Bears oust Vikes with 24-10 win, Eagles next in Playoffs

MINNEAPOLIS—While taking the NFC North champion Bears to the playoffs for the first time in eight years, coach Matt Nagy has displayed an energetic personality and aggressive mindset throughout his debut.Even with their postseason position all but set, the Bears refused to let up. They kept the rival Minnesota Vikings out of the playoffs in the process.Fueled by that relentless defense and 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns by Jordan Howard, the Bears beat the Vikings 24-10 on Sunday for their first sweep of Minnesota since 2011.

”I love winning. I think it’s fun to win,” Nagy said. ”So when you win, whoever it is, who cares? Let’s just play ball.”

With the 24-0 win by Philadelphia at Washington, the Vikings (8-7-1) watched the Eagles claim the last wild-card spot and went home wondering what happened to their offense after signing Kirk Cousins for $84 million guaranteed to be the franchise quarterback.Tarik Cohen scored the last touchdown on a short run with 7:46 left to cap a 16-play drive for the Bears (12-4), who posted their best regular-season record since the 2006 team finished 13-3 and reached the Super Bowl. They’ve won nine of their last 10 games and, instead of the Vikings will host the Eagles in the first round.

”We’re growing. We’re getting stronger by the week,” Nagy said. ”This will be a new challenge for us, but we’re excited. We’ll be ready.”

The Bears began the afternoon with an opportunity, albeit unlikely, to get a first-round bye with a victory and a loss by the Los Angeles Rams, who wound up beating San Francisco 48-32. Nagy was unmoved by the big early lead taken by the Rams, though, keeping quarterback Mitch Trubisky in the entire game and only holding out the starters who were already previously injured.

”Every time we step on the field we want to win,” Trubisky said. ”I think it just shows the maturity of this team that we weren’t looking ahead. We weren’t thinking about sitting out. We just do exactly what’s asked.”

After spending the majority of the last two decades trying to keep up with Green Bay, the Vikings have overtaken the Packers only to have their other primary rival, the Bears, surge to the top of the division. Most problematic since coach Mike Zimmer took over has been the struggle to move and protect the ball against Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller and the rest of that Bears defense, which established a franchise record for fewest rushing yards allowed in a season.Done in by three-and-outs on their first four possessions, the Vikings finished with only 164 total yards.

”They’re pretty good,” Zimmer said, ”so give them credit.”

Trubisky moved the chains four times on third down during the game-sealing scoring drive, completing three passes and running once for a first down. He took a sack by Anthony Barr that would’ve forced a punt from the Minnesota 45, but a holding penalty on Vikings safety Jayron Kearse gave the Bears a fresh set of downs.

”The way we played, we don’t deserve to be in the playoffs,” Barr said.

Cousins and Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen were in a heated argument on the sideline after the Vikings had to settle for a field goal at the end of the second quarter. Zimmer almost cost the Vikings a touchdown when he challenged the spot of a reception by Dalvin Cook, who stepped out of bounds right at the marker.Cousins sneaked for the first down on fourth-and-1, only to have the play blown dead by the red flag. Cook was able to get the first down on the next play.

”They knew what the implications were from this game,” Hicks said, ”and we took it from them.”
With WR Allen Robinson (ribs) already held out of the game, WR Anthony Miller (shoulder) was hurt on the first drive and didn’t return. WR Taylor Gabriel (ribs) was injured a little later, leaving the Bears with only three WRs.The Bears host the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles in the NFC wild-card round of the playoffs next Sunday, 30 years after the ”Fog Bowl” game at Soldier Field. The Bears beat the Eagles 20-12 to advance to the NFC championship game that day with little to no visibility.

”If we keep doing what we’re doing,” Trubisky said, ”hopefully we can do something special.”

Bears struggle, but beat 49ers 14-9

SANTA CLARA—With a dominant defense behind him, Mitchell Trubisky knows the Bears’ offense doesn’t have to do too much to keep winning.That formula has the Bears heading into the season finale with a chance to earn a first-round playoff bye.Trubisky threw one TD pass and the Bears defense used a couple of key late stops to keep San Francisco out of the end zone, leading the Bears to their eighth win in nine games, 14-9 over the 49ers on Sunday.

”For us as an offense, we have to do our part as well,” Trubisky said. ”Because we’re a family and we want to take care of those guys and take a lot of pressure off them and score a lot of points so they don’t have to play all-world every single week. That’s the standard that they’ve come to hold themselves to.”

