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  • 12/02/12--16:34: Packers 23, Vikings 14
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Packers find way despite Peterson

    GREEN BAY, Wis. — If any more receivers go down, the Packers could always use Morgan Burnett.

    With Minnesota rolling behind Adrian Peterson, the safety picked off Christian Ponder twice in the red zone in the second half. Mason Crosby converted the miscues into two field goals, and James Starks gave Green Bay its first touchdown on the ground in almost two months as the Packers overcame Peterson's 210 yards rushing, a total that included an 82-yard touchdown.

    "I thought Morgan Burnett's interception in the third quarter in the end zone (with Green Bay trailing 14-10) was the key play of game," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, whose team got a share of the NFC North lead after Chicago lost to Seattle in overtime.

    "I can't say there are many Seattle fans in the locker room," QB Aaron Rodgers said, "but we appreciate the help." The Packers lost in Seattle this year on a controversial TD call that helped end the league's lockout of officials.

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  • 12/02/12--16:42: Jets 7, Cardinals 6
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Jets third-string QB engineers win

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Jets needed someone to save the game, and possibly their season.

    Tim Tebow was unavailable, so Rex Ryan turned to third-string QB Greg McElroy, who stepped in for struggling Mark Sanchez and energized the Jets and their fans.

    McElroy threw a touchdown pass to cap his first NFL drive early in the fourth quarter, leading New York to an ugly victory and handing Arizona its eighth straight loss.

    Tebow, a former Florida star, was inactive as he heals from two broken ribs. So when Ryan pulled Sanchez late in the third quarter, he turned to McElroy as the crowd at MetLife Stadium cheered wildly.

    "It's tough to kind of gauge the energy," McElroy said, smiling. "Obviously, I didn't have, like, a decibel meter where I could tell what the crowd noise was, but I was excited about getting a shot to get in there."

    McElroy led a 10-play drive, capped by a 1-yard pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland.

    "I'm really happy for the team and really happy for Greg," Sanchez said. "He came in and played his butt off."

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  • 12/02/12--16:47: Texans 24, Titans 10
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Texans happy but not giddy over spot

    NASHVILLE — Coach Gary Kubiak can tell his Texans are maturing as a franchise and as a championship contender with a glance around his locker room.

    This time they acted like they've been in the playoffs before.

    Houston clinched a second straight postseason berth and set a franchise record for wins by beating the Titans to go to 11-1.

    "We're very happy, I can tell you that," Kubiak said. "But I think they expected to get there, and they got there (Sunday). There's a lot more to work on."

    Rookie linebacker Whitney Mercilus recovered a fumble and had two sacks as the Texans remained tied with Atlanta for the league's best record. Houston forced six turnovers, which it turned into 10 points, and had six sacks of Jake Locker.

    The Texans swept the season series from Tennessee, the team they replaced in Houston, for the second time. The Titans debuted offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, but receivers didn't help him by repeatedly dropping balls.

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    By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    NASHVILLE — Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman was so thorough in his prep work for the winter meetings that he even already battled the cold that usually fells him during the annual session of late nights and stale air.

    As Friedman arrives this morning, he should have plenty to talk about, looking to add up to a half-dozen players while holding an enticing surplus of much-desired starting pitching.

    Discussing those possibilities is likely to fill most of his time — and most of the rumors that fly around the vast Opryland hotel — though some will be unrealistic and none may come to fruition.

    But with James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis and Chris Archer among the potential candidates, he has possibilities. And, for what it's worth, in an espn.com survey of 17 scouts, execs and agents, Shields was voted both the player most likely to be traded this week and the human trade rumor.

    And if not this week, then maybe after.

    "The winter meetings is a really good venue to facilitate and further conversations that you're having with agents and teams. It helps to spark conversations along," Friedman said. "We haven't typically done a whole lot at the winter meetings. But we have had a lot of really productive conversations that have manifested themselves into deals after."

    Shields preferred not to discuss the rumors: "It's something I don't want to talk about right now."

    MORE UNKNOWN: As the Rays eventually start adding players, they also need to determine how they deploy some of their returnees.

    Friedman said they remain open on whether to slide Desmond Jennings to centerfield as the replacement for B.J. Upton or keep Jennings in left and find a centerfielder.

    "We have a lot of confidence in Desmond to be an above-average centerfielder, and we have a lot of confidence in Desmond to be a well above-average leftfielder," Friedman said. "We have flexibility there that we value a lot."

    They feel similarly about Ben Zobrist, though it seems likely he'll remain at shortstop with the decision to retain Ryan Roberts as the probable second baseman and many more available outfielders than shortstops.

    Friedman said OF Brandon Guyer is in their plans, but they will be cautious as he is coming off shoulder surgery: "I expect that he'll knock the door down and create another opportunity for himself."

    RUNDOWN: OF Raul Mondesi Jr., the minor-leaguer acquired from Milwaukee on Saturday for RHP Burke Badenhop, is a 20-year-old who has played three pro seasons — two in the Dominican Summer League and last year at the rookie-level Pioneer League — with a career .243 average and .675 on-base plus slugging percentage.

    The son of the former NL All-Star by the same name, Mondesi made somewhat of a name for himself last summer when he hit what looked like a two-run 10th-inning game-tying homer but didn't touch home and was called out. A video is available at tinyurl.com/78bbw9g.

    SOME RELIEF: The Rays have had "some good discussions" about bringing back free-agent RHP Kyle Farnsworth, who has interest in returning, agent Barry Meister said Sunday.

