COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP)Rose Bowl game organizers cleared the way for the College Football Playoff to expand to 12 teams starting in the 2024 season, informing CFP officials they are willing to alter agreements to accommodate a new format to decide the national champion.

A person with knowledge of the discussions between game organizers and CFP officials told The Associated Press the Rose Bowl is prepared to be flexible and wants to continue to be part of the playoff beyond 2025.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the presidents and chancellors who oversee the playoff still needed to give final approval on expansion. ESPN first reported the agreement between the Rose Bowl and the CFP.

An announcement from the CFP was expected by Thursday.

Eighteen months after a plan to expand the College Football Playoff from four teams to 12 was publicly unveiled, a process that was delayed and seemingly derailed numerous times is ready to cross the finish line.

An agreement with the 120-year-old bowl game held in Pasadena, California, and dubbed the Granddaddy of Them All was the last hurdle to clear.

NBA

PHOENIX (AP) – Devin Booker scored a season-high 51 points in just three quarters, Deandre Ayton had 30 points and 14 rebounds and the Phoenix Suns beat the Chicago Bulls 132-113 to win their sixth straight game.

Booker scored 25 points in the first half and had 26 more in a sublime third quarter that included 10 of 11 shooting. After a contested 3-pointer splashed through the net, ”MVP! MVP!” chants broke out across Footprint Center. The three-time All-Star had a steal late in the third before sprinting downcourt and flushing home a dunk for his 50th and 51st points. He added six assists and four rebounds.

Booker didn’t play in the fourth quarter with the Suns holding a healthy lead.

Even more remarkable than Booker’s point total was his efficiency. He shot 20 of 25 from the field, going 6 of 7 from 3-point range. He is the second player over the last 25 years with 50 points and 80% shooting through the first three quarters of a game, joining James Harden in 2017, according to ESPN Stats and Info. It was Booker’s second straight 40-point game.

The Suns have the best record in the Western Conference at 15-6 and have won 12 out of 13 home games.

NEW YORK (AP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo had 37 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, then Grayson Allen made the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 30 seconds left after his superstar teammate fouled out to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 109-103 victory over the New York Knicks.

Allen made only one 3-pointer – a game after going 7 for 7 behind the arc in the first half of a victory over Dallas. But it was the only one the Bucks needed after Antetokounmpo had carried them for so long.

Antetokounmpo fouled out with a minute left and the Bucks leading by two when he tried to block Mitchell Robinson’s shot. The Bucks challenged the call, hoping Brook Lopez got the ball cleanly, but replays showed Antetokounmpo hit Robinson’s arm first.

Jrue Holiday had 22 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Bucks.

BOSTON (AP) – Jayson Tatum had eight 3-pointers and scored a season-high 49 points, and the Boston Celtics held off the hot-shooting Miami Heat for a 134-121 victory.

It was the All-Star’s third 40-point game this season as he continues to pace the league’s top-rated offense and make an early case for MVP consideration in his sixth NBA season.

Boston, which shot 55% (46 for 83) has won five straight and 14 of its last 15.

Tatum scored the Celtics’ first six points and had 41 points after three quarters, using his entire offensive repertoire, scoring from the outside and slashing to the basket. He finished 15 of 25 from the field, 8 of 12 from 3-point range and 11 of 12 from the line. He also grabbed 11 rebounds.

Jaylen Brown finished with 26 points following a one-game absence due to neck stiffness. Malcolm Brogdon added 21 points, connecting on five of Boston’s 22 3-pointers in the game.

Miami, which shot 52% (47 for 90) overall, was 18 of 40 from beyond the arc.

NFL

BEREA, Ohio (AP) – As Deshaun Watson walked toward his locker, staying behind the sizable media contingent awaiting his first interview in three months, Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah spotted his teammate.

Watson chose to stay to the side and quiet. He’s ready to play, not talk.

Cleveland’s new starting quarterback didn’t address the media before practicing for the first time since being reinstated by the NFL from his 11-game suspension for alleged sexual misconduct.

Watson, who has been accused by more than two dozen women of harassment and assault during massage therapy sessions while he played for Houston, is set to make his debut Sunday for the Browns against the Texans. The Texans drafted him in 2017 before he demanded a trade after four seasons and was eventually dealt to Cleveland in March.

Watson looked sharp Wednesday while getting his first starter’s reps since training camp as the Browns stayed out of the cold by working out indoors – similar to the conditions they’ll have in Houston’s NRG Stadium.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – Aaron Rodgers said he’d have an open mind if the Green Bay Packers get eliminated from playoff contention and team officials approach him about resting to allow more game reps for his backup, Jordan Love.

He’s just hoping the Packers (4-8) make it a moot point by winning out.

Rodgers has played through a broken right thumb for Green Bay’s last seven games and left the Packers’ 40-33 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday with injured ribs. Rodgers, who turns 39 on Friday, has said he wants to keep playing as long as he’s able and the Packers remain in playoff contention.

Rodgers also says he’s healthy enough to play Sunday when the Packers visit Chicago (3-9), although he might need to wear protective gear for his ribs. The Packers have beaten the Bears seven straight times. Rodgers has completed 76.1% of his passes for 16 touchdowns with no interceptions in his last five meetings with the Bears.

NHL

TORONTO (AP) – Pierre Engvall scored with 2:27 left in regulation, Mitch Marner had a goal to stretch his point streak to a franchise record-tying 18 games, and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1.

Auston Matthews also scored for Toronto, and Ilya Samsonov had 23 saves. The Maple Leafs improved to 8-0-2 over their last 10 games and 11-1-4 over the last 16.

Marner had two chances at an empty net in the closing minutes, inexplicably looking to pass first and then firing another shot wide as the Scotiabank Arena crowd groaned. He got another chance and finally buried his eighth with 1:11 left in the third for his point that tied Darryl Sittler (1978-79) and Eddie Olcyzk (1989-90) for team mark.

The 25-year-old Marner is the 23rd player in NHL history with a point streak of at least 18 games. He has seven goals and 17 assists during the streak.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Zach Edey scored 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting as No. 5 Purdue fought off Florida State 79-69 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Edey, who came in averaging 21.7 points on 61.5% shooting, recorded his sixth straight game scoring 20 or more for the Boilermakers (7-0). The 7-foot-4 center helped Purdue keep pace with 15 first-half points as the Boilermakers looked jet-lagged early following weekend wins over Duke and Gonzaga in Portland, Oregon.

Purdue led 34-32 at the half but shot 53.6% over the final 20 minutes, extending its nation-best regular-season win streak against nonconference foes to 20 games.