Khalil Mack and Co. delivered again. Danny Trevathan made a key interception with San Francisco (4-11) driving in the fourth quarter, and then the defense made one more stop to clinch at least the third seed in the NFC playoffs. The Bears (11-4) can earn a first-round bye with a win in the season finale and a loss by the Rams.

”We’ve been in this situation so many times and have come up big. It’s almost expected of us,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. ”Like when we had to go back on the field to help win it for our team. Everyone was poised and no one was shaking. We expected great things to come out of it and we’re glad we stood up for our team.”

The game turned feisty in the fourth quarter, when San Francisco safety Marcell Harris hit Trubisky after he started sliding on a scramble near the Bears’ bench. Trubisky’s teammates took exception to what they considered a ”dirty” hit and a scuffle ensued with punches being thrown and San Francisco cornerback Richard Sherman and Bears receivers Joshua Bellamy and Anthony Miller all getting ejected.

”As a leader, you can’t let them get your teammate like that, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of what’s going down,” Sherman said. ”I felt like they went over the top, and I responded over the top.”

Shortly after the melee, the Bears converted a fourth-and-1 sneak by Trubisky from their own 35 with 4:19 to go. After the 2-minute warning, the Bears appeared ready to ice the game on a third-down completion to Allen Robinson. But instead of going down to allow the Bears to run out the clock, Robinson kept running and had the ball knocked out of his hands by Tarvarius Moore.Greg Mabin recovered at the San Francisco 24 with 1:52 to play, but the Niners were unable to convert when Nick Mullens threw a deep incompletion to Marquise Goodwin on fourth-and-4 from the Bears 45 instead of scrambling for the first down.The Bears struggled to do much offensively all game but managed a TD drive on their final possession of the second quarter and first of the third quarter.Trubisky capped the first with a 4-yard pass to Miller and then completed all seven passes on a 90-yard drive that took 7:43 and ended when Howard scored on a 2-yard run that made it 14-9. He finished 25 of 29 for 246 yards, with his 86.2 completion percentage the best mark for the franchise since at least 1950 with a minimum of 16 attempts.

”We figured out we had to dink and dunk a little bit,” Trubisky said. ”They played more zone shell than they had played all year. That’s fine. We just had to make that adjustment and make them tackle in space.”

Former Bears kicker Robbie Gould kicked three field goals in the first half against his former team after making all five in a 15-14 win at Soldier Field last year. Gould was cut by the Bears before the 2016 season. Cody Parkey missed a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter.The 49ers finally got a takeaway. Trubisky threw a lateral to Tarik Cohen in the second quarter that ended up in a fumble recovery by DeForest Buckner. The Niners had gone a record six full games and 399 defensive plays without a takeaway since last recording one Oct. 28 at Arizona. San Francisco added the second fumble recovery and has just seven takeaways on the year, on pace for its fewest in a season.Robinson left the game after making a diving 43-yard catch in the first quarter before returning.

Bears beat Packers, clinch NFC North, and eliminate Green Bay.

The Bears clinched the NFC North and helped knock Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers out of playoff contention.They could not have asked for a sweeter scenario.Mitchell Trubisky threw for two touchdowns, Eddie Jackson ended Rodgers’ NFL-record streak without an interception and the “Monsters of the Midway” clinched the division with a 24-17 victory over the Packers on Sunday.The Bears (10-4) secured their first playoff appearance since the 2010 team won the NFC North. And even better for them, they did it with a rare victory over their heated rivals.

”We’ve accomplished a lot,” Trubisky said. ”But I think I’m most proud of just the type of guy that we have in our locker room, the culture that we’ve kind of created. We know that nobody really believed in us on the outside in the preseason – or even throughout the season. But we knew what type of team we had. And we knew we were just gonna keep getting better every single week.”

The loss coupled with Minnesota’s 41-17 victory over Miami keeps the Packers out of the postseason for the second year in a row.The Bears had dropped nine of 10 against Green Bay (5-8-1). But the Bears secured their first trip to the playoffs in eight years with their seventh win in eight games .For a team that came into the season with four straight last-place finishes, it’s quite a turnaround. But with the hiring of coach Matt Nagy and trade for Khalil Mack in a busy offseason, the Bears made a huge jump.

”You could feel it all year long that we knew we had the talent,” Nagy said.

