National Sports

Cavs lose again...FSU crushes BC

 

UNDATED (AP) — The 12th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers improved to 22-6 on Monday, but not before they received a huge scare.

 

Head coach Bob Huggins dropped to his knees and clutched his chest during a timeout just before halftime of the Mountaineers' 77-62 win against visiting Texas. Huggins' players quickly surrounded him as he stood up and briefly massaged his chest before staying on the sideline. Huggins said after the game that his defibrillator had gone off and that he experienced light-headedness from standing up too fast.

 

The 63-year-old Huggins had a heart attack at the Pittsburgh airport in 2002 when he was the coach at Cincinnati.

Jevon Carter had team highs of 24 points and 10 rebounds for West Virginia, which improved to 10-5 in the Big 12. Lamont West added a career-high 23 points to pad the victory.

 

WVU led 46-32 at intermission despite falling behind 12-2.

 

Meanwhile, Virginia continues to stumble through the latter portion of its ACC schedule.

 

Bruce Brown capped his 14-point performance by hitting a 3-pointer with 23.8 seconds left in overtime to send Miami past the 18th-ranked Cavaliers, 54-48. The Hurricanes trailed 48-47 until Brown nailed his only 3-pointer of the game. It came 15 seconds after Marial Shayok hit a putback that put the Cavs ahead.

 

The Cavaliers have their first four-game losing streak since 2009-10, Tony Bennett's first season as their head coach. Virginia had been 18-5 overall and 8-3 in the conference before the skid.

 

Also in the ACC, Dwayne Bacon's 16 points helped Florida State improve to 10-5 in the conference by slamming Boston College, 104-72. The Seminoles got 59 points from their bench, with PJ Savoy delivering 15. Jonathan Isaac added 14 points for FSU, which led by 34 six minutes into the second half.

 

 

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NC State: Gottfried won't return as men's basketball coach

 

 


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina State says men's basketball coach Mark Gottfried won't return for a seventh season but will coach the remainder of this season.

 

Gottfield

 

The school announced the decision Thursday, less than a day after the Wolfpack fell by 24 points to 10th-ranked rival North Carolina in the team's sixth straight loss as a once-promising season continues to unravel. N.C. State hosts No. 25 Notre Dame on Saturday.

 

Gottfried had a 122-82 record with the Wolfpack, including NCAA Tournament trips in his first four years that included two Sweet 16 appearances. But N.C. State has slid to 30-30 over the past two seasons, including 8-24 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, and struggled to maintain continuity amid transfers, players leaving early to pursue professional playing careers, and staff turnover.

 

AARON BEARD, AP Basketball Writer

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NBA Getting Ready for The All-Star Break

 

UNDATED (AP) — The NBA All-Star break begins at the conclusion of play this evening. Play in the regular season will not resume until a week from tonight.

 

The first half comes to a close this evening with two games. In the first the Pacers are playing host to the Wizards, just a day after losing to the Cavaliers in Cleveland. With the loss, Indiana is two games above .500 at 29-27, while the Wizards are in first place in the Southeast Division with a three-game winning streak, wins in nine of their last 10 games and a record of 33-21.

 

The final game has Boston playing in Chicago. The Celtics begin the day just 2 ½ games back of Cleveland for the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Celts top the Atlantic Division by 4 ½ games over the fading Toronto Raptors.

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Busy night in the NBA Leading up to All-Star Game

 

UNDATED (AP) — It's a basketball bonanza with 14 games on the NBA schedule on the last busy night before the All-Star game.

 

League-leading Golden State will be at home, where the Warriors have lost just three times, to face Sacramento.

 

The Kings handed Golden State one of its NBA-best nine losses the last time the two teams met earlier this month.

 

The Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers can put even more distance between themselves and second-place Indiana in the Central Division when they meet tonight. Cleveland heads into the game with a 9 1-2 -game lead over the Pacers, who have dropped four straight.

 

The Celtics try to keep their run going when they host Philadelphia. Atlantic Division-leading Boston has won ten of its last 11 games.

 

Atlanta will try to gain some ground on idle Washington at the top of the Southeast Division, when the Hawks visit the Clippers. Atlanta is just a game and a-half behind the Wizards. The Hawks may have Thabo Sefolosha back after he missed eight games with a groin injury.

 

Northwest Division-leading Utah tries to end three-game skid when the Jazz host Portland.

 

Southwest Division-leading San Antonio is making the sixth stop on an eight-game road trip when they visit Orlando.

 

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Cardinals Reyes out for season

 

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Alex Reyes needs season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right arm.

 

rEYES

 

General manager John Mozeliak (moh-ZAY'-lahk) confirmed the diagnosis after an MRI. Reyes didn't throw his scheduled bullpen session Tuesday because of a sore elbow.

 

The 22-year-old Reyes made his major league debut Aug. 9 and was 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA in five starts and seven relief appearances. His fastball averaged more than 97 mph.

 

Reyes was a candidate for the final spot in the starting rotation.

 

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Browns claim defensive back Tyvis Powell from Seahawks

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Browns have claimed former Ohio State safety Tyvis Powell off waivers from Seattle.

 

 

Powell appeared in eight games last season for the Seahawks, who signed him as an undrafted free agent last year. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Powell spent the entire 2016 season on Seattle's active roster. He made three tackles on special teams.

 

A Cleveland-area native, Powell played in 42 games for the Buckeyes and led the team in interceptions in 2015.

 

After signing with the Browns on Monday, Powell sent out thanks to his former Seattle teammates, including star cornerback Richard Sherman, on Twitter. He also posted a chart of the odds for teams to win next season's Super Bowl — the Browns' odds are 150 to 1 — and sent a message to Browns cornerback Joe Haden, saying "we have to make BELIEVERS."

 

 

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After LBJ fouls out, Irving lifts Cavs past Wiz 140-135, OT

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 11 of his 23 points in overtime, including a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 35 seconds left, and the Cleveland Cavaliers edged the Washington Wizards 140-135 in a playoff-type atmosphere Monday night.

 

 

The loud, sellout crowd was standing, and so were the players on both benches, when James somehow missed a gimme layup late in the fourth quarter. Moments later, he banked in a maximum-degree-of-difficulty, step-back 3 with 0.3 seconds left to send the game overtime, where he fouled out and Irving took over for Cleveland.

 

James finished 32 points and a career-high 17 assists. Kevin Love had 39 points and 12 rebounds for the Eastern Conference leaders, who ended surging Washington's winning streaks of 17 in a row at home and seven in a row overall.

Bradley Beal had 41 points and eight assists for the Wizards, but he missed a potential tying 3 with about 5 seconds left in overtime.

 

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Warriors Rout Cavs...Celtics and Hawks Surging

 

UNDATED (AP) — As far as the Golden State Warriors are concerned, their 126-91 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers came about seven months too late.

 

Warriors

 

The Warriors held a 3-1 lead over the Cavs last June in the NBA Finals with two chances to win the series at home. Cleveland won both those games while sweeping the last three to win their first NBA title.

 

Golden State enacted some revenge Monday night in the Cavs first visit back at Oracle Arena since the Finals. Stephen (STEH'-fihn) Curry hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists. Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. He also equaled his career best with five blocks.

 

LeBron James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds for the Cavs.

 

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Packers, Cowboys Make TV History

 

NEW YORK (AP) — The Packers thrilling last second win over Dallas yesterday was a record breaker.

 

Packers Cowboys

 

The playoff game was seen by 48.5 million views on Fox, making it the most viewed NFL divisional playoff game in history.

 

Pittsburgh's two-point win over Kansas City Sunday night was seen by 37.4 million people on NBC and its digital platform, including 37.1 million on the network.

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Bengals' Pacman Jones Jailed Over Cincinnati Confrontation

 

CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones is facing assault, disorderly conduct and other charges after being arrested in Cincinnati's downtown entertainment district.

 

Authorities say Jones is accused of pushing and poking someone in the eye, then struggling with officers during his arrest and spitting on a nurse while being booked into the Hamilton County jail early Tuesday.

 

He has been jailed on misdemeanor charges of assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing official business, and a felony count of harassment with a bodily substance.

 

The 33-year-old Jones was being held pending an initial court appearance Tuesday morning. No attorney was listed for him.

 

It is the latest incident for a player who has repeatedly had legal issues after going to college at West Virginia University and making his NFL debut with Tennessee.

 

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Clemson, Alabama Cruise to The Title Game

 

UNDATED (AP) — Clemson is getting another crack at Alabama in college football's national championship game, one year after the Crimson Tide earned a 45-40 win over the Tigers for the title.

 

DeShaun Watson ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as Clemson blasted Ohio State, 31-0. Watson was 23 of 36 for 259 yards and two interceptions before taking a seat on the bench with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. He also had 57 yards rushing for the Tigers, who scored in each quarter and held the Buckeyes to 215 total yards and nine first downs.

 

Clemson improved to 13-1 and dropped the Buckeyes to 11-2. Ohio State was seeking its second national title in three years. It was the first time Urban Meyer has been shut out in his 194 games as head coach. OSU hadn't been blanked since a 1993 loss to Michigan.

 

The top-ranked and unbeaten Crimson Tide are 14-0 after scoring 10 points off turnovers in a 24-7 win over No. 4 Washington in the Peach Bowl. Ryan Anderson returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown to put Alabama ahead 17-7 with 1:13 left in the first half. It came after Anthony Averett forced a fumble that set up Adam Griffith's tiebreaking, 41-yard field goal.

 

Bo Scarborough carried the Tide's offense by running for 180 yards and two touchdowns to earn game MVP honors. He capped the scoring by rumbling 68 yards for a TD with 11:56 remaining.

 

Scarborough almost outgained the entire Huskies offense, which was held to 194 yards and didn't score after Jake Browning's 16-yard TD pass midway through the first quarter. Browning was 20 of 38 for just 150 yards and two interceptions for the 12-2 Huskies.

 

The national championship game is slated for Jan. 9 at Tampa, Fla.

 

In Saturday's other bowl games:

 

— LSU whipped Louisville, 29-9 in the Citrus Bowl as sophomore running back Derrius Guice ran for 138 yards. Guice rushed 70 yards for a touchdown and caught a scoring pass while the Tigers sacked Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson eight times. Jackson completed just 10 of 27 passes for 153 yards and led the Cardinals with just 33 yards rushing.

 

— Dedrick Milles ran for a career-high 169 yards and a TD to lead Georgia Tech's 33-18 win over Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville. Senior P.J. Davis returned a fumble 38 yards for a touchdown, and fellow linebacker Terrell Lewis blocked a punt late in the first half to set up one of Harrison Butker's four field goals.

 

 

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Columbus Blue Jackets Reach 15 in Row with 4-2 win, Stop Wild Streak at 12

 

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Cam Atkinson scored twice and the Columbus Blue Jackets stretched their winning streak to 15 games by stopping Minnesota's 12-game run with a 4-2 victory over the Wild on Saturday night.

 

 

Never in NHL history had two teams taken winning streaks that long into a game, and Sergei Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets made sure their party would stretch into the new year. Bobrovsky made 29 saves, yielding two or fewer goals for the 10th time during the run, and defensemen Jack Johnson and Seth Jones each had goals assisted by Brandon Saad in a frenetic second period sparked by consecutive fights.

 

Jason Zucker reignited the arena with his breakaway flip past Bobrovsky just 24 seconds into the third period for the Wild after he raced past Jones, but that was as close as they came. Devan Dubnyk stopped 21 shots, surrendering four goals for the second straight game after allowing three or fewer in his first 27 turns.

 

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Cavs Announce Plans for $140 Million Renovation of Arena

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers have announced plans for a $140 million project to renovate Quicken Loans Arena, their downtown home since 1994.

 

Cavs

 

The defending NBA champions and Cuyahoga County officials believe the arena needs an exterior face-lift and massive interior upgrades to better accommodate fans and attract future events. The Q currently hosts 200-plus events annually.

The team and taxpayers would split the cost without any increase in taxes. The Q would remain open during construction, which would begin in 2017 and take approximately two years.

 

As part of the reconstruction, the building would be modernized with a glass front and public gathering spaces would be added.

