No. 6 Baylor beats Arizona State 75-63 at Battle 4 Atlantis


PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Baylor’s balance is giving coach Scott Drew plenty of options to start the season.

The sixth-ranked Bears had five players score in double figures in their 75-63 win over Arizona State on Wednesday night that wrapped up first-round play at the Battle 4 Atlantis. L.J. Cryer led that group with 15 points, marking the fifth time in as many games that the Bears have had at least four double-figure scorers.

“It’s definitely beautiful,” said Adam Flagler, who had 13 points. “We’re always just trying to play for each other, trying to get the best shot always down the floor, and go 1-0.”

So far, that plan has worked for a team charged with replacing four starters from last year’s national championship squad. That group was led primarily by three lead scorers in Jared Butler (16.7 points), MaCio Teague (15.9) and Davion Mitchell (14.0).

Coming in, Cryer was averaging a team-high 18.5 points while four other players were averaging at least 10.3 points. The Bears (5-0) nearly had a sixth double-figure scorer in James Akinjo, who finished with nine points and seven assists.

“It’s critical because every game is not going to be your night,” Drew said, adding: “On nights that aren’t your shooting night, it’s great to have others you can depend on and go to. That’s the great thing about having a great rotation, a great bench. We go to the bench, and we normally get better.”

D.J. Horne scored 20 points to lead the Sun Devils (2-3), including a jumper and a pair of 3-pointers in the opening 2 1/2 minutes. Arizona State led by six early and was tied with 8 1/2 minutes left in the half, only to see Baylor put together a 19-4 burst — highlighted by 3s from Akinjo, Flagler and freshman Kendall Brown — to take a 42-27 lead.

That lead grew to 22 points, and the Sun Devils never got within single digits again.

While knocking down shots against Baylor’s defense was a challenge, Arizona State didn’t help itself with 15 turnovers. Eleven of those came in the opening half to help Baylor build its lead, leading to a dozen points, after Arizona State had averaged 11 turnovers over its last three games.

“That hurt us,” Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said. “We knew coming in we couldn’t allow our offense to help them generate points. And we did that a little bit too much.”

BIG PICTURE

Arizona State: It’s been a bumpy start for the Sun Devils, with two early losses by a combined three points. They lost a game on a three-quarter-court heave to UC Riverside on Nov. 11, followed by a defeat at San Diego State on Saturday. And sophomore Marcus Bagley (10.0 points) didn’t travel to The Bahamas due to a lingering knee issue. Arizona State was trying for its first win against a ranked nonconference opponent since beating top-ranked Kansas in December 2018.

Baylor: The Bears are back in the tournament for the first time since winning it in 2016 and boast a reshaped lineup after losing four starters, including Mitchell as the No. 9 overall NBA draft pick. Coming off Saturday’s blowout win against Stanford, they had relatively little trouble stretching out the lead on another Pac-12 team.

“Really it’s hard to knock any one area for them and see a weakness that’s pretty obvious,” Hurley said.

TAPED UP

Flagler, a junior guard, missed the Stanford game with a hand injury. He played this one with tape around his left wrist and thumb, along with his ring and pinky fingers taped together. Flagler said afterward the tape was precautionary.

TIP-INS

Arizona State shot 36% and made 10 of 27 3-pointers. … Matthew Mayer had 14 points and combined with Cryer to make 5 of 9 3s while the rest of the Bears were 3 for 15. … Horne was the only Sun Devils player to score in double figures. The rest of the team shot 13 of 46 (28.3%). … Baylor has won 11 straight games dating to its title run in the Indianapolis bubble last spring.

UP NEXT

Arizona State: The Sun Devils face Syracuse, which lost to VCU earlier Wednesday, in Thursday’s consolation bracket.

Baylor: The Bears face VCU in Thursday’s semifinals.

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25





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Arizona traffic, road and weather updates for Thanksgiving weekend


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If the roads or airports seem more crowded than normal, that might be because 53.4 million people were expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA’s annual travel forecast. 

Since 6.4 million more people will be traveling this year, travelers should be extra prepared for what might come their way. Here is a running list of traffic, weather, gas prices, and airport conditions you might encounter this holiday weekend. 

Check back with azcentral.com through the weekend for updates.

A crash involving multiple vehicles blocked several lanes of Interstate 17 northbound near Thomas Road in Phoenix, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. 

Traffic was very slow in the area. It was not immediately known if anyone was injured or what may have caused the crash, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. 

— Kaila White 

By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, traffic in both directions on Interstate 10 south of Phoenix was backed up at varying speeds for at least 20 miles.

“Expect lengthy delays in both directions of I-10 South of the Phoenix as holiday travelers hit the road,” the Arizona Department of Transportation said in a Twitter post.

A crash on U.S. 60 east of Quartzsite at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday closed both directions of the freeway for about 20 miles, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The highway reopened at 6:40 p.m., according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

— Athena Ankrah

Wood burning in residential fireplaces, chimneys, outdoor fire pits and similar outdoor fires is prohibited in Maricopa County this Thanksgiving due to elevated levels of smoke in the air, according to a release issued by the Maricopa County Air Quality Department on Wednesday.

“This includes individuals and businesses which have burn permits for open burning,” the county notes.

If you plan to roast anything over a fire this Thanksgiving, the county asks you to change plans and reduce harm to its air quality. Further restrictions include the use of leaf blowers and off-road vehicles.

The county asks residents to avoid waiting in long lines in the car Thursday, as this can contribute to poor air quality. Instead, park the vehicle and go inside.

— Athena Ankrah

On the Wednesday before every Thanksgiving, highways to the High Country become particularly busy late in the afternoon and into the evening, according to ADOT spokesperson Doug Nintzel. 

With the addition of holiday travelers, heavier traffic is also expected on the following highways: northbound Interstate 17 north of Phoenix, State Route 87 to Payson, and eastbound Interstate 10 between Phoenix and California, Nintzel said. 