The Bears blew a 20-point lead in a season-opening loss at Green Bay, with an injured Rodgers rallying the Packers. But they’ve been climbing since.Trubisky gave the Bears a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter with a 13-yard pass to Trey Burton in the left side of the end zone.After stopping the Packers, Tarik Cohen returned a punt 44 yards to the 15. But he stepped out of bounds a yard short on a third-and-5 at the 10 when he easily could have gotten the first down.That forced the Bears to settle for a field goal by Cody Parkey, making it 24-14 with 6:43 remaining.The Packers then drove to the 9, but on third down, Jackson picked off Rodgers, ending his streak at 402 passes.The throw over the middle was intended for Jimmy Graham near the goal line. But the ball got tipped to Jackson, who had to be helped off the field with a sprained right ankle after his leg bent awkwardly as he tried to slide on the return. The interception was his sixth of the season.Mason Crosby kicked a field goal in the closing seconds to make it a seven-point game. But the Bears recovered the onside kick.The Packers are 1-1 since offensive coordinator Joe Philbin replaced fired coach Mike McCarthy on an interim basis.

”The expectation is competing for championships,” Rodgers said. ”It’s a good football team. But like I told some of the guys, I look forward to the battles over the years. I like our chances in this division moving forward.”

The Bears, who finished in fourth place in the NFC North last season, completed a turnaround that make for 15 of the past 16 seasons with at least one NFL team finishing in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place.And Nagy became the Bears’ first rookie coach with 10 wins since George Halas in 1920, the inaugural season for a franchise then known as the Decatur Staleys.Mack had 2 1/2 sacks and Leonard Floyd added two. The defense came through with another strong effort after the Monsters of the Midway shut down Jared Goff and the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams the previous week.Trubisky was 20 of 28 for 235 yards with a 120.4 rating. It was a big improvement over the previous week when he matched a career high with three interceptions after missing back-to-back games because of a right shoulder injury.Cohen caught a touchdown pass. Jordan Howard ran for a TD, and the Bears improved to 7-1 at home for the first time since 2005.

”Guys grinded, gritted it out, especially toward the end,” Mack said. ”We just want to keep this feeling going.”

Rodgers said his groin tightened on him at the end of the first half. He finished 25 of 42 for 274 yards with his second interception of the season and failed to throw a touchdown for the first time this year.Davante Adams had eight receptions for 119 yards.The Packers fell to 0-7 on the road with their ninth straight loss away from home, and their eight-game win streak at Soldier Field, counting the postseason, came to an end.

”Nobody anticipated this happening,” Clay Matthews said. ”In reality, we’re not getting blown out every week. I’m trying to find a silver lining, that’s all you can do at this point of the season.”
Aaron Lynch left with an elbow injury in the third quarter.

Bears beat Rams, make statement.

