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Friday December 4th, 2020 12:16PM

The Latest: OVC expands hoops to 20 league games this season

By The Associated Press
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The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

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The Ohio Valley Conference has expanded its basketball schedule from 18 games to 20 this season.

The OVC expanded the schedule trying to make up for the delayed start to the basketball season because of the novel coronavirus pandemic and it's trying to give programs more games closer to home. Teams will play each other once, with nine playing twice. Teams also will be able to schedule two games with a “travel partner” separate from the rest of the conference schedule with two required to be scheduled before the holiday break and the other at any point.

Commissioner Beth DeBauche says athletic directors explored a number of scheduling options trying to work around the pandemic. She says they decided increasing league competition was the best move knowing they may have to modify schedules once play begins.

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Saturday’s football game between Tulsa and host Navy has been postponed following a rash of positive COVID-19 tests at the Naval Academy.

Many Navy athletes are under quarantine, and the Midshipmen have temporarily halted all football activities.

“Protocols and guidelines are very comprehensive both at the Naval Academy and within the American Athletic Conference,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said. “An administrative decision has been made that clearly reflects the safety and welfare of all involved with both institutions.”

A makeup date has not been announced. Navy and Tulsa do not share a common open date through the rest of the season.

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The Indianapolis Colts say one staff member has tested positive for COVID-19 and is under the care of team doctors.

The team still planned to hold practice but anticipated doing team meetings virtually and away from headquarters.

The Colts say they have entered the league’s intensive protocol and are working with NFL officials and medical staff. The team staffer is in quarantine.

The announcement comes one day after Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Indy (5-2) beat the Lions 41-21 last weekend and hosts Baltimore (5-2) on Sunday.

Eight defensive players missed the Ravens practice Wednesday after Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey said Monday he had tested positive. Humphrey is the only one of the eight to test positive.

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The Tennessee Vols and Lady Vols will have a maximum capacity of about 4,000 fans --close to 18% of arena seating -- for games this season.

The school announced the decision Thursday in accordance with state and local guidelines during the pandemic. It is following recommendations from the Southeastern Conference for indoor events, which requires at least 6 feet between groups along with a 12-foot buffer zone between fans and personnel and players on the court. That means the first four rows will be empty.

Fans at Thompson-Boling Arena must wear face coverings except when eating or drinking. Sections will be designated for students.

Athletic director Phillip Fulmer says, as is the case with football, Tennessee won’t be able to accommodate all season-ticket holders. Fulmer says the school has tried to be as thoughtful and deliberate as possible.

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The Houston Texans have closed their facility and will conduct all operations virtually after learning a player tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday night.

The team says the unidentified player is self-isolating and the team has started contract tracing.

Houston plays at Jacksonville on Sunday.

The team also had to shut its facility during its bye last week after another player tested positive. Interim coach Romeo Crennel said the building underwent a deep cleaning after that test and normal operations resumed Monday.

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An outbreak of COVID-19 cases has forced the postponement of soccer’s Levain Cup final on Saturday in Japan.

The J-League says 10 new coronavirus cases were reported among players and staff on the Kashiwa Reysol club. The club says two were players and eight were staff members.

Three other people related to the club had already tested positive during the week.

Kashiwa and FC Tokyo were to have played Saturday. An alternate date has not been set.

Japan has largely controlled the coronavirus and has reported about 1,800 deaths from COVID-19 in a country of 126 million.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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