Figuring out how much time to set aside for travel might be a little more difficult since disabled vehicles or crashes along certain routes occur without warning.

“All it takes is a fender bender to cause significant delays on northbound I-17 heading out of the Valley,” Nintzel said. 

But Nintzel recommends drivers set aside at least an hour in addition to staying up-to-date on highway conditions. 

“You need to expect the unexpected and not be in a hurry to get to your destination. Speeding and bad driving maneuvers like tailgating or unsafe lane changes or passing without enough room can and do lead to tragedies,” Nintzel said. 

According to Nintzel, there is still time to be a prepared driver. 

“Check your tire pressure, engine fluid levels as well as belts and hoses. Pack some extra items like drinking water, snacks, a flashlight, cellphone charger and other items that will help in case you encounter an unscheduled closure along a highway.” 

— Amaris Encinas 

Because Wednesday is the busiest travel day before the holiday, travelers who are flying should give themselves extra time to arrive at the airport, according to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport spokesperson Heather Shelbrack. 

If travelers are flying domestically, then they should give themselves at least two hours and one extra hour if they are flying internationally, Shelbrack said. 

Shelbrack also recommends drivers picking up or dropping off travelers use the 44th Street Sky Train station to help as a way to avoid roadway traffic and congestion at the terminal curb. Roadways will be especially busy between 6 and 11 p.m. Wednesday, she said. 

As of 11:40 a.m., security wait times at Terminal 3 are about 10 minutes and between 5 to 10 minutes at Terminal 4, according to the Sky Harbor website. 

Extra tips: 

  • Travelers should check their bags for prohibited items before arriving at the airport. The Transportation Security Administration’s website has additional information about what can and can’t be brought in your carry-on bag.
  • Travelers and drivers picking up travelers should check the flight status before coming to the airport.
  • A facial covering over the nose and mouth is still required in the airport due to the federal mask mandate in effect.  

— Amaris Encinas 

As cloudiness decreases, Arizona is set to stay fairly sunny through Thanksgiving, according to National Weather Service meteorologist James Sawtelle in Phoenix. 

Most of Wednesday’s sunniness will occur mid to late afternoon with a high of 75 degrees. Winds will become breezier in south-central Arizona after 8 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, the weather service in Phoenix tweeted. 

Thursday will also be sunny, but with a little bit more breeze. The high for Thursday is 76 degrees, Sawtelle said.

Because locally windy conditions are expected along the lower portion of the Colorado River area on Wednesday, the weather service in Phoenix recommends drivers to keep an eye out because the strong winds and blowing dust may create difficult driving conditions and create drops in visibility, the tweet stated. 

If you are traveling for Thanksgiving and want to know the forecast for your travel destination, you can visit The National Weather Service’s website. 

— Amaris Encinas 





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5 Reasons Flagstaff, Arizona Is Perfect For Stargazing


Flagstaff, Arizona, is perfect for stargazing because of its mountain landscape, good weather, and citizens’ guardianship of the environment. At 7,000 feet elevation, Flagstaff enjoys four seasons and is in the world’s largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest surrounded by Native American culture.

As an avid night sky photographer and a return visitor to Flagstaff, I enjoyed the in-depth presentation of hosted experiences. All opinions are my own.

Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff, Arizona
Wupatki National Monument (smartyunknown / Shutterstock.com)

City Of Seven Wonders 

Known as the City of Seven Wonders because there are seven experiences within 10 to 80 miles, Flagstaff makes an ideal home base to explore during the day and at night. These seven remarkable destinations are Grand Canyon National Park, Wupatki National Monument, Oak Creek Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano, San Francisco Peaks, Coconino National Forest, and Walnut Canyon. Flagstaff is close to locations like Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest, and Sedona for stargazing parties, too. 

Walk This Talk Tour sign in Flagstaff
Julie Diebolt Price

History In Flagstaff

Historic Route 66 runs through the center of Flagstaff and offers a charming downtown with a visitor center tucked inside the Amtrak train station. Self-guided walking tours include the historic downtown and Flagstaff’s haunted places. A recorded tour, Walk This Talk Tour, is narrated by actor Ted Danson, a Flagstaff native. 

Mother Road Brewing Company
Mother Road Brewing Company (Thomas Trompeter / Shutterstock.com)

Food, Beverage, And Lodging In Flagstaff

Two hundred restaurants in Flagstaff feature amazing chefs and cuisine with everything from casual takeaway picnics, meals delivered by robots on the NAU campus, and fine dining establishments with extensive award-winning wine lists.

Flagstaff is designated a leading craft beer city with award-winning breweries that extend samples and tours.

Convenient campgrounds and 5,000 hotel rooms ranging from budget to luxury make Flagstaff a destination perfect for stargazing comfort and adventures.

Historic Clark Telescope at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff
Julie Diebolt Price

1. Lowell Observatory 

While I shared the particulars of this great northern Arizona town above, the primary reason that Flagstaff, Arizona, is perfect for stargazing is that you can visit Lowell Observatory.

In 1894, Percival Lowell established the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff to study Mars and possibly intelligent life there. By sharing his theories with scientists and the public, Lowell created a pop culture that scientists succeeding him carried on. Even Walt Disney, influenced by work at Lowell Observatory in the 1950s, featured scientists in an early Disney program.

Close To Downtown Flagstaff On Mars Hill

Today, a visit to Mars Hill includes guided tours and numerous talks throughout the day. At night, discover galaxies, gas clouds, and planets as you gaze through six state-of-the-art telescopes on the Giovale Open Deck Observatory.

Pro Tip: General admission tickets give you all-day access to tours, talks, and telescopes. For an additional fee, guided tours occur several times a day.

"Vote with your wallet" - What should Pluto be called?
Julie Diebolt Price

Pluto–Planet Or Dwarf Planet 

Discovered by Clyde Tombaugh, an amateur astronomer working at Lowell Observatory, Pluto was declared to be the ninth planet from the Sun in 1930. In the 1990s, Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet because scientists found other similarly sized objects at the outer edges of our solar system. When you visit Lowell Observatory, vote for your choice for Pluto’s standing.