The Bears harassed Jared Goff and squashed the Los Angeles Rams’ high-powered offense while shuffling their way to a surprising victory over the team that came in with the NFL’s best record.In a season of huge strides, this might be their biggest one yet.Eddie Goldman led a dominant effort by the defense and the NFC North-leading Bears beat the NFC West champion Rams 15-6 on Sunday night.”Our play on defense – all I can say is wow,” coach Matt Nagy said.The Rams (11-2) missed a chance to secure a first-round playoff bye and fell into a tie with New Orleans for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.Goff threw a career-high four interceptions and was sacked three times, with Goldman getting to him for a tiebreaking safety early in the third quarter.Bradley Sowell became the first Bears offensive lineman in 11 years with a touchdown reception when he caught a 2-yarder from Mitchell Trubisky in the third quarter. And after four straight last-place finishes in the NFC North, the Bears continued to close in on its first division title and playoff appearance since 2010.”For them to go out and do it (against) a team that had only one loss all year long … is so powerful for our guys now because it helps us grow,” Nagy said. ”It helps us grow with confidence. It helps us grow togetherness. When you teach that and you talk about it over and over and over – as a culture, as a building, everyone together as a family – and then they do it, it lights a fire. It puts us in a great position. We do talk about one game at a time. They’re gonna enjoy tonight and then we’re gonna get right back in it and get ready for next week.”Coming off a shaky outing against Detroit, Goff was 20 of 44 for 180 yards with a 19.1 rating. NFL rushing leader Todd Gurley ran for a season-low 28 yards on 11 carries, and the Rams’ three-game win streak came to an end.The Rams’ only other loss was at New Orleans. But against the Monsters of the Midway, they managed just 214 yards.”Really, consistently over and over I continue to put our players in bad spots,” Los Angeles coach Sean McVay said. ”Certainly a humbling night, but it’s one you get a chance to look at yourself critically, find a way to get better and move forward accordingly and that’s exactly what we’re going to do and that’s all I know how to do. And I have to be better for our football team. This loss is on me. I didn’t do a nearly good enough job for us today. I trust we will respond the right way.”The Bears (9-4) bounced back from a wild overtime loss at the New York Giants and won for the sixth time in seven games.Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks had sacks. Roquan Smith, Prince Amukamara, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller had interceptions, helping Chicago come away with the win despite a shaky effort from Trubisky.”All 11 guys collectively going against the offense, it was going to be a big challenge for us,” Mack said. ”We stepped up to the challenge.”The Bears needed it with Trubisky struggling about as badly as Goff.After missing the previous two games because of a right shoulder injury, he was 16 of 30 for 110 yards and three interceptions.”It’s hard to be down when you get such a big win like that,” Trubisky said. ”You’ve just got to put your own selfish thoughts about how you played aside. … I’m just very proud of the way the team had my back.”Goldman broke a 6-6 tie in the opening minute of the third quarter when he sacked Goff for the Bears first safety this season.The Bears then used a trick play they call ”Santa’s Sleigh” to make it 15-6, when Sowell hauled in a 2-yarder from Trubisky on a play-action with defensive end Hicks. That made him the first Bears offensive lineman with a TD reception since John St. Clair against Kansas City on Sept. 16, 2017.”We needed a play so they gave it to the play-maker,” Sowell said.The Rams had a big opportunity late in the third when John Johnson III returned an interception 35 yards to the Bears 27. But Fuller picked off a wobbly pass from Goff intended for Josh Reynolds on the next play.Los Angeles’ Greg Zuerlein missed a 40-yard field goal off the right upright in the opening minutes of the fourth after making a 50-yarder earlier in the game.CB Dominique Hatfield was taken from the field on a cart with an ankle injury in the third quarter. He was hurt on the kickoff following Sowell’s TD. … C John Sullivan was evaluated for a concussion after being shaken up blocking on a run by Gurley late in the first quarter. But he returned in the second half.CB Bryce Callahan left the game with a foot injury late in the firs

NU 25-0 run overtakes DePAUL

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

EVANSTON—Trailing by 15 points with less than 10 minutes to go, Northwestern appeared headed for a third straight loss.The players, though, weren’t ready to accept that fate.Vic Law had 25 points, A.J. Turner added a career-high 24 and the Wildcats used a run of 25 straight points to rally for a 75-68 victory over DePaul on Saturday.Dererk Pardon had 10 points and eight rebounds as the Wildcats (7-3) snapped a two-game losing streak.Turner was 8 for 13 from the field, including 6 for 10 on 3-pointers, and Law was 9 for 9 from the free-throw line as Northwestern won for the fourth straight time in the annual matchup of Chicago-area schools.Turner was voted the Waldo Fisher-Frank McGrath Award as the games MVP as voted by the Media in attendance.
“Our guys just refused to say, `It’s not our day,” Wildcats coach Chris Collins said. “They kept fighting. DePaul was playing well. We just dug down really deep to get the game.”
Femi Olujobi had 22 points and Devin Gage added 17 as DePaul (5-2) had a two-game winning streak end.The Blue Demons had a 57-42 advantage — its biggest of the game — with just under 10 minutes remaining before the game changed dramatically.
“For us, it was a little bit of an opportunity lost,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “We’ve got to learn. I thought we lost our way mentally and stopped doing the things that had gotten us to the point in the game where we’re up by double figures.
“For a large part of the game we were really aggressive and then we took our foot off the gas pedal, emotionally, and a very good team took advantage of it.”
DePaul was held scoreless for 7:09 as the Wildcats turned the 15-point deficit into a 67-57 lead with three minutes to play.
“I think it was our defense,” said Turner, who had 11 points during the run. “In the first half, they were scoring pretty easily, they were getting easy transition buckets and those just kind of kill your team’s pride. I think we started locking up and that kind of led to us making the comeback.”
It was a remarkable turnaround from the first 30 minutes.DePaul’s work on the defensive end set the tone early. The Blue Demons played an aggressive man-to-man and never let Northwestern develop much rhythm offensively. They also did a nice job of surrounding Pardon whenever he touched the ball in the paint.Pardon, who entered averaging 14.4 points, was held to three first-half points on 1-of-3 shooting.DePaul closed with a 9-2 run to take a 41-29 halftime lead.The Wildcats were 10 of 29 (34.5 percent) from the field in the first half, including 4 of 17 (23.5 percent) on 3-pointers.Northwestern began the second half with six straight points to cut the deficit in half, but DePaul quickly responded and stretched its advantage before falling apart late.Ryan Taylor hit a 3-pointer with just under five minutes to play to put Northwestern on top 58-57 — its first lead of the game.The rebuilding Blue Demons are a work in progress, but there have been encouraging signs so far. Closing games, though, remains a huge problem. Earlier in the season, they blew a 68-60 advantage with two minutes left against Penn State before rallying to win in overtime.This game wrapped up a grueling stretch of seven games in 17 days. The Wildcats have a week off and certainly will enjoy it more following the late rally.Shortly after the game ended, Welsh-Ryan Arena was evacuated because of a small fire. “I apologize,” Collins said. “Our guys got so hot down the stretch, the fire alarms went off.”
Because of the evacuation, the postgame press conferences were held in Anderson Hall next door.Before Saturday, Turner was 5 for 29 (17.2 percent) on 3-pointers this season, but said he never considered taking fewer shots.
“As a shooter, you should never lose confidence,” he said. “I was always high-spirited. I knew they weren’t falling, but the law of averages came true.”
DePaul hosts Chicago State on Wednesday night.Northwestern also hosts Chicago State next Saturday.

