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    By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    Tampa Bay fans may not have much rooting interest in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, but they will have reason to pay attention as four key Rays were named to their national teams.

    Infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist is set to play for Team USA, catcher Jose Molina for Puerto Rico and relievers Fernando Rodney and Joel Peralta for the Dominican Republic, based on provisional rosters released Thursday.

    All are expected to report to Port Charlotte when the Rays open camp in mid February then leave at the end of month to join their national teams to prep for the March 7-19 tourney.

    "It's an incredible honor," Zobrist said on a conference call. "For me, it's one of my career goals, my career dreams is to be able to play for Team USA in the WBC. … It's just such a distinct honor to represent your country in any way, especially a country like ours."

    Though the Rays have never seemed comfortable with the WBC process — especially involving starting pitchers — they are understanding.

    "It's one of those things that certainly helps advance the game," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "There are certain times when we have to think beyond the narrow scope of the Tampa Bay Rays."

    Though four key players (plus minor-league infielder Leonardo Reginatto for Brazil) will miss a chunk of spring training, it could have been more. Ace David Price said he wouldn't be ready in time to pitch for Team USA (full roster, 6C), and third baseman Evan Longoria is unavailable due to his hamstring surgery.

    Zobrist, who has plotted changes in his offseason workouts to get his swing up to game speed earlier, said he was excited about the camaraderie and the competition. Not so much facing Peralta or Rodney.

    "I wouldn't be looking forward to that," he said. "I know how good they are."

    Also:

    • Negotiations with arbitration eligibles Sam Fuld, Matt Joyce, Jeff Niemann and Ryan Roberts can continue until the exchange of figures today at 1 p.m. Settlements usually happen. If not, under team policy, they cease talks and proceed to a hearing next month.

    • Senior adviser Don Zimmer, who turned 82 Thursday, will make only limited appearances in spring training. Zimmer said he is feeling good but is concerned about the complications of relocating his home dialysis equipment to Port Charlotte so instead will make occasional day trips.

    BoSox-Napoli deal: The Red Sox and catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli agreed to shorten their deal to one year for $5 million, according to multiple reports. Napoli initially agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal in December, but the team discovered an issue with his hip. Also, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia agreed to a $4.5 million, one-year deal.

    Rangers lock up all-star: The Rangers finalized a $55 million, five-year contract with All-Star left-hander Matt Harrison. The deal includes a 2018 club option.

    Astros: Outfielder Rick Ankiel, 33, agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

    Brewers: Outfielder Carlos Gomez agreed to a $4.3 million, one-year contract.

    Orioles: Manager Buck Showalter and vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette signed extensions through 2018.

    Yankees: Reliever Joba Chamberlain agreed to a one-year contract worth $1,875,000. … Third baseman Alex Rodriguez had relatively minimal cartilage damage in his left hip during surgery this week, the Associated Press reported.

    Information from Times wires was used in this report.


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  • 01/17/13--18:36: McIlroy, Woods falter early
  • Times wires
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — With Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods struggling, fifth-ranked Justin Rose and unheralded Jamie Donaldson had 5-under 67s Thursday for a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

    McIlroy, playing with new clubs following his multimillion dollar sponsorship deal with Nike, finished with 3-over 75 and risks missing the cut in the PGA Europe event. Woods shot par 72.

    Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark and Pablo Larrazabal of Spain were at 68.

    McIllroy repeatedly missed fairways, including a shot on his 12th that hit a tree and ended up in a parking lot, leading to one of his two double bogeys. His other came when he muffed a chip in thick rough on his par-3 6th. He missed a par putt on his 17th and a birdie putt on the 18th.

    The top-ranked McIlroy said his difficulties had more to do with rusty strokes than the new equipment. The 2012 European Tour and PGA Tour money winner seemed resigned to adjusting to the new Nike clubs.

    "When you go out and you've got new stuff, you are going to be a little anxious and hopefully you play well," he said. "But I guess I can learn from it and move on and go into (today) and try and play a bit better. It's about playing yourself into the weekend."

    Woods, who was paired with McIlroy, finished a roller-coaster round after "grinding it out." The 14-time major winner had four birdies and four bogeys and ended his round by three-putting his 18th for bogey when he hit the second putt too hard.

    "I'm still right there," said the second-ranked Woods, who was five shots behind the leaders. "There's not a lot of guys going low out there. These fairways are tiny to begin with, but there are a lot of crosswinds."

    Rose said it was too early to make much of his lead, even if he did outplay the biggest names: "I'd be reticent to say I've looked at what they have done and what they have scored and take it and put any value to it.''

    pga: Phil Mickelson opened his season with an erratic par-72 in the Humana Challenge, leaving him nine strokes behind the first-round leaders in La Quinta, Calif. Recovering from the flu, Mickelson had three birdies, a bogey and double bogey at La Quinta Country Club, one of three courses used in the pro-am event. Jason Kokrak, Roberto Castro and James Hahn topped the leaderboard at 9-under 63. Kokrak had two eagles and five birdies at La Quinta, Castro had nine birdies at PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Private Course, and Hahn had nine birdies on PGA West's Arnold Palmer Private Course. "My timing and rhythm was off a little bit," Mickelson said. "My putter was atrocious.''

    NEW ROLE FOR WADKINS: Lanny Wadkins will debut as the Golf Channel lead analyst for the Champions Tour today at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii. He was lead analyst for CBS Sports from 2002 to 2006.


