BASKETBALL

The NBA may be back before Christmas and fans could return to games at some point next season, if one plan considered by the league’s board of governors becomes reality.

The board is targeting a Dec. 22 start to what would be a season of 70 to 72 games, with the NBA finals ending in June, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no plan has been finalized, said the possibility of fans being at games would hinge on how a particular market is faring against the coronavirus at that time.

There are other options, such as waiting until later in the season to begin play with the hope that more arenas would be able to have fans. But starting in December instead of mid-January or later could generate a difference of roughly $500 million in revenue, the person said.

COLLEGES

FOOTBALL: Graham Mertz threw five touchdown passes to match the Wisconsin record in his first career start, and the No. 14 Badgers beat visiting Illinois, 45-7, to open the pandemic-delayed Big Ten season.

Mertz, a redshirt freshman, set a school record for completion percentage on 20-of-21 passing, finishing with 248 yards. The lone incompletion was a pass that running back Garret Groshek dropped midway through the third quarter.

• The 121st Army-Navy game will be played at West Point’s Michie Stadium instead of the traditional site in Philadelphia.

The move is being made because of attendance limits placed on outdoor events in Pennsylvania as a result of the pandemic.

Army gets to host the Dec. 12 game because the Black Knights are designated as the home team.

It will mark the first time the Army-Navy game has been played at a home site since World War II, when Annapolis hosted the 1942 game and West Point host the 1943 game.

BASKETBALL: The Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, is completing plans to host more than 30 teams as it becomes a modified bubble for several early-season tournaments, including two moved from New York.

The resort has teamed with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which holds the men’s Tip-Off Tournament and Women’s Challenge every year, and the Gazelle Group, which runs the Empire Classic and the Legends Classic in New York.

Organizers also plan to host several other games. Rick Giles, president of the Gazelle Group, expects about 35 teams from more than a dozen conferences will participate at what they are dubbing “Bubbleville” between Nov. 25 and Dec. 5, with up to seven games a day.

HORSE RACING

BAFFERT HORSE TEST POSITIVE AGAIN: A filly trained by two-time Triple Crown winner Bob Baffert has tested positive in a postrace drug test for the second time this year, making it the third positive test by a horse in Baffert’s stable in the last six months.

Craig Robertson, Baffert’s attorney, issued a statement confirming Gamine’s test results after her third-place finish as the 7-10 favorite in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on Sept. 4. The two-time Grade 1 winner tested positive for betamethasone, a corticosteroid, which Robertson said is “a legal, commonly used anti-inflammatory medication.”

Betamethasone is a Class C drug that is allowed in Kentucky as a therapeutic. However, state rules require at least a 14-day withdrawal time and any level of detection on race day is a violation. The penalty for a first offense for a trainer is a fine of at least $1,000, without mitigating circumstances.

It was Gamine’s second positive this year.

After she won at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas on May 2, she tested positive for lidocaine and was disqualified when split-sample testing confirmed the initial positive. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that is allowed, but requires at 72-hour withdrawal time. It falls in the Class B category, which calls for stiffer penalties.

Baffert is appealing his 15-day suspension by Arkansas stewards. He blamed the positive test on environmental contamination linked to a pain patch worn by assistant trainer Jim Barnes.

SOCCER

U.S. MEN: The U.S. men’s national team will return to the field for the first time since January for a Nov. 12 exhibition at Wales.

The Americans have not played since a 1-0 win over Costa Rica on Feb. 1.

ENGLAND: Aston Villa’s perfect start in the Premier League was ended by Leeds in a 3-0 loss in Birmingham, thanks to a second-half hat trick by Patrick Bamford.

MLS: Adam Buksa scored his fifth goal of the season in the 77th minute and the New England Revolution tied Nashville 1-1 in a rainy, weather-delayed game in Nashville, Tennessee.

New England (7-5-8) remained fifth in the Eastern Conference. Nashville (6-6-7) had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Buksa, a second-half substitute, scored three minutes after Walker Zimmerman opened the scoring for Nashville. Buksa took a pass at the top of the 18-yard box, cut back his defender and sent a shot past MLS shutout leader Joe Willis.

Zimmerman leaped over several New England players and headed Randall Leal’s corner kick into the upper left corner for his third goal of the season.

CYCLING

GIRO D’ITALIA: Dutch rider Wilco Kelderman remained the overall leader heading into the final two days, but Josef Cerný’s stage win was overshadowed by rider protests that caused the stage to be slashed to half its planned length.

It was meant to be the longest stage of the race – 160 miles – but riders were upset about being asked to endure such a lengthy stage in poor weather conditions in the third week of the Giro, sandwiched between difficult mountain stages.

SPANISH VUELTA: Irish cyclist Sam Bennett won a sprint finish in the fourth stage, and defending champion Primoz Roglic kept the red leader’s jersey.

TENNIS

COLOGNE CHAMPIONSHIP: Top-seeded Alexander Zverev defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 to reach the semifinals in Germany.

 

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