Houston 109 San Antonio 93
Oklahoma City 106 Sacramento 101
Milwaukee 121 Memphis 103
Portland 115 Miami 99
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Indiana Wesleyan 75 IU East 72
NY Rangers 6 Carolina 3
Vegas 3 Philadelphia 2
Washington 3 Winnipeg 2
Columbus 5 Montréal 2
Ottawa 5 Florida 3
St. Louis 4 Anaheim 2
Los Angeles 3 Vancouver 0
San Jose 5 Detroit 3
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL – SPRING TRAINING
Kansas City 4 San Diego 0
Cleveland 4 Texas 2
San Francisco 6 Oakland 5
Milwaukee 7 LA Dodgers 6
LA Angels 4 Cincinnati 3
Colorado 4 Arizona 2
Texas 5 Kansas City 1
Chicago White Sox 4 Seattle 2
Washington 5 Detroit 4
Baltimore 8 Pittsburgh 5
Boston 6 Toronto 4
Philadelphia 3 Atlanta 0
Minnesota 2 NY Yankees 1
AP MEN’S BASKETBALL POLL
1 Virginia (65) 1625 31-2 1
2 Villanova 1554 30-4 2
3 Xavier 1383 28-5 3
4 Kansas 1379 27-7 9
5 Michigan State 1304 29-4 4
6 Cincinnati 1230 30-4 8
7 Michigan 1213 28-7 7
8 Gonzaga 1199 30-4 6
9 Duke 1179 26-7 5
10 North Carolina 1100 25-10 12
11 Purdue 1047 28-6 10
12 Arizona 918 27-7 15
13 Tennessee 771 25-8 13
14 Texas Tech 716 24-9 14
15 West Virginia 663 24-10 18
16 Wichita State 604 25-7 11
17 Ohio State 600 24-8 17
18 Kentucky 528 24-10 NR
19 Auburn 501 25-7 16
20 Clemson 439 23-9 19
21 Houston 420 26-7 21
22 Miami 134 22-9 24
23 Florida 102 20-12 23
24 Nevada 93 27-7 22
25 Saint Mary’s 71 28-5 20
WOMEN’S AP BASKETBALL POLL
1 Connecticut 32-0 800 (32) 1
2 Baylor 31-1 743 2
3 Louisville 32-2 736 3
4 Mississippi State 32-1 720 4
5 Notre Dame 29-3 656 5
6 Oregon 30-4 640 6
7 South Carolina 26-6 616 7
8 Texas 26-6 588 8
9 UCLA 24-7 509 9
10 Ohio State 27-6 482 10
11 Florida State 25-6 463 11
12 Tennessee 24-7 426 12
13 Oregon State 23-7 419 13
14 Texas A&M 24-9 353 14
15 Stanford 22-10 347 15
16 Maryland 25-7 296 17
17 Missouri 24-7 292 16
18 Georgia 25-6 273 18
19 South Florida 26-7 237 19
20 Duke 22-8 186 20
21 North Carolina State 24-8 172 21
22 Green Bay 29-3 131 22
23 Belmont 31-3 109 23
24 LSU 19-9 59 24
25 Mercer 30-2 48 25
UConn, Irish, Louisville, Miss St top seeds in women’s NCAAs
UConn is back in a familiar place – the No. 1 overall seed in the women’s basketball NCAA Tournament.
Joining the Huskies as top seeds are Notre Dame, Louisville and Mississippi State.
The Huskies enter as the lone unbeaten team and will be vying for their 12th national championship. It’s the ninth time that UConn has entered the NCAAs undefeated, including last year when the Huskies went in as the overwhelming favorite before their 111-game winning streak ended with a loss to Mississippi State in the Final Four.
This year’s Final Four is in Columbus, Ohio, and will take place on March 30. The national championship game is on Sunday, April 1.
Defending national champion South Carolina and A’ja Wilson await as a possible Elite Eight matchup for UConn in the Albany Regional. The Gamecocks are the two-seed.
“What can you do? You have to beat some pretty good teams. Is it an impossible feat? Obviously not,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “We saw that last year. If we’re in the position where we have to play them, we’re going to play them. We’re going to give it our best shot and let the chips fall where they may.”
The Gamecocks lost by 25 at home against UConn on Feb. 1.
Florida State and Georgia are the other top seeds in the Huskies’ part of the bracket.