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  • 01/17/13--18:45: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    Colleges

    FAMU TO FIRE BASEBALL COACH over allegations

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida A&M has moved to fire baseball coach Willie Brown, who was accused by the university of harassing a walk-on infielder for his sexual orientation.

    Vanard Williams II was cut by Brown and filed his allegations Nov. 20.

    FAMU attorney Avery McKnight said in a statement Thursday that employment action is under way to dismiss Brown. He said more information could not be released in a case where sexual harassment is alleged.

    Brown's attorney, Steve Andrews, called the charges bogus and threatened to file a defamation suit against FAMU. Andrews said he has affidavits from players who say no player was treated differently.

    Some witnesses said they believed Brown was trying to be funny. One question they were asked was whether Brown told Williams he would dress him in a bra and panties.

    Former Rattler Kevin Clethen has handled the team since Brown was put on paid leave in November.

    Penn state: The NCAA said it has no immediate plans to spend the $12 million paid to it as part of sanctions against the university over its handling of child sex abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. The fate of that money — and the rest of the $60 million Penn State owes the NCAA — is the subject of two legal challenges. On Wednesday, a judge put on hold state Sen. Jake Corman's request for an injunction barring the NCAA from spending the money.

    Et cetera

    Soccer: Louisville defender Andrew Farrell was selected by the New England Revolution with the top pick in Major League Soccer's draft. The 20-year-old was a first-team All-American last season. New England acquired the top pick from Toronto on Wednesday. Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez went No. 2, to Chivas USA. The rest of the top 10: 3. Toronto, Kyle Bekker, M, Boston College; 4. Vancouver, Kekuta Manneh, F, Austin Aztex (PDL); 5. Vancouver, Erik Hurtado, F, Santa Clara; 6. Colorado, Deshorn Brown, F, UCF; 7. Dallas, Walker Zimmerman, D, Furman; 8. Montreal, Blake Smith, M, New Mexico; 9. Columbus, Ryan Finley, F, Notre Dame; 10. Seattle, Eriq Zavaleta, F, Indiana.

    skiing: Olympic champion Hannah Kearney returned to the moguls World Cup circuit with a win in the ASANA Freestyle Cup at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, N.Y. Kearney missed the first two World Cup races after fracturing two ribs while training in October.

    Times wires


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    Times wires
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    BALTIMORE — New England's pass defense has improved greatly entering Sunday's AFC title game. One reason, Baltimore says, is CB Aqib Talib, who was acquired from the Bucs on Nov. 1.

    Talib has just one interception and two pass breakups over eight games. But after surrendering an average of 285.3 yards, a 66.1 completion percentage and 19 touchdowns over its first nine games, New England trimmed those numbers to 253.4 yards, 57.3 percent and 10 touchdowns.

    "He's a very, very skilled and talented performer," Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said Thursday. "He's a very confident player. He's challenged the best in the league."

    WR Torrey Smith might see a lot of Talib after catching two touchdowns last week against Denver. Even though he has never faced Talib, Smith said his reputation precedes him.

    "He is a great corner. He is a playmaker," Smith said. "It will be a nice challenge for us."

    By the way … : When the euphoria of the Ravens' overtime win over the Broncos dissipated, members of their special teams unit were left with another emotion: anger. That's not surprising considering Denver's Trindon Holliday became the first player in NFL history to return a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in a playoff game.

    "Everybody was upset," Ravens FS Sean Considine said. "We let the team down. But fortunately … we made it up in other areas. Being a core special teams guy, I want to make sure that doesn't happen again."

    Injury report: New England RB Danny Woodhead, who hurt his hand Sunday, fully participated in practice a day after being limited.

    Top secret: Patriots DE Chandler Jones, who hurt his ankle against the Texans, hasn't told his brother, Ravens DE Arthur Jones, his status. "I was trying to get the inside scoop," Arthur Jones said. "But he's doing a good job not telling me anything."

    Neutral brother: The middle brother in the Jones family, Jon, is a mixed-martial arts star and UFC light heavyweight champion. He plans to attend the game but won't choose sides. Said Chandler Jones: "I haven't asked him (who he'll be rooting for)."


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    Times wires
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    SANTA CLARA, Calif. — 49ers DE Justin Smith said he is increasingly getting used to wearing a brace on his left arm.

    The second-team All-Pro returned Saturday against the Packers after missing two games with a partially torn left triceps. He had eight tackles and four quarterback pressures while playing 53 of San Francisco's 58 defensive snaps.

    "It felt pretty good for the most part; just getting used to it, playing with it," Smith told csnbayarea.com about playing with the brace. "It should be even better this week after going through it and knowing how it felt and what to expect. It's a love-hate relationship right now. It's doing its job. It felt pretty strong."

    Smith, who will need offseason surgery, said he isn't worried about making the injury worse. "It's like anything. If it's half-torn or whatever, it could tear the rest of the way," Smith said. "I'm not really concerned about it. Just going to go out there and do the best I can and see what happens."

    LB Patrick Willis said Smith's presence makes everybody better.

    "Any time he's out there, you have to account for him and almost have to put two guys on him," Willis said. "But even when you put two guys on him, he still has a chance to win."

    Falcon returns: Atlanta CB Christopher Owens practiced for the first time since injuring a hamstring Dec. 22 against the Lions. Though he was limited, he said he hopes to play Sunday. Meanwhile, Falcons DE John Abraham remains hobbled by an injured left ankle he aggravated Sunday but said he expects to play.

    Trending upward: Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez, who has said all season he was "95 percent" he would retire, won his first playoff game last week. But Falcons TE Michael Palmer said it didn't make him any less likely to retire.

