NBA SCOREBOARD

Golden State 124 Houston 114

Oklahoma City 127 LA Clippers 117

 

TOP 25 MEN’S BASKETBALL

#1 Michigan State 91 Maryland 61

Colorado 90 #4 Arizona State 81 OT

#9 Wichita State 81 Houston 63

#14 Arizona 94 Utah 82

#19 Gonzaga 89 Pepperdine 59

#19 Cincinnati 55 Temple 53

ELSEWHERE

Ohio State 92 Iowa 81

Illinois Chicago 70 IUPUI 65

Oral Roberts 76 Fort Wayne 60

 

TOP 25 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

#2 Notre Dame 83 Miami Florida 76

#3 Louisville 66 #17 Duke 60

#4 South Carolina 88 Ole Miss 62

#5 Mississippi State 111 Arkansas 69

#7 Tennessee 70 Auburn 59

#10 Ohio State 91 Minnesota 75

#11 Florida State 69 Clemson 47

#13 Maryland 80 #18 Iowa 64

LSU 69 #15 Missouri 65

#19 Texas A&M 74 Kentucky 70

#22 Michigan 80 Wisconsin 57

ELSEWHERE

IUPUI 77 Cleveland State 64

Oral Roberts 73 Fort Wayne 48

Dayton 116 Rhode Island 58

Wright State 77 Oakland 57

 

NHL SCOREBOARD

Florida at Boston postponed

Toronto 3 San Jose 2

Philadelphia 6 NY Islanders 4

Carolina 4 Pittsburgh 0

Montréal 2 Tampa Bay 1

St. Louis 2 Vegas 1

Minnesota 6 Buffalo 2

Dallas 4 New Jersey 3

Colorado 2 Columbus 0

Calgary 4 Los Angeles 3

Edmonton 2 Anaheim 1

Arizona 3 Nashville 2

 

HIGH SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL– NCC/AREA

Northeastern 57 Hagerstown 51

Monroe Central 46 Randolph Southern 44

Union City 81 Union Modoc 27

Anderson 66 Lapel 56

Shenandoah 66 Tri 36

Knightstown 53 Blue River 49 OT

 

HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL – NCC/AREA

Lincoln 31 Centerville 21

Benton Central 49 McCutcheon 44

 

TOP HEADLINES

Colorado holds off No. 4 ASU 90-81 in OT

The pregame screening was motivation for the Colorado Buffaloes – a clip of all the wins the program has posted over ranked teams through the years.

Time for a rewrite. Need to add another segment.

Namon Wright scored five of his 19 points in overtime, including a pair of game-sealing free throws at the end, and Colorado beat No. 4 Arizona State 90-81 on Thursday night.

“We showed them (a clip) and said, `Now, it’s time for you guys to write your next chapter,'” coach Tad Boyle said.

They did that. Just took a little bit to warm up.

Down 11-0 to start the game, the Buffaloes (9-6, 1-2 Pac-12) steadily whittled away and opened up a six-point lead with 1:17 remaining in regulation. But the Sun Devils (12-2, 0-2) stormed back, with Mickey Mitchell tying the game at 74 with 5 seconds left on an emphatic dunk.

In overtime, the Buffaloes hit six straight free throws down the stretch to secure the victory. It was the highest-ranked team Colorado has beaten since knocking off No. 3 Texas on Feb. 4, 2003. The Colorado fans stormed the court to celebrate.

“That’s crazy,” said freshman McKinley Wright IV, who scored 19 points. “It’s a confidence builder. This is what we needed. When we’re playing like this, having fun, we can beat anyone in our league.”

George King chipped in 18 as Colorado snapped a three-game skid, including two straight losses to start conference play. The Buffaloes began 0-7 in the league a season ago.

Tra Holder had 24 points for Arizona State before fouling out in the waning seconds of OT. The Sun Devils have dropped two straight after reeling off 12 wins in a row.

“It’s a long season,” Sun Devils guard Shannon Evans II said. “We’ll be all right.”

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley couldn’t have asked for a better start on the road – and at higher elevation – as Arizona State raced out to an early lead. That’s about when Boyle subbed out his starting five and put in the next crew.