    LOBBY CHATTER: Mets RHP R.A. Dickey stopped by, but to visit with team trainers, not close in on a new contract. … Top free agent OF Josh Hamilton was reported to be in Nashville, awkwardly/conveniently on the same flight as Rangers execs. ESPN's Jim Bowden says the Red Sox are among the interested teams. … Talks involving top free agent RHP Zack Greinke are expected to heat up. … OF Ichiro Suzuki's reps are reportedly reaching out to other teams rather than wait longer on the Yankees. … 1B Mark Reynolds, nontendered by Baltimore, is expected to get interest from several teams, including the Rays.

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  • 12/02/12--16:50: Chiefs 27, Panthers 21
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Somber Chiefs win

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just one day after linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, then committed suicide (story, 5C), the Chiefs banded together to play their finest game of the season, beating the Panthers to end an eight-game losing streak.

    "I'm just trying to get through the rest of today," said the Chiefs' Brady Quinn, who threw his first two touchdown passes in three years.

    Peyton Hillis had a touchdown run for Kansas City. Ryan Succop hit two field goals, including a 52-yarder with 4:54 left that forced the Panthers to try for a touchdown to steal the win. Instead, they went three-and-out, and the Chiefs ran out enough clock.

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  • 12/02/12--18:09: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 2, 2012


    McDowell Ends 2-year title drought

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Graeme McDowell closed with 4-under 68 Sunday and won the World Challenge by three strokes for his first title in two years.

    "We try not to put winning on a pedestal, but this one feels very sweet because it's been a grind all year," said McDowell, who won for the first time since he beat charity event host Tiger Woods at Sherwood Country Club in 2010.

    McDowell, who finished at 17-under 271, held off Keegan Bradley with a couple of short-game shots on the back nine and finished with a birdie. It was the 10th time in 12 rounds he has shot in the 60s at Sherwood. Bradley closed with 69. Woods shot 71 to tie for fourth.


    Keselowski out to lead growth

    New Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, giving an unscripted speech at Champion's Week in Las Vegas, promised to be a leader in helping grow American motorsports. "As we look into '13, I hope as a sport we can continue to find common ground to unify," he said. "We have some of the smartest people that can solve any problem. As a champion, I want to be your leader, and I want to help you make it happen." Dale Earnhardt Jr. was named National Motor­sports Press Association's most popular driver for a 10th consecutive season, tying Bill Elliott's record.

    Et cetera

    College soccer: Hanna Gardner's goal broke a second-half tie and North Carolina (14-5-3) beat Penn State (21-3-2) 2-1 to claim the NCAA women's College Cup final in San Diego.

    Auctions: Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith sold his 13 consecutive Gold Glove Awards (1980-92) to an anonymous buyer for $519,203, SCP Auctions said. The price includes a 20 percent commission.

    Tennis: Recently retired Andy Roddick beat third-ranked Andy Murray 6-2, 6-3 late Saturday in the Miami Tennis Cup exhibition. Roddick played Nicolas Almagro in Sunday's final.

    Winter sports: American Ted Ligety captured his second straight World Cup giant slalom race, finishing in a combined time of 2 minutes, 25.59 seconds at Beaver Creek, Colo., to hold off Marcel Hirscher by 1.76 seconds. … American Lindsey Vonn completed a sweep of three World Cup races at Lake Louise, Alberta, for the second straight year, winning the super-G in 1:22.82 seconds.

    Times wires

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    Times wires
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — Mark Stoops was introduced Sunday as Kentucky's new football coach and got everyone's attention, saying he believes the Wildcats are capable of winning the SEC title.

    He didn't say it would be easy, but it's not impossible.

    "There are no magic wands," Stoops said at a news conference.

    Kentucky is confident Stoops can rebuild a program that finished its third straight losing season and was 0-8 in the SEC.

    Stoops, the former Florida State defensive coordinator, becomes a head coach for the first time and receives a five-year, $11 million deal. He will begin at Kentucky immediately and will not accompany FSU to its bowl.

    "There's too much work to do at Kentucky, and it's hard to be in two places at once," said Stoops, 45, hired to replace Joker Phillips, who went 13-24.

    Stoops arrived in Lexington less than 18 hours after FSU beat Georgia Tech 21-15 for the ACC title and a berth in the Orange Bowl.

    Stoops is the third and youngest brother from the famed coaching family to lead his own program. Older brother Bob is Oklahoma's coach and Mike, the former coach at Arizona, is the Sooners' defensive coordinator.

    In three seasons as FSU's defensive coordinator the team went from being ranked No. 108 to one of Division I-A's top defensive units. "I'm a defensive guy," Stoops said. "This is the SEC. It's a physical conference. … We have to build this foundation with great defense. … If you don't play great defense, you're not going to win consistently."

    'Mailman' rips La. Tech for blowing bowl bid

    Louisiana Tech will not play in a bowl game after finishing 9-3 and turning down an invitation to play in the Independence Bowl, which has maybe its most famous alumnus up in arms.

    Athletic director Bruce Van De Velde said that Independence Bowl organizers offered a spot in their game on Saturday afternoon, but the Bulldogs had other possible options still available. Van De Velde said he asked the bowl for more time to make a decision but was told by game organizers they could not wait.

    Basketball Hall of Famer Karl Malone ripped his alma mater on Twitter: "I am Bulldog to the core, I am heartbroken and embarrassed that our university would do this to Tech Nation. To our football and staff this … is exactly what is wrong with our university. Now it's time to get former athletes to run our program. I'm (6-foot-9) and not hard to find."