    "He told me he's moving up to 97 percent sure," he said. "From what I can get from him, if we win the Super Bowl, I think he'll ride off into the sunset."

    Jinxed? The 49ers won their first two games before losing. Then came two wins and a loss, two wins and a tie, two wins and a loss, two wins and a loss, and now two wins, including over the Packers in last week's division round. If the pattern holds, that means a loss Sunday.


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  • 01/17/13--18:55: Little changes for Ryan
  • Newsday
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    ATLANTA — It's a question many people are asked around their birthday: "How does it feel to be another year older?"

    The answer is almost invariably simple: "About the same."

    It turns out it's the same for quarterbacks who win their first playoff game.

    Even after mounting criticism, years of raised eyebrows suggesting Matt Ryan might not be equipped to win in the postseason and coming up short in his first three tries, the Falcons standout said there is very little difference now that he has shed the persona of being a perennial playoff loser.

    His engineering of a last-minute drive to avoid a loss to the Seahawks on Sunday means he will never again be counted among those who could not get it done in the postseason. His Falcons logo no longer looks like an albatross.

    So, Matt, how does it feel to be a playoff-winning quarterback?

    "I feel the same as I did last week," he said as he prepares to face San Francisco in Sunday's NFC title game.

    "When you walk in and you turn on the film on a Monday or a Tuesday and you're getting ready to play your next game, there's a whole new laundry list of problems that you need to address. That's more of where my focus has been, and that's where I think it needs to be."

    Ryan has gone from never having a playoff win to needing just one more to get to the Super Bowl. Legacies can change that quickly. Earlier this week, as he sat at a news conference with the NFC championship trophy next to him, Ryan admitted there are some never-before-seen hurdles at this point in the season.

    His news conference was moved to a different room, for example. And he said he is glad he does not have to answer any more questions about never winning in the playoffs because they can be a distraction.

    "It's a little different," he said. "You have to be able to adjust. It's just a little bit different schedule. But that's part of the deal. You adjust. You work through it.

    "It's not that big of a deal."


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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  • 01/17/13--19:16: Cards hire Arians as coach
  • Times wires
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    TEMPE, Ariz. — The Cardinals hired Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians as coach Thursday night. Neither Arians nor the Cardinals were available for comment.

    Arians, 60, went 9-3 as the Colts' interim coach this season while Chuck Pagano had treatment for leukemia. Arians replaces the fired Ken Whisenhunt.

    The hiring upset Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton, USA Today reported. Horton, who also interviewed for the job, had a heated confrontation with GM Steve Keim, Phoenix's 910-AM reported.

    Yahoo Sports reported that Horton won't remain with the team and will be replaced by Todd Bowles, recently let go as Eagles defensive coordinator.

    Jags hire Seahawks defensive coordinator

    JACKSONVILLE — The Jaguars hired Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as coach. He joins general manager Dave Caldwell, who was hired last week.

    "Gus more than met every criteria we insisted on from our new head coach," Caldwell said in a statement released by the team. "His intangibles and leadership abilities are exceptional."

    Bradley, 46, will be introduced at a news conference today.

    Vilma suit dismissed: A federal judge dismissed Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma's defamation lawsuit against commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the bounty case. Judge Ginger Berrigan ruled that under federal law, any reme­dies must be pursued under the collective bargaining agreement. Vilma has 30 days to appeal. His lawyer said they are considering.

    Marinelli moves: Rod Marinelli will not return as Bears defensive coordinator, but he will join new Cowboys coordinator Monte Kiffin as defensive line coach, the NFL Network reported, the same position he held under Kiffin with the Bucs.

    Mike Shula gets look: The Panthers interviewed quarterbacks coach Mike Shula, 47, for offensive coordinator. The Bucs' offensive coordinator from 1996-99 seeks to replace new Browns coach Rob Chudzinski.

    Hilliard hired: The Bills named former Gator and Bucs receiver Ike Hilliard receivers coach. He spent the past two seasons in the same position with the Redskins.

    Offensive Coordinators: Denver quarterbacks coach Adam Gase was promoted to replace Mike McCoy, who was hired as San Diego coach. Cleveland hired Norv Turner, recently fired as San Diego coach. San Diego hired Whisenhunt.

    Leaf imprisoned: Former quarterback Ryan Leaf was moved from a drug treatment center to the Montana State Prison for threatening a staff member. In May, he pleaded guilty to burglary and criminal possession of dangerous drugs after being charged with breaking into two houses and stealing prescription painkillers.


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  • 01/17/13--19:21: Radwanska string hits 12
  • Times wires
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    MELBOURNE, Australia — Fourth-seeded Angieszka Radwanska won her 12th match in a row with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Britain's Heather Watson in the third round today at the Australian Open.

    Radwanska won tournaments in Auckland and Sydney — nine matches in a row — before coming to Melbourne Park. Her 6-0, 6-0 win over Dominika Cibulkova in the Sydney International final was the first "double bagel" in a WTA final since November 2006.

    The Polish player, who received treatment for what appeared to be a blister on the small finger of her right hand in the second set, faces 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, who beat Jelena Jankovic 7-5, 6-3.

    "I'm extremely happy to be playing my best tennis from the beginning of the year," Radwanska said. "Hopefully I'll play on the same level the rest of the tournament."

    Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber survived some nervous moments before fending off American teenager Madison Keys in the third round, then she blew out the candles on a cake to celebrate her 25th birthday.

