Joe's Morning Sports-Thursday, February 18, 2021

Two people familiar with the situation tell The Associated Press that San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has agreed to a 14-year, $340 million package that will keep the electrifying shortstop under contract until he's 35.  It will be the longest contract signed in Major League Baseball history.  Tatis has two years of service and would have been eligible for salary arbitration for the first time next offseason.

Eric Ayala scored 17 of his career-high 24 points in the first half and home-team Maryland beat Nebraska 79-71 to sweep the regular-season series on consecutive nights.  Ayala, who led three players in double figures, also added seven rebounds.  The Terrapins have won three straight, including a 64-50 victory over the Cornhuskers on Tuesday night.  That contest replaced the originally scheduled game on Jan. 16, which was postponed due to health and safety protocols within the NU program.  Aaron Wiggins added 22 points for Maryland, who made 13 three-pointers.  Teddy Allen led Nebraska with 25 points, one shy of his career best.  Allen, who also added five boards, led three players in double figures for his team.  The Terrapins, who led at halftime 40-33, improve to 13-10 overall and 7-9 in the Big Ten while the Huskers fall to 5-14 overall and 1-11 in the conference.

Kate Cain matched a career-high with 22 points, Isabelle Bourne had 21 points and a career-best 17 rebounds, and Nebraska pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat 24th ranked home-team Northwestern 71-64.  The Huskers ended a four-game losing streak despite committing 28 turnovers, and swept the season series against the Wildcats.  Lindsey Pulliam scored 22 points to lead Northwestern while teammate Jordan Hamilton added a double-double of ten points and ten rebounds.  Nebraska improves to 10-9 overall and 8-8 in the Big Ten while the Wildcats drop to 11-5 overall and 9-5 in the conference.

Following extensive consultation with the Irish government, medical authorities and the administrative staffs at Nebraska and Illinois, the 2021 season-opening football game scheduled for Aug. 28 between the two schools will not be played in Dublin, Ireland, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Huskers and Fighting Illini still plan to open the 2021 season on Aug. 28, but now the game will be played in Champaign at Illinois' Memorial Stadium.  In other Husker football news, Ron Brown has a new job in the football program.  The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the Husker assistant coach and, more recently, off-field staffer will go forward as a senior offensive analyst for head coach Scott Frost.  That's his new title on the school's official staff directory.  Brown has been with Frost since Frost took the head coaching job in December 2017 and until recently served as the director of player development.  Frost hired Marcus Castro-Walker recently for that job, which he said is an "all-encompassing role.”  Brown has spent 24 years as an assistant coach at Nebraska.

The Nebraska baseball team will play a 44-game, conference-only schedule, as announced by the Big Ten.  With all 44 games counting as conference games, the Big Ten also announced that there will be no 2021 Big Ten Tournament, which Omaha was slated to host in May.  The 13-week schedule consists of five, four-game weekends and eight, three-game weekends.  Each team is scheduled to play every other conference team at least three times.  The Huskers open the season with two weekends at neutral sites.  The first of these neutral site events will take place in Round Rock, Texas, starting on March 5.  At Dell Diamond Stadium, Nebraska will play a four-game series against the Purdue Boilermakers.  NU returns home on March 26 for the start of a four-game series against Minnesota.  Nebraska's 2020 season was canceled on March 12 due to the pandemic.  In the first year under the direction of Will Bolt, they posted a 7-8 record against a schedule that featured seven games against teams from the Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences.

With the onset of the 2021 baseball season less than ten days away for Creighton, the Bluejays are slotted to finish second in the BIG EAST Preseason poll, just one point behind favorite Connecticut.  Creighton finished 5-10 in a season that was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  They open their season in Nashville, Tenn. on Feb. 26 at Lipscomb.

The head of the Nebraska School Activities Association says he plans to meet with Norfolk public school officials after reports that an Omaha girls basketball team was subjected to racial slurs at a game.  Omaha Northwest reported earlier this week that racial slurs were shouted at its girls while they were leaving the floor in Norfolk on Friday.  The NSAA executive director Jay Bellar says he will meet with Norfolk officials today.  Norfolk Public Schools said in a statement that it does not tolerate racism and apologized for any inappropriate comments or actions.  Bellar says Norfolk school officials are currently investigating the situation.