BOOOOOO!! Bulls blown away by Celts 133-77!!!

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

How bad was THIS Bulls embarressing loss? Even worse than the one tney suffered against Golden State.The Boston Celtics turned in a record-setting performance in their steady climb up the Eastern Conference standings.Jaylen Brown scored 23 points off the bench, Daniel Theis added a career-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and the Celtics routed the Bulls 133-77 on Saturday night for their fifth straight win.

‘I think your play is embarrassing;’ the worst of the worst night in Bulls history

The Bulls entered Saturday night coming off their biggest win of the season over the Thunder. But the game against the Celtics did not end well … at all.The 56-point margin of victory was the largest in franchise history, surpassing a 51-point win (153-102) over the Philadelphia Warriors on March 7, 1962. The winning differential also tied the mark by an NBA road team, set by Seattle in a 136-80 win at Houston on Dec. 6, 1986.The 56-point loss was the worst in Bulls history, eclipsing a 53-point (127-74) defeat at Minnesota on Nov. 8, 2001.The Celtics (15-10) overmatched and sped past the woeful Bulls from the opening tip — and never let up.

“I thought our guys were really locked in,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “They played hard all the way through.”

And ran up some impressive numbers.

“The offense has gotten better over the last couple of weeks,” Stevens said. “We just have to keep building on it.”

Jayson Tatum had 18 points and Terry Rozier added 15 as the Celtics used a 17-0 start and a balanced attack to roll to their second straight lopsided win after beating New York 128-100 on Thursday. The Celtics have outscored opponents by an average of 126.2 to 97.6 during their five-game run.

“I think since the last five games, we’ve been moving the ball very well, probably average 30 assists in every game we won,” Theis said. “That’s the way we should play — just fast.”

It was a different story for the Bulls.

“Disappointing effort, disappointing outcome after what I thought was a really hard-fought two games and at home last night,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. “Got to give Boston credit — I thought they made the shots.
“They kind of punched us and we didn’t respond.”

Shaquille Harrison came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points for the Bulls, who had lost eight of nine. Zach LaVine had 11 for the Bulls (6-21), whose previous worst loss this season was by 39 points (122-83) to Toronto on Nov. 17.

“We all should be [embarrassed],” LaVine said.
The Bulls fell flat after beating Oklahoma City 114-112 on Friday night on Lauri Markkanen’s layup in the closing seconds, giving Boylen his first win as an NBA head coach.A longtime NBA assistant, Boylen took over Monday when Fred Hoiberg was fired following a 5-19 start. The Bulls lost at Indiana the following night in Boylen’s debut.The Celtics took charge early in this one, racing ahead 17-0 as they shot 8-for-11 from the floor at the start. Boston led 35-17 after one quarter as it shot 60.9 percent, and led 64-43 at the half thanks to 52.4 percent shooting.For the game, the Celtics outshot the Bulls 53.8 percent to 38.3 percent.The scoring in Boston’s first-half outburst was evenly distributed. Marcus Morris led with 12 points, while Tatum, Theis and Rozier each had 10.The Celtics’ biggest lead in the first half was 22 points and the Bulls never got closer than 13.The sleeping Home team missed their first 12 field goal attempts, prompting Boylen to pull all five starters 4:45 in. The Bulls didn’t score until Jabari Parker hit a pair of free throws 6:18 in — raising a derisive cheer from the United Center crowd. The Bulls didn’t get their first basket until Robin Lopez sank a turnaround hook 36 seconds later.The Celtics kept the pressure on, outscoring the Bulls 69-34 in the second half.Celtics: Forward/center Al Horford missed the game with a sore left knee after recording 19 points and 12 rebounds against New York on Thursday. Forward/center Aron Baynes (sprained left ankle) also sat out. He limped off the court late in the last two minutes of the first quarter versus the Knicks. … Forward Guerschon Yabusele had to be helped off the court midway through the fourth quarter after landing awkwardly. Stevens said Yabusele suffered a “bad sprain.”