    The Bulldogs finished third in the WAC, which has only one bowl tie-in. That went to champion Utah State. San Jose State, which finished second, will play in the Military Bowl.

    Louisiana Tech said it was in line to play in the Liberty Bowl, but when Oklahoma missed out on the BCS, it caused a chain reaction that pushed Iowa State out of the Heart of Dallas Bowl and into the Liberty Bowl in the Bulldogs' place.

    Tech is leaving the WAC to join Conference USA, which has five bowl tie-ins, next season. The WAC will no longer sponsor football after this season.

    A Petrino to Idaho: Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, brother of fired Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino, was hired as coach at Idaho, ESPN reported. The Vandals were 1-11.

    N.C. State: Coach Dave Doeren, who is leaving bowl-bound Northern Illinois, wanted to go somewhere he could have an impact, saying at his introductory news conference: "It seemed like a place that was very close to getting to the next step. I feel like I can make a difference here." The Wolfpack hasn't won a league title since 1979.

    Purdue: Cincinnati coach Butch Jones interviewed for the Boilermakers' opening but had no offer, several media outlets reported. The Denver Post reported that Colorado is interested in Jones.

    Vanderbilt: Coach James Franklin received another contract after an 8-4 season and a berth in the Music City Bowl. No details were released.

    Virginia: Defensive coordinator Jim Reid was among the four assistants let go from coach Mike London's staff after a 4-8 season. Also, junior quarterback Michael Rocco was released from his scholarship and will transfer. No destination was given.

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  • 12/02/12--18:16: Five potential USF hires
  • By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Willie Taggart, 36, head coach, Western Kentucky: Bradenton Manatee graduate is former Stanford assistant, led WKU to upset at Kentucky and 7-5 record — headed to program's first bowl game at Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl in Detroit. Has recruited state of Florida well from afar.

    Mario Cristobal, 42, head coach, Florida International: Former Hurricanes player and assistant nearly got Rutgers job last year after upsetting Louisville and Central Florida. Panthers took step back in 2012 with disappointing 3-9 mark.

    Mark Snyder, 47, defensive coordinator, Texas A&M. USF's defensive coordinator in 2010-11, Snyder has head coaching experience from his years at Marshall and has first-hand experience working in Woolard's athletic department. A&M has been a national success story in SEC debut, but he's someone Bulls could lure back to Tampa as head coach.

    Dan Quinn, 42, defensive coordinator, Florida. If the best-coach-in-next-best-league strategy didn't work for Doug Woolard with Skip Holtz, the up-and-coming coordinator option might be Quinn, who has more NFL experience than college but has shined in two years running Will Muschamp's defense. Has recruited the Tampa area well in last two years.

    Houston Nutt, 55, former Arkansas and Ole Miss head coach. Nutt spent this season as a studio analyst for CBS Sports, but his name is well-known in the Southeast, having gone 99-74 in his two stops as an SEC head coach.

    Greg Auman, Times staff writer

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    Times staff
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    The players

    USF's players were not allowed to comment, but several tweeted.

    Freshman linebacker Corian Hamilton:

    "All i can say is coach @CoachHoltzUSF taught me more than football, he taught me how to be a good man and one day be a great father. thanks"

    Senior punter Justin Brockhaus-Kann:

    "Love the Holtz family. Never met a more loving & welcoming family. They have strong faith in the Lord so I know they will be fine. Love them"

    Senior linebacker Michael Lanaris:

    "Skip Holtz was and is a great man and a coach. If you don't know him and feel like you gotta bash him, prepare to be un-followed."

    Offensive lineman Brynjar Gudmundsson:

    "I don't care to hear any negativity, playing for coach Holtz was a great honor and I'm thankful for everything he did."

    The recruit

    Winter Park's Asiantii Woulard, ESPN's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the nation who had orally committed to USF:

    "I am decommitted from #USF. Keeping options open until things settle but USF is still in the mix."

    The media

    Richard Langford, Bleacher Report:

    It's clear that this move had to be made. The Bulls had a good run in Holtz's first season. They also started off the next season strong by winning their first four. However, they lost seven of their last eight last year, and then there was the disaster that was this season. It is time for a new direction in South Florida.

    Frank Schwab, Yahoo Sports:

    Holtz's move to the Big East looks like a mistake now. Holtz was never able to build the Bulls into a successful program. They went 1-6 in Big East play each of the last two years as the excitement surrounding his hire quickly faded.

    The fan website


    It's a great day to be a Bull. Just 71 days after we put this website up, the powers to be have finally done the right thing and sent Skip packing. He should have been fired weeks ago, but better late than never.

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    By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
    Sunday, December 2, 2012


    Losing coaches don't merely run out of time. In the end, they also run out of hope.

    The faith ebbs away slowly, game after game, loss after loss, silly decision after silly decision, until it is gone. The failures add up, every one of them like another rock in an avalanche. The season becomes a tangle of blown leads and unmet expectations and fourth-quarter field goals in lopsided losses and mysterious clock management and lost direction.

    The program backslides until it is second-class, or worst. Eventually, not even the superiors who hired the coach, the ones who wanted him to succeed, can imagine him changing things.

    Pretty much, that is why USF fired Skip Holtz on Sunday.

    What other choice was there?

    At the end of his third season, USF ran out of ways to believe in Holtz. The Bulls were last in the Big East last year, and last this year, and from the looks of things, it was destined for last next year. And so, in the year that the cheering stopped, USF fired Holtz.