    Kerber won 6-2, 7-5 to move into the fourth round, further than she has ever gone in six trips to the Australian Open. She next plays No. 19 Ekaterina Makarova, who advanced after a 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-4 win over Marion Bartoli.

    "Madison is a great young player, and it was very tough," Kerber said. "So happy I won on my birthday!"

    Keys, 17, was playing in the main draw for only the second time at the Australia Open.

    Sixth-seeded Li Na advanced 6-4, 6-1 over Sorana Cirstea to face No. 18 Julia Goerges, who beat Zheng Jie 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 .

    Late Thursday, Roger Federer beat Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a men's third-round match against Bernard Tomic, the last remaining Australian in the men's or women's draws.

    Tomic, 20, beat qualifier Daniel Brands 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (10-8) on a searing day in which temperatures hit 106 degrees.

    Federer praised Tomic's play for the crowd and later said he won't mind for whom or how loud fans are cheering today.

    "I don't think it matters whether he's the last Australian or 10 more," Federer said. "There's always excitement about Aussies playing here. I played him here last year. The crowd was great. I expect something similar. If it's not, if it's totally for him, that's fine, too."


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  • 01/17/13--19:28: Tampa Bay Lightning roster
  • By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    . fast facts

    Lightning roster

    Goaltenders

    32Mathieu Garon

    39Anders Lindback

    Defensemen

    3Keith Aulie

    47Marc-Andre Bergeron

    2Eric Brewer

    25Matt Carle

    77Victor Hedman

    15Brian Lee

    29Brendan Mikkelson

    5Mattias Ohlund *

    6Sami Salo

    Forwards

    89Cory Conacher

    19B.J. Crombeen

    18Adam Hall

    76Pierre-Cedric Labrie

    4Vinny Lecavalier

    12Ryan Malone

    67Benoit Pouliot

    16Teddy Purcell

    11Tom Pyatt

    2Marty St. Louis

    91Steven Stamkos

    44Nate Thompson

    42Dana Tyrell

    * Injured


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    Times wires
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    NEW YORK — The Rangers are buying out the final two seasons of defenseman Wade Redden's contract.

    The Rangers made the move Thursday, one day after placing Redden, 35, on waivers. Now he is an unrestricted free agent.

    Initially, the Rangers planned to have Redden sit out the season so they could buy out him out over the summer and he would avoid an injury. (Injured players cannot be bought out.)

    But the union and league reached an agreement that allows teams to buy out contracts before the start of this season instead of having to wait until the end of it as mandated by the new labor deal.

    Redden has spent the past two seasons with Connecticut of the AHL after notching five goals and 35 assists in 156 regular-season games with the Rangers over two seasons. That came after he signed a six-year, $39 million deal to leave the Senators.

    Redden will earn a prorated portion of the $3.341 million he is owed for this season plus two-thirds of the $5 million he was set to earn next season. Redden's $6.5 million annual salary cap hit still will be charged to New York this season but not for 2013-14.

    Canadiens: Center Scott Gomez will be bought out, espn.com reported. Last week, Montreal told Gomez to sit out the season to avoid injury. But the deal that allows the Rangers to buy out Redden will apply to Gomez. His $7,357,143 cap hit will count for this season but not next. He has just 21 goals in three seasons since being acquired from the Rangers.

    Stars: Mike Modano, who led the team to a Stanley Cup in 1998-99, was hired as an adviser. He retired after last season.


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    By Eric Deggans, Times TV/Media Critic
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    For those who expected talk show queen Oprah Winfrey to delay or draw out the most important questions in her blockbuster interview Thursday with disgraced cycling star Lance Armstrong, the queen of all media surprised many by getting right down to business.

    Right at the start, she asked him if he had taken banned substances.

    "Yes," Armstrong said.

    Was one of those EPO? "Yes."

    Did he do blood doping and use transfusions? "Yes."

    Did he use testosterone, cortisone and human growth hormone? "Yes."

    Did he take banned substances or blood dope in all seven of his Tour de France wins? "Yes."

    Armstrong also admitted that he was lying over the many years he excoriated those who accused him of cheating, insulted former friends and teammates who came forward with stories and even sued people who tried to tell the truth about his actions.

    But one answer he couldn't provide so easily: Why was he talking now, in a highly publicized interview broadcast on Winfrey's OWN cable network, months after the world already figured he had been lying about the whole thing?

    "I don't know that I have a great answer," Armstrong told Winfrey in the interview recorded Monday in an Austin, Texas, hotel. The first 90 minutes aired Thursday, with a second part scheduled to air at 9 tonight.

    "This (admission) is too late," he added. "And that's my fault. I view this situation as one big lie, that I repeated a lot of times."

    But even though Armstrong admitted lying about the use of banned substances, he also insisted most every other competitive rider used the same techniques, saying there was a "level playing field."

    He also declined to speak about others' possible contribution to his team's system of sneaking the treatments to riders, called one of the most sophisticated systems in the all of sports by one USADA official.

    While he admitted behaving as a bully — blaming his fight with testicular cancer for forging a win at all costs philosophy — Armstrong also denied leading a culture of intimidation to push other cyclists into cheating, despite such claims made by former teammates for years.

    "I'm not the most believable guy in the world right now," said the former star, while insisting that some of the tales told about him by critics were not true. "Yeah I was a bully. . . . If I didn't like what somebody said . . . I tried to control that by saying they're a liar."

    Winfrey, though prepared with clips of former teammates, critics accusations and mountains of research, seemed a bit unprepared to press Armstrong on the details on his transgressions.

