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SEC contenders must navigate 10 games versus league foes | News, Sports, Jobs

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FILE – In this Dec. 5, 2014, file photo, the SEC logo is displayed on the field ahead of the Southeastern Conference championship football game between Alabama and Missouri in Atlanta. The Southeastern Conference will play only league games in 2020 to deal with potential COVID-19 disruptions, a decision that pushes major college football closer to a siloed regular season in which none of the power conferences cross paths(AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

By JOHN ZENOR AP Sports Writer
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) —
The Southeastern Conference has long touted itself as the nation’s toughest football league from top to bottom.
That begs the question: How hard will it be to win the SEC this season? The league announced Thursday its 14 teams will each play a 10-game schedule against fellow SEC opponents because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gone are not only some marquee out-of-conference matchups but also the FCS and lower-level games that fill the schedule with often easy wins.
Specifics of the league-wide schedules still have to be worked out and approved by the SEC’s athletic directors. But a 10-game schedule played within a league that has claimed 10 national championships since 2006 could make it a brutal scramble for the SEC title game, now scheduled for Dec. 19 in Atlanta.
It’s possible that one of the contenders could have an easier path overall, or that the shakeup could make it more treacherous in a league where teams are known for beating up on each other. That’s especially true in the deep Western Division. Alabama missed the playoffs for the first time last season after losing by a combined eight points to eventual national champion LSU and more surprisingly in-state rival Auburn.
Regular division standard bearers Alabama and Georgia, for instance, already were set to meet in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 19 for the first time since 2007. The Crimson Tide’s original opener against USC was already canceled and so are presumed mismatches with Georgia State, Kent State and Tennessee-Martin.
Two of those games will be filled in with SEC teams. The top team Alabama wasn’t scheduled to play was Florida.
“The safety of our team will be our highest priority throughout the season, but we are also excited that our players will have the opportunity to compete and play this season,” Tide coach Nick Saban said.
Georgia, the defending SEC East champion, won’t play in-state rival Georgia Tech — an easy win the past three seasons — but also loses games with Virginia, East Tennessee State and Louisiana-Monroe.
The Bulldogs weren’t scheduled to face either Texas A&M or LSU from the West — or a less highly regarded Arkansas.
“The only thing for certain is we’ll play our Eastern opponents, and we have Auburn and Alabama from the West,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said. “Then we’ll have two more.
“But we’ve not even started that discussion yet. It was not our intent to go there first. That might have swayed some of the decision-making if you knew who you were going to play. So, we’ll start that discussion very soon with the commissioner.”
Things could get tougher for other potential SEC contenders, like Florida, LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn.
LSU dropped a game against traditional power Texas, along with Texas-San Antonio, Rice and Nicholls. Potential SEC adds include Georgia and Tennessee.
Wiped out for Florida were the traditional regular-season finale against Florida State but also much less appealing matchups with Eastern Washington, South Alabama and New Mexico State.
Florida’s schedule will almost certainly get harder since the Gators weren’t scheduled to play either Alabama, Texas A&M or Auburn from the West.
The Tigers had already lost their opening game against Alcorn State since the Southwestern Athletic Conference is set to play a shortened season in the spring.
Also gone are North Carolina, Southern Miss and Massachusetts.
Texas A&M presumably had an easier road after facing both Clemson and Georgia on the road last season. Gone now are Abilene Christian, North Texas, Colorado and Fresno State.
The Bulldogs, Gators and Tennessee are potentially tougher replacements.
If the SEC is indeed the toughest football conference, that means the teams have the hardest road to a title. The top priority now is just trying to play the season amid a pandemic.
“A conference-only schedule gives us the best opportunity to have a complete season because of the flexibility it provides with control over conference games and the ability to make adjustments, when there is a possibility of disruption,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said.
___ AP Sports Writers Paul Newberry and Pete Iacobelli contributed to this report.
___
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25




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UK Sport chief Sally Munday optimistic for future of women’s sport | News

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Watch The Women’s Sport Debate, live on Sky Sports Action on Wednesday at 8pm and Women’s Sport Debate: The Reaction at 9pm

Last Updated: 12/08/20 6:09am

The CEO believes that momentum around women's sport will return and continue

The CEO believes that momentum around women’s sport will return and continue

Sally Munday MBE, UK Sport chief executive, is optimistic that the disruption to women’s sport will just be a short-term “blip”.

A year on from 11.7 million people tuning in to watch England play the USA in football’s Women’s World Cup semi-finals, women’s sport is struggling to return from the coronavirus shutdown.

Whilst several men’s team sports have resumed, the same can’t be said of women’s sport.

“I don’t want us to talk ourselves into there being a backwards step,” Munday said to Sky Sports.

“I want us to talk ourselves into the fact that we’ve got to use this situation. Every challenging situation is an opportunity.”

