6 Midwest States At ‘Tipping Point,’ Per Harvard-Brown Covid-19 Tracker

With the country’s coronavirus epicenter now hovering over the Midwest, the number of states “at a tipping point” for COVID-19 infections has jumped from one to six in the past week.

Americans who live in 33 states — two-thirds of the country — should not be traveling right now, according to the risk-assessment map run by the Harvard Global Health Institute and Brown School of Public Health. The color-coded map provides a simple way for Americans to assess that risk. Each state has a rating of green, yellow, orange or red, based upon the number of new daily cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people over a seven-day rolling average. States colored red or orange are over the threshold for allowing non-essential travel, according to the scientists.

Based on the tracker’s latest data, six states — North Dakota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma — are now colored red, which means they have 25 or more new positive Covid-19 cases every day per 100,000 people. Those states are “at a tipping point” and should be under stay-at-home orders, according to the Harvard and Brown researchers.

MORE FROM FORBESFauci Was Right: Covid-19 Cases Are Rising Again Following Labor Day Weekend Travel

A week ago, only North Dakota was in the red zone. Over the past seven days, the Roughrider State’s average tally of new cases climbed a whopping 49%, from 32.1 to 47.7 new daily cases per 100,000 people.

But the week’s biggest mover was Wisconsin, whose caseload jumped an astonishing 146% — from 16.9 to 41.5 new daily cases per 100,000 people — enough to vault it into second position in the country.

Alarmingly, the average number of new daily cases is rising in most high-risk states: up 28% in South Dakota; up 66% in Arkansas; up 23% in Missouri and Oklahoma; and up 14% in Iowa.

Twenty-seven states are colored orange on the map, which signifies they have 10 or more new daily positive Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day rolling average. These states are experiencing an “accelerated spread” of Covid-19, with “stay-at-home orders and/or test and trace programs advised,” according to the Harvard and Brown researchers.

States labeled yellow on the map are not in the clear. Yellow means there is between one and nine new cases of Covid-19 each day per 100,000 people, which still signifies community spread.

Only Vermont is in the green zone, which means fewer than one new daily case per 100,000 people. That signifies that the disease is “on track for containment.”


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6 Tips for Visiting Walt Disney World Right Now by Contributing Writer

Walt Disney World is operating differently right now with specific changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I experienced these changes during my trip to Walt Disney World earlier this month and today have some important tips for navigating these changes during your Walt Disney World vacation.

All of the changes made to the park experience are in service of creating the safest possible experience. I was extremely impressed by the precautions taken by Disney and the respect for the protocols by other guests. Everyone appreciated getting to be together and was clearly focused on visiting the parks safely.

Back in July, I shared my tips for planning a last-minute Walt Disney World trip during COVID. Now, I am back with an improved list from my recent trip with everything you need to know about visiting Walt Disney World right now.

1. Make a Park Pass Reservation

Disney’s Park Pass reservation appears to be here to stay with Walt Disney World requiring reservations through 2022. Time will tell if Walt Disney World removes this system once they can operate without limited capacity, but your best bet is to plan on this system being in place for your Walt Disney World vacation. Because of this, your first step to planning a Walt Disney World trip right now is to get your Park Pass reservation for your trip dates once you buy your park tickets.

How to Make a Reservation

  • Link your park tickets/admission to your Disney account. You will need valid park admission to make a reservation.
  • Create your party. Before you make a reservation, you’ll be prompted to create a party from your Family & Friends list on your account. This ensures your group has the same reservations for your trip.
  • Select a date and park. Choose the date and time you’d like to visit from the available reservations.
  • Review and confirm your plans. You will also be prompted to agree to a COVID-19 liability waiver.

I recommend making your reservations as soon as you know your trip dates and have your tickets since availability can change at any moment. You can read my full overview of the Park Pass system in my Walt Disney World tickets guide.

You can expect popular dates, like Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary on October 1st 2021, to fill up faster so the sooner you reserve your days the better.

2. Know How to Park Hop

Walt Disney World brought back the ability to park hop in January 2021 which was a welcome step towards normalcy for many guests. Park hopping looks different now at Walt Disney World so it’s good to be prepared before you arrive.

Guests will still make a Park Pass reservation for the first park they plan to visit AND must enter that first park prior to visiting another. At this time, a park reservation is not required after the first park, however, reservation requirements are subject to change. The specific Park Hopper hours begin at 2PM each day and end at the park’s scheduled closing time.