    Today, how can you argue? Even if you supported Holtz, even if you felt that 1,000 days on the job was not a full term, could you argue that he deserved more time?

    Because of his onfield coaching? No, not that. Ask yourself this: Did the Bulls look like a well-coached team? Did they look disciplined? Creative? Did they look like overachievers? Did you see anyone getting better?

    Because of his recruiting? No, not that, either. Holtz never seemed to be able to turn USF into a destination program. There has been a lot of great high school football played in the Tampa Bay area lately, and most of the players involved have one thing in common: They have driven right by the USF campus on their way to elsewhere.

    Because of development? There hasn't been a lot of that lately, either. The Bulls were chocked full of seniors this year, and most of them were better as juniors. Which is why a team loses to Ball State and Temple, and why it gives up 94 points in its last three games.

    By the end of the season, the Bulls no longer looked like a team that was underachieving. It looked like a team that was undertalented, undercoached and undermotivated. It seemed ready to cave at the first sign of trouble. It looked as bad as the bottom-feeder of any conference in America.

    And Holtz? He didn't look good, either. I'll never understand the clock management against Miami and Louisville. I'll never agree with field goals when a team is getting clobbered. It doesn't look inspirational. It looks like surrender. It looks like a desperate plea to clean it up.

    Put it this way: If Holtz had been here six years and had the exact same product, the only question about his firing would be what took athletic director Doug Woolard so long. Yes, there will probably be those who wonder if USF acted rashly. But when three years feels like forever, why wait? When a program is going nowhere, why hang on for the appearance of being patient?

    Granted, a prospective new coach is going to ask about Holtz's three-and-out stopover. But it won't deter many from filling out an application. (Just for fun, wouldn't you love for the administration get one from Jim Leavitt?).

    Who will it be? Aside from the guessing and the hoping, who knows? If I were Woolard, I would look for a relentless recruiter. I would look for energy. I would look for hunger. I would look for someone who thinks it would be silly not to dominate what is left of the Big East.

    Yes, a lot of us thought Holtz was going to be better. At the start, he seemed confident enough, competitive enough, charismatic enough. He talked about national recognition. He talked about reaching the next level.

    So why didn't it happen? Why is USF less of a program today than it was?

    "Sometimes, it just doesn't work out," Woolard said. "I don't know why not."

    Even now, Woolard believes. He talks about facilities and recruiting grounds and regained momentum.

    Much of that, of course, depends on the next guy he hires.

    You know, the guy with the new hope.

    Listen to Gary Shelton weekdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on 98.7-FM the Fan.

    WILLIE J. ALLEN JR.   |   TimesWILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

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  • 12/02/12--18:40: Rams 16, 49ers 13 OT
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Rams barely avoid tying 49ers again

    ST. LOUIS — No way the Rams wanted another tie.

    Greg Zuerlein kicked a 54-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in overtime to lift the Rams past the 49ers, avoiding a second tie in three weeks against the NFC West leaders.

    The rookie's winning kick came after he sent the game into overtime with a 53-yard field goal as time expired in regulation.

    "It's gratifying," defensive end Chris Long said. "I feel for everybody who's come here and really put in the work and bought into what coach (Jeff) Fisher's doing."

    St. Louis got its lone touchdown when rookie Janoris Jenkins returned an errant pitchout by Colin Kaepernick 2 yards for a score. Kaepernick also gave up a safety in the third quarter that cut the 49ers' lead to 10-2 when he was penalized for intentional grounding in the end zone.

    But 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh indicated he'd stick with Kaepernick next week instead of turning back to Alex Smith.

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  • 12/02/12--18:42: Colts 35, Lions 33
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Colts ride Luck to last-second TD

    DETROIT — Andrew Luck was down to his last shot, a final option.

    Luck dropped back, moved up to avoid pressure, tossed a short pass to Donnie Avery, and the receiver raced untouched for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Colts a comeback win over the Lions.

    "You always hesitate throwing the ball not in the end zone, for fear of the clock running out with a guy in bounds," Luck said. "Took the calculated risk that Donnie could get there in the end zone, and he did."

    Luck has more wins (eight) than any rookie quarterback drafted No. 1 overall in the Super Bowl era. Sam Bradford (2010 Rams) and Jim Plunkett (1971 Patriots) had seven wins apiece as rookies.

    The Lions lost their fourth straight, including three in a row at home after leading in the final quarter.

    "This is a tough league for tough people, and we'll find out now who is tough," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said.

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  • 12/02/12--18:45: Magic gets better of Howard
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    LOS ANGELES — Arron Afflalo scored 30, Glen Davis added 23 points and 12 rebounds, and the Magic beat Dwight Howard in its first game against its longtime center, stunning the Lakers 113-103 Sunday night.

    Howard had 21 points and 15 rebounds against his former team, but the rebuilding Magic rallied impressively for a 40-point fourth quarter for just its fourth win in 14 games, ending a three-game skid.

    Orlando did it partly by intentionally fouling Howard, who went 9-for-21 at the line, including 7-for-14 in the fourth quarter.

    Kobe Bryant scored 34 for the Lakers, who dropped to 3-4 under new coach Mike D'Antoni with another inconsistent performance.

    Jameer Nelson had 19 points and 13 assists after nearly sitting out with tendinitis during the Magic's most impressive win under first-year coach Jacque Vaughn.

    Knicks stay hot even after Wallace ejection

    NEW YORK — Rasheed Wallace delivered a hard whack to Luis Scola, then some hard words to the referees.

    These Knicks won't let anybody have it easy at Madison Square Garden, not even the officials.