 

The Cavs are extending their lease with The Q by seven years to 2034. Once the project is complete, the NBA has agreed to allow Cleveland to be a host city for the All-Star week in the near future.

 

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Cavs Hosting Raptors Tonight

 

UNDATED (AP) — Two of the top teams in the NBA's Eastern Conference, who have a history of meeting in the playoffs, are squaring off tonight in Cleveland, as the NBA champion Cavaliers play host to the Raptors. This will be their second meeting of the young season as on Oct. 28 the Cavs beat the Raptors in Toronto 94-91. Toronto's DeMar DeRozan is enjoying a great start to the season as he leads the league in scoring at 34 points a game. He was named the conference player of the week on Monday after averaging 34.7 points while shooting 54 percent from the floor.

Cleveland's LeBron James had won the two previous awards.

 

The Hawks are right in the Eastern mix with the Cavs and Raptors as they are 7-2, just like Toronto. Cleveland starts play tonight 8-1. This evening the Hawks are in Miami facing the 2-7 Heat. Atlanta is playing some stingy defense as the Hawks lead the league in fewest points allowed in the fourth quarter, just 20.1. Newcomer Dwight Howard is off to a good start with 15.2 points and 12.4 rebounds a game.

 

Charlotte has won six of nine games this year and tonight is at Minnesota. The Timberwolves feature third-year swingman Andrew Wiggins who is coming off a career-best 47-point game Sunday against the Lakers. After starting the season 6-1 the Hornets have dropped two straight.

The remaining games tonight have the Bulls playing in Portland and the Lakers home to the Nets.

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Manager of The Year Tonight

 

UNDATED (AP)— The American and National League Manager of the Year awards are being handed out this evening.

 

The three finalists in the American League are Cleveland's Terry Francona, Baltimore's Buck Showalter and Jeff Banister of the Rangers.

 

MLB

 

From the National league the finalists are Dusty Baker of the Nationals, Joe Maddon of the Cubs and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers.

 

Both Maddon and Banister were winners last year.

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MLB to destroy, not donate, Indians championship gear


CLEVELAND (AP) - Clothing and other items celebrating a 2016 Cleveland Indians World Series championship that never happened will be destroyed instead of donated to those in need.

Championship merchandise is produced for both teams when a major title is on the line so items can be immediately sold to the winning team's fans. The Chicago Cubs defeated the Indians in the Series last week.

ESPN and The Huffington Post report Major League Baseball is asking retailers to give back Indians championship gear so it can be destroyed. MLB had donated clothing to needy countries through the charity World Vision since 2005.

MLB says it has opted to destroy the items this year in order to "protect the team from inaccurate merchandise being available in the general marketplace."

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Cubs win 1st Series title since 1908, beat Indians in Game 7

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series championship since 1908 when Ben Zobrist hit a go-ahead double in the 10th inning, beating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in a thrilling Game 7 delayed by rain early Thursday.

 

Cubs Win

 

Lovable losers for generations, the Cubs nearly let this one get away, too. All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman blew a three-run lead with two outs in the eighth when Rajai Davis hit a tying homer.

 

But the Cubs, after tormenting their fans one more time, came right back after a 17-minute rain delay before the top of the 10th and scored twice. Davis hit an RBI single with two outs in the bottom half, but Mike Montgomery got the final out.

 

Manager Joe Maddon's team halted the longest title drought in baseball, becoming the first club to overcome a 3-1 Series deficit since the 1985 Kansas City Royals.

 

Cleveland was trying to win its first crown since 1948, but lost the last two games at home.

 

World Series favorites since spring training, Chicago led the majors with 103 wins this season. The Cubs then ended more than a century of misery for their loyal fans.

 

 

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Jake Arrieta's kids have hotel Halloween in Cleveland

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — Jake Arrieta wouldn't let a road trip and one of the biggest starts of his life stop him from going trick-or-treating with his family this Halloween.

 

The Chicago Cubs pitcher's wife, Brittany, shared Instagram photos of their two small children dressed up in their costumes a day before Tuesday's Game 6 of the World Series in Cleveland. She captioned the pictures, "Hotel trick or treating = my kind of Halloween."

 

Cooper Arrieta went as Spider-man, while his sister, Palmer, was a princess. The hotel Halloween experience seems to have been a successful one. Both kids hold lollipops in one of the photos.

 

 

Arrieta is the Cubs' scheduled starter in Game 6. The Cubs need to beat the Indians to force a deciding Game 7 on Wednesday.

 

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Browns Place Safety Jordan Poyer on Injured Reserve

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns safety Jordan Poyer has been placed on injured reserve after sustaining a lacerated kidney in Sunday's loss.

 

 

Poyer has been hospitalized in Nashville, Tennessee, since getting hurt. He was injured on a vicious blindside hit by Titans running back Antonio Andrews while covering a punt in the second quarter. The Browns expect him to be discharged on Tuesday and return to Cleveland.

 

Poyer's serious injury is the latest for the Browns, who have placed 12 players — including quarterback Robert Griffin III — on IR this season. The team can bring one player off IR after eight games.

 

Starting left guard Joel Bitonio underwent foot surgery on Monday. The Browns expect Bitonio, who got hurt in the Oct. 9 game against New England, to make a full recovery and be ready for the 2017 season.

 

The team also signed defensive back Ed Reynolds to the active roster from the practice squad.

 

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3 Turnovers in Row Help Browns Cede Lead Again, Drop to 0-4

 

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — His Cleveland Browns already were ahead late in the third quarter Sunday, and closing in on a score to pad that lead, when coach Hue Jackson called for a handoff to fullback Malcolm Johnson , a second-year player who had never run the ball in the NFL.

 

 

So what happened? Well, these are the Browns, so you probably could guess: Johnson fumbled, the Washington Redskins recovered at their 9, and then drove 91 yards to a go-ahead TD.

 

On Cleveland's next possession, Duke Johnson fumbled , also in Redskins territory. And while he stood up holding the ball, it was ruled that the Redskins grabbed that one, too.

 

And, yes, on Cleveland's next turn with the ball, rookie quarterback Cody Kessler — playing because of injuries to former Redskins QB Robert Griffin the Third and Josh McCown — underthrew Terrelle Pryor for an interception, which led to another touchdown for Washington.

 

Three consecutive second-half turnovers Sunday helped the Browns do themselves in yet again, losing 31-20 to the Redskins to drop to 0-4 in Jackson's first season in charge.

 

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Banned Rose Appeals to Hall of Fame for Eligibility


By MITCH STACY,  AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Pete Rose is appealing directly to baseball's Hall of Fame to restore his eligibility, arguing the lifetime ban he agreed to in 1989 was never intended to keep him out of Cooperstown.

 

Pete Rose

 

A seven-page letter to Hall president Jeff Idelson on Tuesday makes the case that the settlement agreement reached by Rose and then-Commissioner Bart Giamatti didn't include a provision that he be ineligible for election to the Hall of Fame.

 

"At the time Pete agreed to the settlement, the consequences of being placed on the ineligible list were clear and specific — and did not include a Hall of Fame prohibition," according to the letter, signed by Rose's longtime attorney Raymond C. Genco and attorney Mark Rosenbaum.

 

The Hall of Fame changed its bylaws two years after Rose's banishment to make permanently banned players ineligible for the Hall, which shut out the career hits leader as long as he remained barred from baseball.

 

Genco is asking the Hall to amend that bylaw specifically to allow Rose to be eligible for baseball writers to elect at their discretion. He makes the point that the banishments of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays for their association with casinos didn't affect their Hall status, and even Shoeless Joe Jackson had remained eligible after he was banned from the game for accepting money to throw the 1919 World Series.

 

"We believe that the institution of Baseball will be strengthened by this act of grace — an act that would give Pete Rose the same treatment that every other Major League Baseball player and manager received throughout the first 55 years of the National Baseball Hall of Fame," the letter said.

 

In a statement, Idelson said, "Pete Rose remains ineligible for Hall of Fame consideration, based on the Hall of Fame's bylaws, which preclude any individual on baseball's ineligible list from being considered for election."

 

New baseball commissioner Rob Manfred in December denied the 75-year-old Rose's latest petition for reinstatement, but Genco said Manfred "opened the door" by also stating that it wasn't Manfred's responsibility to determine whether Rose should be eligible for the Hall. Petitioning the Hall to change the rule, Genco said, was the next logical step.

 

Genco noted that Manfred had allowed Rose to participate recently in some ceremonial activities, including the retirement of his number by the Cincinnati Reds and his induction into the Reds Hall of Fame in June.

 

"This play may only bring further scrutiny to Pete," Genco said. "He may not get in. It may open a magnifying glass on Pete Rose's transgressions, but if you look at it from a fundamental fairness point of view, I think we have good footing. 

 

We have a very reasonable argument where the board can take very reasonable action in their power to bring real closure to this."

 

Spokesman Michael Teevan said MLB would have no comment on Rose's latest appeal.

 

 

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Marlins Say Jose Fernandez Has Been Killed in Boat Crash


MIAMI (AP) - The Miami Marlins have announced the death of ace right-hander Jose Fernandez.

 

Jose

The U.S. Coast Guard says Fernandez was one of three people killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach early Sunday.

The Marlins did not immediately release details, other than releasing a statement confirming the death of one of the top pitchers in baseball.

In the statement, the Marlins say they are "devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."

The Marlins' game Sunday at home against the Atlanta Braves has been cancelled.

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Browns Sign Kicker Parkey After Murray Injured in Practice

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — Ravaged by injures, the Browns signed kicker Cody Parkey after Patrick Murray injured his knee in practice.

 

Kicker

 

The Browns have been struck by major injuries at a disturbing rate, losing six starters before the season's third game.

 

Parkey, who previously kicked for Philadelphia, will make his debut for Cleveland on Sunday at Miami. He set the NFL rookie scoring record in 2014 for the Eagles with 150 points and made the Pro Bowl. He injured his groin last year and was later waived.

 

Murray got hurt during Friday's walkthrough. He missed last season with Tampa Bay after tearing a knee ligament. Murray beat out incumbent Travis Coons in training camp this summer.

 

Murray missed a 52-year-field goal and had an extra-point blocked last week in a loss to Baltimore. The Browns placed him on injured reserve.

 

Rookie quarterback Cody Kessler will start against the Dolphins following injuries to Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown.

 

 

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Browns Rookie Wide Receiver Corey Coleman Breaks Hand

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman broke his hand during practice Wednesday, another major blow to the struggling team.

 

Browns

 

Coleman's injury comes on the heels of the Browns losing starting quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown in the first two weeks this season.

 

They also lost starting center Cam Erving with a bruised lung and promising rookie defensive end Carl Nassib with a broken hand in Sunday's loss to Baltimore.

 

Coleman scored two touchdowns against the Ravens and was finally looking like a big-time playmaker the Browns envisioned he could be when they drafted him in the first round.

 

There's no immediate word from the team on how long he will be out.

 

The former Baylor star has seven catches for 173 yards in two games.

 

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Kluber's strong outing knocks Royals from AL Central race

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber allowed two runs and struck out nine in 6 1/3 innings, and the Cleveland Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals 4-3 on Wednesday night, eliminating the reigning World Series champions from the AL Central race.

 

Kluber

 

The Indians, who led Detroit by seven games in the division going into Wednesday, reduced their magic number for clinching the Central to five.

 

Carlos Santana was 4 for 5 with an RBI single in the eighth. Jose Ramirez drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth with his third double of the game.

 

Kluber (18-9) matched his career high in wins and is 10-1 in his last 14 starts, strengthening his case to win his second AL Cy Young Award in three years.

 

Cody Allen allowed Salvador Perez's leadoff homer in the ninth, but recorded his 28th save in 31 opportunities. Catcher Roberto Perez threw out pinch-runner Terrance Gore trying to steal second for the first out and Allen retired the final two batters.

 

Ian Kennedy (11-10) allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings and lost for the first time since July 25.

 

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Browns Sign QB Charlie Whitehurst; Release Two

 
The Cleveland Browns have signed OL Austin Reiter off Washington’s practice squad and QB Charlie Whitehurst.
 
Charlie
 
To make room on the roster, the team terminated the contact of DL John Hughes III and waived LB Scooby Wright III.
 