The Norfolk High wrestling team currently sits in fifth place after the first day of the Class 'A' Wrestling State Championships at CHI Health Center Omaha.  The Panthers had four wrestlers advance yesterday to the semifinals in Jesse Lewis (106); Jake Licking (145); Josh Licking (160); & Austin Miller (170).  They went 2-0 on Wednesday.  Gavin Van Driel (113); Weston Godfrey (132); & Brayden Heffner (285) remain alive in consolation matches.  Calvin Empkey (120); Dylan Busch (126); Jake Hoffman (138); & Joel Mercado (220) have been eliminated.  The event continues today for Classes ‘A’ & ‘D’ starting with Class ‘A’ at 9:00 AM.  Class ‘D’ will continue their competition at 1:00.  Reports can be heard today-Saturday on 106 KIX & 97.5 KEXL.  Elsewhere on today’s local schedule, in basketball, in a game that can be heard on 97.5 KEXL & KEXL.com, the Norfolk Catholic girls face Clarkson/Leigh at Clarkson in the C-2-6 Sub-District Final at 7:00.  Pregame coverage at 6:40.  Also, the Norfolk High girls entertain Lincoln Northeast at 7:15, the Northeast Hawks volleyball squad hosts a triangular where they play Southwestern of Iowa at 5:00 and Iowa Lakes at 7:00, and the Northeast Hawks softball team is in Aberdeen, South Dakota playing McCook Community College at 9:30 AM and North Platte Community College at 11:30 at the Presentation College Dome.

This week’s Hausmann Physical Therapy Star Athlete of the Week goes to Jamie Janke of the Class ‘A’ State Champion Wayne bowling team.  Last week, she was the Class ‘A’ individual runner-up and then was also the anchor bowler of the state championship team three days later that did not lose a game.  Janke was nominated by Coach Josh Johnson.  Congratulations to Jamie Janke of the Class ‘A’ State Champion Wayne bowling team, she is this week’s Hausmann Physical Therapy Star Athlete of the Week.

Local Scores:  Lincoln East 58 Nfk High 28 (GBB); Des Moines Area CC, IA 102 NECC 79 (MBB); Des Moines Area CC, IA 75 NECC 56 (WBB); NECC 12 North Platte CC 3; McCook CC 13 NECC 8 (SB DH); Nebraska 71 (24) Northwestern 64 (WBB).

Hausmann Physical Therapy Star Athlete of the Week:  Jamie Janke of the Class ‘A’ State Champion Wayne bowling team.

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NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

    Chicago    at    Charlotte    7 p.m.    (Postponed)

    San Antonio    at    Cleveland    8 p.m.    (Postponed)

    Detroit    at    Dallas    9 p.m.    (Postponed)

Final    Orlando    107    New York    89    

Final    Atlanta    122    Boston    114    

Final    Philadelphia    118    Houston    113    

Final    Chicago    105    Detroit    102    

Final    Washington    130    Denver    128    

Final OT    Indiana    134    Minnesota    128    

Final    Portland    126    New Orleans    124    

Final    Memphis    122    Oklahoma City    113    

Final    Utah    114    L.A. Clippers    96    

Final OT    Golden State    120    Miami    112    

___

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Final OT    Florida    4    Carolina    3    

Final    Chicago    2    Detroit    0    

Final    Vancouver    5    Calgary    1    

Final    Edmonton    3    Winnipeg    2    

Final    Toronto    2    Ottawa    1    

___

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

    East Carolina    at    (6)Houston    8 p.m.    (Postponed)

Final    (17)Southern Cal    89    Arizona St.    71    

Final    (19)Tennessee    93    South Carolina    73    

Final    (22)Loyola of Chicago    54    Valparaiso    52    

Final    (23)Kansas    59    Kansas St.    41   

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