    Carmelo Anthony scored 34 and New York ran its best home start in 20 years to 7-0, withstanding Wallace's ejection after a mere 1:25 of playing time to beat Phoenix 106-99.

    The Suns had won their previous two at MSG, but the Knicks have finally figured out under coach Mike Woodson that homecourt games are not to be wasted. They are 18-1 in the regular season here since he took over in March.

    "His whole thing when he came in is we're going to protect our home floor. We're going to win every game at home, or we're going to try to win every game, and we're going to go out on the road and compete," center Tyson Chandler said. "His whole thing is we've got to protect our house."

    The Knicks last won seven straight at Madison Square Garden to open a season when they started 9-0 in 1992-93.

    Wallace's technical came after Scola pump-faked and Wallace fouled him, but when Scola continued to drive, Wallace raked down across his arms to prevent a shot. After Goran Dragic missed the free throw, Wallace yelled "Ball don't lie!" — his way of saying the call was proved wrong — and whistled for another technical to pick up his 31st career ejection, most in the league since 1991-92, according to STATS, LLC.

    Around the league: Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio practiced for the first time this season, saying his surgically repaired left knee felt good. There is no timetable for his first game.

    Knicks 106, Suns 99

    PHOENIX (99): Beasley 4-10 0-0 9, Morris 2-6 1-1 6, Gortat 8-11 2-4 18, Dragic 4-9 0-1 9, Brown 6-16 4-5 17, Dudley 3-7 2-3 10, Tucker 5-6 0-0 10, Scola 3-8 3-3 9, Telfair 4-7 1-2 11. Totals 39-80 13-19 99.

    NEW YORK (106): Anthony 11-27 8-8 34, Thomas 1-3 0-0 2, Chandler 6-8 3-4 15, Felton 10-17 0-0 23, Brewer 3-8 1-3 8, Smith 1-11 2-2 4, Novak 4-10 0-0 12, Wallace 0-0 0-0 0, Copeland 4-5 0-0 8, Prigioni 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 40-90 14-17 106.

    Phoenix 20 22 30 27— 99

    New York 24 35 30 17— 106

    3-Point Pho 8-23 (Telfair 2-3, Dudley 2-4, Beasley 1-1, Morris 1-4, Dragic 1-4, Brown 1-6, Tucker 0-1), NY 12-29 (Novak 4-9, Anthony 4-10, Felton 3-6, Brewer 1-2, Smith 0-2). RebsPho 52 (Gortat 10), NY 48 (Chandler 13). AssistsPho 21 (Dragic 5), NY 21 (Felton 7). Total FoulsPho 23, NY 13. TechnicalsBeasley, Wallace 2. Ejected— Wallace. A19,033 (19,763).

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  • 12/02/12--18:48: Seahawks 23, Bears 17
  • Times wires
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    CHICAGO — His team desperate for a road win, Russell Wilson had a message before overtime.

    This is it, this is the season.

    If the Seahawks didn't save it, they sure gave their playoff hopes a boost.

    Wilson threw two late touchdowns, connecting with Sidney Rice for a 13-yard score with 7:33 left in overtime to lift the Seahawks to a wild 23-17 victory over the Bears on Sunday.

    "He's just so beautifully poised and so confident that it gives himself a chance to play at this level," coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson.

    Unbeaten in five home games, Seattle finally won its second road game in six tries and knocked off the NFC North leader.

    "I just told the guys, 'This is what the season comes down to, right here and right now,'" Wilson said.

    A 97-yard touchdown drive late in regulation gave the Seahawks a lead that didn't last, and they won it on Rice's catch after Chicago's Robbie Gould sent it into overtime with a field goal.

    Seattle leads the NFC wild-card chase and, despite its frequent struggles on the road has won three in a row in the regular season at Soldier Field.

    Seattle led late in regulation on rookie Wilson's 14-yard pass to Golden Tate, only to watch Gould boot a 46-yard field goal as time expired.

    The Seahawks won the coin toss and started with the ball on their 20. They ended this one with one final flourish.

    Rice hauled in a pass from Wilson and took a shoulder-to-helmet hit from Major Wright that jarred the ball loose and appeared to knock the receiver unconscious as he lunged into the end zone. Rice stayed down for several minutes but eventually walked off, and he insisted afterward he was alert the whole time.

    "(Medical personnel) rushed out on the field because I had a couple of concussions before, so they just wanted to make sure everything was fine," he said.

    The touchdown was upheld after a review.

    Bears coach Lovie Smith clearly was furious.

    "Terrible job I did getting our football team ready," he said. "I thought we were ready to go. Some decisions I made really hurt us early on."

    He was particularly upset at himself for going for it on fourth and 1 at the 15 early in the second quarter rather than have Gould try a field goal with Chicago up 7-0.

    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    Times wires
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Senior guard Alexa Deluzio had 22 points off the bench, helping the Florida State women overcome a sloppy performance in a 70-54 victory over Charlotte on Sunday.

    The Seminoles improved to 7-0 for the third time in school history and have won seven in a row by double figures for the second time. They didn't make it easy on themselves, committing a season-high 22 turnovers and shooting a season-worst 41 percent from the field, though 50 percent after halftime.

    "This is our first true road game," coach Sue Semrau said. "I knew it was going to be a different feel. It took us a while to adjust. It's good for us to get this under our belt and find a way to win."

    Top 25

    NO. 1 STANFORD 69, GONZAGA 41: Chiney Ogwumike had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the visiting Cardinal (8-0), which held the Bulldogs to 25 percent shooting from the field.

