pushing Utah’s losing streak to 5.

Empty opportunities

While Utah allowed its opponent to hang around, failing to fully put away the Huskies for the majority of the second half, Washington did nothing to help itself. The Huskies made just 10 of 18 free throw attempts and were out-rebounded 44-38. At one point in the final 5 minutes of play, the Pac-12 Network’s broadcasting crew marveled at the fact Washington was still in the game when considering these numbers (plus a 38.5 field goal percentage). Just a few more buckets scored off turnovers would have produced a much different result, but that’s often how these things go.

The bright side: Washington received a fairly efficient game off the bench from Michael Carter III, and saw Jaylen Nowell near a double-double despite shooting just 8 of 17 from the floor. The dark side: Washington allowed 5-foot-8 guard Justin Bibbins secure his own double-double with 20 points and a stunning 10 rebounds.

Deep drought

The Huskies’ run of opportunities left on the floor extended beyond the arc, where Washington made just 2 of 18 3-point attempts. All 5 of Washington’s starters combined to make 0 percent of 3-pointers. An incredibly poor night from the floor in all categories was capped by a nightmarish evening from deep, where the Huskies couldn’t capitalize on open looks. It eventually came back to bite them when they needed more than trading buckets to overcome a long withstanding deficit.

What Oregon coach Dana Altman said after Ducks’ 75-70 home loss to USC

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 7:34 PM

Oregon coach Dana Altman will have to wait a few more days to get his 200 th win with the Ducks after they lost 75-70 at home to USC on Thursday.

It was the first time since 2009 the Ducks had fallen to USC, a streak of 14 consecutive wins. It was also their second home loss in Pac-12 play in three tries and third time losing in Eugene this year after having won 49 in a row at Matthew Knight Arena.

“We’ve lost three ball games at home, and that’s the highest since the year we opened the building,” Altman said, per Erik Skopil of DuckTerritory.com. “It’s frustrating. We’ve just got to fight through it. Everyone is judged by how they handle adversity, and we’ve got to do a better job of handling some adversity.”

Oregon sits at 2-4 in Pac-12 play and 12-7 overall, severely damaging its chances of making it back to the NCAA tournament.

“The last two games we’re up with four minutes left and we’re not finishing,” sophomore guard Payton Pritchard said, per OregonLive’s Tyson Alger. “Right now, we’re only playing 36 minutes. We need to play 40 minutes. We should not be in the place we’re in.”

Oregon is playing with an almost completely different team from the one that made the Final Four a year ago. Altman isn’t using that as an excuse or a crutch, however.

Dominick Watt commits to Nebraska: Huskers get pledge from Florida WR

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 7:29 PM

nebraska-football-recruiting-dominick watt

Nebraska picked up a commitment late Thursday night: WR Dominick Watt.

The Florida receiver, a 3-star recruit for the 2018 class, appears to have celebrated his birthday by making his commitment to the Huskers. Watt played at Miramar High School his senior season after previously playing at McArthur High School.

“I have made up my decision which college I’ll be spending my next 3-4 years at,” Watt said in a note shared on Twitter. “I’ll be looking at this school the same way I looked at McArthur, ‘that I’ll be making my own legacy and history there.’ I’ll be committing to the University of Nebraska.”

Nebraska offered Watt, who’s 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, in December. According to 247 Sports, Watt ranks No. 68 nationally as a receiver. He’s also No. 69 overall for Florida recruits.

With Watt’s commitment, the Huskers rank No. 27 for 2018, No. 6 in the Big Ten and No. 1 in the Big Ten West.

Watt’s commitment is the second in only a few hours for the Huskers. Earlier on Thursday, 3-star ATH Miles Jones committed to Nebraska. The commitments can lead to signed national letters of intent on National Signing Day, which is February 7.

Watt previously listed Louisville, Pitt, South Florida, Kentucky, Nebraska and Cincinnati as his finalists.

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