    Instead, the woman known for making some celebrities cry on camera — though Armstrong didn't break into sobs in Thursday's portion of the interview as rumored — pressed Armstrong on more personal stuff.

    Why did he call the wife of a former teammate who said Armstrong revealed his cheating to doctors during cancer treatments "crazy" and a "b----"? Or sue other people who made truthful allegations of cheating?

    "Fame just magnifies who we really are," Winfrey noted at one point, saying such power and wealth can either make someone a bigger jerk or a humanitarian, depending on their outlook. The implication to Armstrong: Weren't you just acting like the jerk you always were?

    "I don't know if you pulled those two words out of thin air: jerk and humanitarian. I'd say I was both," Armstrong added, looking at a clip of himself during a court deposition. "I look at that and say 'look at that arrogant p----."

    Armstrong also seemed to angle toward limiting his future liability, denying he forced anyone to cheat or had anything to do with getting the U.S. Justice Department to drop its prosecution of him. He denied allegations aired on Showtime's 60 Minutes Sports that he bought off the International Cycling Union with a $100,000 donation, saying the group asked him for the money.

    He also insisted that his Tour de France competitions in 2009 and 2010, when he tried to come back to the sport and failed to win, were completed without blood doping and banned substances.

    It remains to be seen if Winfrey will pry more details from Armstrong in tonight's interview portions, or if the public will continue to care.

    For those who wanted to see Armstrong admit he lied for years about blood doping, Thursday's interview delivered.

    But in stopping short of full contrition, he also ensured the tough questions will keep coming from others.


    Harpo Studios Inc.Harpo Studios Inc.

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    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Not once but twice after he supposedly discovered his online girlfriend of three years never existed, Notre Dame All-America linebacker Manti Te'o perpetuated the heartbreaking story about her death.

    An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runnerup talked about her in a Web interview Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 10. He and the university said Wednesday that he learned on Dec. 6 that it was all a hoax, that not only wasn't she dead, she wasn't real.

    The question remains: Was Te'o really duped, as he claimed, or were he and the university complicit in the hoax and misled the public, perhaps to improve his chances of winning the Heisman.

    And adding another twist, former Arizona Cardinals fullback Reagan Maui'a said he met the woman linked to Te'o.

    Maui'a told ESPN he met Lennay Kekua in 2011 while he and some teammates were on a charity mission to American Samoa. He said this was before the woman met Te'o and that he and Kekua became "good friends."

    Maui'a was through talking about the issue Thursday, saying in a tweet, "if ur calling me for a story, plz don't. I have better things to do."

    On Wednesday, Te'o and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the player was drawn into a virtual romance and was fooled into believing the woman died of leukemia in September. They said his only contact with her was via the Internet and telephone.

    Relying on information provided by Te'o's family members, the South Bend Tribune reported in October that Te'o and Kekua first met, in person, in 2009, and that the two had also gotten together in Hawaii.

    Te'o never mentioned a face-to-face meeting in public comments reviewed by the AP. And an AP review of media reports about Te'o since Sept. 13 turned up no instance in which he directly confirmed or denied those stories — until Wednesday.

    Te'o's agent, Tom Condon, said the athlete had no plans to make any public statements.

    Notre Dame said Te'o found out that Kekau was not a real person through a phone call he received at an awards ceremony in Orlando on Dec. 6. He told Notre Dame coaches about the situation Dec. 26, nearly two weeks before the title game.

    Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown said the Te'o family was getting ready to go public about the hoax and that the university deferred to their wishes.

    "They're the victims and it's their story to tell," he said.

    Many in Te'o's hometown of Laie, about 6,000 people and roughly an hour's drive from Honolulu, were angered with the perpetrator of what they believe is a hoax. "If he got hoaxed, that's not his fault; shame on them," said Makala Paakaula, 38, a high school administrator, "because he has a very trusting, open heart."


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  • 01/17/13--20:07: Sports on TV/radio
  • Times staff