It did the trick.

“We just stuck together,” Wright said. “Nobody held their head down.”

It paid off with a celebration with their fans at mid-court.

“If you would have asked me before I got to Arizona State, if I would have seen a situation where there was a court storm after our game because an opponent beat us I might have thought you were crazy,” Hurley said. “That’s the job our team has done this year to make the game that meaningful that an opponent would storm the floor after the game.”

 

 

Mother knows best: Serena opts out of Aussie title defense

Serena Williams’ decision not to defend her Australian Open title four months after giving birth to her first child had nothing to do with merely being able to play at Melbourne Park.

The seven-time Australian Open champion confirmed Friday she wouldn’t attempt to defend the title she won here last year, saying she wasn’t convinced she could win it.

Williams played in an exhibition tournament last weekend in Abu Dhabi to test her match condition, and indicated after her loss to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko that she might not travel to Melbourne.

“After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be,” Williams said in a statement Friday. “My coach and team always said `Only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.’ I can compete – but I don’t want to just compete, I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time.

“With that being said, and even though I am disappointed about it, I’ve decided not to compete in the Australian Open this year.”

Williams was pregnant when she won at Melbourne Park last year, her Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam singles title. She gave birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia, in September.

Williams didn’t drop a set while winning last year’s title, and her victory helped her regain the world No.1 ranking.

The 36-year-old Williams needs only one more major title to equal the all-time record held by Margaret Court, who won 13 of her 24 Grand Slam titles before the Open era began in 1968.

Three women have returned after having babies to win Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era, including Court and fellow Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who won the 1977 Australian Open seven months after giving birth to daughter, Kelly, and added her second Wimbledon title in 1980.

Kim Clijsters returned from retirement after having a daughter, Jada Elle, in February 2008, and won the 2009 U.S. Open in her third tournament back.

Williams’ withdrawal came less than 24 hours after fellow former world No. 1 Andy Murray withdrew from the men’s event with a chronic hip injury.

Other star players, including top-ranked Rafael Nadal, six-time champion Novak Djokovic and 2014 winner Stan Wawrinka, also are dealing with injuries.

Williams last year beat older sister Venus in the final. In terms of total years, it was the oldest Grand Slam women’s final in the Open era -Williams sisters combining for 71 years, 11 months.

Venus has returned and is playing in Sydney next week to prepare for the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 15.

Serena will sit one out, but is promising to return in future.

“The memory of last year’s Open is one that I will carry with me, and Olympia and I look forward to coming back again,” she said. “I appreciate the support and understanding of my fans and everyone at the Australian Open.”

Tournament director Craig Tiley said Serena Williams waited as long as she could before letting organizers know she wouldn’t be able to compete.

“I’ve been in constant contact with Serena and her team and know this is why she has pushed it and pushed it until the 11th hour to make her final decision,” he said. Organizers later announced that French Open semifinalist Timea Bacsinszky had also withdrawn after failing to recover in time following surgery on her right hand in September.

 

Bills RB LeSean McCoy’s status uncertain vs Jaguars

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy says he’s making progress with his right ankle injury but his status is uncertain for Sunday’s AFC wild-card playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

McCoy spoke to the media on Thursday for the first time since suffering the injury in Sunday’s 22-16 win over the Miami Dolphins. He has yet to practice this week, but did participate in stretches Thursday before leaving the field with a trainer.

“I’m definitely happy with how things are working out so far, but there is a lot more room for improvement, especially with where I want to be,” McCoy said. “I know my body, I know myself, especially the way I play is more cutting and running.

“It’s been feeling a lot better. I’m out of the boot and I can walk around without any pain. So that’s a plus.”

McCoy has been Buffalo’s most explosive and most consistent playmaker, finishing the year with 1,138 rushing yards and six touchdowns. His absence would leave a hole in Buffalo’s offensive attack; the Bills finished the regular season with the 31st-ranked passing attack in the league.

“I just want to be able to cut well enough where I don’t have a lot of pain when I’m cutting,” McCoy said. “I just want to be close or the best as far as 100 percent as I can get. But the type of game like this, you’ve got to lay it all on the line. If I can’t get 100 percent, as long as I’m out there and I can run effective enough I’ll do it. So we’ll just see.”