During my recent trip we started the day in Animal Kingdom before enjoying Hollywood Studios in the afternoon. We experienced low crowds throughout both parks. Just before Hollywood Studios closed at 7 p.m. we rode Slinky Dog Dash with only a 15 minute wait! There are still great opportunities to enjoy the parks with low crowds. We cover Park Hopping as well as the evolving health procedures in our constantly updated Walt Disney World Right Now guide.

So far there haven’t been any reports of guests not being able to get into a park during park hopper hours which is great news for folks looking for more flexibility in their visit.

3. Arrive Early to the Theme Parks

The last thing Disney wants right now is to have all their guests gathered together in large groups in front of the entrance of the theme parks. One way they’ve been alleviating issues of morning crowding is by letting guests enter the parks much earlier than the official park opening. During my recent trip we got into the parks roughly 35 minutes to 50 minutes before the official park opening every day of our trip.

The author in a selfie at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park. Photo by Gavin Doyle.

When we got into the parks early in the morning the lines were nonexistent and in a couple cases we rode our favorite attractions multiple times. At Hollywood Studios my sister and I were the first ones to ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster for the day (see selfie capturing the moment we were the first ones on Sunset Boulevard). After getting off from our first ride we immediately went again! We had similar experiences at the other parks. I wrote more about our experience and shared tips in our updated COVID Walt Disney World touring strategies guide.

If you plan to arrive at least an hour before the park’s official opening time, then it’s extremely likely you will be allowed to enter the park early and get in line for popular attractions. Depending on the popularity of the attraction, Cast Members will start running these rides early so you’re essentially getting early access to the park! I recommend being ready to board the transportation from your hotel to the parks roughly 1.25 hours before official park opening.

Walt Disney World has announced that early theme park entry will return for guests later this year in honor of the 50th anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World. Guests staying on-site at a Disney Resort hotel will receive a 30-minute early entry to any theme park, any day of the week. While this perk isn’t in place yet, when it does return if you’re staying on-site, you’ll get this same early access but with more limited capacity greatly maximizing the beginning of your day

4. Book Your Dining Reservations

Walt Disney World’s restaurants are still operating with limited capacity making popular dining reservations harder to get than ever before. If you don’t want to miss out on your restaurant of choice, it’s important to make your dining reservations as soon as possible.

You can now make dining reservations 60 days in advance for your Walt Disney World trip. You can make dining reservations online or by calling (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.

If you don’t get your first choice of dining reservations, keep trying! We wrote up more specific tips on getting last minute Walt Disney World dining reservations. One important tip to remember: many guests cancel 24 hours before their reservation because that’s when Disney starts charging a cancellation fee of $10 per person for no shows.

5.Watch for the Return of Popular Experiences and Find Characters

Walt Disney World is just as anxious to return to normalcy as the rest of us and as things begin to improve we’ll begin to see popular experiences return to Walt Disney World. For instance, Blizzard Beach, one of the popular Disney water parks, reopened on March 7 after being closed for nearly a year.

Walt Disney World has also announced the return of the popular show The Festival of the Lion King (with modifications) at Animal Kingdom! No specific return date has been announced yet but Disney has said we can expect this popular show to return this summer.

Sully waves to fans during a procession through Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Photo by Gavin Doyle.

Walt Disney World has also been fantastic about introducing characters into the parks in unique ways so that guests can continue to interact with their favorites from popular Disney films. For example, in Epcot you can see Winnie the Pooh catching butterflies in the lawn next to the Living with the Land attraction. Or over in Magic Kingdom, look up as you pass the Country Bear Jamboree and you might see Chip n Dale waving at guests from above.

Aside from these subtle ways of integrating characters into the background of the theme parks, there have also been spontaneous character cavalcades throughout the day for guests to enjoy. These character cavalcades are like “mini parades” as they often utilize parade floats from popular Walt Disney World parades featuring your favorite characters. The best part is there is no need to plan to see these cavalcades since there are no announced times. As you spend your day at the park, you’ll randomly experience them which is a great way to get that Disney magic without necessarily having to spend the time reserving a spot to do it.

Donald Duck greets patrons at the Topolino character breakfast. Photo by Gavin Doyle.

Another great way to enjoy characters right now is through character dining. During my most recent trip I got to experience the Topolino character breakfast at Disney’s Riviera Resort and had a marvelous time. Instead of the traditional hugs and autograph routine the characters now rotate through the restaurant with ample room posing and waving from six feet away. The Topolino breakfast features Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck. After all the characters rotate through the restaurant they all return for a dance routine (see video in my review linked above). At the end of the meal they gave us a photo sheet with all of the character’s autographs. The characters provided a great atmosphere and the meal was delicious.