 
QB Josh McCown has a left shoulder injury and OL Cameron Erving a pulmonary contusion from last weeks game against Baltimore and are expected to miss time.
 
 
 
 

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Jay Cutler Among injured Bears to have tests

 

CHICAGO (AP) — Not only are the Chicago Bears off to an 0-2 start this NFL season, but they're facing some injuries to key players following last night's loss to Philadelphia.

 

Jay Culter

 

Quarterback Jay Cutler is due to have tests on a right thumb injury that forced him out of the game in the third quarter.

 

The Bears are also hoping for some good news on injuries to linebacker Lamarr Houston (left knee), nose tackle Eddie Goldman, (ankle) and safety Adrian Amos and cornerback Bryce Callahan (concussions).

 

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Browns' RG3 Breaks Bone in Shoulder, Will Miss Extended Time

 

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III broke a bone in his left shoulder and will miss at least eight games.

 

RG3 Browns

 

Griffin was injured on an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 29-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. As he tried to get out of bounds, Griffin was drilled by Eagles defensive back Jalen Mills.

 

The team said Griffin will be placed on injured reserve — under new rules he can brought off the list — and will be evaluated in 3 to 4 weeks.

 

The 26-year-old returned to the game for Cleveland's final series, but only handed the ball off while favoring his left arm.

 

RG3 is the 25th quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999, a roll call of rookies, veterans and free agents.

 

With Griffin out, Josh McCown will start this week's home opener against Baltimore.

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No. 9 Tennessee Escapes with OT Win Over Appalachian State

 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jalen Hurd recovered quarterback Joshua Dobbs' overtime fumble in the end zone and No. 9 Tennessee overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to escape with a 20-13 victory over Appalachian State on Thursday night.

 

App State

 

Tennessee faced third-and-goal from the 2 when Dobbs ran to his right and lost control of the ball as he tried to stretch his arms across the goal line. Hurd won the scramble for the loose ball in the end zone to give the Volunteers their only lead of the night.

 

Micah Abernathy ended the game by breaking up a pass into the end zone on fourth-and-5 from the 20.

"On a night where just about everything and anything went wrong, we found a way to win," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said.

 

Appalachian State nearly pulled off another shocker nine years to the day after the Mountaineers stunned No. 5 Michigan in one of the greatest upsets in college football history.

 

"It's definitely heartbreaking," said Appalachian State's Marcus Cox, who rushed for 115 yards. "I feel like we put ourselves in position to win, and we just didn't capitalize when we should have."

 

The Vols tied it on Dobbs' 67-yard touchdown pass to Josh Malone with 10:30 left in regulation. Appalachian State's Michael Rubino, who earlier missed an extra point, was wide right on a 42-yard field goal attempt with 5:24 remaining.

Rubino's miss wasted a 57-yard punt return by Jaquil Capel that gave Appalachian State the ball at the 28.

 

Tennessee entered the season with its highest ranking since 2006 after winning its final six games last year, but the Volunteers looked nothing like a Top 10 team Thursday. The Volunteers committed two turnovers and lost linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin to a targeting penalty in the first half as Appalachian State built a 13-3 lead.

 

"I'm never going to apologize for a win, guys," Jones said. "I think we've learned around here wins are pretty hard to come by."

 

Cam Sutton fumbled on a punt return and Appalachian State's Alex Gray recovered at Tennessee's 36 to set up the first touchdown, a 5-yard keeper from Taylor Lamb barely four minutes into the game. Appalachian State's other touchdown came in the second quarter on a 33-yard completion from Lamb to Cox.

 

THE TAKEAWAY

Appalachian State: The Mountaineers had lost by at least 28 points in each of their six meetings with Power Five teams since that Michigan game, but they showed Thursday that they could compete with college football's big-name programs. Appalachian State refused to get pushed around and kept Tennessee's offense out of the end zone for the first 49 1/2 minutes.

 

Cox, who has rushed for over 1,200 yards each of the last three years, showed he can run effectively against any team from any conference.

 

Tennessee: The Vols vowed they weren't overlooking Appalachian State and weren't distracted by sky-high preseason expectations, but something was clearly missing Thursday. Tennessee didn't bear any resemblance to the team that ended the 2015 season on a six-game winning streak.

 

The biggest question surrounding Tennessee during the offseason was whether it could add efficiency and explosiveness to its passing attack. That area remains a major concern.

 

UP NEXT

Appalachian State: The Mountaineers have their home opener Sept. 10 against Old Dominion. Appalachian State must avoid looking ahead to its Sept. 17 home game with Miami.

 

Tennessee: The Volunteers face Virginia Tech at the Bristol Motor Speedway. The Sept. 10 "Battle at Bristol" is expected to draw over 150,000 fans, which would mark the largest recorded attendance for a college football game.

 

 

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Browns Release Veteran Linebacker Paul Kruger

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns have released linebacker Paul Kruger, a startling move in another step in the team's youth movement.

 

Kruger

 

Kruger started 46 games and made 18 sacks in three seasons for Cleveland and was considered one of the team's leaders. He was signed in 2013 after four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

 

The 30-year-old recorded just 2.5 sacks last season as the Browns struggled to find the right role for him. Last week, the Browns traded linebacker Barkevious Mingo. Rookies Emmanuel Ogbah or Joe Schobert could take Kruger's starting spot.

 

Kruger posted a statement on Twitter in which he thanked the Browns but said his release was "absolutely the wrong decision."

 

The Browns also terminated the contracts of defensive end Nick Hayden and quarterback Austin Davis. The team waived kicker Travis Coons, giving Patrick Murray the starting job.

 

 

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Touchdown! Restaurant's Stolen Patriots Helmet Returned


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — An autographed New England Patriots football helmet stolen from a restaurant near Gillette Stadium has been returned along with an apology.

 

Foxborough police say the helmet signed by members of the 2014 Super Bowl championship team was delivered to Skipjack's restaurant on Wednesday, almost two weeks after it was stolen.

 

The package also contained a note that said "sorry for the trouble!" and $70 for the thief's unpaid tab.

 

Police released surveillance video from the restaurant that shows a man wearing a Tom Brady jersey climb over the bar in the empty restaurant, grab the helmet and wrap it in the jersey before walking out without settling his bill.

 

Chief Ed O'Leary says his detectives are still trying to track the man, although it's unclear whether he will face charges.

 

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Olympic Results: Biles dominates in winning all-around gold

 

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — There was no beating Simone Biles in the women's gymnastics all-around at the Rio Games.

 

The 19-year-old American entered the event as the overwhelming favorite and was dominant in becoming the fourth straight American and fifth overall to win the all-around. Biles totaled 62.198 to finish well clear of silver medalist and American teammate Aly Raisman. The bronze went to Russian Aliya Mustafina.

 

The victory comes after Biles helped the U.S. team capture gold in the team event.

 

Also at Rio:

 

— Michael Phelps finished a full body-length ahead of the field in the 200-meter individual medley to earn his fourth gold medal of the Rio Games and 22nd overall. Phelps became the first swimmer ever to win the same event at four straight Olympics. U.S. teammate Ryan Lochte (LAHK'-tee) led at the midway point before finishing fifth.

 

— Ryan Murphy has completed a U.S. sweep of the men's backstroke events by taking gold in the 200. Murphy touched first again in 1 minute, 53.62 seconds, three days after winning the 100 back. Australian Mitch Larkin was second, followed by Evgeny Rylov of Russia.

 

— Simone Manuel of the United States and Canadian Penny Oleksiak tied for the gold medal in the women's 100-meter freestyle. Manuel is the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in swimming. Sarah Sjostrom (SHOO'-struhm) of Sweden picked up the bronze.

 

— Kayla Harrison has become the first American to successfully defend her judo title, clutching gold after she forced France's Audrey Tcheumeo to tap out in the final of 78-kg competition. Harrison is the only American to win a Judo gold.

 

— Australia's Marcus Fraser shot an 8-under 63 to take the lead in the first Olympic golf competition since the 1904 London Games. Fraser is three shots ahead of British Open champ Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Canada's Graham DeLaet (deh-LAY'). Matt Kuchar's (KOO'-churz) 69 was the best score for the Americans.

 

— Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena have reached the knockout stage of the beach volleyball tournament after a three-set win over Italy. The Americans are unbeaten heading into the Round of 16.

 

— Madison Keys has advanced to the women's tennis semifinals with a convincing 6-3, 6-1 triumph over Russia's Daria Kasatina. The seventh-seeded Keys is joined in the Final Four by Petr Kvitova (kuh-VIH'-toh-vah), Angelique Kerber and Monica Puig (pweeg).

 

— Rafael Nadal (rah-fay-EHL' nah-DAHL') is into the quarterfinals at the men's tennis tournament after beating 15th-seeded Gilles Simon (see-MOHN') of France 7-6, 6-3. Also advancing to the men's quarters were Juan Martin del Potro (wahn mar-TEEN' dehl POHT'-roh), Wimbledon champ Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori (kay nee-shee-KOHR'-ee) and American Steve Johnson.

 

— The U.S. women's field hockey team has improved to 4-0 and will play Britain on Saturday to determine who will win Pool B. Katie Bam scored twice in helping the Americans defeat India 3-0.

 

— Belgium's Evi Van Acker became sick after racing on polluted Guanabara Bay, the first sailor to fall ill from the waters that were heavily scrutinized leading to the Rio Games. The governing body for World Sailing said the 2012 bronze medalist reported feeling sick after Wednesday's races. Her poor performances have put her at risk of missing out on a medal in the Laser Radial class.

 

 

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Team USA tested in men's hoops...Third gold medal for Ledecky...Phelps, Lochte advance

 

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The blowouts are over. The Olympics are underway for real in basketball.


After nothing but pushovers this summer, the U.S. men's basketball team faced someone who pushed back.

 

Basketball


The U.S. men's basketball team is 3-0 at the Olympics after rallying to beat Australia 98-88 for its 20th straight victory in Olympic competition. Carmelo Anthony scored 14 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter and Kyrie (KY'-ree) Irving added 17 points and five assists.


In his fourth Olympics, Anthony became the most prolific scorer in U.S. men's Olympic basketball history. He passed LeBron James, who skipped a chance to play in his fourth games after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title this season. James scored 273 points during appearances in Athens, Beijing and London.


"We showed a lot of character tonight," Irving said of the come-from-behind victory.


Coach Mike Krzyzewski (shuh-SHEF'-skee) agreed, saying: "This is the real world now and that's good for us."


Next up for Team USA is Serbia on Friday with another group game Sunday against France before the medal round begins.


In other Olympic action:


— Superstar swimmer Michael Phelps has advanced to the final of the Olympic 200-meter individual medley as the top qualifier. Long-time rival Ryan Lochte (LAHK'-tee) will be right next to him again, ranking second. Thiago Pereira sent the Brazilian crowd into a frenzy by staying close to the two American stars, finishing third.


Phelps will be seeking his fourth straight 200 IM title at the Olympics. He's also got a chance to pull off that feat in the 100 butterfly. Phelps already has won three gold medals this week, and owns 21 gold medals in his Olympic career.


— Katie Ledecky has led the United States to a gold medal in the women's 4-by-200-meter freestyle relay. It's her third gold of this Olympics.


— A gutsy performance by Kristin Armstrong provided the American with her third consecutive gold medal in Olympic cycling time trial.


Racing through wind and rain over a demanding course, the soon-to-be 43-year-old finished just 5.55 seconds in front of a Russian. Armstrong also won in Beijing and London.


Armstrong joins speedskater Bonnie Blair as the only American women to win three gold medals in the same event at any Olympics.


— The American men will be seeking gold in the 200-meter breaststroke and the 100-meter freestyle, while the women will be competing in the 200-meter butterfly and the 4x200-meter freestyle relay.


— American Sam Dorman and Mike Hixon won the silver medal in men's 3-meter synchronized springboard diving. They finished four points behind the gold medalists from Britain. Favored China took the bronze.


— Diana Taurasi drained a personal Olympic-best six 3-pointers as the Americans Serbia 110-84 in women's basketball. Taurasi wound up with 25 points to help the U.S. to its 44th straight Olympic win.