“Brackets are brackets. There are good teams in every bracket,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “There are great matchups in every bracket and it doesn’t really matter at this stage where you’re placed, what region, you’re going to have to beat some really good teams. The schedule we play, I knew we’d get somebody two or three that we already played. We know that.”
UConn, which has been a No. 1 seed every year since 2007, opens up against 16-seed Saint Francis (Pennsylvania) on Saturday morning. All of the top four teams in each region host the opening two rounds at home.
Like the Huskies, the Irish are a No. 1 seed again. Notre Dame has been a top seed the last seven years. This might be one of coach Muffet McGraw’s finest accomplishments as Notre Dame lost four pivotal players to injury, but only three games on the season. Two of those losses came to Louisville.
“A great reward for this team for what they’ve been through … playing the toughest schedule and getting a No. 1 seed,” McGraw said. “I’m so proud of this group and what they have accomplished. (Being a No. 1) is quite an accomplishment for what we’ve been through all year long.”
The Irish are in the Spokane Regional and open up against Cal State Northridge on Friday. If Notre Dame advances, the Irish would head out west to potentially face No. 2 seed Oregon.
“We’ve never been in the West bracket. I love playing Friday at 5. That’s awesome,” McGraw said.
The Ducks could stay out west and play in Spokane, where coach Kelly Graves spent many years as Gonzaga’s coach. Ohio State and Texas A&M are the three and four seeds in that region.
Louisville won the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time this season. The Cardinals open up against Boise State and are one of eight ACC teams in the field. The Southeastern Conference has seven teams in the tournament, while the Pac-12 and the Big Ten have six.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “We’re excited to host the first two at home against two very good basketball teams. If we’re fortunate enough to advance, we get the opportunity to play in Lexington, which would be great for our fans.”
The Lexington Regional is stacked with former NCAA Tournament winners with Baylor the two-seed, Tennessee the three and Stanford the four. While the Lady Vols have been in the NCAA Tournament every year since it began in 1982, Nicholls State, Northern Colorado, Mercer and Seattle will be making their first appearances.
Stanford potentially is headed to Lexington for the third straight year if it can advance.
Mississippi State is a No. 1 seed for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs won their first 32 games this season before losing to South Carolina in the SEC title game. With most of their players back from last season’s runner-up finish – including Morgan William, who hit the game-winner in overtime to knock off UConn – the Bulldogs hope to make another deep NCAA run.
The NCAA revealed Sunday night the final eight teams under consideration for the last four spots in the tournament. Buffalo, Creighton, Minnesota and Oklahoma got in. Purdue, Rutgers, Southern Cal and West Virginia were the first four teams out.
Oklahoma got in with a 16-14 record – the fewest wins for an at-large team since 2005 – a day after the Oklahoma men got an at-large berth with an 18-13 record and losses in 11 of their final 15 games.
“We spent almost seven hours on that decision of who those last four teams in and first four out were,” NCAA women’s basketball committee chair Rhonda Bennett said. “We went through those resumes and their body of work. We took as long as it took to get those teams into the bracket.”
Bennett said Oklahoma’s strength of schedule, which was second best in the country, was a key to its selection.
Georgia interviews former Ohio State coach Thad Matta
Georgia officials interviewed former Ohio State coach Thad Matta on Monday, launching their coach search only two days after the school fired Mark Fox.
Matta’s visit to Athens was closely monitored by his older brother, Greg Matta, who is the coach at North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia, about a 90-minute drive away.
Greg Matta said Monday his younger brother told him before the interview “what an exciting place” Georgia is as a possible next coaching job.
Thad Matta’s visit to Athens was a poorly kept secret.
“I had people in school tell me `Your brother is in Athens,'” said Greg Matta, who added that “it would be awesome” to have his brother so close to home.
Thad Matta, 50, led Ohio State to nine NCAA Tournaments, including two Final Four appearances, and five Big Ten regular season championships in 13 years.
He also led Xavier to the NCAA Tournament in each of his three years at the school and had another NCAA appearance in his only season as Butler’s coach.
He was fired by Ohio State following a 17-15 finish in the 2016-17 season.
“I know Thad has always missed it,” Greg Matta said. “It’s in his blood.
“Thad is a great coach. Whoever gets Thad is going to get an unbelievable basketball coach and a great person.”
Matta’s overall record is 439-154. He has been troubled for years by chronic back problems and said after he left Ohio State his focus would be on his health.