As Walt Disney World remains successful in its health and safety practices, I expect to see smaller steps towards bringing back popular experiences for guests especially as we move closer to Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in October!

6. Book Your Trip With a Disney Certified Travel Expert

With all of the current changes to the Walt Disney World experience it has never been more important to have someone working on your behalf. I always book my Walt Disney World and Disneyland vacations with Get Away Today. They will ensure you have the best possible price and provide free concierge services as you plan your trip.

Gavin Doyle is the founder of MickeyVisit.com and DisneyDose.com. His tips help people save money and experience more at Walt Disney World and Disneyland and have been featured at Forbes, Travel+Leisure, OC Register, ABC News, LA Times, Yahoo! News, and more.


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N.J. COVID updates: 16 and older to be vaccine-eligible soon; Travel restrictions eased; Mask dispute attack. (April 6, 2021)

Everyone who lives, works or studies in New Jersey and is 16 or older will be eligible to schedule an appointment for a coronavirus vaccine in less than two weeks.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that he was removing all restrictions for those 16 and older on April 19 as the state races to get 70% of its adult population — about 4.7 million people — vaccinated by June.

Monday was the first day anyone 55 and older was allowed to make an appointment. Monday’s large expansion of eligibility also included higher education employees, utility workers and sanitation workers.

As of 9:50 a.m. Monday, at least 1,796,798 in the state had been fully vaccinated, according to the department of health’s coronavirus dashboard. In addition, 3,013,713 have been administered at least one dose. While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots weeks apart, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-shot.

Murphy reported 2,984 more COVID-19 cases and 15 additional deaths on Monday.

There were 2,329 patients in the state’s 71 hospitals as of 10 p.m. Monday, an increase of 40 from the previous 24-hour period. There are 461 patients receiving critical care with 227 on ventilators.

There are 35 more patients in hospitals than there were on April 1 and hospitalizations are up 21.6% since March 1. Since Jan. 1 the number of patients in hospitals with coronavirus-related issued is down 33.4%, though.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracker | Newsletter | Homepage

Here’s a roundup of the latest coronavirus news in New Jersey and elsewhere:

N.J. loosens COVID travel restrictions, Murphy announces: New Jersey is changing its travel and quarantine guidelines to reflect new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Murphy said at his Monday coronavirus briefing.

“New Jersey is no longer advising fully vaccinated individuals who travel domestically to self-quarantine after their trip or to get tested before or after travel,” Murphy said. “The federal requirement for testing upon return to the United States following international air travel stands.”

Angry customer stiffs N.J. server over bar’s COVID rules; locals rally with huge donation: New Jersey residents have rallied around a local server who was recently stiffed by a customer who disagreed with the bar’s COVID-19 regulations, specifically its 90-minute time limit for seated service.

The incident took place at Glenbrook Brewery in Morristown and gained traction Sunday when the morristown.nj Instagram account — a page dedicated to town happenings, not associated with the local government — posted an image of a receipt with zero tip on an $86 bill, featuring the message, “I’m sorry the server gets screwed on this. Don’t kick paying customers out after 90 minutes.”

All Jersey City employees will return to their offices starting in May: Jersey City is bringing all city employees back to their assigned worksites starting in May, ending the work-from-home program that was put in place at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to all city employees, Human Resources Director Joanne Rosa said the state’s second-largest city is ending the program as she cites decreasing COVID-19 cases, vaccinations increasing and public schools returning to in-person learning.

Burger King customer attacks, chokes worker after face-mask argument, cops say: A New Jersey man who argued with Burger King employees over not wearing a mask returned later in the day and choked one of the workers, authorities said Monday.

The attack occurred shortly after 4 p.m. on March 27 at the fast food restaurant on Route 23 in Wayne, according to township police Capt. Dan Daly.

U.S. cases: At least 555,169 of the approximately 30,785,734 million to test positive for the coronavirus in the U.S. have died as of 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide cases: As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, the coronavirus has led to more than 2.86 million deaths in 192 counties, according to the center. More than 131.9 million have been infected since the outbreak started in December 2019. At least 74.9 million have recovered.

Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com.

