Tennessee’s Zakai Zeigler Suffers Leg Injury in Game vs. Arkansas

The injury occurred in the first half of Tuesday’s game.

Tennessee guard Zakai Zeigler injured his left leg in the Volunteers’ game against Arkansas on Tuesday.

Zeigler was driving to the baseline when he made an awkward move and fell to the court early in the first half. Immediately after hitting the floor, Zeigler grabbed at his left knee. He subsequently was helped off the court.

Midway through the first half, ESPN’s Marty Smith reported that Zeigler was being evaluated in the trainer’s room and would not return to the game. He recorded two points and one assist in the contest.

Zeigler, the only point guard on the Volunteers’ roster, has grown into a consistent floor general for the Volunteers, averaging 11 points and 5.5 assists per game this season. He also has registered five double-doubles this season, with his most recent coming in Tennessee’s 85-45 victory against South Carolina on Saturday, when he finished with 13 points and 11 assists.

The sophomore guard, who has played in every game this season, scored the first points of the game for Tennessee on Tuesday night.

Tennessee (21-8 overall) will play its final regular-season game at Auburn on Saturday. Tennessee (10-6 SEC) entered Tuesday in fourth place in the conference standings behind Alabama (15-1), Texas A&M (13-3) and Kentucky (11-5).

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Author: Wilton Jackson

Ranking the 11 True NBA Title Contenders After the All-Star Break

The Nuggets have all the ingredients to make a deep run. The Pelicans and Mavericks, not so much.

Much has changed since we last ranked NBA title contenders headed into the new year. Back then, my highly scientific (a.k.a. vibes) method gave the Nets the second-best chance at winning it all this season, while the Suns—in the middle of a downturn—came in at ninth. Needless to say, the NBA landscape is looking a little different in the final quarter of the season, with the dust almost entirely settled roster wise post-trade deadline and All-Star break. Here’s how I would size up the list of contenders for the homestretch of the season…

Out: Pelicans

This team always seems to be battling injuries, and we have no idea when Zion Williamson will return. Even if he‘s back in time for the postseason, with how far the Pelicans have dropped, the climb is going to be too steep for them this year.

The Mavericks are just 3–5 since Kyrie Irving debuted for Dallas after the team’s home loss to Indiana on Tuesday.

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11. Mavericks

The early returns of the Luka Doncic-Kyrie Irving pairing haven’t been stellar. While Dallas entered Tuesday a firm plus in their minutes, the defense has predictably not been great when the two share the floor. I don’t see how the Mavs put together a championship-caliber group around those two this year, even with a healthy Maxi Kleber. Maybe it’s possible this offseason if Irving sticks around. For now, this is mostly a token mention.

10. Kings

Another team that realistically does not defend well enough to make a deep run. At the same time, I have to show my respect to the Beam, Mike Brown and Sacramento’s incredible offense. It doesn’t feel entirely impossible for the West’s current third seed to sneak into the Finals.

9. Cavaliers

The Cavs are a net rating darling and have the profile of a team on both sides of the ball that can win it all, appearing in the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Despite a recent surge from Milwaukee and the continued steady play of the Nuggets out West, it’s Cleveland who is firmly second in net rating behind only the Celtics. (Third-place Denver is closer to sixth than third.) The problem is experience. The Cavs haven’t played in big games together yet, and I think that will be an issue compared to the rest of the conference’s contenders.

8. Grizzlies

After an 11-game win streak earlier this year, Memphis is only 5–10 since Jan. 18. Not exactly inspiring. Even before then I had questions about this team’s halfcourt offense and how it will hold up in the postseason. I would have liked to see the Grizzlies take a bigger swing at the trade deadline than Luke Kennard, a shooter who doesn’t really shoot enough. The supporting cast still feels thin.

7. Warriors

Stephen Curry has been so good when he’s been on the floor this year. He’s set to return to injury soon, and he’ll be joining a Klay Thompson who looks all the way back on the offensive side of the ball. This team has been through too many battles for me to put them any lower on this list. In fact, I’m nervous about putting them this low. The depth is shaky. They desperately need a healthy Gary Payton II for the playoffs. But if you’re a fan of another Western Conference team, do you really want your squad responsible for trying to knock out Steph, Klay, and Draymond Green? Historically, that’s been a near-impossible task when all three are healthy.

