Sixer Big Man Update: Dedmon in, Moultrie on his way, Noel on the horizon

Sixer Big Man Update: Dedmon in, Moultrie on his way, Noel on the horizon

It's been a situation in flux behind Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes in the Sixers' frontcourt rotation this season. Royce White, Gani Lawal, Daniel Orton have all come and gone, Lavoy Allen has shuttled in and out of the lineup with various maladies, and the only guy who seems to be able to nail down consistent minutes is the thusfar execrable Brandon Davies.

Help, however, would appear to be on the way. We've already gotten minor reinforcements in the form of Dewayne Dedmon, an undrafted rookie center out of USC that had been playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the D-League before being signed to a ten-day contract by the Sixers. Dedmon isn't billed as much of a scorer--though he did average 15 a game with the Warriors--but is said to be a rebounder and a shot-blocker, and in last night's win over the Bobcats, he provided that, grabbing seven boards and swatting two shots in 14 minutes of game action.

He may be joined on the front lines soon by second-year forward Arnett Moultrie. There was some thought that Moultrie would likely be cleared to play last night against Charlotte after missing the season's first two-and-a-half months after undergoing ankle surgery, but he apparently isn't quite in good enough shape for Coach Brown's liking just yet to get in game action.

"There are some medical tests and fitness tests that he has to pass so we don’t re-injure him,” CSN's Dei Lynam reports Brown explaining. "I am excited to see him play but there is criteria with regards to body-weight goals and fitness tests that just have not been met...to go this duration and shortcut it and re-injure him would just be reckless and irresponsible, so we are going to be patient with him." (Brown also says that Lavoy will likely be back and ready to go for the Ballers before Arnett.)

Much more exciting than any of this, though, is the revelation yesterday that it might not be too long before we get an extended look at prized rookie acquisition, Nerlens Noel. After spending the better part of the season recuperating from ACL surgery he underwent in early 2013--with Coach Brown wisely telling reporters that he expected Noel not to be back this season, thus taking the pressure off him to return--the infamous Dr. James Andrews has now reported that Nerlens has been cleared to begin basketball activities.

So when does that mean Nerlens will finally suit up for the Sixers? Well, that's still a ways away from being determined, and the answer might still be "not this season" if Brown and the rest of the staff get a look at Noel on the court and don't quite like what they see. But sources tell ESPN that if he stays on schedule and doesn't suffer a setback, the big man could be game-ready in 4-6 weeks, likely placing his return sometime a week or two after the All-Star break.

But again, just because he's been cleared by his doctors doesn't mean he's been cleared by the team, and given how conservative they've been with matters of health this year (and given how low a priority winning ballgames is this year) it'd probably be prudent not to get too excited just yet. Still, you watch video like this, and it's hard not to get a little antsy:

At the very least, our Brandon Davies-related suffering should be greatly reduced in the upcoming weeks. For that, we should be thankful.

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

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Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s offense rewrote the Big Ten Championship’s offensive record book Saturday night but its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin wasn’t secure until the final minute.

And Linebacker U. got the game-saving play from the secondary.

Wisconsin, armed with a pair of timeouts and lining up for a fourth-and-1 play from the Nittany Lions’ 24, called on Corey Clement. Clement, who’d already racked up 166 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, got the ball but never got close to the marker.

Grant Haley made sure of it.

The junior cornerback wrapped up Clement’s legs and safety Marcus Allen kept Clement from leaning forward and the game was over. Penn State (11-2) has the 2016 Big Ten title and, at worst, will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“They ran [a counter] early in the game and split it for a touchdown,” Haley said of the final play. “I saw them set the edge, so I got triggered really well and Marcus finished off the play.”

Haley and company watched the Badgers run wild in the first half; 164 yards and three touchdowns, including Clement’s 67-yard scamper. Wisconsin, one of the conference’s best rushing teams this season, managed less than half that total (77) in the second half.

“They really weren’t running that many plays,” Haley added. “We just came out in the second half and had a jolt. 

“We just had the energy going into the second half.”

Wisconsin got the ball twice in the fourth quarter but managed only 65 yards - 51 of which came on its final drive.

“Give credit to Penn State for coming out in the second half and making those adjustments and allowing those big plays to happen,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. 

Give plenty of credit, too, to the Nittany Lions’ offense. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was named the game’s most valuable player after completing 17 of his 25 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns - both championship game records. He helped Penn State complete the biggest comeback in the game’s six year history after his team fell behind 28-7 in the first half and also finished the regular season with 3,360 yards and 25 touchdown passes, both school records.

Saeed Blacknall had six catches for a Big Ten Championship-record 155 yards and two touchdowns and DaeShean Hamilton finished with 118 yards on eight grabs.

Tailback Saquon Barkley, injured in last weekend’s victory over Michigan State, returned with 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from McSorley early in the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good.

Penn State, in its first-ever trip to this game, is coming home from it with just its second outright Big Ten title. It’s on a nine-game winning streak that has seen it average 40 points per contest.

It also could present the College Football Playoff selection committee with a bit of quandary. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked seventh by the committee last week, topped the No. 6 Badgers and claimed a conference championship, something likely playoff teams Alabama, Clemson and Washington all boast.

On the flip side, Penn State’s last defeat was a lopsided 49-10 loss at Michigan, which sits at No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t move into the top four after losing last week to No. 2 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin stated his team’s case after Saturday night’s win, but also made it clear he and his team won’t be moping their way to Pasadena, Calif., where the conference champion is slotted if it is not chosen for the playoff.

“We’ve got great options in front of us,” he said. “I hear people on TV talking about they feel like maybe the playoff has taken away from the bowls. 

“Are you kidding me? The Rose Bowl? It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews will not play Sunday against the Bengals after missing practice all week with an ankle sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Matthews is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor will reportedly be inserted back into the lineup. If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active on Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.