    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    TODAY

    College basketball

    Stony Brook at Vermont, 7 p.m., ESPNU

    Fairfield at Iona, 9 p.m., ESPNU

    College hockey

    Harvard at Yale, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

    Miami (Ohio) at Wisconsin, 9 p.m., Big Ten

    Golf

    PGA: Humana Challenge, 3 p.m., Golf

    Champions: Mitsubishi Championship, 7:30 p.m., Golf

    PGA Europe: Abu Dhabi Championship (taped), 10 p.m., Golf

    High school hockey

    Palm Harbor vs. Wharton, 7:30 p.m., BHSN

    Mitchell vs. Gaither/Sickles, 9 p.m., BHSN

    NBA

    Bobcats at Magic, 7 p.m., FSN; 1010-AM

    Bulls at Celtics, 7 p.m., ESPN

    Thunder at Mavericks, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

    Tennis

    Australian Open, 7 p.m., Tennis

    Australian Open, 9 p.m., ESPN2

    Australian Open, 3 a.m., ESPN2

    saturDAY HIGHLIGHTS

    College basketball

    VMI at Coastal Carolina, 11 a.m., ESPNU

    Maryland at North Carolina, noon, ESPN; 620-AM

    Connecticut at Pittsburgh, noon, ESPN2

    St. John's at DePaul, noon, BHSN

    Harvard at Memphis, 12:30 p.m., FSN

    Nebraska at Penn State, 1 p.m., ESPNU

    St. Bonaventure at Temple, 1 p.m., CBSSN

    Arkansas at Mississippi, 1:30 p.m., Ch. 38

    Missouri at Florida, 2 p.m., ESPN; 1250-AM

    Kansas at Texas, 2 p.m., Ch. 10

    Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, 2 p.m., ESPN2

    Wake Forest at Virginia Tech, 2 p.m., Ch. 44

    Women: Seton Hall at Georgetown, 2 p.m., BHSN

    Women: Villanova at USF, 2 p.m., 1010-AM

    Arizona at Arizona State, 2:30 p.m., FSN

    Akron at Kent State, 3 p.m., ESPNU

    Columbia at Cornell, 3 p.m., NBCSN

    Oregon at UCLA, 4 p.m., Ch. 10

    Mississippi State at Tennessee, 4 p.m., Ch. 38

    Syracuse at Louisville, 4 p.m., ESPN

    Creighton at Wichita State, 4 p.m., ESPN2

    Villanova at Providence, 4 p.m., BHSN

    Florida State at Virginia, 4:30 p.m., Ch. 44; 1040-AM

    Penn at St. Joseph's, 5 p.m., ESPNU

    Hofstra at George Mason, 5 p.m., NBCSN

    Georgetown at USF, 6 p.m., BHSN; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM

    Ohio State at Michigan State, 6 p.m., ESPN

    Texas A&M at Alabama, 6 p.m., FSN

    Marquette at Cincinnati, 7 p.m., ESPNU

    UNLV at Colorado State, 7 p.m., NBCSN

    LSU at Georgia, 8 p.m., BHSN

    Wisconsin at Iowa, 8 p.m., Big Ten

    Gonzaga at Butler, 9 p.m., ESPN

    Kentucky at Auburn, 9 p.m., ESPNU

    Utah at Washington, 11 p.m., ESPNU

    College football

    East-West Shrine Game, 4 p.m., NFL; 620-AM

    NHL

    Penguins at Flyers, 3 p.m., Ch. 8

    Capitals at Lightning, 7 p.m., Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Rangers at Bruins, 7 p.m., NHL

    Tennis

    Australian Open, 7 p.m., Tennis

    Australian Open, 9 p.m., ESPN2

    Australian Open, 3 a.m., ESPN2

    sunDAY HIGHLIGHTS

    College basketball

    Navy at Army, noon, CBSSN

    Women: St. John's at Notre Dame, noon, ESPNU

    Indiana at Northwestern, 1 p.m., Big Ten; 620-AM

    Women: South Carolina at Florida, 1 p.m., FSN

    Women: Wake Forest at Boston College, 1 p.m., Sun Sports

    Women: Alabama at Tennessee, 1 p.m., BHSN

    Women: Auburn at Kentucky, 2 p.m., Ch. 38

    Women: Butler at La Salle, 2 p.m., CBSSN

    Women: Florida State at N.C. State, 3 p.m., Sun Sports

    Women: Maryland at Georgia Tech, 3 p.m., ESPN2

    Women: UCLA at California, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU

    Women: Purdue at Iowa, 4 p.m., Big Ten

    Women: Texas A&M at Georgia, 5 p.m., ESPN2

    Clemson at N.C. State, 6 p.m., ESPNU

    Illinois State at Southern Illinois, 8 p.m., ESPNU

    NFL playoffs

    NFC Championship: 49ers at Falcons, 3 p.m., Ch. 13; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM

    AFC Championship: Ravens at Patriots, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 10; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM

    NHL

    Flyers at Sabres, 12:30 p.m., NHL

    Penguins at Rangers, 7 p.m., NHL

    Blackhawks at Coyotes, 10 p.m., NBCSN

    TV: BHSN: Bright House Sports Network; CBSSN: CBS Sports Network; FSN: Fox Sports Net


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  • 01/17/13--20:16: Clayton helps FSU topple BC
  • Times wires
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Chasity Clayton scored 14 to pace four Florida State players in double figures as the No. 22 Seminoles topped ACC rival Boston College 67-57 Thursday night to sweep the season series.

    Leonor Rodriguez scored 13, Alexa Deluzio 12 and Natasha Howard 10 for FSU (14-3, 4-2).

    Freshman Nicole Boudreau led Boston College (8-8, 2-3) with 18 points on 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Kristen Doherty added 12 points.

    The Eagles went on a 12-2 run to get within 50-47 with 8:06 left. FSU rebounded with a 7-2 run, and with 39 seconds to play, Clayton grabbed an air ball and beat the shot clock with a layup that made it 63-55.

    "We lost focus in the second half," FSU coach Sue Semrau said. "We are fortunate Chasity came up with the game she did. That was the difference."

    No. 5 UK 100, Miss. State 47: DeNesha Stallworth scored 25 for the Wildcats (17-1, 5-0 SEC), who have the best start in school history. The 1982-83 team was 16-1. Kentucky extended its school-record win streak to 16 and its record home win streak to 32.

    NO. 7 CAL 71, USC 63, OT: Gennifer Brandon had 23 points and a career-high 26 rebounds, and the host Golden Bears (14-2, 4-1 Pac-12) outscored the Trojans 9-1 in overtime. Cal trailed by six with 1:42 left in regulation.

    No. 8 Penn St. 84, Wis. 40: Nikki Greene scored a season-high 23 and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Nittany Lions (14-2, 4-0 Big Ten), who won their eighth straight overall and third in a row by at least 20. It was Penn State's first conference victory of 40 or more points since the 2000-01 season.