NJ Advance Media staff writers Matt Arco, Karin Price Mueuller and Jeremy Schneider contributed to this report. Jersey Journal reporter Joshua Roario also contributed.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Migrants traverse desolate, deadly ranchlands to elude key border checkpoint in South Texas – WATE 6 On Your Side

SPECIAL REPORT: Migrants traverse desolate, deadly ranchlands to elude key border checkpoint in South Texas  WATE 6 On Your Side

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Orange County Man Accused in January 6 Riot Appears in Court

ORLANDO, Fla. — A 30-year-old Orange County man accused of participating in the January attack on the U.S. Capitol as a member of the Proud Boys, wore a T-shirt promoting the group to federal court on Tuesday in Orlando.

What You Need To Know

  •  A 30-year-old Orange County man appeared in federal court Tuesday on charges he participated in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol
  •  Arthur Jackman could be seen wearing a shirt saying, “Proud Boys did nothing wrong!” during the hearing
  • He was released on a $25,000 bond

Arthur Jackman, 30, was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond and other conditions, including staying away from his wife’s guns.

He ignored reporters’ questions and remained silent after Tuesday’s hearing.

He had turned his black T-shirt turned inside out, hiding the lettering, for his brisk walk from the courthouse to an SUV that pulled over on West Central Boulevard to pick him up.

Earlier, when Jackman — shackled at his ankles and wrists — walked into the courtroom wearing the shirt, the words on the front, “Proud Boys did nothing wrong!” were visible.

The back was also visible during his 20-minute hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Irick at the George C. Young Federal Courthouse Annex.

It said: “I am a Western chauvinist, and I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”

The back also had an image of George Washington and a character giving an OK hand gesture — a suspected “white power” symbol.

In a criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors in the District of Columbia, Jackman is accused of obstruction of an official proceeding, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

He is also accused of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and engaging in disruptive and disorderly conduct. Someone convicted of that crime, which is a misdemeanor, could be imprisoned for up to a year.

Jackman will eventually have to travel to a federal court in D.C.

He also will have a pretrial hearing in Orlando, but a date wasn’t set Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors did not ask Irick to hold Jackman until his trial.

Instead, the judge imposed release conditions recommended by prosecutors, including taking his passport and restricting his travel to the Middle District of Florida and the District of Columbia.

He is allowed to travel between those destinations for court appearances.

Jackman is the latest in a string of Florida suspects tied to the Proud Boys accused of storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to overturn the results of the presidential general election. Other Florida suspects include alleged attackers from another far-right group, The Oath Keepers.

In all, more than 300 people, many supporters of former President Donald Trump, have been charged in the siege.

The FBI got a tip about Jackman from an unidentified person described as a childhood friend.

Jackman texted a photo of himself inside the Capitol while wearing a mask and giving the OK hand gesture, agents allege.

Agents said in a document Jackman photographed and videotaped wearing a red plaid shirt in the U.S. Capitol.

The FBI interviewed him on January 19, when he reportedly told them he joined Proud Boys in 2016 to support Trump.

He thinks the election “was stolen,” according to a court document which states Jackman and “other Proud Boys were not there to infiltrate the Capitol as it was not a sanctioned Proud Boys event …”

Federal investigators obtained Google records of Jackman’s phone and say he entered the Capitol at around 2:14 p.m.

He was inside various locations, including the northern end of the Capitol and inside the Senate chamber, federal officials allege.

When agents asked if he was in the Capitol or if photos would show him there, Jackman had “no comment,” the agents said.

Agents said Jackman was spotted with Joseph Randall Biggs of Ormond Beach, another accused member of the Proud Boys, before and after the Capitol attack.

Biggs, Jackman and others were captured on video marching on Constitution Avenue while chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” and expletives.

Biggs was later captured on video inside the Capitol, according to the affidavit.

“In the video, a voice off camera says, ‘Hey Biggs, what do you gotta say?’ The person depicted below smiles broadly and replies, ‘This is awesome!’ before pulling his gaiter up to cover his face,” a probable cause affidavit from the FBI said.

The video was live streamed on the Parler social-media site, the FBI said.

Biggs and other alleged members of the Proud Boys in the U.S. Capitol attack were equipped with “walkie-talkie style communication devices” on their chests, the FBI alleges.

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Dive into Florida’s clear blue waters at these 6 places | Travel

If you’re longing for warm summer days and a dip into the bluest waters, a trip down south to Florida just may be in store.

Potential visitors may have some confusion over where to start, but Narcity has compiled a list of the six places in the Sunshine State that will make for the ideal trip to dive into clear, blue seas, springs and more.

Note that some parks may be open at limited capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic. Be sure to check with each place individually and adhere to health and safety guidelines.