    NO. 4 DUKE 77, NO. 10 CAL 63: Tricia Liston scored 22 for the Blue Devils (6-0), who buried the Bears (6-1) with a 22-2 first-half run and won for the 65th time in 67 home games.

    NO. 6 PENN ST. 101, FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON 44: Maggie Lucas scored 24 for the host Lions (6-1), who used a 43-11 run over the last 13 minutes of the first half to take control and rebounded from their first loss.

    NO. 9 KENTUCKY 48, NO. 7 LOUISVILLE 47: Janee Thompson scored 13, including a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left, and the visiting Wildcats (6-1) erased a 14-point deficit by holding the Cardinals (8-1) without a field goal for the final 4:54.

    NO. 8 GEORGIA 60, GA. TECH 50: Jasmine Hassell scored 22 for the visiting Bulldogs (9-0), who held the Yellow Jackets to 30 percent shooting.

    NO. 12 OKLAHOMA 68, MARIST 55: Aaryn Ellenberg had 18 points and Whitney Hand added 13 rebounds for the host Sooners (7-1), who finished the game on a 17-5 run and won their sixth straight.

    NO. 14 PURDUE 87, C. MICH. 71: Sam Ostarello had 23 points and nine rebounds and KK Houser added 19 points and five assists for the host Boilermakers (7-1).

    NO. 16 TENN. 102, NO. 22 UNC 57: Meighan Simmons had a career-high 33 points to top 1,000 for her career, and the host Vols (6-1) trounced the Tar Heels (7-1) for their sixth straight win.

    NO. 19 UCLA 86, LMU 66: Markel Walker had 17 points to lead five players in double figures and added 10 rebounds for the host Bruins (4-1), who had a season-high 55 rebounds.

    NO. 20 KANSAS 65, MINNESOTA 53: Carolyn Davis scored 20 on 8-of-11 shooting, helping the host Jayhawks (7-0) rally in the second half.

    NO. 23 DAYTON 65, ARIZ. ST. 59: Ally Malott scored 20 for the Flyers (9-0), who rallied from a 40-28 halftime deficit in the championship game of the ASU Classic in Tempe, Ariz.

    NO. 25 W. VA. 54, VIRGINIA 47: Christal Caldwell scored 17 of her 19 in the second half to rally the visiting Mountaineers (4-2).

    Sad win for Billikens

    ST. LOUIS — Dwayne Evans scored 17 and Jordair Jett 14 to lead Saint Louis to a 62-49 victory over Valparaiso a day after former coach Rick Majerus, 64, died at a Los Angeles hospital from heart failure. "Coach dedicated his life to basketball," Evans said. "I can't think of a better tribute than to get a win."

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    By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Worst loss

    Somehow there was a notion among some Bucs followers that losing Sunday at Denver wouldn't be all that devastating to the team, that maybe it could afford a loss.

    For starters, it's a ridiculous suggestion that any team hanging out in the neighborhood of .500 this late in the season can afford to give away games. But Sunday's loss turned out to be especially damaging after the Seahawks pulled off an upset in Chicago. Bet you didn't see that coming.

    The Seahawks are 7-5 and lead the Bucs by a game for the last playoff spot in the NFC. With three home games left and a relatively soft schedule, the Seahawks can easily reach 10 victories. If that happens, the Bucs would have to win their last four to reach 10, and even then tiebreakers might go Seattle's way. Plus, we haven't even started talking about other teams that could get in the Bucs' way, such as the Redskins.

    Sunday was a bad day. The playoff hopes are not completely toast, but the Bucs really couldn't afford Sunday's loss and likely can't afford even one more.

    Biggest hole

    The Bucs have faced five mediocre quarterbacks: Cam Newton (twice), Brady Quinn, Carson Palmer, Christian Ponder and Philip Rivers. They went 6-0 against those guys.

    They have faced six good to great quarterbacks: Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and now Peyton Manning. They went 0-6 in those games.

    Is there any question that pass defense, especially cornerback, is the No. 1 priority in the offseason?

    Grim fact of the day

    With the Vikings losing Sunday to drop to 6-6, the Bucs have not beaten a team that currently has a winning record.

    Three things that popped into my head

    1. The Bucs ran out of time, but give coach Greg Schiano credit for managing the scoreboard, reading the clock, kicking field goals, using his timeouts wisely and doing everything within his power to give the Bucs a chance in the final minutes. This game turned out much closer than it really should have been.

    2. Is Bucs RB Doug Martin wearing down? In the past two games, he carried the ball 39 times, and his average per carry was a mere 2.7 yards. In his first 10 games, the rookie was averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

    3. When it comes to the victory formation, maybe the Bucs just like to go after Mannings.

    Final thought

    It would be easy to jump all over the Bucs, but come on, did anyone outside of those who have their checks signed by a Glazer really think Tampa Bay could win in Denver?

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    By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Strongest comments

    The story of the weekend was the tragedy in Kansas City, Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shooting and killing the mother of his child and then driving to Arrowhead Stadium and killing himself.

    The NFL made the decision to play Sunday's Chiefs-Panthers game as scheduled, and it appears the league took its cue from the Chiefs, who wanted to go forward with the game.

    Was it the right call? Personally, I don't think so. This is bigger than the Chiefs. Out of respect for Kasandra Perkins, the 22-year-old woman killed, as well as sending a message that some things should take precedence over football, I think the league should have postponed the game until a later date.

    Then again, I'm not a Kansas City player, and I didn't lose anyone close to me Saturday.