Greg Matta said the brothers don’t discuss Thad Matta’s health issues. He said Thad Matta “looked great” when the two were together around Christmas.
“We didn’t go play golf or anything like that but he seemed to be doing fine,” said Greg Matta. “We really don’t talk about that. … All I know is he looked great and was moving around and even the color in his face, he was looking great.”
Fox was fired Saturday .
Georgia (18-15) lost to Kentucky in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, ending the Bulldogs’ hopes of landing a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Lorenzo Romar returning to Pepperdine for 2nd stint as coach
Lorenzo Romar is returning to Pepperdine for a second stint as men’s basketball coach.
Athletic director Steve Potts said Monday that Romar will be back in Malibu as soon as Arizona’s season ends. Romar is currently in his first season as associate head coach at Arizona and the Wildcats are in the NCAA Tournament.
The 59-year-old coach previously guided the Waves from 1996-99, going 42-44 in his first head coaching job.
Romar says he preferred to stay on the West Coast and his comfort level with Potts and university President Andrew Benton “played a huge role” in his decision to return to the campus overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Romar left Malibu to become head coach at Saint Louis and then spent 15 years in the same job at Washington, where he was a three-time Pac-12 coach of the year. He was an assistant at UCLA under Jim Harrick when the Bruins won the 1995 national championship. His career head coaching record is 391-284.
Romar, who is from Compton, California, was a two-year starter at Washington and played five seasons in the NBA with Golden State, Milwaukee and Detroit.
Lillard, Blazers beat Heat 115-99 for 10th straight victory
As the Portland Trail Blazers keep winning, Damian Lillard should keep climbing in the MVP conversation, according to Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.
Lillard had 32 points and 10 assists, and the Trail Blazers beat the Heat 115-99 on Monday night for their 10th straight victory.
Jusuf Nurkic added 27 points and 16 rebounds for the Blazers, who have the longest current winning streak in the NBA and a two-game lead over Oklahoma City for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
After Lillard put the finishing touches on the win, Spoelstra said Portland’s All-Star deserves a little more recognition league-wide.
“I don’t know if there is any other player in this league right now that is playing at a higher level than Lillard,” Spoelstra said. “You know the names in the MVP conversation. The way he’s playing right now and winning, he deserves to be in that conversation as well.”
The Heat used an 18-2 run to start the fourth quarter to trim a 19-point deficit to three, but Lillard took charge for the Blazers, just as he has throughout the winning streak. The All-Star guard broke Portland’s drought of over five minutes with a 3-pointer midway through the period to put Portland back in front by six, and the Blazers stayed safely ahead from there.
Lillard scored 21 points after halftime. He leads the league in second-half scoring.
Harden helps Rockets to easy 109-93 win over Spurs
After the Houston Rockets easily downed the San Antonio Spurs, James Harden was asked about his team taking care of business against a team missing its top players.
The All-Star was quick to point out that despite already clinching a playoff berth, this team has many more goals ahead.
“We don’t have the luxury of just taking nights off,” he said. “We’re not where we want to be. We’re not that good yet. So we have to go out there and approach every single game, no matter who we’re playing, like it’s a playoff game. We’re 15 games away, so it’s time to take it serious.”
Harden scored 16 of his 28 points in the third quarter to allow the Rockets to build a huge lead and sail to a 109-93 victory Monday night.
The NBA’s leading scorer took a little while to get going a night after sitting out against Dallas with a sore left knee and had just 12 points at halftime.
Despite his slow start, the Rockets had a comfortable lead in the third and were still up by 13 after a basket by San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray with about eight minutes left in the quarter. It was then that Harden took over, scoring the next eight points to start a 16-4 run that extended the lead to 82-57 with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the third and had coach Gregg Popovich calling for a timeout.
Harden had a 3-pointer and made three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt to propel that spurt. He didn’t return in the fourth quarter with the game in hand.
“We’ve played I don’t know how many games in about eight days or 10 days, but it’s a lot of games it seems like,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “And to have the legs to be able to do what they’re doing and put the game away is pretty good.”
The Spurs, who were without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge, got 14 points each from Bryn Forbes and Derrick White. They lost for the fifth time in six games as they fight for a playoff spot.
“Everybody tries to be the best they can be by playoff time and that will be our goal, too,” Popovich said. “(We want) to be in the playoffs and to be as good as we can possibly be no matter what the circumstances are.”