On my evening visit to Lowell Observatory, the impressive 350-foot Pluto Walk piqued my interest. The illuminated path illustrates the solar system’s scale with planet stops along the way and puts our solar system into perspective.

Standing outside the telescope dome, waiting for my turn to peer through the eyepiece to view Saturn and Jupiter, it was awe-inspiring to look up into the night sky and see shooting stars. Good thing it was dark because my mouth was agape with wonder and reverence. When was the last time you saw a shooting star?

Historic Clark Telescope at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff
Julie Diebolt Price

Historic Clark Telescope

First commissioned by Percival Lowell in 1896 to study Mars and the other solar system planets, the Clark Telescope is the workhorse of discovery used by scientists to explore the expanding universe and by artists to create lunar maps for the Apollo moon missions. Now dedicated to public education programs, the dome and telescope are in use every day.

Our host, Kevin Schindler, author, researcher, and observatory historian, shared valuable insight for activities at Lowell Observatory on our evening tour. Education is still a vital mission of the observatory, as it was Percival Lowell’s.

“This building has been used for decades, so we have bicycle chains because the people that built the dome owned a bicycle shop in town. The kitchen chair that Percival Lowell used — it’s the iconic picture of Percival that forms the basis of our logo. That’s him sitting on the ladder; the Ford tires date back to the 1950s. Lots of mixes of dates in the dome.” Schindler shared.

“We move this [Clark Telescope] today the same way we did back 100 years ago before we had electricity, and that’s to move it by hand,” Schindler demonstrated with the help of someone in the audience.

Dark sky over Flagstaff, Arizona
Will Alpert / Shutterstock.com

2. Flagstaff Was The First Dark Sky Community

The International Dark-Sky Places (IDSP) Program, founded in 2001, encourages communities, parks, and protected areas worldwide to safeguard and preserve dark sites through public education and responsible lighting policies. Flagstaff enacted the world’s first outdoor lighting ordinance in 1958 and was the first to receive the Dark Sky Community designation.

Industrial civilization causes light pollution. The excessive use of artificial light plagues many countries worldwide and includes glare, skyglow, light trespass, and clutter. Mountains shield dark sky places from urban glow in Arizona.

The Dark Sky Places Program offers five types of designations. They include communities, parks, reserves, sanctuaries, and urban environments.

The International Dark-Sky Association has a rigorous application process to become a Dark Sky Place, and awardees go through a review quarterly. As of August 2021, over 180 certified IDSPs throughout the world carry the designation.

Dark sky over Hutch Mountain in Arizona
Tyler Finvold / Shutterstock.com

3. Highest Concentration Of Dark Sky Places On Earth 

Arizona has 19 dark sky communities, places, and parks — the highest concentration anywhere on earth. Two are National Parks (Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest).

Three National Monuments within a short drive of Flagstaff are also dark sky places and worth a visit. Waputki, Walnut Canyon, and Sunset Crater Volcano are open from sunrise to sunset. While you cannot enjoy them under the night sky, the sheer beauty of the landscape, experiencing the history of the people who lived there, and walking in the astronauts’ footsteps during daylight hours are enriching experiences. 

Night sky near Flagstaff, Arizona
Charlene Tramoni / Shutterstock.com

4. Stargazing Parties

A great way to learn about astronomy, stargazing parties are ideal for all ages. It’s a great way to spend family time, multi-generational time, or solo time with other like-minded individuals. Several parks have campgrounds and cabins for rent if you want to stay overnight.

Pro Tips: At a star party, give your eyes plenty of time to adapt to darkness — 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t use bright white flashlights or headlamps. You can buy red light flashlights and headlamps at most outdoor stores. If your vehicle is parked nearby, ensure that all interior lights and remote lock/unlock lights are turned off before the evening starts. 

Downtown Flagstaff, Arizona
Downtown Flagstaff (PICTOR PICTURE COMPANY / Shutterstock.com)

5. Astronauts And Athletes

Since the 1960s, Flagstaff has played an essential role in preparing astronauts for Moon exploration. Every Apollo astronaut, including the 12 that walked on the Moon, trained in Flagstaff. Training continues today with NASA programs for unmanned lunar and planetary exploration.

World-class athletes train in Flagstaff. In the 1960s, sports science research found that working out at the perfect elevation, approximately 6,500 feet above sea level, caused the human body to perform better. As athletes prepared for the Mexico City Olympics in 1968, they achieved world records and earned 276 Olympic and Paralympic medals resulting from Flagstaff training.

Flagstaff is ideal for its elevation, entertainment, and diversions during days off from training. While I wasn’t training for competition during my visit, I did notice improved stamina and well-being post-trip.

Pro Tips

How To Prepare For Elevation 

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Go slow if climbing or exerting yourself.

How To Prepare For Stargazing

  • Red light headlamp or flashlight; night vision 20-30 minutes for eyes to adjust in meager light conditions.      
  • Turn off your cell phone.
  • Bring a lightweight chair or stool.          
  • Bring warm clothes, dress in layers — hat, boots, gloves.                  
  • Bring food and water. Dispose of food and wrappers properly.

What To Bring

  • Bring a sturdy tripod.                     
  • Bring an intervalometer for measured exposures during the night.
  • Bring fully charged batteries.
  • Bring a wide-angle lens.

How To Get There

Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) is the destination with daily, nonstop flights to and from Phoenix (PHX), Dallas (DFW), and Denver (DEN).

Amtrak services Flagstaff at the historic station downtown three times weekly on the Southwest Chief.

Driving from Los Angeles or Albuquerque, take Interstate 40; from Phoenix, take Interstate 17; from Lake Powell, Page, or Monument Valley in the north, take Highway 89.