Anna Maria Island

The coldest it gets here on average is 50 degrees early in the year, but the water won’t dip below 64 degrees at this time of the year — and that’s a great thing considering beaches are accessible at all hours. Plus, it’s free to visit the soft-sanded beaches and clear waters.

100 Palmetto Ave., Anna Maria, Fla. annamariaislandchamber.org.

Ginnie Springs

There’s no shortage of ways to explore the waters at Ginnie Springs. The privately-owned park costs $15 to get into in the off-season and the seasonal rate is $20. Guests can canoe, kayak and paddleboard in the seven crystal clear springs that remain a warm 72 degrees year-round.

7300 Ginnie Springs Rd., High Springs, Fla. ginniespringsoutdoors.com.

King’s Landing

Located just off the Wekiva River, King’s Landing offers guests outdoor therapy in the form of kayaking or canoeing downriver. The 8.5-mile trip has varying rates depending on how you and your pals elect to boat from the Kings Landing Dock. Regardless of if you plan to swim, fish or spot a deer — or even a monkey — along the banks, it’ll be nothing short of relaxing.

5722 Baptist Camp Rd., Apopka, Fla. kingslandingfl.com.

Weeki Wachee Springs

Paddle down the pristine waterways of Weeki Wachee River at the place touted as “Florida’s most legendary and unique family destination.” Note that the park is only open for kayak launch at the moment. Feel free to book a $6 private paddling launch — just be sure to bring your own boat.

6131 Commercial Way Spring Hill, Fla. weekiwachee.com.

Turtle Beach

Situated at the southern tip of Siesta Key, Fla., Turtle Beach not only offers blue waters but some of the tallest sand dunes in the area. Its moniker isn’t just a cute name, either — the beach is known as a turtle nesting ground.

8919 Midnight Pass Rd., Siesta Key, Fla. siestakeychamber.com.

Silver Springs State Park

For $8 per vehicle, admission into Silver Springs State Park gets you access to one of the state’s longest-running attractions: glass-bottomed boat tours. The day trip offers a unique way to view the crystal clear springs and the vegetation and wildlife that live within it.

1425 NE 58th Ave. Ocala, Fla. floridastateparks.org.

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Air Travel Up as More Travelers Head to South Florida – NBC 6 South Florida

It’s hard to believe but South Florida airports that were once ghost towns are flying high once again. Spring breakers are heading this way, but so are lots of others out for a run in the sun after a year of being in the COVID deep freeze. 

Tanisha Williams and Alexis Oliver call Virginia home, but they came off their flight at MIA and made a break for the door.

“Richmond is cold and raining. So, this is different for us right now so we are going to enjoy it,” Williams said.

That’s the thought for the thousands that are now pouring through South Florida’s airports. One day at MIA in 2020, only 3,500 passengers were flying. Earlier this week almost 90,000 showed up in one day – approaching the 110,000 daily number prior to the pandemic.

“We’re very glad to see the traffic come back and to see safe travel come back,” said airport spokesman Greg Chin. “We are seeing the highest numbers that we have seen since the pandemic.”

NBC 6 hasn’t seen this at Miami International Airport for a year — the line for security checkpoint three went back a few blocks before you go inside. Then you have to snake around to finally get up to the front and present your identification to the TSA officer. 

“Traveling wasn’t a second thought, it was just what hotels or resorts are going to be open and what it’s going to be like when you get here,” said Jason Swanson, who is from Iowa. “Everyone is wearing their mask and it hasn’t been a big deal here either.”

At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, there has been a similar increase in passengers with the numbers up 21% from last month to March.

“Our airline at the Miami hub will have almost its full schedule,” said Juan Carlos Liscano, who runs American’s operation at MIA. “We actually will have 16% more seats than we did in 2019.”

More passengers at the airports means tourists are booking hotels and heading to restaurants.

“Tourism drives the economy locally here of course,” Chin said. “Drives business revenue, drives tourism spending, hotel stays, spending in the community — so this is huge for our community to see travel come back and we want to encourage safe travel of course.”

Those showing up aren’t calculating any marketing data. For them, let the good times roll.   Alexis Oliver said while laughing ,

“Right now we are going to go get checked in and we are going to go jet skiing first, stay around the water the whole time,” Alexis Oliver said, laughing. “That’s going to be the plan. From the volume of passengers at the airports, that’s the plan lots of visitors have.”