Boylen still isn’t sure when guard Kris Dunn (sprained left MCL) and forward Bobby Portis (sprained right MCL) will return. “Long-term health is what we’re about,” Boylen said. “We expect them back soon, any day, but not today. We’ll re-evaluate tomorrow.” … A longtime NBA assistant, Boylen said he’s very close to Hoiberg and said feelings are still “really raw” following the firing of his former boss. Boylen shook off questions about whether Hoiberg “lost the locker room.” “I approach the locker room different than Fred,” Boylen said. “It doesn’t mean better, worse or whatever. We’re different people.”

The Celtics have scored at least 115 points in every game during their five-game winning streak, their longest such run since doing it six consecutive times in March 1988.
Boylen said he celebrated his first victory as an NBA head coach on Friday night at home with his family. “We had a bowl of cereal with my kids and watched the ‘Family Feud,'” he said.

Late run carries Ohio State past Illini in United Center

Illinois Fighting Illini

After going scoreless in the previous game, Keyshawn Woods was determined to make a positive impact Wednesday night.He stepped up precisely when Ohio State needed it.Woods scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, Kaleb Wesson added 13 and the 19th-ranked Buckeyes rallied in the second half for a 77-67 victory over Illinois.Musa Jallow had 11 points and nine rebounds as the Buckeyes (8-1) improved to 2-0 in the Big Ten.

”I know I struggled in the last game, but the season’s long,” Woods said. ”You’re going to have those up and downs, but you try not to have two in a row. That was my mentality coming into this game.”

Trent Frazier and Kipper Nichols scored 18 apiece as Illinois (2-7, 0-2) dropped its third straight.The Illini have lost 12 in a row to ranked teams. The school’s last victory against a Top 25 opponent was 68-66 over No. 20 Iowa in the second round of the 2016 Big Ten Tournament.

”I was really pleased with our first half,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. ”I thought, probably for a six-, seven- or eight-minute stretch, that was as good as we’ve looked, and the way I envision us.We were flying around, we took them out of what they wanted to do and the ball moved and we got some easy baskets.”

The second half was a different story, though. The Buckeyes shot 12 of 21 (57.1 percent) in the final 20 minutes to flip the game. The Illini went 9 for 33 (27.3 percent) after halftime.

”We did not play with great poise in the first half, and we didn’t coach with great poise in the first half,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. ”But I’m proud of our guys for responding.”

Ohio State had a 30-22 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the first half before the Illini closed with a 16-4 run for a 38-34 halftime lead.The frustration for Holtmann boiled over midway through the spurt when he picked up a technical foul for protesting a no-call at the Ohio State basket.

#5 Michigan escapes with 62-60 win over NU

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

EVANSTON—Jordan Poole and Michigan finally faced some adversity Tuesday night.Pushed right to the very end, they delivered.Poole made two big plays in the last 2 1/2 minutes and Ignas Brazdeikis scored 13 of his 23 points in the second half to help the fifth-ranked Wolverines hold off Northwestern for a 62-60 victory.
”I feel like a game like this brings us even more together, more chemistry, more everything,” Brazdeikis said. ”So this was really important for us.”
Michigan opened with eight straight wins by at least 17 points, including blowouts against Villanova, North Carolina and Purdue. Poole and company appeared headed for another runaway before the Wildcats challenged the Wolverines in the second half.
”I knew we were going to have to go through games like this if we were going to be good,” coach John Beilein said. ”We survived it – I don’t know how – but we made just enough good plays down the stretch.”
Poole finished with 15 points as Michigan (9-0, 2-0 Big Ten) added to its best start since it opened the 2012-13 season with 16 straight victories. Zavier Simpson scored 10 points, and Jon Teske had eight points and 10 rebounds.The game was tied at 58 when Poole fed Teske for a dunk with 2:30 left. After Ryan Taylor made a jumper for Northwestern, Poole drove inside for another dunk that made it 62-60 with 1:53 remaining.Michigan had a shot-clock violation with 14 seconds to go, giving Northwestern one last chance. Taylor was long on a desperation 3-pointer as time expired.
”We probably could’ve got a better shot,” Northwestern center Dererk Pardon said. ”It was contested. We could’ve gotten a better one, but we’re still learning and moving forward.”
Pardon led the Wildcats (6-3, 0-2) with 20 points on 9-for-10 shooting. Vic Law shook off a slow start and finished with 19.
It was Northwestern’s second straight tough loss, including 68-66 at Indiana on Saturday.