Read about other Dark Sky areas where stargazing is incredible:



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Canadian Snowbirds Head South as US Land Borders Reopen | Arizona News


By ANITA SNOW and TERRY TANG, Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — Canadians Ian and Heather Stewart are savoring the idea of leaving behind this winter’s subzero temperatures when the U.S. reopens its borders to nonessential land travel next week and they launch a long-delayed drive to their seasonal home in Fort Myers, Florida.

Restrictions imposed by both countries during the coronavirus pandemic and their own concerns kept the retired couple and millions of other Canadians from driving south to warmer climes like Florida, Arizona and Mexico during last year’s freezing winter months.

Now, the Biden administration’s decision to allow vaccinated people to enter the U.S. by land for any reason starting Nov. 8 has many Canadians packing up their campers and making reservations at their favorite vacation condos and mobile home parks. Some are already in the U.S., arriving on flights that never stopped and have required just a negative COVID-19 test.

But many have waited to drive, preferring the convenience of having a vehicle to get around in with rental cars scarce and expensive.

Political Cartoons on World Leaders

Political Cartoons

Vacasa, a management company for over 30,000 vacation homes in North America, Belize and Costa Rica, said it saw a major rise in traffic on its online platform after the new rules were announced. Canadian users’ views at rentals in snowbird-popular destinations jumped by 120%.

The Stewarts will board their SUV with two dogs and a cat Nov. 10 for the four-day trek from Ottawa, Ontario, to spend six months on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“We love it there,” said Ian Stewart, 81, a retired air traffic controller with the Royal Canadian Air Force. “There’s such a nice feel with the good weather that lets you get out and walk and talk to your neighbors. And you don’t have to worry about slipping on the ice and breaking your bones!”

Like the Stewarts, many Canadian snowbirds stay at mobile home parks and luxury RV resorts — with swimming pools, pickleball and sometimes golf courses — for people 55 and over. The Stewarts have owned a manufactured home at their Florida park since 2007.

Arizona is also popular for its mild winters.

The Arizona Office of Tourism expects an immediate economic impact in a state where people from Canada and Mexico traditionally make up the largest number of overnight visitors, said Becky Blaine, the office’s deputy director.

“The phones have been ringing off the hook since they announced the border will be reopened,” said Kate Ebert, manager of the Sundance 1 RV Resort in Casa Grande, halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.

Renée Louzon-Benn, executive director of the Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce, said the desert community last year felt the absence of visitors from Canada and U.S. Midwestern states like Wisconsin and Michigan, with far fewer people spending money locally. Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland said the city of about 62,000 people usually swells by another 25,000 each winter.

Wendy Caban of Lake Country, British Columbia, is thrilled she and her husband, Geoffrey, can soon drive to their resort home in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of friends that we made over the last dozen years,” Wendy Caban said. “I’m looking forward to the warmth.”

But the couple, both 73, are still mulling when to leave.

“I think it’s going to be insane on Nov. 8,” Caban said. “So, we’ll wait a few days and monitor the lineups and the weather.”

Arizona’s Office of Tourism says close to 1 million Canadian tourists accounted for $1 billion in spending in 2019. That plunged to 257,000 Canadians who spent $325 million last year.

R. Glenn Williamson, Canada’s Arizona honorary consul and founder and CEO of the Canada Arizona Business Council, said the numbers for tourists don’t consider longer term stays by part-time resident Canadians who spend months at a time in homes they own in Arizona — as many as 200,000 additional people spending another $1.5 billion locally each year.

With some 500 Canadian companies operating in Arizona, a new wave of younger, wealthier Canadian snowbirds work part-time in the state, where they buy upscale homes and play golf, among Canada’s most popular sports, Williamson said.

Barbara and Brian Fox of Toronto, both in their 60s, plan to keep working for their strategic communications firm when they return to the Naples area on Florida’s Gulf Coast in March and April.

It will be the longest Florida stay so far for the couple, who have canceled at least five planned trips south during the course of the pandemic over restrictions and concerns about possible infection.

Plenty of retirees are planning to head south again as well.

They include Wilf and Lynne Burnett, who haven’t made annual trek south from their hometown in Vancouver, British Columbia, to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since the coronavirus emerged. They typically tow a 15-foot (4.5-meter) boat so they can fish and visit restaurants with docks on the bay.

Now that land border restrictions are being eliminated, the Burnetts have a three-month reservation at a Puerto Vallarta condo starting Jan. 6.

“We’ll keep an eye on the virus and if things continue to improve, we’ll go,” Wilf Burnett said.

Those who decide to travel at the last minute will likely find it hard to book a condo, RV park or campground.

Amid concern restrictions might keep changing, some snowbirds are making reservations for earlier in the season than usual, starting from November through early next year, said Bruce Hoban, co-founder of the 2,000-member Vacation Rental Owners and Neighbors of Palm Springs. Hoban said peak visitor times for snowbirds, who comprise about 15% of vacation rentals, are generally between February and April.

Those who come can also expect prices as much as 20% to 30% higher because of increased demand, he said.

Bobby Cornwell, executive director of the Florida and Alabama RV Parks & Campground Association, said many sites in those states were booked solid from January through March even before the new travel rules were announced. That’s because Americans have embraced RV travel during the pandemic, filling spots Canadian campers normally would.

Still, it’s “wonderful news” Canadians can return, Cornwell said.

“We encourage all snowbirds to plan to come to Florida and make your reservations as soon as possible,” he said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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5 storylines to watch when the Huskies travel to Arizona


UW coach Jimmy Lake and the Huskies bench react after the Bruins picked up a first down to retain possession late in the fourth quarter. UCLA ran out the clock to defeat Washington, 24-17, on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 in Seattle.

UW coach Jimmy Lake and the Huskies bench react after the Bruins picked up a first down to retain possession late in the fourth quarter. UCLA ran out the clock to defeat Washington, 24-17, on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 in Seattle.

Here we are at the halfway point, and the Washington Huskies (2-4) are not exactly where they were projected to be when this season began.