San Antonio scored four quick points in the fourth quarter to get within 15. But Houston responded with the next eight points, with the last five from Chris Paul, to make it 99-76 and end Paul’s night with about 8 minutes remaining.
Paul, who finished with 18 points and nine assists, wowed the crowd in that stretch, crossing over Forbes before sinking a basket and then knocking down a 3-pointer on Houston’s next trip down the court.
The Rockets were up by 10 early in the third quarter before using a 7-3 run, capped by a 3 from Trevor Ariza, to make it 61-47 with about 9 1/2 minutes left in the quarter before the big Harden-fueled run put the game out of reach.
AP source: Dolphins discuss cutting 5-time Pro Bowler Suh
The Miami Dolphins appear ready to move on without their defensive anchor.
Miami is discussing releasing five-time Pro Bowl tackle Ndamukong Suh when the NFL’s new year begins Wednesday, a person familiar with the situation said Monday. The person said nothing has been finalized, and confirmed the conversations to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins have not commented.
The Dolphins are also expected to release veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons, the person said.
Suh’s release is anticipated unless he agrees to a significant contract restructuring, which is unlikely. He signed a $114 million, six-year deal with the Dolphins when he joined them in 2015, and his base salary this year would be $17 million.
“Stay tuned,” Suh said in a video posted on Twitter. “There will be some exciting news going on.”
The 305-pound Suh clogs the middle and usually draws double teams, but he’s not a playmaker and has had only 15+ sacks in three years with Miami. He has a reputation for needless penalties and dirty play, while his aloof personality raised questions about his leadership.
His anticipated departure would be the latest move in an attempt to change the locker room culture under Adam Gase, who heads into his third season as coach.
Running back Jay Ajayi was traded last season, and receiver Jarvis Landry was traded last week. Gase clashed at times with both.
And then there’s Timmons. He joined the Dolphins a year ago, went AWOL on the eve of the opener, was briefly suspended and returned to have a poor season.
Bills swap 1st-round picks and trade tackle Glenn to Bengals
The Buffalo Bills put themselves in a better position to fill a big need at quarterback in the draft. The Cincinnati Bengals added much-needed protection for their own franchise quarterback, Andy Dalton. .The Bills moved up nine spots in the draft by swapping first-round picks with the Bengals, who also acquired high-priced left tackle Cordy Glenn in a trade Monday, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.The person spoke to The AP on the condition of anonymity because teams are not allowed to announce trades until the NFL’s new business year opens Wednesday. Buffalo moved up to the No. 12 spot in the draft by trading the first of its two opening-round selections, 21st overall. The Bills also have the No. 22 pick. Buffalo also traded its fifth-round pick (158th overall) for the Bengals’ sixth-round selection (187th) as part of the Bills’ second major trade in three days. On Friday, Buffalo traded starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland for a third-round pick. The moves helped place the Bills in a position to use one of their first-round picks to draft a quarterback. The Bills have the assets to move up even higher in the draft order by having two picks in each of the first three rounds. Nathan Peterman, a fifth-round pick last year, is the only quarterback on the roster. General manager Brandon Beane has said he intends to land a franchise quarterback through either the draft, a trade or in free agency. Beane has paid close attention to what is considered a top-heavy draft class of quarterbacks. He has said he planned to meet with all the draft-eligible quarterback prospects. The offensive line is Cincinnati’s biggest focus in the offseason. The offense finished last in the league in large measure because its line couldn’t protect Dalton or open holes for the running backs. The Bengals ranked 20th in allowing 40 sacks and 31st in yards rushing last year. Cedric Ogbuehi took over at left tackle after Andrew Whitworth was allowed to leave as a free agent a year ago. Andre Smith was signed from Minnesota to play right tackle, which was Ogbuehi’s spot. The arrangement didn’t work. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander was fired after the season, indicating an overhaul was coming on the line. Glenn has been a Bills starter since being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft. He was limited to six games last year due to a left-foot injury that eventually required surgery. He also hurt his right ankle.
Denver Broncos defensive end faces rape charge in Atlanta
Denver Broncos defensive end Adam Gotsis has been charged with rape in Atlanta. An incident report says a 30-year-old woman went to Atlanta police headquarters on Feb. 1 and told an investigator Gotsis had raped her on March 9, 2013. The woman said she went to a party with Gotsis and then he took her to his home and raped her. The Broncos said in a statement Monday that they were aware of allegations of an incident that allegedly happened when Gotsis was in college. Gotsis played football at Georgia Tech. The team says it takes accusations of this nature very seriously and will monitor the legal proceedings. Police said Gotsis turned himself in March 7. Fulton County jail records show Gotsis was released that day on $50,000 bond.