    Many analysts weighed in on the topic Sunday, but no one was more compelling that ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown analyst and former player Cris Carter:

    "One of my best friends, my roommate Jerome Brown, died in a car accident (in 1992). Philadelphia Eagle, great player, great person. … I was in the league (for) 9/11, and I didn't think we should play. And we didn't play.

    "Then I also had Korey Stringer, who got dressed in a locker next to me, went on the practice field and died (with the Vikings in 2001). And I didn't think we could play. My football team went from the NFC championship to … 5-11.

    "So at some point, something has to happen where life is bigger than football. And I don't think they should play today because I don't think the guys emotionally know what they're dealing with. … When they get off that football field, that problem is still there."

    Best addition

    Turns out, the David Beckham experiment was a success.

    When the international soccer star came to the United States to play Major League Soccer for the L.A. Galaxy six years ago, there was plenty of skepticism about the impact he could have. Well, as he leaves after six years, soccer still comes nowhere close to matching the popularity in this country of the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball, and it never will. But there's no question Major League Soccer is more popular now than before Beckham's arrival. The television ratings on ESPN/ESPN2 this year were the best in the league's history.

    Meantime, ESPN pointed out these numbers:

    The number of MLS teams increased from 12 to 19 during Beckham's time. The number of soccer-only stadiums went from four to 13. The average salary of an MLS player went from about $85,000 to $179,000, and the average attendance for MLS games went from 15,904 to 18,807.

    Most attractive team

    NBC's Sunday Night Football had a chance to flex out of Sunday night's game between the Eagles and Cowboys but decided to stick with the game, even though both teams had a losing record.

    Why didn't NBC switch? Because it was the Cowboys.

    NBC's Al Michaels told the Dallas Morning News, "The Cowboys are a brand like no other,'' and CBS's Jim Nantz said, "If I could pick one team today to play in our Super Bowl at the end of the season, from a business perspective, it would still be the Cowboys."

    Worst comment

    After Saturday's SEC Championship Game, Georgia coach Mark Richt was asked if he had any response to those who think Richt and quarterback Aaron Murray don't rise to the occasion in big games.

    Richt acted as if he didn't understand the question. The question was repeated, Richt again dodged it, and the news conference ended. Richt left but then returned to the stage and said anybody who didn't think Murray and the Bulldogs didn't play hard was "crazy.''

    For starters, the question had nothing to do with Georgia's effort. It was about Georgia's inability to win big games. And you know what? Richt knows that.

    Richt then closed his quick rant by saying, "That's unbelievable somebody would even bring that up.''

    That clip was shown on ESPN, and anchor John Buccigross said at its end, "I agree.''

    I almost fell out of my chair. I can't believe Buccigross, as a supposed journalist, would have an issue with someone asking a question that was on everyone's mind. And just a few moments earlier, Buccigross' on-air partner, Rod Gilmore, had mentioned Georgia's struggles in signature games.

    I've always been a fan of Buccigross, but for him to say he agreed with Richt was not only outside of his role as an objective anchor, it was the opposite of what a credible journalist should have done.

    Not only was the question of Richt legitimate, it was commendable.

    Most annoying

    I find it annoying that the Spurs and their followers complain that they and their coach, Gregg Popovich, never get enough credit for being a marquee team and then Popovich last week sits the Spurs' three big stars for a marquee game against the defending NBA champs.

    First, does Popovich expect us to believe a coach as skilled as he is can't figure out a way to rest his stars over the next five months? He can't rest them for practices and instead thinks they need a game off in November? Really?

    And one more thing involving this idea the Spurs don't get enough attention: Maybe they would get more if Popovich didn't act like a horse's rear every time someone tries to interview him.

    Worst pregame decision

    What in the world was CBS thinking by waiting five minutes into its NFL Today pregame show Sunday before bringing up the murder-suicide involving Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher? Worse, the tragedy didn't come up until after CBS plugged a sponsor that makes GPS devices and the cast of analysts talked about the playoff picture. It was about as bad of an opening five minutes I can remember on an NFL pregame show.

    Three things that popped into my head

    1. USF's football program is a mess, and the Big East has become a second-tier conference. If I'm a young, up-and-coming coach, I'm not sure I'm interested in being the next head coach of the Bulls. What's worse: If I'm a hot shot high school star, I'm not sure I'm interested in playing at USF for the same reasons.

    2. Did you see Georgia Tech's offense against FSU in Saturday night's ACC Championship Game? How, in this day and age of college football, can a program be so completely incapable of a forward pass?

    3. I expected the NFL Network to have much more coverage Saturday of the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide. If such a thing happened in baseball, the MLB Network likely would have gone to round-the-clock coverage. That's why ESPN and ESPNews were the places for information Saturday.

    Getty ImagesGetty Images

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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    The Lightning's Jeff Vinik has not participated in negotiations with the players association on a new collective bargaining agreement.

    That changes Tuesday when he and five other owners meet in New York with a select group of locked-out players in an attempt to spark the stalled talks.

    "I'm happy he's going," Tampa Bay captain Vinny Lecavalier said Sunday after the meeting was announced. "He's a guy who will listen and talk and have a conversation and see where things go."

    So far things have gone poorly.

    Games are canceled through Dec. 14, as are the Jan. 1 Winter Classic and Jan. 27 All-Star Game. Two days of mediation last week failed to break deadlocks about how to split $3.3 billion of revenue, team revenue sharing and player contract rules.

