Sixers vs. Warriors: The Battle for Wilt

Sixers vs. Warriors: The Battle for Wilt

What? An 8:00 tip for a Sixers game? Good lord, that must mean we're on
national television! Indeed, Sixers fans could be forgiven for showing
up an hour early for the game tonight out of habit—I may or may not have
done so myself—but it's indeed a late tip for the Sixers tonight, as
NBA analyst and Golden State Hall of Famer Chris Mullin is in the
building to call tonight's Sixers-Warriors game for ESPN.

Of course, this isn't just your average Sixers-Warriors game—as Enrico
already detailed, today is the 50th anniversary of Wilt's historic
100-point game in Hershey, PA in 1962, a single-game scoring record
likely to never be matched and unlikely to ever even be neared again.
(Kobe came the closest wtih his 81 six years ago, in a perfect storm of
otherworldly (and unrepentant) gunner, crappy teammates and
under-skilled defenders that may not happen for at least another 20
years.) As Wilt's performance came while on the Philadelphia Warriors,
the Sixers and Warriors have about equal claim to celebrating Wilt's
achievement as part of their history (either by franchise or geography),
so you could call tonight The Battle for Wilt—and in fact, I will, and
already have.

In less historic, more modern-day terms, tonight is simply a chance for
the Sixers to erase memories of a tough loss last Wednesday against the
Thunder. With the Warriors coming in at 14-18 and missing golden-boy
shooter Stephen Curry (defense-only two guard Dominic McGuire is
starting in his stead), it's entirely possible that clutch
fourth-quarter scoring might be a moot point for the Sixers—and indeed,
the Sixers thumped GSW 107-79 on New Year's Eve in the teams' first
meeting of the season—so Sunday's game against Chicago might be a better
chance for a makeup late-game performance. Still, the Warriors are
always dangerous—they've beaten the Bulls, Heat, Nuggets and Clippers
already this season—so let's not chalk up the W on this one just yet.

Again, 8:00 tip from the WFC. "I think it's a trend late in games that
we struggle," Andre Iguodala said after Wedensday's game in the
understatement of the season. "We've got to get out of that." Solid play
for the first three quarters and we should be able to put off worrying
too much about the fourth quarter for another two days. It's what Wilt would have wanted.

Penn State not going to College Football Playoff, likely headed to Rose Bowl

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USA Today Images

Penn State not going to College Football Playoff, likely headed to Rose Bowl

Penn State's wild comeback win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship was not enough.

The Nittany Lions were not selected to the four-team College Football Playoff, finishing fifth in the rankings.

Undefeated Alabama takes the top spot and will play No. 4 Washington. No. 2 Clemson will face No. 3 Ohio State.

Penn State earned its signature win of the season, handing felllow Big Ten member Ohio State its only loss of the season. 

However, Penn State sputtered in the beginning of the year, losing to unranked Pittsburgh and was thrashed by Michigan — who finished sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings — 49-10.

The Nittany Lions likely will play in the Rose Bowl, facing either USC or Colorado. The official announcement will be made later Sunday.

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric came into the NBA knowing his rookie season would be one of ups and downs. He would have successes based on his talent and struggle because of the newness of the league and matchups.

Saturday’s performance against the Celtics was one of those highlight nights. Saric scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both tying career-highs, for his third double-double. He was efficient in his performance, playing 27 minutes off the bench in the Sixers' 107-106 loss.

“I thought that was his best game as a 76er,” Brett Brown said.

Saric had struggled the night before against the Magic. He barely made a dent in 16 minutes, posting just two points (1 for 5 from the field) without a single rebound. The poor showing was on his mind Saturday, as he got ready for the second game of the back-to-back. He went in early to get up extra shots, met with coaches, studied film and thought about the matchup throughout the day.

“I prepared a little bit more for this game,” Saric said. “After I have some bad rhythm of five or six, maybe, games. Now I concentrate more. I try to give my best, try to play my best, try to think before everything happens.”

Saric showed his aggressiveness in crunch time in the fourth quarter, when he scored seven points and five rebounds in eight minutes. He nailed a three to cut the Celtics' lead to 92-91 with 4:28 to play. Then with 1:09 remaining, Saric’s free throws cut the Celtics' lead to two points. On the other end of the court, he snagged the rebound off an Isaiah Thomas miss and scored a game-tying layup from Jahlil Okafor.  

“He played great,” Okafor said. “He’s working hard every day, getting used to the NBA process. It was good to see hard work paying off for him.”

Saric has been adjusting to new roles throughout the season. He was thrown into the starting power forward spot when Ben Simmons was injured, and then moved to the bench when the team acquired Ersan Ilyasova. On Saturday, Brown also played Saric at small forward in Robert Covington’s (knee) absence, a shift the Sixers may try again.

“He’s a good teammate,” Brown said. “He’s biding his time. He understands he’s a rookie. Incrementally, he’ll be given these opportunities. Tonight he did and he responded and you’re seeing continued growth.”

Saric still is early in his NBA career, and Saturday's showing was a game he can look back on and study for the rest of the season. 

“I feel like tonight … you’d walk away and say, ‘Shoot, that’s a hell of a player for playing 20 games in the NBA and he did what he just did against a hell of a team,’” Brown said. “I’m proud of what we saw all over the place from Dario.”