Their only Pac-12 win in three tries so far is an overtime victory over California last month, followed by back-to-back losses to Oregon State and UCLA. They’re still searching for their first win in October.

Will they find it this weekend in the desert?

UW has six games remaining to get this season back on track, beginning with this Friday’s trip to Tucson to meet Arizona (0-6). The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. with UW considered an 18-point favorite.

Here are five storylines to watch:

1. UW has four losses midway through its schedule, including the two consecutive conference defeats. Will the Huskies open the second half on a better note?

The Huskies haven’t statistically entered must-win territory to keep their season alive past the Apple Cup next month. There are still scenarios, unlikely or not, in which UW can rally to win the Pac-12 North.

But, this feels like a must-win game doesn’t it? The Huskies have six left, and likely need to win four to avoid missing out on bowl game eligibility for the first time since 2009.

Each of their three Pac-12 games has been decided by one score. They outlasted Cal’s late surge in September to win their conference opener in overtime, but their next two against Oregon State (27-24) and UCLA (24-17) slipped away late. Then of course there was the shocking season-opening loss to Montana (13-7) and the subsequent three-touchdown loss to Michigan (31-10) that positioned the Huskies here in the first place.

“If you go back to the last two games, we’re one, two plays away from being 3-0 in conference,” Huskies coach Jimmy Lake said this week. “And so, we’re close, and we’ve got to keep working, we’ve got to keep getting better and make sure we can change those results.”

If the result doesn’t flip for UW this week, against an Arizona team still looking for its first win of the season, when will it? Next week the Huskies travel to Stanford (3-4) — and haven’t won in Palo Alto since 2007. Two tough matchups at home against Oregon (5-1), currently ranked 10th, and Arizona State (5-2) follow. They then travel to Colorado (2-4) before hosting Washington State (3-2) in the Apple Cup late next month.

Some recent history ahead of this week’s game: UW has won four consecutive against Arizona, including a 44-27 rout of the Wildcats last November in Seattle, with many of the same playmakers. UW last lost in Tucson in 2014, and has won twice there since, but has dropped four of its past six against the Wildcats in the desert dating back to the winless 2008 season.

2. Is this the week the Huskies’ offense finds more consistency?

There have been productive drives. There have been highlight-reel-worthy plays. There have been timely touchdowns. But, this UW offense hasn’t produced consistently enough this season to come away with more than the two wins.

“I still believe this really deeply, that we have a really talented team,” Huskies tight end Cade Otton said this week. “We have a lot of really good players, and we can be a lot better than we are right now.”

Here’s where the Huskies rank in some key categories at the halfway point:

Scoring: 23.5 points per game, 10th in the Pac-12

Total offense: 357.2 yards per game, ninth

Passing yards: 246.2 per game, fifth

Rushing yards: 111 per game, tied-10th

The Huskies have had more success through the air than on the ground, but perhaps have a better chance to establish the run this week against a Wildcats defense allowing 202.3 yards per game to opposing rushing attacks. Sixth-year senior tailbacks Kamari Pleasant (33 carries, 229 yards) and Sean McGrew (56 carries, 226 yards, six TDs) are UW’s top rushers to this point.

UW’s pass catchers are also back healthy after several missed time in the first six games, and Terrell Bynum, Jalen McMillan, Rome Odunze, Taj Davis and Otton are all averaging more than 10 yards per catch with at least one touchdown.

Keep this in mind, though: Arizona also has the second-best passing defense in the conference, and 10th-best passing defense in the FBS, allowing 169.7 yards per game through the air.

3. How will UW’s defense rebound after facing two of the Pac-12’s top-five offenses?

Oregon State is averaging 441.8 yards per game on offense this season, and leads the Pac-12 in rushing at 242.5 yards per game.

UCLA is averaging 425.1 yards per game on offense this season, and is second in the Pac-12 in rushing at 219.9 yards per game.

Those are the two offenses the Huskies faced their past two games, and they both piled up more than 200 rushing yards against UW.

“We have to get way better,” Lake said this week when asked about UW’s rushing defense. “It’s been an emphasis for the last month, and it’s going to continue to be an emphasis. We have to get better. We have to tackle better. We have to get off blocks. We have to read our keys better. It starts in practice.

“We have to go put a better result this Friday night at stopping the run. If we stop the run better in these last few games, then we’re going to give our offense more of an opportunity to be on the field more and score some points, and of course we’re going to keep points off the board. It’s something we’re continuing to try to get better at and we have to fix, and it starts with us as coaches.”

Arizona’s offense has scored a conference-worst 14 points per game through its first six, which is tied with New Mexico for the lowest in the FBS.

The Wildcats haven’t fared as well as UW’s past two opponents on the ground, averaging 114.8 yards per game with a single rushing touchdown in six games.

And should Arizona opt to throw — the Wildcats are sixth in the conference in passing (234.5 yards per game — it will be against UW’s proven pass defense. The Huskies are allowing a conference-best 153.2 yards per game, and rank fourth in the FBS in the category.

UW’s defense could also get a boost with All-American outside linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui back in the fold. He made his season debut against UCLA after returning from an Achilles injury, and recorded three quarterback hurries and one hit on his limited 10 snaps. He could play a more prominent role this week, and is now listed along with Cooper McDonald as a possible starter on UW’s depth chart.

“He came out of the game healthy, and I would expect him to have more plays this Friday night,” Lake said.

4. Arizona has had some injury shake-ups on offense. What can the Huskies expect to see?

Arizona rotated through three quarterbacks in its first six games, but second-year freshman Will Plummer is the projected starter against the Huskies this weekend with both Gunner Cruz and Jordan McCloud out with injuries.

Cruz (61-of-93 passing, 536 yards, two TDs, three INT) started three games for the Wildcats this season, including the first two of the season and last week’s game against Colorado, before exiting early. McCloud (48-of-72 passing, 481 yards, two TDs, five INT) made two starts against Oregon and UCLA.