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No. 6 Alabama adds another SEC title, edges LSU at tourney

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Skip calling Alabama simply a football school anymore. The Crimson Tide have courted a new moniker they think fits so much better.

Just call them a Championship School.

Herbert Jones drove for a go-ahead layup with 19.5 seconds and No. 6 Alabama won the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the first time since 1991, holding off a late flurry to edge LSU 80-79 Sunday.

Coach Nate Oats and the Crimson Tide added to their regular-season title with a victory that helped Alabama match its highest seed ever in the NCAA Tournament. The Tide, which was No. 2 in both 1987 and 2002, is seeded second and will play Iona on Saturday.

Alabama, the reigning national champions in football, won its seventh tournament title overall, second in the SEC only to Kentucky’s 31. The Crimson Tide (24-6) hadn’t even reached this game since 2002.

Now they’ve joined Florida (2006-07) as the only SEC schools with both the league football and basketball titles in the same year. Alabama did it by adding two more SEC titles in basketball after Nick Saban’s squad won both the SEC and national championships a couple months ago.

Oats noted Alabama football set the new name Saturday, referring to the Tide on Twitter as a “ CHAMPIONSHIP SCHOOL.”

“So we don’t have to be a football school or a basketball school,” Oats said. “We just win championships. We’re a championship school.”

The basketball team now has its sights set on another title.

“I have full faith that we can take this thing, take the NCAA tournament by storm and win the whole thing,” Alabama guard and tournament MVP Jahvon Quinerly said.

Alabama still needed its defense after Jones went a long way down the lane for his shot.

Keon Ellis blocked a shot by LSU’s Javonte Smart and the Tigers took a timeout with just over seven seconds left to set up the final attempt.

After the inbounds pass went astray and nearly to midcourt, Trendon Watford’s 3 was well short of the rim. Aundre Hyatt’s putback hit the back of the rim and bounced out and LSU couldn’t get another good shot off in the scramble before the buzzer.

That set off yet another Alabama celebration — this time on the basketball court.

“I just know we had to stop them from scoring that last seven seconds, no matter what we had to do, who did it, somebody just had to get them stop,” Alabama senior guard John Petty Jr. said. “And we did. And we champs.”

Hyatt, meanwhile, was on the floor with his head in his hands. Watford was on his knees and slammed the court with a hand. Smart said he thought Hyatt’s shot went in, calling it “crazy” it rimmed out.

“This is a hard one to take, losing by one with that many opportunities to win the game,” Smart said. “We gave it all we got. We really wanted this win.”

Jones, both the SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Jaden Shackelford led Alabama with 21 points, and Ellis and Quinerly each had 14.

LSU (18-9) hadn’t won this tournament since 1980, and this was the Tigers’ first time in the final since 1993. LSU coach Will Wade said the final sequence wound up starting too far out but liked that they had the shot from 3 and two more up close.

“We just missed, a little bit short there at the end,” Wade said.

Watford finished with a career-high 30 points for LSU. Smart added 21 and Cameron Thomas had 18.

About 20 minutes before tip-off, Alabama and LSU players had to be separated at midcourt. That was just a preview of the taut battle to follow.

Alabama scored the first eight points of the game only to see LSU answer with a 15-5 run of its own to take a 15-13 lead on Thomas’ third 3 of the game. Alabama scored the final seven of the half and took a 40-37 lead into halftime.

Neither team led by more than four in the second half. Alabama was up 56-52 on a free throw by Jones. Smart hit back-to-back 3s with Thomas scoring on a layup, giving LSU a 60-56 lead midway through the half.

Shackelford answered with his own back-to-back 3s before Gary’s layup made it 64-60 with 8:20 left.

Shackelford hit his fifth 3 with 6:54 to go giving Alabama its biggest lead since the opening minutes at 69-63. But LSU, especially Watford or Smart, kept answering to set up the thrilling finish.


LSU: This was the Tigers’ third loss this season to Alabama, but easily the tightest. The Tigers took very good care of the ball with only five turnovers that Alabama turned into six points. But the second-highest scoring team in the SEC couldn’t make the shot at the end to win.

Alabama: The Tide’s starters had plenty of help, outscoring LSU 28-0 in bench points. The Tide also outrebounded LSU 50-43.


LSU, ready to make to make consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 2005 and 2006, planned to stay in Nashville and travel Monday to Indiana.

Alabama will make the 21st NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. The Tide planned to travel to Indiana after the bracket announcement.

Follow Teresa M. Walker at https://twitter.com/TeresaMWalker

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/College-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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