McCoy was quick to mention previous times when he tried to play through injuries in Buffalo and had limited success. McCoy has attempted to play through hamstring injuries in each of the past two seasons. Each time, his production significantly dropped.

“I don’t want to make any promises,” McCoy said.

The Bills have no established running back behind McCoy on the depth chart. Marcus Murphy was promoted from the practice squad ahead of the Week 17 win over the Dolphins, rushing for 41 yards on seven carries. Buffalo also has veteran fullback/running back Mike Tolbert.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said of McCoy. “Will we be able to get there in time? We’ll see.”

 

DeMarco Murray out for Titans, guard questionable vs. Chiefs

Tennessee running back DeMarco Murray will miss his second straight game with the Titans ruling him out against the Kansas City Chiefs in their AFC wild-card game Saturday.

Coach Mike Mularkey had refused to rule the veteran running back out until Thursday.

Murray hurt his right knee late in a loss Dec. 24 to the Los Angeles Rams and has not practiced since. Murray finished the season with a career-worst 659 yards rushing, but he ran for six touchdowns. He also caught 39 passes for 266 yards with another TD.

Mularkey says starting left guard Quinton Spain is questionable for the Titans (9-7) against the Chiefs (10-6) because of his back.

Both tight end Jonnu Smith and cornerback Kalan Reed were cleared from the concussion protocol.

 

Tiger plans to play Torrey Pines, Riviera on West Coast

Tiger Woods is playing twice in California over the next six weeks as he begins another comeback on the PGA Tour from back surgery.

Woods announced Thursday he will play the Farmers Insurance Open on Jan. 25 at Torrey Pines, the San Diego course where he has won eight times. That includes the 2008 U.S. Open, his 14th and most recent major.

He also says he will play the Genesis Open at Riviera in Los Angeles that starts Feb. 15. Riviera is where Woods played his first PGA Tour event as a 16-year-old amateur. He last played in 2006, though it now is back in play because the Tiger Woods Foundation runs the tournament.

“I’m very excited to be back at Riviera,” Woods said. “To be able to play in an event that I used to come to as an amateur, as a junior and now as the tournament host, that is on one of the most historic sites in all of golf, it’s a dream come true.”

The schedule is similar to the one last year when Woods was returning from back surgery. It just didn’t last long.

He played in the Bahamas against an 18-man field with no cut, said he was feeling good about his health and his game, and then resumed a PGA Tour schedule at Torrey Pines. But he missed the 36-hole cut for the first time in San Diego, flew to Dubai and withdrew after opening with a 77 because of back spasms.

Two months later, Woods had fusion surgery on his lower back – his fourth back surgery in three years – and was out the rest of the year until he returned at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas and tied for ninth, 10 shots out of the lead.

Different about this return was that Woods was hitting with power, at times hitting it past Justin Thomas and Henrik Stenson, and he played several practice rounds before the Bahamas with Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Daniel Berger and Dustin Johnson. All of them remarked that he looked much fitter, healthier and happier.

The PGA Tour figures to get an even bigger boost.

“I think Tiger’s return and the excitement based on how he looked … based on what it does for ratings, what it does for a non-golfer’s interest in golf, it’s got to be at the forefront of the excitement,” Jordan Spieth said.

“With Tiger, we just don’t exactly know what it’s going to bring. But I think because of the way that the Hero went and the confidence that he’s talking with, the place that he’s at in life right now, I think he’s in the best position he’s been in in a few years to come back and be a regular out here competing.”

Woods did not mention any other events he might play. He is No. 656 in the world ranking and not eligible for the two World Golf Championships in March, key tournaments leading into the Masters.

He has not played all four majors since 2015 – he missed the cut in three of them – because of his back injuries. He has not made the cut in all four majors since 2013.

 

Atlanta Police: Please, no guns in cars at championship game

Atlanta’s mayor is promising a “safe, smooth and secure” college football championship game on Monday, despite the traffic caused by President Donald Trump’s motorcade, but none of the many agencies involved are taking any chances.