    No. 9 Tenn. 75, Auburn 66: Meighan Simmons scored 18 of her 29 after halftime for the visiting Vols (14-3, 5-0 SEC). Tennessee trailed throughout, then took control with a 40-15 run.

    No. 10 Maryland 82, N.C. St. 62: Tianna Hawkins had 26 points and a season-high 17 rebounds, her ninth double double, and the host Terps (14-3, 5-1 ACC) never trailed. Maryland has won eight of its past nine vs. the Wolfpack.

    No. 11 UNC 71, Virginia 60: Xylina McDaniel had 15 points and nine rebounds as the host Tar Heels (18-1, 6-0 ACC) won their 11th straight. North Carolina, which came in leading the nation in steals (14.9), had 14 and scored 32 points off 24 turnovers.

    No. 12 Purdue 75, Minn. 67: Sam Ostarello had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the host Boilermakers (15-2, 4-0 Big Ten), who had gone to overtime to win their previous three games.

    No. 13 UGA 57, Arkansas 53: Shacobia Barbee had 15 points and 11 rebounds and visiting Georgia (16-2, 4-1 SEC) overcame an 11-point halftime deficit.

    No. 19 S. Carolina 66, LSU 59: Ieasia Walker scored 24, surpassing 1,000 in her career, for the host Gamecocks (15-3, 3-2 SEC).

    No. 25 Mich. 67, N'western 53: Kate Thompson scored 23 and the host Wolverines (15-2, 4-0 Big Ten) won their 10th straight, matching the program's longest streak. Michigan never trailed.


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    Times wires
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Florida coach Billy Donovan thought his team could be great defensively entering this season.

    He has been right so far.

    Mike Rosario scored 19 and Patric Young added 18 as No. 10 Florida cruised to a 68-47 victory over Texas A&M on Thursday night.

    The Aggies led by one midway through the first half but the Gators took a 35-18 halftime lead, and didn't let up from there.

    Florida (13-2, 3-0 SEC) won its fifth straight and joins Mississippi as the only teams with perfect conference records.

    The Gators host No. 17 Missouri on Saturday.

    Texas A&M (12-4, 2-1) was coming off a victory at Kentucky on Saturday, when guard Elston Turner scored a career-high 40, but the Gators held him to four on 1-of-10 shooting.

    The Gators were proud of their defense on Turner, who entered averaging 17.1 points.

    "We just didn't give him a chance to do what he wanted to do," Young said. "We made him really uncomfortable. Being able to limit a guy that just scored 40 points in his last game was huge."

    Florida entered ranked third in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 52 points a game. UF limited A&M to a season-low in points on 34 percent shooting.

    The Gators have held eight opponents to less than 50 points, and 11 to less than 60.

    "They're very, very hard to guard," Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "But I think people don't give them enough credit for their defense."

    A crowd of more than 11,000, which included Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, was loud early, but Florida quickly quieted the fans.

    "Our fans came out and supported us, and I wish we could've given them a better effort," Kennedy said.

    A smattering of Florida fans certainly enjoyed UF's effort and made their presence known by shouting "Tim Tebow!" while the Aggies shot free throws.

    Florida was missing key reserve Casey Prather, who is out 10-14 days with a high-ankle sprain. UF was helped by the return of Rosario, who missed a win over LSU on Saturday with a sprained left ankle.

    "It felt good out there," Rosario said. "I was going to go out there anyway, whether it was 80 percent or 60 percent."


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    Times wires
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    MINNEAPOLIS — Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 and Trey Burke had 18 points and nine assists to help No. 5 Michigan stave off No. 9 Minnesota 83-75 on Thursday night.

    Hardaway hit four 3-pointers in the first half for the Wolverines (17-1, 4-1 Big Ten), who led for the final 33 minutes and finished with 13 steals to fuel their fastbreak. Nik Stauskas added 11 points.

    "We came out with a higher intensity than last game and set the tone first," Burke said. "We got our confidence back, and that's important."

    Austin Hollins led the Gophers (15-3, 3-2) with 21 points and four steals, and Trevor Mbakwe had 13 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Andre Hollins had early foul trouble but played well in the second half to finish with 13 points and four assists.

    The Gophers crept back after falling behind by 19 early in the second half.

    The Wolverines emerged from a physical contest with ripped jerseys by three players (Burke, Stauskas and Jordan Morgan).

    "Got cuts and everything. But it's great. That's Big Ten basketball," Hardaway said. "Just trying to embrace it as much as possible."

    Michigan moved into a four-way tie for second place in the Big Ten behind unbeaten Wisconsin.

    This was the first game at Williams Arena pitting two top 10 teams in The Associated Press poll since Michigan visited Minnesota in 1977.

    No. 3 Duke 73, Ga. Tech 57: Seth Curry scored 24 for the host Blue Devils (16-1, 3-1 ACC), and Mason Plumlee added 16 points and 13 rebounds after going 2-for-12 during the first half. Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon broke out of a slump with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting after coming off the bench for the first time. "It's all about how you come back," Plumlee said of Sulaimon. "I don't know of any player who started every game ever at Duke. I mean, he sat Elton Brand and those guys." Freshman Chris Bolden's 20 points were the most by a Yellow Jacket this season.

    No. 22 vcu 92, st. joseph's 85, ot: Treveon Graham scored six of his 25 in overtime after the host Rams (15-3, 3-0 Atlantic 10) rallied late in regulation to tie it. VCU played its first game as a ranked team since 1984-85.

