Wednesday Sports In Brief

Georgia was not about to blow this lead.

The Bulldogs, who let a 13-0 halftime advantage get away in a national championship game loss to Alabama, finished their 2018 recruiting class with a flourish and laid claim to the No. 1 ranking on national signing day.

Georgia loaded up in the new early signing period and came into Wednesday’s start of the traditional signing period with the top-rated class, according to 247 Sports’ composite rankings. Coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs put the finishing touches on the recruiting championship by flipping a pair of four-star linebackers, one who had been committed to Michigan (Otis Reese) and another who had been committed to Alabama (Quay Walker), and grabbing a highly touted wide receiver from Texas (Tommy Bush).

Georgia also beat Miami and Alabama for star cornerback Tyson Campbell from American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida.

”It’s ridiculous,” said Mike Farrell, the national recruiting coordinator for Rivals. ”The average star ranking is near historic levels.”

National champion Alabama had finished on top of the recruiting rankings each of the last seven years, but the Tide finished outside the top three this year. No, coach Nick Saban is not slipping. The Tide had a relatively small class (18 signees), which kept down its ranking. Alabama also landed the top-rated uncommitted recruit left in the country entering the second signing period when cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. picked the Tide over LSU early in the day.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

PHILADELPHIA (AP) St. John’s took down another of the nation’s elite, and stunned No. 1 Villanova 79-75 on Wednesday night for its second win over a top-five team this week – and first over the top-ranked team in 33 years.

Shamorie Ponds scored 26 points to spark the Red Storm (12-13, 1-11 Big East) to its first conference win of the season and easily their best week since Chris Mullin was in uniform, not the coach.

Mullin played for St. John’s when it beat No. 1 Georgetown 66-65 on Jan. 26, 1985. And he was on the sideline exhorting his players in the final minutes of this shocker.

St. John’s beat then-No. 4 Duke Blue Devils 81-77 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, snapping an 11-game losing streak. It was the first win for St. John’s since Dec. 20 against Saint Joseph’s.

The Wildcats (22-2, 9-2) ended a nine-game winning streak and will surely tumble from the top of the national rankings, where they’ve spent the last five weeks at No. 1.

NBA

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans has been postponed after nearly two-hour delay because of a roof leak that briefly allowed rain water to puddle near one of the foul lines.

While Smoothie King Center crews fashioned a fabric catch basin in the rafters to stop water from dripping on the court, Pacers coach Nate McMillan said coaches and players on both teams didn’t want to risk an injury in the event the make-shift fix didn’t hold up for the duration of Wednesday night’s game.

Officials have not yet announced when the game will be made up.

Rain fell on and off throughout the day in New Orleans, but water on the court did not appear to be an issue during warmups.

HOCKEY

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin will miss the next three to four weeks recovering from a broken left hand.

The Wild announced Brodin had surgery Wednesday. He’s one of the top four blue-liners and by far the team’s leader with a plus-19 rating.

Brodin was hurt in the second period at St. Louis on Tuesday night. The Wild beat the Blues 6-2 in their third straight game with their entire lineup available, after a number of injuries to their forwards scattered throughout the season. Now Brodin will be out of action until March, with the Wild right on the cusp of the playoff cut in a crowded Western Conference race.

The Wild are 18-4-4 at home this season. They will begin a five-game homestand Thursday against NHL-worst Arizona.

GOLF

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) – Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is making his PGA Tour debut next month in the Dominican Republic.

As a player, not a broadcaster.

Romo, now the lead NFL analyst for CBS Sports, has received a sponsor’s exemption to play in the Puntacana Resort & Club Championship on March 22-25. The first-year event is held opposite the Dell Technologies Match Play, a World Golf Championships event that attracts the top 64 in the world.

He joins a short list of athletes who have tried to compete against those who play for a living.

Mark Rypien, the former Washington Redskins quarterback, played the Kemper Open in 1992. He shot rounds of 80-91 and missed the cut by 27 shots.

Ken Harrelson, an All-Star outfielder for the Boston Red Sox in 1968, qualified for the 1972 British Open at Muirfield and missed the cut by one shot. John Brodie qualified for the U.S. Open while playing for the San Francisco 49ers and later won on the PGA Tour Champions circuit.

Most recently, Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry played a Web.com Tour event outside San Francisco. He shot 74-74 and missed the cut by 11 shots.