The stadium will be secured by legions of undercover and uniformed officers, overhead air traffic including drones will be prohibited and the police chief implored the more than 100,000 participants in events related to the big game to leave their guns at home.

“Please, please execute the highest regard and greatest level of common sense. We CANNOT have folks continuing to bring guns and leaving them in their cars,” Chief Erika Shields said at a multi-agency news conference Thursday on preparations.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the Secret Service and other agencies have prepared for this for months, so the addition of a presidential visit to the mix won’t disrupt the fun.

“Enjoy the game, enjoy the city, and let us handle the details,” the mayor said.

Special Agent David LeValley, who runs the FBI’s Atlanta office, said although “there aren’t any specific threats against this event, we are actively assessing intelligence that comes in.” Precautions include the Federal Aviation Administration prohibiting aircraft over Mercedes-Benz Stadium, including drones.

Both LeValley and Shields urged people attending the game and surrounding events, including a concert in nearby Centennial Olympic Park, to call 911 if they see anything suspicious.

“We encourage and ask that everyone be aware of their surroundings while they’re in the city, and immediately report any suspicious activity, no matter how trivial it may seem to be,” LeValley said.

Monday evening’s College Football Playoff Championship game between the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama was already being treated as a high-level security event, so the president’s visit won’t imply much additional security, LeValley said.

College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock said the stadium already requires fans to comply with stringent security. He said he hadn’t heard from the White House about any additional measures as of Thursday afternoon.

The contest will be held in downtown Atlanta, in the congressional district of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat and a civil rights icon.

 

Steelers coordinator Haley says bar incident a “non-issue”

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley says the team told him an incident at a restaurant last weekend near Heinz Field is a “non-issue.”

Haley’s wife Christine was involved in what Pittsburgh police described as a minor altercation at Tequila Cowboy on Sunday night a few hours after the Steelers wrapped up the regular season with a victory over the Cleveland Browns. Haley himself was not involved in the incident, though he did sustain a minor injury at some point during the night.

Haley said Thursday the situation was “not of my doing,” adding the team has assured him it is not concerned about it going forward. No charges were filed.

Haley says his “sole focus” is on the AFC North champions preparing for the playoffs. Pittsburgh will play a to-be-determined opponent in the divisional round on Jan. 14.

 

Staff shakeup part of McCarthy’s effort to get Pack on track

The standards are high in a place nicknamed “Titletown.”

The first season with a losing record and without a playoff appearance since 2008 has led to an extensive shake-up this offseason for the Green Bay Packers.

Alex Van Pelt was the latest assistant to exit the staff after coach Mike McCarthy said his quarterbacks coach followed through on a contractual decision to pursue other opportunities.

Edgar Bennett is no longer offensive coordinator, though he may stay with the team in another capacity. The offensive-minded McCarthy will still call plays.

“When you say you have a standard at the Green Bay Packers, it stops right there,” McCarthy said at his season-ending press conference Thursday at Lambeau Field. “I mean, the standard of the Green Bay Packers is to win world championships. Now, are we doing enough to win a world championship? That question needs to be answered.”

Joe Philbin, the assistant head coach with the Indianapolis Colts, could be a candidate to return to Green Bay. He was the offensive coordinator when the Packers won the Super Bowl in the 2010 season. Ben McAdoo, who was fired last month as coach of the New York Giants, was also a former offensive assistant in Green Bay.

On defense, McCarthy said holdover assistants Winston Moss, Joe Whitt and Darren Perry are candidates for the defensive coordinator position after Dom Capers was fired this week.

The Packers (7-9) finished in third place in the NFC North in a season in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed nine games after surgery for a collarbone injury.

“The part that no one wants to talk about is the personal aspect of it. That’s what keeps me up at night is the personal changes that you make. I’ll never, ever be comfortable with that,” McCarthy said about the coaching changes.

“But this is my professional responsibility, it’s in my job description and I have to do what I feel gives the Green Bay Packers the best opportunity to win – to win it all in 2018.”

The organization is searching for a general manager while Ted Thompson transitions to a senior adviser role in the front office. Thompson drafted Rodgers in the first round in 2005, and hired McCarthy as head coach the following year.