  • The show will take a detailed look at why and how women’s sport has been affected in recent months.
  • The panel will discuss what has led women’s sport to this point and what needs to happen next.
  • Ebony Rainford-Brent, Will Greenwood and Tamsin Greenway form part of the panel of experts.
  • ‘Women’s Sport Debate: Live Reaction’ will follow at 9pm with both shows streamed live on YouTube.

In football, the Premier League and Championship resumed, but Chelsea were named WSL champions on June 5 after the league was curtailed and the final standings were decided using a basic points-per-game basis.

In rugby union, the men’s Gallagher Premiership plans to return on August 15, long after the women’s Premier 15s season was declared null and void. And, England’s male cricketers have played the West Indies, Ireland and Pakistan, but England’s women are not set to play until September 1 at the earliest.

“I can see why some people would feel like [the momentum] it’s been lost, but I really believe that it’s just a blip,” Munday said.

“People do want to watch women’s sport and I don’t think just because we’ve paused that it will stop,” she added.

“I think people have had a taste for how brilliant women’s sport is, live and on TV, and I really am optimistic that this is a moment in time, and that we’ve got to get past and that we will then rebuild to gain the momentum we’ve seen before.”

1:33
Join us on Wednesday night on Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Action and our YouTube channel for a special debate show on the impact of Covid-19 on women’s sport #WomensSportDebate

Join us on Wednesday night on Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Action and our YouTube channel for a special debate show on the impact of Covid-19 on women’s sport #WomensSportDebate

The gender disparity doesn’t appear to be as stark when it comes to Olympic and Paralympic athletes though, as Munday pointed out.

“Olympic and Paralympic sport has very much paved the way in terms of equal gender,” she said.

“The vast majority of Olympic and Paralympic sports treat men’s and women’s sports exactly the same way. That’s what we’ve seen during COVId-19 in terms of getting back to training.

“There’s been no difference in approach from Olympic and Paralympic sport – they want to get their sports back and that is women and men.

Mavs’ Ratnapala: Netball will ‘fly’ again

Saracens Mavericks’ Kat Ratnapala has no doubt that netball can “fly again” but admits that it will be a struggle for the franchise to secure their future.

“I think women’s sport is ripe for incredible growth, I think that the period ahead to Tokyo next year will give us an opportunity to showcase women’s sport again.

“Not only do we have the Olympic and Paralympic Games, where there’s likely to be more female than male athletes in Team GB, we’ve then got the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and that’s still on course to be the first multi-sport major that has more women than men’s events.

“Many of the current stars, that we’ve been seeing in the Olympic movement from Dina [Asher-Smith] and Hannah [Cockroft], through to Sarah [Storey] and Alice Tai, they are female and are showcasing the very best of Olympic and Paralympic sport.”

Watch The Women’s Sport Debate, live on Sky Sports at 8pm and Women’s Sport Debate: The Reaction at 9pm, plus stream both shows via the Sky Sports YouTube channel.



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Celtics Keep Grizzlies From Clinching Spot in Play-In Series | Sports News

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LAKE BUENA VISTA (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 29 points and the Boston Celtics ran past Memphis 122-107 on Tuesday, putting the Grizzlies in further danger of missing the playoffs.

The Grizzlies missed another chance to guarantee themselves a spot in the Western Conference play-in series, and could fall out of eighth place if Portland beats Dallas later Tuesday.

Boston (48-23), which has already locked up the Eastern Conference’s third seed, won its fourth straight.

Gordon Hayward added 19 points and five assists.

Memphis (33-39) lost for the sixth time in seven games since the restart. Ja Morant finished with 26 points and 13 assists.

The Grizzlies arrived in Florida with 3 1/2-game cushion over their nearest competitor for the eighth seed in the West. But their struggles have guaranteed the need for a play-in game for that final spot with Portland, San Antonio and Phoenix all still in contention.

Memphis will head into its final seeding game against Milwaukee on Thursday needing a win to earn a place in the play-in game. The team that finishes ninth would have to beat the eighth-place team twice.

Boston didn’t look like a team coasting into the postseason. Celtics coach Brad Stevens played his regular starters and they were active on both ends of the floor

Tatum paced the offensive attack, scoring 17 points in just 15 minutes of action in the first half.

Tied at 13 in the first quarter, the Celtics went a 33-11 run and led by as many as 22 in the second quarter.

Boston held the Grizzlies to 33% (17 of 51) shooting in the half, including 1 of 13 (7.7%) from the 3-point line.

Celtics: Closed first quarter on 11-4 run. Shot 51% from the field (44 of 86) for the game.

Grizzlies: Finished 24% (7 of 29) from beyond the arc.

Celtics: Play Wizards on Thursday.