— In beach volleyball, Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross have finished the Olympic group stage unbeaten, but not before losing their first set of the Summer Games. The U.S. women beat Switzerland 21-13, 22-24, 15-12 to win their pool with a 3-0 record. The round-of-16 begins Friday.


— Nico Hernandez is assured of at least a bronze medal in boxing after beating Ecuador's Carlos Quipo to improve to 3-0. The medal will be the first in the Olympic boxing tournament for the United States since 2008.


— The United States women's field hockey team has advanced to the Olympic quarterfinals after defeating Japan 6-1.


— The American beach volleyball team of Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson has been eliminated from the Olympics on a tiebreaker. They are the first U.S men's team to fail to advance out of pool play in beach volleyball since the 2004 Games in Athens.


— Bad weather washed out 20 of the 26 tennis matches that were on today's schedule. And the rowing schedule has also been postponed due to the weather.


— Kazakhstan (kah-zahk-STAHN') has its first Olympic swimming medal -- a gold one, at that. Dmitriy Balandin pulled off a stunning upset in the men's 200-meter breaststroke. Josh Prenot of the United States claimed silver.


— Rio Olympic officials say military police are stepping up security after a bus carrying journalists had two windows broken by what it calls "unknown projectiles." Organizers say a preliminary analysis has shown that stones, not bullets, hit a bus carrying journalists, breaking two windows.

 

 

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Olympic Results: Phelps, Ledecky Win Gold

 

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Michael Phelps now has 25 medals in all — and three more races in Rio to add to his almost unimaginable total.

 

On a golden night at the pool on Tuesday, Phelps earns the 20th and 21st Olympic gold medals of his staggering career.

 

He won the 200-meter butterfly and came back about an hour later to anchor the United States to victory in the 4x200 freestyle relay.

 

Phelps has four other medals — two silver and two bronze.

 

Katie Ledecky is on her way to an Olympic feat that's only been done one other time.

 

Ledecky held off Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom to win gold in the 200-meter freestyle Tuesday night at the Rio Olympics.

 

Ledecky is trying to become only the second female after Debbie Meyer in 1968 to capture the three longest freestyle events at a single Olympics. Ledecky now has the 200 and 400 titles, and she's an overwhelming favorite to win the 800.

 

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Ohio State Ranked Top 100 Team of All Time According to AP Poll

 

The Top 100: An all-time first for venerable AP Top 25 
 

The Associated Press has been ranking the best teams in college football for the last 80 seasons.

 

For the first time since that first poll in 1936, the AP has compiled an all-time Top 100 based on a formula that counts poll appearances (one point) to mark consistency, No. 1 rankings (one bonus point) to acknowledge elite programs, and a bonus for AP championships won (10 points).

 

The top five teams using those criteria: Ohio State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Alabama and Southern California.

 

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Court Turns Down Brady's 'Deflategate' Appeal

 

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected Tom Brady's attempt to get a new hearing on his "Deflategate" suspension.

 

Brady

 

The New England quarterback wanted the full 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case. A three-judge panel ruled in April that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (guh-DEHL') was within his powers to suspend Brady for four games for his role in the deflated football scheme in the 2015 AFC Championship game.

 

The full court's decision affirms the wide-ranging powers given to the commissioner by the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. It is also a setback for organized labor groups arguing for due process in employee discipline.

 

Brady's remaining hope is to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

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LeBron a Free Agent After Declining Option on Contract

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James is a free agent after declining his player option for next season with the NBA champion Cavaliers.

 

Lebron James

 

The move was expected by James, who said last week he intends to remain with Cleveland. The 31-year-old star has been a free agent the past three summers, electing each time to sign one-year contracts with a player option. It's not yet known if he'll sign another short-term deal or a multiyear package.

 

James was scheduled to make $24 million next season.

He was named Finals MVP after he helped the Cavs overcome a 3-1 deficit and beat the Golden State Warriors. The three-time champion averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists in the series. James posted a triple-double in Game 7 as the Cavs ended Cleveland's 52-year championship drought.

 

He's in his second stint with the Cavs after leaving as a free agent in 2010.

 

 

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Reds Sent JJ Hoover Back to Minors after Rough Outing

 

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Reds optioned reliever J.J. Hoover to Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday, a few hours after his latest rough outing set a club record.

 

Reds JJ

 

Hoover gave up five runs, including Javier Baez's grand slam, in the 15th inning of a 7-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. It was the second grand slam allowed by Hoover this season and his sixth career, a club record. Hoover has allowed nine homers in 18 2/3 innings this season for a 13.50 ERA.

 

Keyvius Sampson was called up for his third stint in Cincinnati this season. He's 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in four games.

 

The Reds' bullpen is by far the worst in the majors, allowing 61 homers in 78 games with a 6.08 ERA.

 

 

 

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Cards sweep Cubs at Wrigley

 

UNDATED (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals have cut their deficit in the National League Central to single digits. They now trail the Cubs by 9 ½ games after completing their first three-game sweep at Wrigley Field since 1988.

 

Cards

 

Michael Wacha (WAH'-kah) outpitched Jake Arrieta (ar-ee-EH'-tuh) and Aledmys (ah-LEHD-mees) Diaz hit a two-run home run in the Cards' 7-2 victory in the Friendly Confines. Wacha had dropped seven straight decisions before limiting Chicago to two runs and three hits in 6 2/3 innings. Wacha had a two-hit shutout until Willson Contreras chased him with a two-run homer.

 

Arrieta struggled with his control while dropping to 11-2, yielding one earned run on four hits and four walks in five innings. The Cardinals put together a five-run sixth after Arrieta left, highlighted by Matt Carpenter's two-run double.

The Cardinals have won eight straight road games, their longest such streak since 1982.

 

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Joey Bosa Skipping Minicamp Due to Contract Dispute

 
SAN DIEGO (AP) - A person with knowledge of the situation says San Diego Chargers first-round draft pick Joey Bosa is skipping this week's minicamp after a dispute arose in contract negotiations.
 
Joey Bosa
 
The person says there are issues with the structure of the contract. The person spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
 
The minicamp opened Tuesday and will run through Thursday.
 
Bosa, the former Ohio State defensive end, was taken with the third pick overall.
 
The Chargers will rely on Bosa to bolster their defense as they try to rebound from a 4-12 season in which they went winless against AFC West opponents.
 

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Florida Athletic Director Foley Retiring After 25 Years

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Longtime Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, one of the most successful college sports leaders in the country, is retiring.

 

Foley

 

The school announced the decision Monday, saying he will officially step down Oct. 1.

 

The 63-year-old Foley informed his staff and head coaches of the move Monday, calling it quits after 40 years at Florida. He started in the ticket office and took over as AD in 1992. Foley will remain at Florida as emeritus athletic director for the duration of his current contract.

 

Foley has been Florida's AD since 1992. Although he didn't hire football coach Steve Spurrier, he brought a distinguished list of coaches to Gainesville while building one of the top programs in the Southeastern Conference and the country.

 

 

 

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McGirt, Finau Among 6 US Open Players Added to Oakmont Field

 

OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) — Memorial winner William McGirt and Puerto Rico Open champion Tony Finau were among six players added to the U.S. Open on Monday.

 

US Open

 

The USGA set aside six spots for anyone who made the top 60 in the world ranking Monday.

 

McGirt was the only one at No. 44 because of his victory two weeks ago at the Memorial. No one else played well enough to crack the top 60, so those spots went to five alternates from various sectional qualifying sites.

 

Finau was the first alternate from the Springfield, Ohio, sectional, while Daniel Summerhays was first alternate from the larger Ohio section. The others were Zach Edmondson (Florida sectional), Kevin Foley (New Jersey) and Mike Van Sickle (Maryland), the son of Sports Illustrated golf writer Gary Van Sickle.

 

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Infantino Weighs Complaint Over 'Theft' of FIFA Recording

 

GENEVA (AP) — FIFA President Gianni Infantino claims he could make a criminal complaint over an unauthorized recording of a meeting that revealed comments damaging his reputation.

 

FIFA

 

Infantino told Sunday's edition of Swiss daily Le Matin he had "a good idea" how details of a FIFA Council meeting in Mexico City last month had leaked.

 

"I reserve the right to make a complaint about theft of sensitive data," said Infantino, whose three-month-old presidency has exposed rifts at FIFA where Sepp Blatter's 17-year reign ended mired in scandal.

 

Leaks to German-language newspapers in recent days showed Infantino describe a $2 million salary offer as "insulting" and detailed Council talks about getting FIFA audit and compensation panels chairman Domenico Scala to leave.

 

"My enemies want to make me look greedy, it's stupid," said Infantino, who insists he is negotiating a salary of less than $2 million.

 

On Friday, FIFA revealed that Blatter and recently fired top officials Jerome Valcke and Markus Kattner awarded themselves contracts paying a total of $80 million in five years.

 

That long-awaited release of top pay deals at FIFA was made as news emerged that Swiss police had raided FIFA headquarters on Thursday. The latest seizure of evidence seemed provoked by Kattner's firing for an ongoing investigation of suspected criminal mismanagement, including the award of World Cup broadcasting rights.

Police searched the office of former finance director Kattner but not his own, Infantino noted.

 

FIFA fired Kattner on May 23 for breach of trust, and suggested possible illegal clauses in his employment contract.

 

Ten days later, Swiss police came to FIFA to seize documents and electronic data for its case against Blatter, former secretary general Valcke — who already have criminal proceedings opened against them — and "further persons unknown."

 

Within 24 hours, FIFA outlined the pay raises, World Cup bonuses and other financial incentives that Blatter, Valcke and Kattner received in recent years.

 

FIFA suggested some clauses guaranteeing Valcke and Kattner termination pay and indemnification for future legal costs could breach Swiss law. Kattner's already-lengthy contract was extended in May last year through 2023 just four days after a sprawling American indictment of FIFA and marketing officials was revealed.

 

Switzerland's federal prosecution office confirmed Friday that FIFA has not yet filed criminal complaints over the contracts.

 

FIFA has said documents that justified firing Kattner were found only in mid-May as part of an ongoing year-long internal inquiry by its retained U.S. law firm, Quinn Emanuel.

 

"With all that is going on right now, we can expect anything (to emerge)," Infantino was quoted saying in the Swiss interview, his first since the latest police intervention.

 

In a difficult period of high-profile officials leaving and leaks to media, Infantino is reportedly the subject of a complaint to FIFA ethics prosecutors for ordering the unauthorized copy of the audio file to be deleted.

 

"If there is a destruction operation, it is directed against me," the FIFA head said in Sunday's interview, dismissing "carefully orchestrated hysteria" in the media to undermine him.

 

Infantino also aimed a barb at Scala, whose resignation from FIFA in protest against the president was announced as officials left Mexico City three weeks ago.

 

Scala's criticism was "childish behavior worthy of a playground," his fellow Swiss-Italian Infantino said.

 

 

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Muhammad Ali services planned

 

UNDATED (AP) — Funeral and memorial services have been scheduled for boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died on Friday at 74.

 

Ali

 

The funeral will be held in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday, with eulogies given by former President Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal and Bryant Gumbel.

 

Louisville mayor Greg Fischer has ordered flags lowered to half-staff to honor Ali.

 

The three-time heavyweight champion had been hospitalized in the Phoenix area since Monday with respiratory problems and his children had flown in from around the country. A family spokesman says Ali died of septic shock "due to unspecified natural causes."

 

Ali dominated not just boxing but much of contemporary culture back in the 60's as an Olympic champion, a professional heavyweight champ and a leader of the civil rights movement.

 

President Barack Obama says Muhammad Ali "shook up the world, and the world is better for it."

 

Ali's daughter, Hana, has told reporters that after his other organs had failed, his heart kept beating for another 30 minutes.

 

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Boxing Great Muhammad Ali in Hospital with Respiratory Issue

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A spokesman for boxing great Muhammad Ali says the former heavyweight champion is being treated in a hospital for a respiratory issue.

 

Ali

 

Spokesman Bob Gunnell said Thursday that Ali is being treated by doctors as a precaution. He says that the 74-year-old is in fair condition, and that a brief hospital stay is expected.

 

He declined to say where Ali is hospitalized or when he was admitted.

 

Ali has battled Parkinson's disease for years.