6. Clippers

Kawhi Leonard is playing more and more like the player who was dominant in both the 2019 and 2021 playoffs, the latter of which had solid title potential until he got hurt. His health is tantamount to the Clips’ chances, and recently Leonard has seemed comfortable with an increased workload. This team’s depth is a double-edged sword, though. Rotations shorten come playoff time. Does Ty Lue know without a doubt the right combinations to play in big moments? Will Russell Westbrook still be starting? At some point, it would be nice to see this group put together a sustained run of success. Until then, I’m a little cooler on them than many of my colleagues.

5. 76ers

Philly may be higher on this list if it didn’t have to deal with two juggernauts in the conference. The James Harden-Joel Embiid pick and roll remains one of the most lethal actions in the game. And after a so-so early start to the season (by his standards), Embiid has picked up his play considerably on the defensive end of the floor the last few months. P.J. Tucker’s value goes up in the postseason, and the role players have been generally solid here. Still, the Sixers haven’t shown they can go to the heights the Bucks and Celtics have. It will be tough for them to overcome that massive hurdle.

4. Suns

We still haven’t seen Kevin Durant on the floor, but I have the Suns fourth here. If KD and Chris Paul can stay healthy, it’s hard to see this team losing. The wing depth is actually solid, and Deandre Ayton has had great playoff moments in the past. Counting on Durant and Paul to stay on the floor for four rounds is a dicey proposition, though. And time is running out for this team to properly gel before a deep run. That’s why Phoenix ends up behind the other squads on this list.

The Nuggets have a comfortable lead atop the Western Conference and appear poised to break through with their two-man core of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.

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3. Nuggets

No. 1 in the West. No. 3 in net rating. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have played in big playoff games together. And the role players are all thriving playing off Joker. People will question Denver’s defense, even though it’s played at a top-10 efficiency with Jokic on the floor. (The offense has been historically good when he is on the court. It’s unstoppable.) The Nuggets have all the ingredients to make the Finals. At this rate, it would be disappointing if they didn’t at least reach the championship series.

2. Celtics

Boston is the only team in the top five in both offensive and defensive rating. Their two-way ceiling is probably higher than any other outfit in the league. It’s very difficult to separate them from the top team on this list, but …

1. Bucks

… the tiebreaker goes to Giannis Antetokounmpo. For the first time in this season’s rankings, the Bucks top this list. Milwaukee entered Tuesday on a 14-game win streak. Khris Middleton is still not playing his normal minutes load. And the depth next to Giannis is now the best it’s ever been. Most importantly, Giannis is an MVP-caliber player who can take his game to a place very few are capable of doing in the postseason. Give him the current roster Milwaukee has, and it’s very difficult—even with the team’s offensive issues—to see how opponents will be able to match up with both him and the Bucks’ versatility. 

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Author: Rohan Nadkarni

Former NFL Star, CBS Sports Analyst Irv Cross Diagnosed With CTE

Cross was the first Black man to work as a full-time sports analyst on national television.

Irv Cross, former NFL defensive back-turned-legendary CBS sports broadcaster, has been diagnosed with stage 4 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Boston University researchers announced Tuesday.

Cross died on Feb. 28, 2021, and had been previously been diagnosed with mild cognitive dementia dating back to ’18. Stage 4 of CTE is the most advanced stage and can only be diagnosed in a postmortem examination.

The two-time Pro Bowler sustained multiple blows to the head during his NFL career. When Cross was still alive, he experienced changes in his mood swings, depression, memory loss, maintaining balance as well as being in denial about the disease.

“Toward the end, he saw things that weren’t there,” his widow, Liz Cross, told the Associated Press. “He really didn’t want to be with people. “The only person he wanted to be with was me. When he was with me, he really didn’t want to be with me. He just wanted me to be there.”

Cross’s family donated his brain for research to the university and the UNITE Brain bank in the hope of increasing awareness about CTE. According to the Boston University’s latest CTE report, Cross is one of 345 former players diagnosed with the disease out of 376 who have been studied.

Cross became the first Black man to work as a full-time sports analyst on national television, widely remembered for his work on The NFL Today, the CBS pregame NFL show. He played nine seasons in the league, six with the Eagles and three with the Rams, recording 22 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries.

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Author: Wilton Jackson