    No formal negotiations are scheduled. So if the meeting, a day before the NHL's board of governors gets together, "can help out, then great," Lecavalier said. "At least we're trying to do something to get things going."

    The meeting is not expected to be a negotiating session but an exchange of ideas. Commissioner Gary Bettman and players association executive director Donald Fehr will not participate, though deputy commissioner Bill Daly and union special counsel Steve Fehr are expected to be in the room.

    Boston's Jeremy Jacobs, considered the most hawkish owner, also will attend, along with Pittsburgh's Ron Burkle, Calgary's Murray Edwards, Winnipeg's Mark Chipman and Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum. Vinik, who was not available for comment, is believed to be a moderate who wants a season played.

    The union has not announced its participants. Lightning right wing B.J. Crombeen, part of the negotiating committee, said "a long list of players" wants to participate, including Tampa Bay star Marty St. Louis.

    "We hope that this meeting will be constructive and lead to a dialog that will help us find a way to reach an agreement," Donald Fehr said in a statement.

    Said Lecavalier: "A guy like Mr. Vinik who listens well, I think it's going to help the process."

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    Orlando Sentinel
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    After losing the Conference USA title game to Tulsa on Saturday, Central Florida knew it was going to the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.

    The Knights hoped to play a Big East opponent. But Sunday, they learned they will face Ball State, from the MAC, Dec. 21 at Tropicana Field.

    The Beef 'O' Brady's bowl has an agreement with the Big East. But the conference had only five bowl-eligible teams for its six slots. Connecticut's loss to Cincinnati on Saturday left it 5-7, sent Pittsburgh to the Compass Bowl and opened up a spot for an at-large team.

    "Ball State is a hot team right now, winning six straight," bowl executive director Brett Dulaney said; "including a road win over conference foe Toledo, which was ranked in the Top 25 at the time."

    UCF coach George O'Leary was preparing for a recruiting trip and unavailable for comment.

    The Cardinals are 9-3, their best season since 12-2 in 2008 under current Michigan coach Brady Hoke. It's only the sixth time in the program's 89-year history it has won nine or more games. And the combined record of the teams Ball State lost to is 33-5 (10-2 Clemson, 11-2 Kent State and 12-1 Northern Illinois).

    One win came over USF, 31-27 in Muncie, Ind., when Keith Wenning hit Willie Snead for a 19-yard touchdown with 1:02 left. Wenning, a junior, has thrown for 2,878 yards, 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Snead has team highs of 82 catches, 1,070 yards and seven touchdown catches.

    Ball State is 0-5 in bowls. Its last one was the January 2009 GMAC, a 45-13 loss to Tulsa.

    "Our program is extremely pleased to be representing the MAC," Pete Lembo, 14-9 in his two seasons as Cardinals coach, said in a statement released by Ball State.

    "We have had an outstanding season and are looking forward to allowing the fans of Florida and our fans across the country to see our exciting team.

    UCF lost two of its three games against Ball State when it was in the MAC from 2002-04. They last met Nov. 13, 2004, when Ball State rallied for a 21-17 victory at home.

    Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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    Times staff
    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Bucs coach Greg Schiano, on rushing for only 71 yards:

    "I'm not sure you can judge it off (Sunday's) situation because when you get behind like that, you don't run it at all."

    Schiano on the Bucs' 11 penalties, which went for 80 yards:

    "Some of our guys would say to me, 'I don't think I did anything.' But they're not calling them for their health. I mean, we did something."

    Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, on the running-game problems hurting the offense:

    "The bottom line is execution. There was a little span in there where we weren't executing. At the same time, the guys on the other side, they were rolling."

    Bucs running back Doug Martin, on the team's struggles in the second half:

    "I just have to tip my hat to their defense. They did a good job containing our offense. I just have to go back and just get better."

    Broncos coach John Fox, on the Bucs going after quarterback Peyton Manning on his kneel-down:

    "We were prepared for it. We saw it. It is what it is."

    Manning, on Broncos fans doing the wave during the second half:

    "I'm all for excitement. But certainly, in a no-huddle offense when you are calling something at the line, the quieter the crowd can be, it certainly is helpful. But I appreciate the spirit, so I don't want to tame that at all."

    Manning, on scoring just seven points in the first half:

    "I really felt like there were some opportunities there. We had some self-inflicted penalties, some mistakes we thought were hurting us. (Tampa Bay) has an excellent defense, but we thought we were doing some things to make it a little tougher."

    Bucs linebacker Adam Hayward, on Manning:

    "It was tough on the defense. What we try to do is disguise and give him different situations, but he's good. He knows what he is looking for and knows what he wants when he gets to the line. That guy is good, I give him all the credit. He sits at the line and checks over and over and all these different things and gets them in the best situation."

    Broncos defensive tackle Mitch Unrein, on why he didn't do a dance after his first-quarter TD catch:

    "I have two left feet, as they say. I can two-step a little bit — country dance. It all happened so fast, I didn't know what to do."

    Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, on catching two touchdowns against the Bucs' secondary:

    "We saw some things in games they played earlier. They had one of their good corners (Eric Wright) suspended. We saw some stuff on film from games earlier in the season we knew we could take advantage of."

    Broncos linebacker Von Miller, on his interception return for a touchdown:

    "I think Freeman saw me at the last second, and I was able to get my hands on it and get it into the end zone. Great blocking by my teammates, too."

    Pat Yasinskas, ESPN.com:

    For the second straight week, the Bucs got to the corner and couldn't quite turn it. There's no question the Bucs are on the right path, but this was another game in which they showed they're not ready to beat a good team. But they're close."

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