Under that trio, the Packers won the Super Bowl. The just-concluded streak of eight straight postseason appearances included five NFC North titles and three trips to the NFC title game.

“We had a hell of a partnership for 12 years,” McCarthy said about working with Thompson. The coach added he’s involved in the GM search led by team president Mark Murphy.

“The draft-and-develop still needs to be the core of who you are,” McCarthy said.

Roster turnover can lead to changes in locker room dynamics when older players leave. Injuries sapped depth the last two seasons at the cornerback position, forcing younger players who may not have been ready for bigger roles to step up. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix spoke about the toll that injuries took on defense, and the need for better accountability, as the Packers cleaned out their lockers on Tuesday.

McCarthy said better leadership was a “pretty common theme” during exit interviews to cap a frustrating season. All aspects of football operations will be evaluated once the coaching staff is set.

“We didn’t continue our streak of playoff appearances, so we need to reboot, cleanse, however you want to word it,” McCarthy said. “But we did not play to the standard of the Green Bay Packers and it’s my responsibility to make sure we get better and get back to that.”

 

Harbaugh retains coaches, seeks personnel change for Ravens

Forced to assess the 2017 season far sooner than anticipated, Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged changes must be made for Baltimore to snap its three-year run missing the playoffs.

He will not, however, shuffle the coaching staff.

Harbaugh will fill the void left by the retirement of defensive coordinator Dean Pees, but said Thursday he will bring back offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and attempt to keep the rest of the staff intact unless “guys get opportunities to go somewhere and do some different things.”

Pees announced his retirement Monday, less than 24 hours after the Ravens (9-7) were bounced from the playoff chase with a 31-27 loss to Cincinnati.

The in-house contender for the coordinator job is Ravens linebackers coach Don Martindale. Chuck Pagano, fired as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts on Monday and Baltimore’s defensive coordinator in 2011, is also among those being considered.

Asked to describe what he’s looking for from Pees’ successor, Harbaugh replied: “Definitely continuity. I’m a believer in this system. I think this system has been something that’s been developed over a long period of time, and we have worked really hard every single year to make it better. We’ve evolved it and grown it, and I think you see the results.”

The Ravens have long been known for their defense, and this year that unit was the strength of the team. Baltimore recorded three shutouts, led the NFL with 34 takeaways and ranked 12th in yardage allowed.

The offense, on the other hand, needs help. Harbaugh lauded the performance of quarterback Joe Flacco , who rebounded from a back injury to come on strong during the Ravens’ late-season playoff push.

But the coach was unrelenting in his assessment of the wide receivers, noting that there were too many dropped passes and far too few big plays from a unit built around veterans Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin and featuring 2015 draft pick Breshad Perriman, who is thus far a first-round bust. Baltimore ranked 29th in net yards passing per game (189.4).

“That’s an area we’ve got to look at really hard,,” Harbaugh said. “The passing game wasn’t where it needed to be.”

Tight end Benjamin Watson led the team with 61 catches and six touchdowns. Wallace and Maclin combined for only seven scores, and Baltimore had only five catches of at least 40 yards.

“We want to get playmakers. That’s something that we need,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to add players. It’s not to say that we can’t add some players through free agency. That’s the way that the salary cap works. The draft will be the major part of it.”

Covering a variety of topics in a session that lasted nearly 40 minutes, Harbaugh said he and owner Steve Bisciotti, along with general manager Ozzie Newsome, are looking forward to improving upon a three-year stretch in which the team has gone 5-11, 8-8 and 9-7.

“Our focus is on, can we be better tomorrow than we were today? And that’s just the truth of it,” Harbaugh said. “To me, that’s our focus. It’s not looking back and saying, `Hey, we didn’t do this or we didn’t do that.’ Everybody is full speed ahead to be the best we can be, and has been for the last three years.”

Had Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton not thrown a 49-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-down play with 44 seconds left, the Ravens would have spent this week preparing for the playoffs amid a city bathed in purple. Instead, Harbaugh was left trying to appease a fan-base that responded to mediocrity and the team’s take-a-knee stance during the national anthem on Sept. 24 by staying away in record numbers on Sundays.