Plummer made his first start against Northern Arizona in Week 3, and took over for Cruz last week. He is 36-of-71 passing for 380 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in four appearances. He also played in three games last season as a true freshman, completing 43-of-80 passes for 388 yards and three interceptions.

The Wildcats’ most productive playmaker is redshirt junior receiver Stanley Berryhill III (48 catches, 445 yards, TD), who ranks second in the Pac-12 in both receptions per game (eight) and receiving yards per game (74.2). The eight catches per game are also eighth in the FBS.

5. Here are three locals you might spot on Arizona’s sideline.

Every conference opponent the Huskies play this season has at least one Washington native on its roster. Arizona has three:

RB Jashon Butler (Meadowdale): Butler is a redshirt sophomore in his third season with the Wildcats. He has not yet appeared in a game this season. Butler was a standout for Meadowdale in the backfield in high school, piling up more than 1,400 rushing yards and more than 500 receiving yards between his junior and senior seasons.

LB D.J. Fryar (Steilacoom): Fryar is a true freshman, and joined Arizona’s program after wrapping up his final high school season last spring. He has not yet appeared in a game for the Wildcats. He was a two-way standout for Steilacoom during his high school career as a rover on defense, and played both running back and wide receiver on offense.

RB Clay Markoff (Olympia, WSU): Markoff joined the Wildcats as a graduate transfer after spending the last five seasons at WSU, where he appeared in 29 games on offense and special teams. Markoff has played in every game for Arizona so far this season, appearing on offense (20 snaps, per PFF) and kick return (40). He was a standout running back and linebacker for the Bears in high school, and left Olympia as the school’s all-time leader in tackles.

Lauren Smith covers University of Washington athletics for The News Tribune. She previously covered high school sports for TNT and The Olympian, beginning in 2015, before moving to the Seattle Mariners beat ahead of the 2019 season. She is a graduate of UW and Emerald Ridge High School.





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NDSU Women’s Basketball Adds Arizona to 2021-22 Schedule


FARGO, N.D. – North Dakota State women’s basketball has added Arizona to the 2021-22 schedule, announced on Wednesday.

NDSU will travel to Arizona on Dec. 9 at 8:30 p.m. CT in non-conference action. It will mark the first all-time meeting between the Bison and Wildcats, who posted a 21-6 overall record and advanced to the NCAA national championship game against Stanford last season. NDSU will also shift its originally scheduled game against Jamestown from Dec. 8 to Dec. 19 at Scheels Center. Tip-off is set for 1:00 p.m.

The 2021-22 schedule features 10 non-conference contests and 14 home games. The Bison will open the season at Milwaukee on Nov. 11.

The full 2021-22 schedule can be viewed here.

 



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Arizona women’s basketball releases full schedule for 2021-22 season


Arizona women’s basketball put its finishing touches on its pre-conference schedule last week. Now, the Pac-12 has done the same with the conference schedule. The Wildcats released their full 2021-22 slate on Tuesday including dates and times for all Pac-12 games.

Including both pre-conference and conference match-ups, Arizona will play 13 games against nine different opponents who went to the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Five of those games will be held in McKale Center. Overall, the Wildcats will play 18 home games including two exhibitions.

Conference play will tip off over New Year’s Day weekend. The Wildcats travel to USC on Friday, Dec. 31. Two days later, they will go to Westwood to face UCLA.

The Wildcats will miss out on a home game against Stanford this season. Last year’s national champions and national runners-up are scheduled to play just once during the regular season. That game will be played in Maples Pavilion and aired on ESPN2.

Other changes to the schedule include the shifting of the Arizona-ASU match-ups. For the past few years, those games have been played during different weeks. This season, they will be played on the same weekend, a practice that last happened in the 2017-18 season. The Wildcats will travel to Tempe on Friday, Feb. 11. The Sun Devils make the return trip to Tucson on Sunday, Feb. 13.

The visit from ASU is in the middle of a favorable stretch for Arizona to wrap up the season. The Wildcats play eight games in the month of February without having to leave the state of Arizona. Their game in Tempe on Feb. 11 is their only trip away from McKale Center. The regular season ends with five straight home games.

October

28 Eastern New Mexico 6 p.m. MST (Exhibition)

November

5 Arizona Christian 6:30 p.m. MST (Exhibition)

9 CSU Northridge 5 p.m. MST

12 vs. Louisville in South Dakota 2:30 p.m. MST

15 Texas Southern 6:30 p.m. MST

19 Marist 6:30 p.m. MST

25 vs. Vanderbilt in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands 1:15 p.m. MST

26 vs. DePaul in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands 1:15 p.m. MST

27 vs. Rutgers in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands 1:15 p.m. MST

December

3 at UC Riverside TBA

9 North Dakota State 6:30 p.m. MST

12 New Mexico 1 p.m. MST

17 at NAU TBA

19 vs. Texas in Las Vegas 3:30 p.m. MST

31 at USC 9 p.m. MST

January

2 at UCLA 3 p.m. MST

7 Washington State 6 p.m. MST

9 Washington 12 p.m. MST

13 at Oregon State 8 p.m. MST

15 at Oregon 3:30 p.m. MST

21 Utah 7 p.m. MST

23 Colorado 12 p.m. MST

28 at Cal 8 p.m. MST

30 at Stanford 2 p.m. MST

February

4 Oregon 8 p.m. MST

6 Oregon State 12 p.m. MST

11 at Arizona State 7 p.m. MST

13 Arizona State 12 p.m. MST

18 at Washington 8 p.m. MST

20 at Washington State 1 p.m. MST

24 UCLA 7 p.m. MST

26 USC 12 p.m. MST

Home games are bolded.

Games in italics are neutral-site games.