Grizzlies: Play Bucks on Thursday

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: Tottenham complete signing of Southampton midfielder | Football News

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Denmark midfielder joins Tottenham for around £15m on five-year deal; Kyle Walker-Peters leaves Spurs to join Saints in separate deal

Last Updated: 11/08/20 7:13pm

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is Tottenham's first signing of the summer transfer window

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is Tottenham’s first signing of the summer transfer window

Tottenham have completed the signing of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Southampton.

The Denmark midfielder has signed a five-year contract after completing a medical on Monday and becomes Jose Mourinho’s first summer signing, joining for a fee of around £15m plus bonuses.

In a separate deal, 23-year-old full-back Kyle Walker-Peters has gone in the opposite direction – leaving Spurs to join Southampton – signing a five-year deal at St Mary’s after spending the second half of last season on loan with the club.

Kyle Walker-Peters has signed a five-year deal with Southampton

Kyle Walker-Peters has signed a five-year deal with Southampton

Hojbjerg made 134 appearances for Southampton after joining from Bayern Munich in 2016, with the Dane going on to become Saints skipper before being stripped of the captaincy in June when he confirmed his desire to leave the club.

“What was very important for me was that I wanted to play at a club where I could see myself for many years, and Tottenham was just the one,” Hojbjerg told the club’s website.

“I’m very proud, very happy, excited. I think there is a fantastic future ahead for the club, and I wanted so much to be a part of that.

“Spurs has fantastic players, fantastic manager, a fantastic setup.

“I feel lucky and proud to be a part of it, and I want to give my everything, but I also want to learn a lot, to push for the next step, but still keeping that consistency.”

After failing to break into Tottenham’s first team, Walker-Peters impressed on loan at Southampton as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side produced a strong finish to the Premier League season following its June restart.

Walker-Peters played in all nine of Southampton’s games after the restart as they lost just once to climb to an 11th-placed finish.

“I’m delighted to have signed here,” Walker-Peters told Southampton’s website. “The last few months on loan have been great for me and a lot of fun too. I’ve really enjoyed my football, the atmosphere here and also the style of play.

“The club definitely fits the way I like to play, and I hope that people were able to see that during the last month or so of the season.

“I feel like I’ve already developed in the time I’ve been here, and that’s a big part of wanting to stay too. Obviously, it’s a club with a great reputation for improving young players and, personally, I’ve found it really valuable working under the manager, with his ideas on the game and what he expects from you as an individual.

“I think the way we finished the season gives us real optimism about where we’re heading too, and it just feels like a really good place for me to keep developing as a player and make the best out of what I have.”

Analysis: Why Tottenham are signing Hojbjerg

Sky Sports’ Lyall Thomas:

Jose Mourinho has been in the market for a new – what he calls – ‘positional’ midfielder since attempts to adapt Eric Dier to the position proved unsuccessful and he was moved to centre-back.

Mourinho likes to play a single ‘pivot’ in midfield – think back to the likes of Claude Makelele at Chelsea – who will protect the back four dependably and consistently. It’s a key role in his system, and although Moussa Sissoko has done reasonably at it, they need someone more specialist at this position.

As the stats illustrate, Hojbjerg is that specialist; ideal for the role and both young yet still very experienced at big clubs and at international level. For £15m, he could present a shrewd bit of business by Spurs and Mourinho.

Analysis: The progressive box-to-box destroyer

The Denmark international is a box-to-box destroyer

The Denmark international is a box-to-box destroyer

Sky Sports’ Adam Smith:

In total, 37 per cent of Hojbjerg’s passes were directed upfield this season, which is something Spurs have struggled to achieve for some time – particularly since another Dane, Christian Eriksen, left the club.

Hojbjerg attempted 289 passes into the final third – a total surpassed by only 10 other players this season. Those risky passes reduce his accuracy, but Spurs needed an injection of forward momentum in their midfield.

Spurs have typically passed backwards or sideways and struggled to penetrate opposition lines, but Hojbjerg ranked 26th in the league this season with 672 forward passes attempted.

Spurs have typically passed backwards or sideways and struggled to penetrate opposition lines, but Hojbjerg ranked 26th in the league this season with 672 forward passes attempted.

The Denmark international also reclaimed possession a league-topping 326 times for Southampton during the campaign – epitomising the pressing style deployed under Ralph Hasenhuttl.

The graphic below reveals he primarily snuffs out dangerous flank attacks and is the complete box-to-box destroyer, dismantling opposition possession and causing a nuisance all over the pitch.

The 25-year-old has the mettle and mentality to drive Spurs forward and, at just £15m, he could prove to be this summer’s bargain deal.

Transfer Centre LIVE!

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Jose Mourinho says Harry Kane will not be as special at a different club and can be even better next season

Jose Mourinho says Harry Kane will not be as special at a different club and can be even better next season

All the latest news, analysis and rumours from the window in one place.

The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.

A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports’ digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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Opt in and bet £25 or more before 23:59 on Sunday to earn a free £5. Free bets will credited by 7pm on Monday.



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