”We’ve just got to close games out down the stretch,” Law said. ”I don’t think it’s our offense that’s messing up late in games. We just have to lock in and be really sharp.”
Michigan appeared to be in control after opening the second half with a 9-0 run to make it 45-30 with 17:19 left. But Northwestern came roaring back.Pardon’s driving layup sparked a 15-2 spurt for the Wildcats. A.J. Turner’s three-point play sliced Michigan’s lead to 47-45 with 13:16 remaining, sending a charge through the crowd at Welsh-Ryan Arena and prompting the Wolverines to take a timeout.Brazdeikis helped Michigan settle down, converting a layup to make it 51-45 with 11:30 left. The freshman, who exited for a brief moment in the first half after he was elbowed in the back, went 9 for 18 from the field.It was Michigan’s first win at Northwestern since a 94-66 victory on Jan. 3, 2013. The Wolverines lead the overall series 113-59.The Wolverines had some defensive issues in the second half but helped themselves with a 33-26 rebounding advantage for the game.Northwestern: Law sparked the Wildcats in the second half, scoring 11 points.Michigan stays home for the next month, beginning Saturday against South Carolina. The Wolverines’ next road game is Jan. 10 at Illinois.NU hosts DePaul on Saturday and doesn’t play another Big Ten game until Jan. 2 at Michigan State.

Bulls dismiss Hoiberg, Boylen takes over.

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Fred Hoiberg didn’t see this coming. He arrived at the Advocate Center on Monday morning expecting to run a practice at 11 a.m. The Bulls have lost six straight games and 10 of their last 11, but Lauri Markkanen — arguably their most important player — hadn’t played a minute this season until Saturday’s 121-105 loss in Houston. Kris Dunn, their starting point guard, has appeared in one game. Bobby Portis, who looked outstanding in preseason, has been out since Oct. 24. Hoiberg expected he’d have a chance to coach a healthy roster before being sent packing. It is easy to reflexively defend coaches who lose their jobs, and I am not here to say the Bulls have made a mistake. Maybe Jim Boylen is exactly the coach they need as they try to climb up the standings over the next few years; maybe they will hire someone else who will fit better than Hoiberg. The timing, however, is confusing. Why even have Hoiberg run training camp if you don’t have the patience to let him see the frontcourt of the future — Markkanen and remarkable rookie Wendell Carter — share the floor for more than 15 minutes? Hoiberg’s exit is an unfortunate microcosm of his entire perplexing tenure, in which the Bulls never gave him the proper pieces to succeed. He arrived in 2015-16 on a five-year contract worth $25 million, and management sold him as the guy who would modernize the team after five seasons of the old-school Tom Thibodeau. In his first year, he had to deal with a dysfunctional locker room used to a completely different personality. Derrick Rose, trying to recapture his stardom, had a higher usage rate than Jimmy Butler. Management smartly moved Rose the following summer and promised fans that the Bulls would be younger and more athletic … and then signed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, contradicting all of that and preventing Hoiberg from running an offense based on spacing and ball movement. The ill-fated “three alphas” experiment gave way to a full-fledged rebuild, and the Bulls are still in the early stages of the post-Butler era. Hoiberg hasn’t definitively proven that he’s a high-caliber NBA coach, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he succeeded elsewhere. No reasonable person would call him the primary reason for the team’s 115-155 record since he was hired. That, obviously, is the front office. Late Sunday, the Sun-Times reported that Hoiberg would be coaching for his job. This didn’t necessarily mean the Bulls had to turn their 5-19 season around, but their young players had to show significant development. Regardless of what you think about the cards Hoiberg was dealt and the job he has done, this sounds more or less fair: If this year is about playing the young guys and building for the future, then Hoiberg’s coaching staff should be expected to make them better players by the end than they were at the beginning. It is strange to pivot like this in the middle. The weirdest part of this is that the Bulls season has actually been sort of encouraging when viewed through the lens of player development. Zach LaVine is still putting up monster numbers as he adjusts to being at the top of every opponent’s scouting report. Carter has been nothing short of a revelation. Ryan Arcidiacono and Chandler Hutchison have been bright spots, too. When the Bulls are healthy, they might actually have a pretty decent bench, as far as rebuilding teams go. Considering how badly the organization bungled the end of the Thibodeau era and how widely it was panned for the Butler trade, the Bulls, back in action on Tuesday against Indiana (6 p.m), is not in that bad a place. There are several young players with potential on the roster, and the team hasn’t traded away any future first-round picks. Even its most divisive move, signing Jabari Parker, came with no long-term risk: his salary next season is not guaranteed. It is precisely this state of affairs, however, that makes this firing feel a bit unsavory. Hoiberg inherited a talented, but flawed and divided group. He tried to manage an untenable situation involving two guards everyone ignored on the perimeter. He tolerated a tanking season, watched two power forwards fight in practice and tried to steer this year’s team as it endured endless injuries. Now, less than 48 hours after Markannen’s return showed some light at the end of the tunnel, he is out. Tough business.