 

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Dustin Johnson off to Fast Start at Memorial with 8-under 64

 

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Dustin Johnson took some attention away from the Big Three at the Memorial by opening with an 8-under 64.

 

Golf

 

Johnson is one of golf's biggest hitters. He began with three straight birdies and had two other bursts of birdies. He led by two shots over Hudson Swafford among the early starters Thursday. Johnson made 10 birdies at Muirfield Village and failed to birdie two of the par 5s.

 

As for the latest version of the Big Three?

 

Jordan Spieth saved his round with his putter, opening with seven one-putt greens. He finally started hitting fairways and greens and finished with a 70. Rory McIlroy, playing in Spieth's group, had too many mistakes in his round of 71.

 

Jason Day played in the afternoon and was 3 under through six holes.

 

 

 

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Covers Off Courts at Drying-Out French Open

 

PARIS (AP) — After two days of almost incessant rain, the covers have come off the courts at the French Open and the skies, while still thick with clouds, have stopped dropping rain.

 

French Open

 

Serena and Venus Williams play first on Court Philippe Chatrier and Court Suzanne Lenglen, respectively, in fourth-round matches carried over from Monday, when rain washed out the whole day of play for the first time in 16 years.

 

Defending champion Serena plays No. 18 Elina Svitolina. Venus takes on No. 8 Timea Bacsinszky.

 

Because of scheduling problems, after rain continued for most of Tuesday, too, matches are also spread on other courts. Kiki Bertens vs. No. 15 Madison Keys is on Court 1; No. 12 Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Yulia Putintseva of Ukraine is on Court 2.

 

 

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Rockies Tie Franchise Record with 7 Homers, Beat Reds 17-4

 

DENVER (AP) — Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon each hit two of Colorado's team record-tying seven homers, powering the Rockies to a 17-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

 

Reds Beat

 

Blackmon became the first player in Rockies history to hit leadoff homers in back-to-back games and added his first career grand slam in the seventh. Carlos Gonzalez homered for a fourth straight game, while D.J. LeMahieu and Gerardo Parra also went deep.

 

It was the first time Colorado hit seven homers at Coors Field. The team also had seven on April 5, 1997, in Montreal.

 

 

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Warriors Rally to Stay Alive

 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Golden State Warriors have forced a Game 7 in the NBA's Western Conference finals with a fourth-quarter comeback at Oklahoma City.

 

Warriors

 

Klay Thompson poured in 19 of his game-high 41 points while the Warriors outscored the Thunder 33-18 in the final period of a 108-101 victory. Thompson drained a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining and added a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to ice the win.

 

Thompson set an NBA playoff record by hitting 11 3-pointers. Golden State shot 21-for-44 from beyond the arc.

The Thunder led 97-93 until Stephen (STEH'-fehn) hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie it with under three minutes to play. Curry shot just 8-for-21 but finished one assist shy of a triple double, providing 29 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Draymond Green had 14 points and 12 boards for the Warriors who lost their previous two playoff games in Oklahoma City by a combined 52 points.

 

The Thunder outscored the Warriors in each of the first three quarters to take an eight-point lead before Golden State won for the second straight game. Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Russell Westbrook added 28, but they shot a combined 34 percent from the field and were a miserable 1-for-13 from 3-point range.

 

Game 7 is Monday in Oakland, where the Warriors will attempt to become the 10th time in league playoff history to win a series after trailing 3-1.

 

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NASCAR Tweaks Rules to Lower Downforce at 2 More Tracks

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR will make more aerodynamic changes to promote improved competition at upcoming races at Michigan and Kentucky.

 

Michigan Nascar

 

The changes to the rear spoiler, front splitter and rear deck fin will help NASCAR continue to reduce downforce and sideforce as it attempts to put the handling of the cars back in the hands of the drivers.

 

NASCAR has been tweaking the package at the request of the drivers, who overwhelmingly favor less downforce. NASCAR made a pair of changes before last week's All-Star race, and the on-track product was improved. The race had a pass for the win in the final segment for the first time in years.

 

Downforce is the pressure created across the surface of a moving car. Sideforce is generated by the flow of air along the sides.

 

 

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Baylor Says 'Ken Starr is President' Amid Speculation

 

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Baylor University and its president are facing mounting pressure over how the school has handled reports of rape and assault by football players.

 

Baylor

 

Asked about reports Tuesday that the university's board of regents had voted to fire President Ken Starr, school spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said in an email, "Ken Starr is president and chancellor of Baylor University." Fogelman did not elaborate.

 

In a separate statement, Baylor said the board hasn't finished reviewing the results of an internal investigated conducted by Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton. The school says it expects to make an announcement "by June 3."

 

Starr and football coach Art Briles have faced sharp criticism on whether Baylor ignored allegations of assaults by players, two of whom were later convicted of sexual assault.

 

 

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Dodgers Rout Reds 8-2, Send Cincy to 9th Straight Loss

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joc Pederson doubled in the tying run and then scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error in the fourth inning, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers to an 8-2 victory over Cincinnati on Tuesday night, extending the Reds' season-high skid to nine straight.

 

Reds Dodgers

 

The Dodgers' eight-game winning streak against the Reds is their longest active run against any opponent and their most since beating the Reds nine straight times in 2008-09.

 

Mike Bolsinger (1-1) allowed two runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings of a spot start, having been brought back from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday in place of injured Chin-hui Tsao, who went on the 15-day disabled list. Bolsinger struck out six and walked one.

 

Daniel Wright (0-1) made his major league debut, giving up four runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.

 

 

 

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Raptors Knot Things up Against Cavs

 

TORONTO (AP)_The Toronto Raptors are alive and well in the NBA playoffs.

 

Cavs v Raptors

 

It's all even in the NBA Eastern Conference finals, thanks to the Raptors All-Star backcourt duo. Kyle Lowry had 35 points and backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan added 32 as the Raptors tied the series at two games apiece with a 105-99 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

It was amazing the game was this close. Cleveland made just three of 22 shots in the first half, for an icy 13.6 percent shooting percentage

 

The Raptors led early by as many as 18 in this seesaw game. But the Cavs erased that deficit and took a brief lead before the Raptors regained their composure behind their veteran guards.

 

Bismack Biyombo (bee-AHM'-boh) followed up his 26-rebound performance in Game 3 Saturday night with 14 boards in this one. The Raptors are 8-2 at home and 2-6 on the road in this postseason.

 

Game 5 is Wednesday night in Cleveland.

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Sharks Taking 3-2 Series Lead Back to San Jose

 

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The San Jose Sharks beat the St. Louis Blues 6-3 in the Western Conference final. The Sharks take a 3-2 series lead back to San Jose for Game 6. Joe Pavelski had two goals and an assist.

 

NHL

 

Joel Ward also scored twice including one of two empty-netters in the final minute for San Jose. Joe Thornton had three assists.

 

Pavelski leads the playoffs with 12 goals and has three two-goal games, one in each series. The Sharks' captain added an assist and is tied with teammate Logan Couture (kuh-CHUR') for the postseason points lead, each with a franchise-record 21 points.

 

The Sharks can advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in team history with a victory Wednesday night at home.

 

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LeBron, Cavs Stay Perfect, Blow out Raptors 115-84 in Game 1

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James hardly missed and scored 24 points in three quarters, Kyrie Irving scored 27 and the Cleveland Cavaliers picked up where they left off before a long layoff by thumping the Toronto Raptors 115-84 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night.

 

Cavs

 

James made his first nine shots — one an arena-rattling powerhouse dunk — and the Cavs shot 67 percent from the field in the first half while improving to 9-0 this postseason. Cleveland is the first team to start the playoffs with nine straight wins since San Antonio reeled off 10 in a row in 2012.

 

But unlike their second-round series when they made 77 3-pointers and swept Atlanta, the Cavs did most of their damage from close range. Cleveland made just 7 of 20 3-point attempts.

 

DeMar DeRozan scored 18 points and Bismack Biyombo added 12 for Toronto.

 

 

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Curry Unanimous Choice For NBA MVP

 

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — It's been an eventful 24 hours for Stephen (STEH'-fehn) Curry.

 

The Golden State Warriors guard is the first unanimous selection as the NBA's Most Valuable Player, receiving first-place nods from all 130 voters. Curry also is the 11th player in league history to win the award in consecutive years. The honor was announced hours after he set an NBA record with 17 overtime points while scoring 40 in Golden State's win at Portland.

 

Curry had another outstanding season while leading the Warriors to a league-record 73 wins. He led the NBA in scoring at 30.1 points a game and broke his own league mark by hitting 402 3-pointers. Curry also led the NBA in free throw percentage and steals.

 

San Antonio's Kawhi (kuh-WY') Leonard finished second in the balloting, followed by LeBron James of Cleveland.

 

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Larry Bird Says Frank Vogel is Out in Indiana

 

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Frank Vogel will not return as Indiana Pacers coach next season.

 

Vogel

 

Pacers President Larry Bird says the team will not renew Vogel's contract for next season. Bird says he believes it's time for a new voice to lead the Pacers, keeping with his long-held philosophy on short shelf lives for coaches.

 

Vogel was 250-181 in five and a half seasons with the Pacers. He led the team to the playoffs five times, including a first-round loss to the Toronto Raptors this season.

 

Bird says this is one of the toughest decisions he's ever had to make in basketball. He calls Vogel "the best" but says he started thinking about making a change around the All-Star break.

 

 

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LeBron, Cavs Hold off Hawks 104-93 in Game 1

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 25 points, Kyrie Irving added 21 and the Cleveland Cavaliers withstood a strong comeback by Atlanta to maintain their chokehold on the Hawks with a 104-93 victory on Monday night in the opening game of their second-round Eastern Conference series.

 

James converted a critical three-point play with 2:09 left for the Cavs, who fell behind in the fourth after leading by 18. Cleveland swept Atlanta in last year's Eastern Conference finals and has won eight straight over the Hawks. Cleveland also improved to 9-0 against Atlanta in the postseason.

 

Dennis Schroder scored a playoff career-high 27 and rallied the Hawks before they crumbled in the closing minutes. Atlanta's offense bogged down in crunch time and the Hawks only scored two field goals in the final 4 minutes.

 

Paul Millsap added 17 points and 13 rebounds for Atlanta, which got just eight points from Jeff Teague.

 

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Miami Moves on and Warriors Win Again

 

UNDATED (AP) — The Splash Brothers are temporarily broken up, but that hasn't stopped the Golden State Warriors from raining 3-pointers on their opponents.

 

Klay Thompson shot 7-for-14 from beyond the arc and finished with a game-high 37 points as the Warriors hammered Portland 118-106 in Game 1 of the NBA's Western Conference semifinals. Thompson scored 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting in the first quarter, including four treys while Golden State built a 37-17 lead. He became the first player in league history to hit at least seven 3s in three straight postseason games.

 

Draymond Green had his second career postseason triple-double with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for the defending champs. Shaun Livingston contributed 12 points and six assists in place of Stephen (STEH'-fehn) Curry, who remains sidelined with a sprained right knee.

 

Coach Steve Kerr says the odds are "pretty slim" that Curry will be ready for Game 2 Tuesday night in Oakland. Curry has resumed light shooting without movement on his injured right knee with the hopes he can get into scrimmages later this week, perhaps in time to be ready for Game 3 of the series.

 

Trail Blazers forward Damian Lillard finished with a team-high 30 points despite missing 11 of his first 13 shots.

 

Meanwhile, the Miami Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a lopsided victory in Game 7 of the quarterfinals.

 

Goran Dragic dropped in 25 points and had six boards in the Heat's 106-73 dismantling of Charlotte. Gerald Green added 16 points for Miami, which led by 12 before outscoring the Hornets 29-11 in the third quarter.

 

The Hornets shot a miserable 32 percent, with Frank Kaminsky shooting 3-for-15 and Kemba Walker missing 13 of his 16 shots. Kaminsky still had a team-best 12 points for Charlotte, which dropped the last two games of the series after stealing Game 5 in Miami.

 

The Heat's next opponent will be Toronto after the Raptors survived a seven-game series with Indiana.

 

DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points and Jonas Valanciunas (YOH'-nuhs val-ehn-CHOO'-nuhs) had 15 rebounds and 10 points as the Raptors eliminated the Pacers 89-84. DeRozan clinched the victory by hitting two free throws with 6 1/2 seconds left after Indiana got within 87-84.