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Where to Go on a Road Trip From Phoenix Arizona


Prescott, Arizona

Most people think of Arizona as nothing more than a desert metropolis, but if you’re in need of some fall feels, this state has so much to offer—from changing leaves in the mountains of Northern Arizona to orchards perfect for a day of apple picking in Southern Arizona. The best part? You don’t need to drive more than a few hours for a total change in scenery. So, get in the fall spirit and fill up your weekends with autumn-themed adventures around the state.

Arizona Snowbowl
Arizona Snowbowl

Flagstaff

Drive time from downtown Phoenix: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Flagstaff is a must-see Arizona destination. Not only does Northern Arizona University give it a vibrant, college town vibe, it offers a great look at changing leaves, cooler temperatures and lots of outdoor activities—from hiking to the highest point in the state to biking through downtown. For a spectacular view, head over to Snowbowl prior to ski season and take a ride on the aerial lift.

Bisbee Arizona
Discover Bisbee Arizona

Bisbee

Drive time from downtown Phoenix: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Bisbee is an often-overlooked Arizona destination, but the historic mining town offers a look back in time at Southern Arizona through its various museums alongside art galleries and colorful, quirky buildings. The best part? You might not think to go south for sweater weather, but due to Bisbee’s high elevation, it averages 10 to 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix.

Apple Annie's Orchard
Apple Annie’s Orchard

Wilcox

Drive time from downtown Phoenix: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Apple picking is a quintessential part of the fall experience, and one of the state’s best orchards—the appropriately named Apple Annie’s—is located in Wilcox, less than three hours south of Phoenix. It’s the perfect place to leisurely pick produce, bite into an apple donut or even head to the nearby farm to check out the pumpkin patch and corn maze. To make a day of it, grab some Mexican food from Isabel’s South of the Border or sip wines at one of the many tasting rooms.

Sedona
Visit Sedona

Sedona

Drive time from downtown Phoenix: 2 hours
Sedona has been having a moment, and for good reason. This quaint mountain town is the go-to spot for red rock views, a great psychic reading or a hike to a vortex. Plus, it’s increasingly becoming an epicenter for acclaimed restaurants like Lisa Dahl’s Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill or L’Auberge de Sedona’s Cress. The town also has a surprising number of boutiques to shop, especially at the beloved Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village.

Tucson
Visit Tucson

Tucson

Drive time from downtown Phoenix: 1 hour, 45 minutes
As Arizona’s second biggest city, this metropolis of Southern Arizona is a hub for arts, culture, and great food. In fact, it’s got the highest concentration of local restaurants in the country. While you might not get much of a break from the heat, there’s plenty of fall-focused activities from catching a college football game at the University of Arizona to picking out a pumpkin at the nearby Marana Pumpkin Patch & Farm Festival taking place all through October.
 

Prescott, Arizona
Visit Prescott, Arizona

Prescott

Drive time from downtown Phoenix: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Arizona’s original capitol might be a couple hours out of the city, but it’s well worth the drive—especially in the fall when you can experience crisp mountain air, see leaves changing colors, and stroll through around the courthouse plaza near the famed Whiskey Row (great for finding a bar or boutique—whatever you’re into). To fully experience the city’s scenic views, visit Watson Lake Park where you can also enjoy kayaking, fishing and hiking.

Jerome, Arizona
Jerome Grand Hotel

Jerome

Drive time from downtown Phoenix: 2 hours
If you’re in the market for a Halloween-appropriate destination, look no further than the state’s best-known ghost town. It’s even called the “wickedest town in the west.” After becoming an abandoned mining town, the city’s been revitalized with ghost tours, wine tasting rooms and museums.

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon

Drive time from downtown Phoenix: 3 hours, 30 minutes
No list of Arizona day trips is complete without a trip to the state’s best-known attraction, the Grand Canyon. Autumn is a relatively slow season for the canyon, so it’s a great time to visit if you want to avoid the tourists. Plus, sometimes you can even see a bit of snow. While hiking might not be ideal in the cooler months, there’s plenty of other options—like walking above the canyon on the Skywalk Glass Bridge or splurging for a helicopter tour.

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Jamie Killin is a Phoenix native and Arizona State graduate who specializes in lifestyle and features writing. You can usually find her at the spin studio, a concert, or trying new restaurants across the Valley. Follow her at @jamiefayekillin





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8 Can’t-Miss National Monuments In Arizona


One site pays tribute to a distinctive cactus species, others to unusual rock formations, and still others to the haunting ruins left behind by early indigenous people: When it comes to spectacular diversity of terrain and cultures, the national monuments that dot the state of Arizona definitely deliver.

Overall, Arizona has 19 national monuments. That is in addition to its three iconic national parks — Grand Canyon, Saguaro, and Petrified Forest — as well as a number of national historic sites and recreation areas.

While virtually all of the national monuments are worth a visit, several stand out for their fascinating histories, singular views, or varied hiking opportunities. Over the years, I have visited many of Arizona’s national monuments, and their special qualities never cease to amaze me.

Based on travels through my home state, here are eight can’t-miss national monuments in Arizona.

Hiking Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
Cindy Barks

1. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

My favorite among all of the Arizona monuments, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is big on not just its namesake cactus, but on views and culture as well.

Located in the far southern region of Arizona, just a 10-minute drive from the Arizona/Mexico border town of Lukeville, Organ Pipe is remote. But that works in its favor in the stunning vistas from the trails and scenic drives that can seem to be in the middle of nowhere.

One not-to-be-missed experience in the park is a drive along the Ajo Mountain Scenic Route, where you’ll pass by stands of towering organ pipe cacti and many other species as well. If you’re up for a short hike along the way, stop at the Double Arches Trailhead, about halfway in, for a 1.2-mile round-trip hike that will get you near the base of the park’s amazing rock arches, one on top of the other.

Because of its fairly warm winter climate, Organ Pipe is a popular spot for camping during the winter months. The park’s Twin Peaks Campground features 208 campsites.

Pro Tip: The historic mining town of Ajo makes the perfect base for exploring Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. See How To Spend A Perfect Day In Quaint Ajo, Arizona for the best things to do in the area. 

Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona.
Cindy Barks

2. Chiricahua National Monument

Also in the southern reaches of the state, but 240 miles east of Organ Pipe is another spot unlike any other: Chiricahua National Monument, known for its otherworldly rock formations.

A true wonderland of rocks, Chiricahua is the top spot in Arizona to see hoodoos, or thin spires of rock that rise precariously from the dry earth. A series of rugged trails will get you to the iconic Heart of Rocks, which, as its name implies, is in the middle of the rocky scene.

Pro Tip: For more on this southern Arizona gem, check out my story Chiricahua National Monument: 9 Things To Know Before Visiting

Cindy Barks

3. Agua Fria National Monument

Among the newest of Arizona’s national monuments is the sprawling 71,000-acre Agua Fria National Monument, which was designated in 2000.

The monument takes in two massive mesas and the canyon of the Agua Fria River. It offers a number of remote hikes — some that feature refreshing waterways and pretty spring wildflowers. One of my favorites is the Badger Springs Trail, located just off Interstate 17 about 60 miles north of Phoenix. The trail follows the bed of a wash, and after a wet winter, you might walk through a trickling flow of cool water on your way to the larger flow of the Agua Fria River.

Pro Tip: Agua Fria National Monument makes a great stop on the popular road trip between Phoenix and Sedona. For other stops, see my article Classic Arizona Road Trip: Phoenix To Sedona

Tuzigoot National Monument from above.
Cindy Barks

4. Tuzigoot National Monument

Tuzigoot National Monument is a testament to the old real-estate adage “Location, location, location.” Along with the intricate 110-room structure that dates back 900 years or more, I always marvel at the view spread out before. For miles, the fertile Verde River Valley can be seen from high atop the ruins. The scene is vivid green in the spring and summer and turns to gold in the fall.

Tuzigoot, which was excavated and reconstructed in the 1930s, is located in the central Arizona town of Clarkdale and is definitely worth a stop on a visit to the Verde Valley/Sedona area.

Pro Tip: The Verde River town of Cottonwood is located just a few miles from Tuzigoot National Monument. For things to do there, see 11 Best Things To Do In Charming Cottonwood, Arizona

Montezuma Castle, Arizona.
Fredlyfish4 / Shutterstock.com

5. Montezuma Castle National Monument

The Verde Valley is also home to another reminder of the ingenuity of the early native people — Montezuma Castle National Monument. The name is no exaggeration; the five-story stone-and-mortar marvel certainly evokes a feeling of grandeur.

Still, contrary to popular belief, the structure was occupied by the Sinagua people, not by Aztec royalty. “There’s no historical connection to the Aztec emperor for whom it’s named — the structure was abandoned more than 40 years prior to his birth,” says the website.

Because of its location just a few miles off Interstate 17 and less than 100 miles north of Phoenix, Montezuma Castle is a popular Arizona destination, attracting about 350,000 people each year.

Pro Tip: For more details on Montezuma Castle, check out How To Spend A Day At Montezuma National Monument

Great House, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.
Cindy Barks

6. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Yet another example of the native peoples’ ability to adapt to the harsh desert landscape is available about halfway between the major cities of Phoenix and Tucson at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.

The undisputed star of the monument is its namesake Great House, the massive packed-earth structure that dates to the 1300s.

The four-story building is just one aspect of the ruins, which also reveal a prehistoric system of canals for irrigating crops. Cotton has been a crop in the area for centuries, and canals reportedly began fueling the region’s farming about 3,500 years ago.

Pro Tip: While exploration of the ruins can be done in a few hours, there are plenty of other things to do in the area. For ideas, see my article 9 Tips for Exploring Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Walnut Canyon in Arizona.
Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock.com

7. Walnut Canyon National Monument

The territory of the Sinagua people stretched all across central and northern Arizona, and the remains are on exceptional display at Walnut Canyon National Monument. There, visitors can stroll from cliff dwelling to cliff dwelling, following in the footsteps of the native people who came before.

Located in the high country of northern Arizona, Walnut Canyon also features a combination of rugged mountain terrain, pine-tree vegetation, and wildlife. More information on a visit to the national monument is available in the article 7 Incredible Things To Explore At Walnut Canyon National Monument.

Pro Tip: Walnut Canyon is located just east of Flagstaff and less than an hour west of Winslow. Either town makes for a great base for exploring Walnut Canyon.

Sunset Crater National Monument entrance.
Cindy Barks

8. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

A lesson in the geologic formation of the mountainous terrain near Flagstaff awaits about a half-hour drive northeast of the northern Arizona mountain community at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

There, visitors can take in a colorful volcano cinder cone and the stark lava fields that surround it. The national monument’s website notes that the crater is only part of the story. “Around 1085, the ground began to shake, and lava spewed high in the air,” it says. The eruption that occurred changed both the landscape and the people who lived there.

A number of easy and moderate trails allow for a close-up look at the landscape. More information about exploring the area is available in the article 7 Best Things To Explore In And Around Sunset Crater.

Pro Tip: Sunset Crater makes a perfect first stop on the beautiful Arizona road trip from Flagstaff to Page

When To Visit

Arizona’s climate is roughly split between the desert regions of the south and the high country in the north. The south can be extremely hot from late spring through early fall, while the north can be chilly and snowy from late fall through early spring. Southern monuments like Organ Pipe, Chiricahua, Agua Fria, and Casa Grande are best visited between late fall and early spring, when temperatures are cooler in the desert. Northern monuments like Sunset Crater and Walnut Canyon are best visited between late spring and early fall. Central Arizona monuments like Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle have fairly mild weather year-round.

Pro Tip: Typically, two national monuments in the Navajo Nation — Navajo National Monument and Canyon de Chelly National Monument — would be high on my list of can’t-miss spots in Arizona. But as of spring 2021, all Navajo Nation parks and recreation sites remain closed until further notice because of the COVID-19 pandemic. More information is available here.



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