Bears upset by Giants in OT.

EAST RUTHERFORD—The New York Giants finally have a signature win to carry them through the rest of the season and maybe beyond.While beating the NFC North-leading Bears wasn’t pretty and involved blowing up a 10-point lead in the final 1:13, the Giants showed character in a wild game in the rain highlighted by trick plays – and a reminder of William ”The Fridge” Perry.The Giants (4-8) won for seventh time in 28 games over the past two seasons as Aldrick Rosas kicked a 44-yard field goal in overtime in a 30-27 win Sunday, snapping the Bears’ five-game winning streak.

”The takeaway is, and I told the team this, some people are fond of talented people, some people are fond of smart people. I’m fond of tough, resilient people,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. ”When you are trying to flip culture and when you are trying to build something, you have to dig in on that. There was some toughness and resiliency when they came back to tie things up.”

Rosas’ third field goal of the game came on the opening series of overtime. It was set up by a 29-yard run by rookie Saquon Barkley, who finished with 125 yards on 24 carries.The Giants didn’t nail down the win until Janoris Jenkins knocked away a deep fourth-down pass to Taylor Gabriel after quarterback Chase Daniel fumbled on consecutive plays on the rainy afternoon to set up a fourth-and-8.The Bears (8-4) forced overtime by getting a 21-yard field goal by Cody Parkey and a 1-yard touchdown pass from halfback Tarik Cohen to Anthony Miller as time expired in the fourth quarter. The trick-play touchdown was set up by a recovered onside kick by Daniel Brown on a play Giants star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. did not dive for the loose ball. Then came a questionable pass interference call in the end zone against cornerback B.W. Webb with :03 to go.

”I’m proud of them for fighting to the end. Not every team will do that,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. ”We’ve got a bunch of high-character guys that will fight till the end and that’s a credit to them. We’ve got to figure out how to learn from this. This is part of that callus that goes on.”

Besides the Cohen pass on what appeared to be a sweep, the Giants saw Beckham throw and catch touchdowns, and Chicago nose tackle Akiem Hicks dive over on fourth down from 1 yard on a play made famous by Perry in the Bears glory days in the mid-1980s.The Giants seemed to have it wrapped up when Rosas kicked a 37-yard field goal for a 27-17 lead with 1:49 to play. But the Bears rallied behind Daniel (26 of 39 for 285 yards, a TD and two interceptions) and several mistakes by the Giants, who were called for 12 penalties for 107 yards.New York had two penalties on the tying drive, which featured a 23-yard, fourth-down pass from Daniel to Cohen to the Giants 9 with 11 seconds left in regulation.Cohen finished with 12 catches for 156 yards.Linebacker Alex Ogletree intercepted two passes, scoring on an 8-yard return on the second play from scrimmage. The Giants forced three turnovers and had a season-high five sacks against Daniel, who was starting his second game for the injured Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder).The Giants made many big plays in the second half. Beckham threw a 49-yard TD pass to Russell Shepard and caught a 1-yard, fourth-down TD from Eli Manning (19 of 35 for 170 yards and an interception) as New York opened a 24-14 lead in the third quarter.