 

Rookie Norman Powell added 13 points for Toronto, while Kyle Lowry had 11 and nine assists to help the Raptors win a seven-game series for the first time in team history.

Paul George had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, who trailed by 14 heading into the final period before limiting Toronto to 11 points.

 

The Heat-Raptors series begins Tuesday in Toronto.

 

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Earnhardt Gets Favorite Car "Amelia" Back for Talladega

 

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — The beloved car "Amelia" will be back at Talladega Superspeedway after Hendrick Motorsports rebuilt the Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to drive on Sunday.

 

Dale Car

 

Earnhardt drove the car he named Amelia Earhart to four wins in six starts over a 13-month period. He was so confident in the car that he used it for the season-opening Daytona 500 rather than have his team build him a new one.

 

Earnhardt wrecked Amelia in February and thought the car that had never finished lower than third was gone forever.

 

He was thrilled to learn that crew chief Greg Ives was able to repair the car for Talladega.

 

Earnhardt leads all active drivers with six Talladega wins and is the defending race winner. His late father holds the track record with 10 victories.

 

 

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The Latest News on the First Day of the NFL Draft on WKTN

The Latest: Even LeBron and Cavs ready for NFL draft 

 

CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the first day of the NFL draft (all times local):

 

4:50 p.m.

 

Hall of Famers such as Bruce Smith, Dick Butkus, Larry Csonka and Marshall Faulk will be among 32 former players who will announce picks in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday.

 

Each team will have one star from its past who will handle the duties. Other members of the Hall of Fame who will do so are Willie Brown, Orlando Pace, Will Shields, Lynn Swann, Paul Warfield and Michael Irvin.

 

In the third round, two winners of the NFL's Man of the Year Award will reveal choices. Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis (2014) will announce Carolina's selection, and Shields (2003) will handled Kansas City's pick.

 

Make-A-Wish recipient Daniel Halipern, 16, will join Commissioner Roger Goodell to announce Denver's first-round pick. Halipern is a high school sophomore and Broncos fan.

 

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital patient Andrew Woodruff, 13, a Seahawks fans being treated for bone cancer, will join Goodell to announce a pick during Round 3.

Students from Barton Elementary School in Chicago will accompany Bears defensive end Israel Idonije to disclose the team's third-round selection.

 

Also announcing a choice will be a Medal of Honor recipient, retired Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta (Falcons, Round 3).

 

___

 

2:00 p.m.

Even the Cleveland Cavaliers had football fever on draft day.

 

After practice ended Thursday, the Cavs, who are waiting to see who they'll play in the second round of the NBA playoffs, hurled footballs across the courts at their indoor training facility.

 

LeBron James, an All-Ohio wide receiver in high school and die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, hauled in several long passes from guard J.R. Smith, who showed that his long-range accuracy extends beyond the 3-point line. Point guard Kyrie Irving also joined in, showing a nice five-step drop before whistling a pass to Smith.

 

Center Kevin Love was asked to assess his teammates' football skills and rank them as if he owned the No. 1 overall pick.

 

"It's tough because if I was starting a team, I would probably say J.R.," the big man said. "But then we got an All-Pro wide receiver out there too in 23 (James). So, it's tough to say."

 

—Sports Writer Tom Withers reporting from Cleveland

 

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12:35 p.m.

 

While most NFL cities are buzzing with teams, fans and media getting ready for the draft, things are relatively quiet in New England. At least for one more day.

 

The Patriots are the only team without a pick on the first day of the draft. They had the 29th pick taken away — along with $1 million — as part of the penalty in the "Deflategate" scandal. So there will only 31 picks in the first round.

 

The Patriots could trade back into the first round, but that's unlikely because commissioner Roger Goodell says he's going to confiscate their highest pick no matter what.

 

There was no availability at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, though the team was no doubt working behind the scenes to get ready for Days 2 and 3. The Patriots have 11 picks in the next two days, including four in the second and third rounds and five in the sixth round.

 

 

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NCAA Rescinds Ban on Football Bowl Subdivision Satellite Camps

 

The NCAA's Division I Board of Directors has rescinded the ban on satellite camps for Bowl Subdivision football teams.

 

NCAA

 

The board's decision Thursday comes almost three weeks after the Division I Council approved a proposal barring FBS coaches from holding or working at camps and clinics away from their schools. The camps drew a high profile recently as Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh held camps in the South.

The ban created an outcry from coaches who contend satellite camps provide opportunities for athletes to be noticed by high-profile coaches and possibly receive scholarships.

 

The board also directed the council to conduct a broad assessment of FBS recruiting. The board wants initial recommendations for improving the football recruiting environment from the council by Sept. 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boxing, Football Legends Hail Brain Research

 
WASHINGTON (AP) - Boxing legend Larry Holmes and former football star Herschel Walker are welcoming continued research on the impact of blows from boxing and other sports on the athlete's brain.
 
Brain
 
The two joined Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Dr. Charles Bernick of the Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health on Tuesday at a Capitol Hill news conference. Bernick announced that the study would continue for another two years and that the Nevada Athletic Commission will require all fighters to undergo regular brain testing.  
 
Holmes, the former heavyweight champion, said in a career that spanned 75 fights, including 69 wins, he never intended to hurt anyone. But the sport takes its toll.   
 
 Walker, a star running back involved in the mixed martial arts, called the research a blessing. 
 
 

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Manziel's Attorney Says Assault Indictment to Come Tuesday

 

DALLAS (AP) — Johnny Manziel's attorney says prosecutors have told him the troubled former NFL quarterback will be indicted Tuesday on allegations that he attacked his ex-girlfriend in January.

 

Johnny

 

Robert Hinton told The Associated Press on Monday that he expects an assault charge for family violence to be filed. The Class A misdemeanor carries up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

 

Brittany Dunn, a spokeswoman for the Dallas County district attorney's office, declined to confirm media reports Monday that Manziel had been indicted.

 

Prosecutors presented a misdemeanor assault case against Manziel to a Dallas grand jury last week.

 

An indictment would further imperil Manziel's chances of playing pro football. He was cut by the Cleveland Browns, dropped by two agents and no longer has endorsements.

 

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Appeals Court: QB Tom Brady Must Serve 'Deflategate' Penalty

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Unless he decides to appeal, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will have to serve a four-game suspension after all. It was imposed by the NFL after Brady was found to have used under-inflated footballs in a playoff game.

 

Tom Brady

 

An appeals court today overturned a lower judge and ruled that Brady must serve the suspension.

 

The court said it isn't ruling on whether Brady took part in a scheme to deflate the footballs, or even on whether the suspension is justified. It's only finding that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was acting within his authority, and that he didn't deprive Brady of "fundamental fairness."

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KNICKS' CARMELO ANTHONY 'SHOCKED' BY CHILD'S HUG DURING GAME

 

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony says he was momentarily "shocked" when he felt someone grasping at his thigh as he stood near the top of the key in the final minute of the New York Kicks' game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.

 

 

 

When he saw it was a young boy who'd somehow slipped through courtside security to give him a hug, his instinct was to react with an affectionate pat on the head.

 

"It was a little kid," Anthony said when explaining his friendly response. "I was shocked. I didn't really know who was it until I actually looked over and saw that it was a kid."

 

The boy ran onto the court during a stoppage in play with the Knicks on their offensive end, then was shooed back off the court by game official Kevin Cutler.

The chief of arena security at the Smoothie King Center, Russ Bourgeois, declined to comment on the incident. So it was not immediately clear if the boy or his guardian were cited in any way or removed from the building.

 

In New York City, the so-called "Calvin Klein Law" subjects those who walk onto the court during a game to arrest and fines. The law was passed in 2003 after fashion designer Calvin Klein walked onto the court at Madison Square Garden and attempted to chat with Knicks player Latrell Sprewell.

 

"I think it was because he was a little kid, they just let him go," Anthony said. "Definitely a security issue though, for sure."

 

The boy ran back into the stands and up stairs past an apparent female guardian, who, looking embarrassed, appeared to usher him toward the exits.

 

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ORANGE CRUSH: SYRACUSE MEN, WOMEN IN FINAL FOUR

 

Out of the blue (AP) -- or make that orange - Syracuse finds itself in the best of all places - the men's and women's Final Four.

 

NCAA

 

The feat has been accomplished by only eight other schools, most recently by UConn in 2014 when Kevin Ollie's men and Geno Auriemma's women won titles. Both teams of Huskies also won national championships in 2004, the only other time that's happened.

 

In all, UConn has placed both its teams in the Final Four four times. Syracuse is happy just to join the party because no one saw this coming.

 

The men have 13 losses, five during a nine-game NCAA suspension to coach Jim Boeheim. The ban came a year ago after a long investigation that uncovered various violations in the athletic department. The women had never advanced past the first weekend of the tournament.

 

"It's not easy. There's no question about it," Boeheim said Monday. "It's a tremendous accomplishment. Besides the fact just to have two from the same school, for these two particular teams the odds were pretty steep to get to the Final Four. I'm happy for the school. I think it's good for the soul of the school that we have good programs."

 

The Orange men (23-13) were among the last teams to get into the NCAA Tournament after a rough closing stretch. They slipped in as a No. 10 seed before storming to their second Final Four in four seasons.

The Syracuse women (29-7), ranked most of the season, defeated upstate New York foes Army and Albany at home in the Carrier Dome, then topped No. 1 seed South Carolina before beating Tennessee by 22 points Sunday to reach the national semifinals.

 

The Orange men, who have been to four other Final Fours since Boeheim took over in 1976, rallied from a 16-point deficit to knock off top-seeded Virginia 68-62 in the Midwest final Sunday night. Syracuse also beat Dayton, Middle Tennessee State and Gonzaga before facing the Cavaliers.

 

Other things to know about this rare Orange double:

 

SEMIFINAL SETBACKS: Georgia landed both men and women in the 1983 Final Four and both teams lost in the semifinals. Texas followed suit in 2003, the year Boeheim led the Orange men to their only national championship, as did LSU in 2006.

 

FINALS DISASTER: Duke in 1999 is the only school to have both its men and women reach the national championship game and lose. Mike Krzyzewski's men lost to Jim Calhoun's UConn Huskies (77-74) and the Duke women lost to Purdue (62-45).

 

WIN SOME, LOSE SOME: In 2002, the Oklahoma women lost in the final and the men lost in the semis. In 2005, the Michigan State women lost in the final and the men were ousted in the semifinals. In 2013, the Louisville men won the national championship and the women lost in the final.

 

UCONN KING: The Connecticut women provide a common thread in this scenario with 10 national championships among their 16 Final Four appearances. The Huskies won the 2009 women's title while the men made the Final Four but lost in the semifinals. Two years later, the men won their third title under Calhoun and the women lost in the semis.

 

WORKING TOGETHER: The success of both Syracuse teams this year says a lot about the two coaches, who follow one another's exploits and share the same facility - the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.

"It's really good. It says a lot about our building," Quentin Hillsman, in his 10th year as coach of the Syracuse women, said Monday. "We have two very good basketball teams in that building. Both teams are right in their mode."

 

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TIPPING OFF: THE ACC MAKES QUITE A STATEMENT IN SWEET 16

 

AP- That was quite a show by the Atlantic Coast Conference.

 

NCAA

 

Now the league is set up for quite the showcase on Sunday in the Elite Eight.

 

There were four games in the Sweet 16 on Friday night and all of them involved one ACC team. Sure enough, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Virginia and Syracuse all prevailed.

 

The four victories mean it'll be an all-ACC showdown on Sunday when Notre Dame meets North Carolina and Virginia faces Syracuse. It also means the league will have two Final Four representatives in Houston and one in the championship game.

 

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said the ACC was certainly "tough" but didn't gloat about the league's dominance in the aftermath of his team's comeback win over Gonzaga.

 

"I learned a long time ago that it's a foolish game to say one league is better than the other," Boeheim said. "There's just too many variables. I think the top conferences are very, very good, and it's an imperfect system to say, well, they did better in the NCAA Tournament."

 

Here are a few more nuggets as the NCAA Tournament hits the Elite Eight round:

 

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PLENTY OF PERRY: Kansas fans have heard about senior Perry Ellis for a very long time.