Venus beats Serena 6-3, 6-4 in third round at Indian Wells
Venus Williams defeated younger sister Serena 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday night, her first win in the sibling rivalry since 2014.
It was the sisters’ earliest meeting since a 17-year-old Venus beat 16-year-old Serena in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open. They played Monday night for the first time since last year’s Australian Open final, when a pregnant Serena won her 23rd Grand Slam title.
Venus closed out the 1 1/2-hour match on her second match point when Serena’s forehand service return sailed long. It was one of Serena’s 41 unforced errors, including 17 on the forehand side.
“I’m just lucky that I’ve played more matches than her right now,” Venus said on court afterward. “She just came roaring back. I had chances for the match to be over, but it wasn’t.”
Venus broke Serena at love in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead in the first set. She emphatically closed out the 36-minute set with back-to-back aces that clocked 108 mph and 120 mph.
“I definitely know her well, but she definitely played a little bit better than she normally does,” Serena said. “She served very consistently. She just did everything great.”
Venus raced out to leads of 3-0 and 5-2 in the second set. Serena’s shot went wide to set up her sister’s first match point. But Serena cracked a backhand winner down the line for deuce. Venus’ forehand was long and she double-faulted away the game to make it 5-3.
Serena held at 5-4 with an ace and a clean winner.
Venus faced two break points in the next game, but got bailed out on Serena’s two consecutive forehand errors to get to deuce. Venus hung on from there to end their 29th meeting.
“Missing shots that I never miss, and so close,” Serena said. “At least they’re in the margin. I’m getting there. It’s not exactly where I want to be, but I’ll get there eventually.”
Serena still owns a 17-12 advantage overall, although Venus evened their WTA Tour head-to-head meetings at 7-7.
“I really abhor every time we play, but I do enjoy the battle when I’m out there,” Serena said last weekend. “It’s just afterwards I don’t like it as much.”
It was obvious at the net when they greeted each other with a one-arm hug and neither smiled. Venus did her usual victory pirouette, but still didn’t smile.
A stone-faced Serena exited the court to cheers, pointing her right index finger in the air.
Serena was back on the WTA Tour for the first time since ending a 14-month absence during which she gave birth to daughter Alexis Jr. and married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who sat courtside.
Ovechkin reaches 600 goals, Capitals beat Jets in overtime
Make it 600 goals and counting for Alex Ovechkin, and give the Washington Capitals two more points for the tough playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Ovechkin scored twice in another historic performance and Evgeny Kuznetsov had the overtime winner as the Capitals returned to first place by beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Monday night.
The 32-year-old Ovechkin scored during a 5-on-3 power play in the first period and then put back a rebound past Connor Hellebuyck for No. 600 in the second. The Russian winger became the 20th player and fourth-fastest in NHL history to the milestone and is on pace to lead the league in goals for the seventh time with 42 on the season.
“Of course it’s special,” he said. “You can see when I score the goal, everybody tried to find me, everybody tried to look at me. I knew if I’m gonna have another one, I’m gonna score.”
Ovechkin continued a season-long trend of scoring a high volume of goals for the Capitals, who lost significant talent from back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy-winning teams. He has roughly a fifth of Washington’s goals this season and needed to be on his game against Patrik Laine and Winnipeg.
Laine entered with an 11-game point streak and scored his 41st goal of the season to make it 16 in his past 12. Nikolaj Ehlers also scored a 4-on-4 goal for Winnipeg, which got 40 saves from Connor Hellebuyck.
But everyone was left in awe of the great Ovechkin, who could become the first player age 32 or older to lead the NHL in goals since Phil Esposito in 1974-75.
“I’m sure one day we’ll look at it and get perspective on it,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. “But it’s all a part of this process and he’s not fazed by it. He said the other day 40’s good but 50’s nicer and he’s going to get 50 goals. You can just tell he’s very, very determined and he is a historic player.”
Ovechkin joined Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull as the only players to score 600 in fewer than 1,000 games. He said his wife, Nastya, who just returned from a weeklong trip to Moscow, had a feeling he would accomplish the feat against the Jets.