 

Ellis was a Kansas high school star and coach Bill Self attended his first high school game in 2008 while laying the groundwork for his recruitment.

 

Now the 6-foot-8 Ellis is in the final days of an outstanding career - his 1,794 career points are 8th career at Kansas and he recently passed Paul Pierce on the scoring list. The Jayhawks face Villanova on Saturday.

 

Ellis has saved some his best basketball for the past month. He's scored at least 20 points in seven of his last eight games.

 

"Just trying to do whatever I can to win - that's all I'm trying to do," Ellis said.

 

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VILLANOVA'S SCORCHING THE NETS: It's hard to find a team as hot as Villanova right now.

 

The Wildcats are shooting nearly 60 percent from the field in three NCAA Tournament wins and have scored at least 86 points in all of them.

 

"They're probably playing as well as anybody that we've gone against in recent memory, at least that I can recall," Self said. "They're on fire right now."

 

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BUDDY TIME: Oklahoma's star guard Buddy Hield met Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant after Thursday's win over Texas A&M.

 

Now, he'd like to do his best Kobe impression when the Sooners meet Oregon on Saturday for a chance to go to the Final Four.

 

"He's one of my idols I grew up watching, one of the guys I looked up to," Hield said. "And I try to copy and mimic his work ethic. I am just happy I got to meet Kobe and he said a couple words of encouragement."

 

Hield had a down game by his lofty standards in Oklahoma's 77-63 win over Texas A&M, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The prolific shooter is averaging more than 25 points per game.

 

Oregon expects to get Hield's best.

 

"He's just a great athlete, and he can keep backing up," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "He moves so well without the ball that it's hard to keep up with him."

 

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BROWNS SIGN RG3, QUARTERBACK GETS FRESH START AFTER FALL

 

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Robert Griffin III is getting a chance to revive a career that once seemed unstoppable.

 

RG3

 

One of the NFL's brightest and flashiest stars just a few years ago, Griffin signed a two-year contract Thursday with the Cleveland Browns, a franchise on a perpetual mission to find a quarterback. Financial terms were not immediately available.

 

Griffin hasn't been the same since his dazzling rookie season in Washington in 2012, when RG3 - possessed with a rocket arm, a tailback's speed and endless swagger - burst onto pro football's stage. The Browns, who tried to trade up and select Griffin four years ago, believe he can still lead on and off the field and they're giving him a chance to revive his career and win their starting job.

 

"I'm just excited to come in and compete," Griffin said. "Nothing's ever been given to me in my life, so I just want to go out and compete with the guys and grow with this team. I feel like that's all I'm really focused on. I cherish the opportunity to get another chance to play this beautiful game."

 

Griffin met last week with new Browns coach Hue Jackson, who was impressed by the 26-year-old's candor and eagerness to begin anew.

 

"He brings starting experience to our team and organization," Jackson said. "He's a young, athletic, talented passer and he's really just starting out in this league. Just like every player on our team, Robert will have to earn every opportunity he gets. He will compete with the rest of the quarterbacks on our roster and he helps improve our QB room, which was one of my goals upon taking the job."

 

Cleveland has started 24 quarterbacks since 1999 and the team is expected to take one with the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft. That rookie - possibly California's Jared Goff or North Dakota State's Carson Wentz - will compete with Griffin, the second selection in 2012. Jackson and other members of the Browns attended Wentz's pro day Thursday in North Dakota.

 

The Browns recently released troubled quarterback Johnny Manziel, who they once thought would solve their problems. They also have quarterbacks Josh McCown and Austin Davis on their roster, but as is always the case with that position in Cleveland, nothing stands still.

 

After winning the Heisman Trophy at Baylor, Griffin was taken in the draft just after Andrew Luck was plucked by the Indianapolis Colts. The Browns attempted to swing a deal to move up and get him but were outbid by the Redskins.

 

Griffin took the nation's capital by storm. He led the Redskins to the NFC East title and was named the league's top offensive rookie. It didn't take him long to become one of American's most celebrated athletes and there seemed no limit to what he could accomplish. Griffin, however, sustained a significant right knee injury in a playoff game against Seattle and things would never be the same.

 

The indelible image of Griffin lying face down on the turf is one that will haunt Redskins fans for years. In a way, it symbolized what might have been.

 

Griffin underwent reconstructive surgery, but there was little he could do to fix a fractured relationship with then-Washington coach Mike Shanahan. Griffin wound up being benched at the end of his second season, and he missed a big chunk in his third year after dislocating his ankle.

 

Last year, coach Jay Gruden named Griffin his starter during preseason, but then came a concussion. Griffin lost his job and spent the season behind Kirk Cousins. He was eventually demoted to third-string behind Colt McCoy.

 

When the Redskins placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Cousins last month for $20 million, Griffin, who went 14-21 with 40 touchdown passes as a starter, was let go with little fanfare.

 

In search of a team, he and the Browns will try to restore each other.

 

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NFL APPROVES EJECTION PROPOSAL FOR 1-YEAR TRIAL

 

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) -- NFL owners have approved as a one-year trial ejecting a player who draws two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties from specific categories.

 

NFL

 

Those categories include throwing a punch at or kicking an opponent; taunting; and using abusive, threatening or insulting language or gestures.

 

"Sportsmanship is important to the membership," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday as the owners' meetings concluded. "We all have standards. They have two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties before they're ejected. The message from the membership, our clubs and the coaches is they're going to be held to those high standards."

 

Also approved Wednesday as a one-year trial was placing the ball at the 25-yard line after touchbacks on kickoffs instead of at the 20. The league is seeking ways to reduce injuries on kickoff returns, which it says statistically are the most dangerous plays in the game.

 

Most proposals on expanding video replay in officiating were dismissed. A suggestion by Baltimore that would simplify the language in replay rules to make clearer what is reviewable has been tabled.

Expanding the use of video on sideline tablets, which many expected to pass easily, also was tabled until the May meetings in Charlotte.

 

"There was really good discussion from the coaches and some concerns on the technology side and the ramifications of using video," said Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee. "We will use the Microsoft Surface (tablets) with photos on the sideline and will continue to discuss this."

 

In other changes, teams no longer will be required to designate the one player allowed to return from injured reserve as soon as he is placed on that list. Instead, they will have until the day before the player returns to practice during the season to designate him. That player must have sat out at least six weeks in the regular season.

 

Goodell said reports of substantial progress in talks with the players' union about reducing his role in player discipline were inaccurate.

 

"We are not close to an agreement by any stretch of the imagination on making changes on that," he said. "But we are open to it and keeping an open dialogue with the union."

 

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LEBRON'S TRIPLE-DOUBLE LEADS CAVALIERS TO DIVISION TITLE

 

CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James scored 33 points and recorded his 41st career triple-double as the Cleveland Cavaliers clinched their second straight Central Division title with a 124-91 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

 

Lebron James

 

James added 11 rebounds and 11 assists before checking out with 6:02 left to a thunderous ovation. He scored 17 in the first quarter, helping the Cavs build a 19-point lead and erase the memory of an embarrassing loss on Saturday in Miami.

 

The Nuggets fought back and briefly led before the Cavs regrouped, scored 68 after halftime and easily notched their 50th win.

 

J.R. Smith added 15 points and Channing Frye 14 for Cleveland, which played without starter Kevin Love (illness).

 

Will Barton scored 27 for the Nuggets, who concluded a 1-4 road trip. Denver's Kenneth Faried missed his third straight game with a sore lower back.

 

The Cavs were playing for the first time since being battered by the Heat, who led by 33 in the fourth and won by 21. It was a humiliating night for James, who sat out the final 12 minutes against his former team, and the loss raised more questions about Cleveland's chemistry and chances of returning to the NBA Finals.

James got the Cavs back on track and to 50 wins, a milestone coach Tyronn Lue said shouldn't be taken for granted.

 

"It's something we embrace," he said. "It's not every year that you can do that, unless you're the San Antonio Spurs and teams like that. It just shows the hard work the guys have put in to get to this point. All is not bad."

 

Cleveland has more work to do but this is a start.

James was aggressive from the outset and finished the first quarter with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. The Cavs had their highest-scoring opening quarter of the season and it appeared they would be able to rest some starters in the second half.

 

But with Barton leading the way, the Nuggets went on a 17-0 run and took a 43-41 lead in the second quarter while James was on the bench.

 

James returned and with Lue using a lineup that featured the four-time league MVP, Frye, Smith, Timofey Mozgov and Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavs reeled off nine consecutive points and led 56-48 at halftime.

 

Cleveland's starters blitzed Denver to start the third and the Cavs pushed their lead to 30 before James left.

After James picked up his 11th assist for his second triple-double this season, Lue sent in a substitute and Cleveland's bench and crowd applauded as he left the floor.

 

TIP-INS

 

Nuggets: F JaKarr Sampson strained his left shoulder in the first half and didn't return. He attended James' high school, Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary, for three years. ... Coach Mike Malone spent five seasons as an assistant with the Cavaliers. He said Cleveland's run to the 2007 finals, which included James' epic performance in Game 5 of the conference semifinals at Detroit - he scored 28 of the Cavs' final 30 points - is his fondest memory. "One of the best performances by a player in postseason history," Malone said.

 

Cavaliers: Cleveland has won at least 50 games nine times. ... James has scored 20 points or more in 16 straight games against Denver. ... G Mo Williams has been cleared to practice after missing nearly a month with an injured left knee. Williams, who has not played since Feb. 24, has been bothered by soreness in his knee for most of the season. He took part in Monday's shootaround and could play in games later this week. ... The Cavs also won division titles in 1975-76, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2014-15.

 

UP NEXT

 

Nuggets: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Cavaliers: Host Milwaukee on Wednesday.

 

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TIPPING OFF: WHAT JUST HAPPENED, AND WHAT'S COMING NEXT

AP- A region-by-region look at what you might have missed last week and what you shouldn't miss next week, as the NCAA Tournament heads into the Sweet 16.

 

NCAA

 

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EAST

 

GOING TO FORM: 

Not that it's unusual for a No. 1 seed to encounter very few problems in its first two games. But given all the talk about parity, upsets and the rest of the twists and turns during this unpredictable season, North Carolina's dominance was impressive. Two wins by a total of 45 points. And the second-round game, against Providence, was actually competitive for the first half. Just enough to keep the Tar Heels sharp - and then they ran away. "I probably think we've played our best basketball the entire season in the last couple of weeks," coach Roy Williams said. Hard to disagree.

 

WHO WAS THAT?: Give the bracket-buster award in the East to No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin, which took apart West Virginia in the first round and came one point short of the Sweet 16, in a 76-75 loss to Notre Dame. It took a tip-in from unheralded Rex Pflueger of the Irish with 1.5 seconds left to send the Lumberjacks home. "They've set a new standard for SFA basketball," coach Brad Underwood said of his seniors, who have three tournament appearances and two NCAA wins in their careers.

 

CHECK IT OUT: Hooking up Friday, it will be North Carolina and Indiana. Plenty of history here, just not with each other. This is their first meeting in the tournament since 1984, when Steve Alford scored 27 points to headline an upset against the top-ranked Tar Heels. The loss ended Michael Jordan's college career.

 

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SOUTH

GOING TO FORM:

Almost everything. This region is sending seed Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 to the Sweet 16. They are Kansas, Villanova, Miami and Maryland.

 

WHO WAS THAT?: No. 13 seed Hawaii notched the program's first NCAA victory - but there was no repeat in Game 2, and there won't be a repeat next year, either. The Rainbow Warriors, who lost to Maryland on Sunday, are banned from next year's postseason because of infractions committed under former coach Gib Arnold. The current coach, Eran Ganot, said it's something in the back of everyone's mind. "But there's always opportunity from those kind of things and it was an opportunity for us to send a message of how we can lock in and fight through adversity and get better and try to do something special," he said.

 

CHECK IT OUT: The Villanova-Miami game Thursday in Louisville will be an interesting contest between the guards. Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan of Miami are about as quick as they come, and Villanova's Josh Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono will be hard-pressed to stop them.

 

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MIDWEST

GOING TO FORM:

Virginia and Iowa State are both where they're "supposed" to be - a 1 and 4 facing off in the Sweet 16.

 

WHO WAS THAT?: Syracuse was one of the most hotly debated bubble teams, but has responded by winning games by 19 and 25. Coach Jim Boeheim was glad to say that anyone who thought the Orange didn't belong didn't know anything about basketball - and maybe he was right. Runner up: Josh Hagins of No. 12 Little Rock, who did - well - just about everything en route to 31 points and a come-from-behind win over Purdue in the first round.

 

CHECK IT OUT: No. 10 Syracuse meets No. 11 Gonzaga on Friday. They've played a combined four games. Nobody has come closer than 16 points of either team. This was widely viewed as the weakest of the four regions, and there's no doubt the winner of the other game - Virginia-Iowa State - will have its hands full with whichever double-digit seed makes the Elite Eight.

 

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WEST:

GOING TO FORM:

For only the 16th time since the field expanded in 1985, a region is sending seeds 1-4 to the Sweet 16. But to say things went to form wouldn't be telling the whole story. No. 3 Texas A&M somehow overcame a 12-point deficit in the last 44 seconds - yes, 44 seconds - of regulation to force overtime with Northern Iowa en route to an eventual win. Though Oregon, Oklahoma and Duke all had their own moments of drama, nothing compared to that.

 

WHO WAS THAT?: Northern Iowa may not be a newcomer to the tournament, but the 11th-seeded Panthers certainly came up with new ways to put the madness in March. From Paul Jesperson's half-court game-winner at the buzzer against Texas to the entire team's meltdown against Texas A&M, these guys will serve as Exhibit A the next time anyone says, "It's never over 'til it's over."

 

CHECK IT OUT: Oregon was a surprise No. 1 seed. The Ducks struggled against St. Joe's, before coming out on top, 69-64. Next up, the defending national champions. Though Duke isn't nearly as deep or talented as it was last year, Grayson Allen is a force. And, as we all know, both the program and its coach, Mike Krzyzewski, are very comfortable on the big stage.

 

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SPARTANS, OTHER UPSETS MEAN TIME TO REBOOT NCAA TOURNAMENT

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Nobody wants an NCAA Tournament mulligan more than Michigan State.

 

But the Spartans' spotlight as the biggest flop of the first round is one of many reasons it's time to reboot March Madness. Time to frame around the 32 teams left competing for a title.

 

NCAA

 

Millions of bracketeers prove it: Nobody saw this set coming. The fantasy of a perfect bracket - already far unlikelier than Powerball - was dashed in 21 games despite all the permutations generated by ESPN, Yahoo and CBS Sports users. Hoops fans on ESPN thought a Michigan State loss to Middle Tennessee State was so unlikely that more picked one of three No. 1s - North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia - to be the first top seed ever to lose to a 16.

 

By the time No. 11 seed Northern Iowa beat Texas on a buzzer-beating halfcourt rainbow Friday night, the Missouri Valley Tournament champions became the record-setting 10th double-digit seed to win a first-round game. Three of the four No. 9 seeds also were victorious.

 

Indeed, it's been a tournament for the bracket underdog. Or at least the under-seeded.

 

So where do all these upsets leave the NCAA Tournament?

 

Well, the Jayhawks joined fellow No. 1 seeds Oregon, North Carolina and Virginia in surviving. But Kansas gets one of the hottest teams in the tournament in UConn in the next round, while the Tar Heels have to face Kris Dunn and Providence and the Cavaliers get perennial tournament darling Butler.

 

No sure things in that bunch of games.

 

Second-seeded Oklahoma will join the Jayhawks in trying to return some respectability to the Big 12 after another disappointing NCAA Tournament start. Meanwhile, the Ducks will be trying to do the same thing for the bruised and battered Pac-12, which also has third-seeded Utah alive.

 

The biggest winner so far might be the Missouri Valley, which had the Shockers roll through Vanderbilt in a play-in game before their easy win over the Arizona. Northern Iowa's heart-stopping victory over coach Shaka Smart's Longhorns made it a banner week for the mid-major conference.

 

"At this point, you're running on adrenaline," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "We've got a lot of work to do, and we've got a great opponent tomorrow (in Miami). But it has been just a very grueling, very taxing several days, but it's been fun all the same."

Michigan State - predicted champs on about one-quarter of ESPN and Yahoo brackets - gets one of many surprise trips home.

 

There was third-seeded West Virginia losing to Stephen F. Austin, fourth-seeded Cal floundering against Hawaii and sixth-seeded Arizona getting shocked by Wichita State. No. 5 seeds Baylor and Purdue went down Thursday, while No. 10 seeds Syracuse and VCU joined No. 11 seed Gonzaga in surviving.

 

"There's such great college stories this time of year, every year. We looked at it and said, 'Guys, why not Middle Tennessee?'" Blue Raiders coach Kermit Davis said. "It's going to be something after this weekend, and everyone is going to have a great, great moment."

Just like the one the Shockers had, and same with Yale and Little Rock in advancing as 12-seeds.

 

In a season with this much parity, no seeding has proven safe.

 

"I think that people realize we're the real deal," said Lumberjacks star Thomas Walkup, who could just as easily be speaking for underappreciated teams everywhere.

 

"A couple of years ago, when we got an NCAA win they thought it was almost a fluke," he said. "But I think now people are starting to realize that Stephen F. Austin is a really strong basketball program and really starting to make a name for ourselves."

 

Plenty of teams that expected their 2016 legacy to last longer won't get that chance.

 

Start with the Mountaineers, who looked like a Final Four contender in giving overall No. 1 Kansas all it could handle in the Big 12 Tournament. They were soundly beaten by a Lumberjacks team playing its very own style, popping loose a plethora of turnovers and turning them into easy layups.

 

West Virginia's problems paled next to those at California, where a scandal involving an assistant coach and an injury to the Golden Bears' leading scorer contribute to their loss.

 

"I mean, it's tough for young guys to overcome," Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. "We still have to lace them up and play the game. I think Hawaii won the game. Obviously, a lot of factors - you can say this or that, but they won the game."

 

But no surprise of the many that dramatically shifted the atmosphere of March Madness during the round of 64 can top Michigan State, the second favorite to Kansas in Las Vegas sports books after Selection Sunday.

 

"I don't care about next year. I don't even care about tomorrow right now," Izzo said after his team's listless 90-81 loss. "Somebody's not happy unless they win it all. It just was disappointing that we didn't move farther than we did."

 

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BROWNS SIGN LINEBACKER DEMARIO DAVIS, RELEASE KARLOS DANSBY

 

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Browns have finally jumped into the free agency pool with both cleats.

 

After letting four starters leave and sign with new teams last week, Cleveland added its first notable player of the offseason by signing inside linebacker Demario Davis to a two-year contract.

 

Davis

 

Davis made 51 starts over the past four seasons with the New York Jets, who selected him in the third round in 2012. He'll move into a starting spot with the team expected to release veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby on Wednesday.

 

The 34-year-old has been informed by the team of their plans to let him go. Dansby spent two seasons with Cleveland, which signed him as a free agent in 2014.

Davis will likely start alongside Chris Kirksey. The Browns also signed Justin Tuggle last week.

 

Davis visited the Browns on Tuesday. They're hoping he can help fix one of the NFL's worst rushing defenses.

 

"It seems like they're ready to take this organization in the right direction. I felt nothing but positive vibes from (executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown) all the way down to the defensive coordinator and the head coach," Davis said. "I just felt like this was the best fit for me and my family."

 

Davis started every game the past three seasons for the Jets, but he shared playing time last season when he finished with 90 tackles and two sacks. He recorded more than 100 tackles in 2013 and 2014.

 

The Browns are likely to lose linebacker Craig Robertson, who is also one of their best special teams players, and Davis can help fill that void.

 

"I just want to be able to come in and help as best as possible," Davis said. "I take pride in being a run stopper. I take pride in covering. I take pride in playing in space, being a sideline-to-sideline backer. I take pride in getting after the quarterback. I just want to be able to do whatever the coach is asking of me.

 

In Cleveland, Davis will be reunited with new Browns linebackers coach Ryan Slowik, who spent last season with the Jets.

 

"I played for some great defensive minds," Davis said. "I played with a lot of great players. Just everything I've been able to learn over the four years is going to help me as I enter into the next chapter of my career."

 

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IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BRACKET FOR MANY NCAA TOURNAMENT WATCHERS

 

AP - As the hours tick down to the start of the NCAA Tournament, people across the country are poring over statistics and studying matchups and trendlines with the hope of coming up with the perfect bracket - or least a winning one.

 

NCAA

 

Then there's Holly Weatherwax. The realtor from Reston, Virginia, on Tuesday dashed off two brackets she'll enter in a family pool. On one, she picked the Virginia Cavaliers to win the national championship. That's because her daughter attends the school. On the other, she picked the Duke Blue Devils. That's because she took a shine to Coach K, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill back in the 1990s.

 

"I do this very casually," Weatherwax said.

 

Others take it very seriously. According to American Gaming Association research, 40 million people filled out about 70 million brackets last year, and the average bet per bracket was $29. The trade group estimated $9.2 billion will be wagered on the tournament this year through office pools, Nevada sports books, offshore sites and illegal bookmakers.

 

John Dietrich, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior from Omaha, said he'll submit five or six brackets in various pools and plunk down a total of about $40 in entry fees. He's more analytical than Weatherwax. For each matchup, he looks at offensive and defensive scoring averages and how the teams fared against common opponents and top competition. He waits until just before tipoff of the first games to hit the send button.

 

Brad Wiemels, a Clemson University sophomore from Columbus, Ohio, evaluates the same metrics as Dietrich, plus he weighs performances at neutral sites and delves into stats that some would consider minutia. Wiemels helps friends who are filling out brackets and runs a personal website called "Bradketology" (http://bit.ly/1TMaH6Y).

 

Wiemels said he'll occasionally back up his brackets with a few bucks, but his priority is to win the annual pool among 20-30 family members and take home the prize known as the "Weirdy Doll."

 

"The trophy is coveted," he said. "You want to hold onto it, put it on the mantle, show it off. It's like a voodoo doll-looking thing. My second cousin found it somewhere. It's not something I would call a particularly impressive piece of artwork. There's a reason it's called the 'Weirdy Doll.'"

 

As of Tuesday afternoon, Kansas and Michigan State were the top two choices to win the national championship, according to brackets entered in contests run by ESPN, Yahoo.com and CBSSports.com.

Office pools have long been the most popular avenues for participation in this madness. They are against the rules - wink, wink - at many companies because gambling is illegal most places, not to mention that having employees devote time to picking winners can have an adverse effect on productivity.

 

Some workplaces, however, embrace the camaraderie.

Billionaire Warren Buffett announced on CNBC two weeks ago that one of his 300,000 Berkshire Hathaway employees could win $100,000 by picking the most consecutive winners in the tournament. Buffett said at least one employee will win the $100,000 prize, but if multiple employees tie, they will share it. Buffett said if an employee can somehow pick all 48 winners in the opening rounds, he'll pay that person $1 million a year for life.

 

The hectic pace of coaching the best team in the NBA doesn't stop the Golden State Warriors' Steve Kerr from keeping an eye on the tournament. Kerr played at Arizona, and his son, Nick, is a reserve guard for California.

 

"We'll have a tournament pool on our team, but don't tell anyone. It's probably illegal. There won't be any money involved. Let's make that clear," Kerr said.

Steve Cuddihy, who works for a computer manufacturing company in Burnsville, Minnesota, is a pioneer of online bracket contests. He's been running OfficePool64.com since the dial-up days of 1997. He knew he was getting to be big-time a few years later when the NCAA sent him a cease-and-desist order for using the trademarked terms "March Madness" and "Final Four" on his website.

 

About 1,500 brackets were submitted each year when he was starting out. That number has leveled off at about 450 in recent years, he said, because people have migrated to the big sports websites that run contests.

Cuddihy has discovered that luck is as important as skill in winning first prize. The 46-year-old follows the sport closely. His mother does not.

"I've never won my own pool in the 20 years I've run it," he said, "but my mom has."

 

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AP Business Writer Josh Funk in Omaha, Nebraska, and AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, California, contributed.

 

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