    Northwestern 68, No. 23 Illinois 54: Reggie Hearn scored 20 and the visiting Wildcats (11-7, 2-3 Big Ten) built an early lead using 3-point shooting to hand the Illini (14-5, 1-4) a third straight loss. Cold-shooting Illinois closed within 48-39 on a free throw by Brandon Paul with 4:36 to play but got no closer. "The first 10 minutes they were a juggernaut," Illini coach John Groce said. A fan was ejected and Groce earned his first technical foul of the season in the intense game.

    No. 24 UCLA 74, Oregon St. 64: Shabazz Muhammad scored 21, fellow freshman Kyle Anderson added 17 and the host Bruins (15-3, and 5-0 in the Pac-12 for the first time since 2003-04) won their 10th straight. Travis Wear added 17 points as UCLA equaled its longest winning streak since 2008-09.

    NO. 4 KANSAS: Leading scorer Ben McLemore practiced after missing two days with a right ankle sprain and expects to play at Texas on Saturday.

    CINCINNATI: With two key Big East games coming up, Bearcats point guard Cashmere Wright (right knee sprain) is in doubt for Saturday's home game against Marquette. Cincinnati then plays at Syracuse on Monday.


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    Times wires
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    LONDON — Back in London and back on the basketball court, Carmelo Anthony went right back to his winning ways.

    The Knicks star was the main attraction at the O2 Arena on Thursday, five months after he helped the United States win the Olympic gold at the same venue.

    This time, he led the Knicks over the Pistons, 102-87 in the third regular-season NBA game played in the British capital.

    "It felt good out there," said Anthony, who scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half. "I definitely had some flashbacks out there."

    Anthony's strong showing might be attributed to his diet. He recently ended a two-week fasting period and seems to be getting his strength back.

    "I felt better than I was the last couple of games," Anthony said. "I'm back eating right, eating what I'm supposed to be eating."

    Around the league: Players should consider whether they want to keep Billy Hunter as executive director of their union after a series of wrongdoings, according to a review of the union. The report found no evidence of illegal use of funds but revealed that Hunter, 70, withheld knowledge that his contract was never properly approved, used poor judgment in making hires and spent improperly on travel and gifts.

    Lebron to 20,000: Miami's LeBron James became the youngest player in league history to score 20,000 when he hit a pull-up jumper in the lane from 12 feet in the second quarter of a 92-75 victory late Wednesday over the Warriors. "The best part about it is I was in a rhythm, too, so it wasn't one of those forced shots," James said. "It's pretty cool." Lakers star Kobe Bryant got to 20,000 when he was 29 years, 122 days old. James was 28 years, 17 days Wednesday.

    Knicks 102, Pistons 87

    NEW YORK (102): Anthony 8-19 7-9 26, Copeland 3-6 0-0 7, Chandler 3-4 4-4 10, Kidd 2-5 0-0 5, Shumpert 3-7 0-2 8, Smith 6-15 3-4 16, Prigioni 0-0 0-0 0, Stoudemire 3-5 11-12 17, Novak 5-9 0-0 13, Brewer 0-1 0-0 0, White 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 33-72 25-31 102.

    DETROIT (87): Prince 5-10 2-6 12, Maxiell 1-4 0-0 2, Monroe 4-12 3-4 11, Knight 0-4 1-2 1, Singler 5-10 2-4 15, Stuckey 2-6 2-4 6, Drummond 5-7 1-2 11, Bynum 10-16 0-0 22, Villanueva 2-8 0-0 5, Daye 1-2 0-0 2, Kravtsov 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-79 11-22 87.

    New York 29 27 19 27— 102

    Detroit 17 24 22 24— 87

    3-Point GoalsNew York 11-31 (Novak 3-6, Anthony 3-8, Shumpert 2-3, Copeland 1-2, Kidd 1-4, Smith 1-6, Brewer 0-1, White 0-1), Detroit 6-17 (Singler 3-6, Bynum 2-2, Villanueva 1-5, Stuckey 0-1, Knight 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsNew York 51 (Chandler 14), Detroit 49 (Drummond, Monroe 10). AssistsNew York 17 (Kidd, Anthony, Smith 4), Detroit 22 (Monroe 5). Total FoulsNew York 22, Detroit 21. TechnicalsChandler, New York defensive three second, Detroit defensive three second. Flagrant Fouls—Daye. A18,689.

    Clippers 90, Timberwolves 77

    L.A. CLIPPERS (90): Butler 4-9 4-6 12, Griffin 9-19 2-2 20, Jordan 1-4 1-1 3, Bledsoe 1-7 0-0 2, Green 3-4 0-0 8, Crawford 7-17 5-8 22, Odom 1-2 0-0 2, Hill 0-1 0-0 0, Barnes 4-9 2-2 10, Turiaf 5-5 1-4 11, Hollins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-77 15-23 90.

    MINNESOTA (77): Kirilenko 7-12 0-2 15, Williams 3-9 4-4 10, Pekovic 1-8 2-4 4, Rubio 2-9 0-0 4, Ridnour 9-17 0-0 21, Cunningham 2-9 3-4 7, Barea 2-10 0-0 4, Shved 2-7 4-6 8, Stiemsma 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 30-84 13-20 77.

    L.A. Clippers 27 20 21 22— 90

    Minnesota 22 21 20 14— 77

    3-Point GoalsL.A. Clippers 5-13 (Crawford 3-5, Green 2-2, Butler 0-3, Barnes 0-3), Minnesota 4-19 (Ridnour 3-6, Kirilenko 1-5, Rubio 0-1, Shved 0-2, Williams 0-2, Barea 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsL.A. Clippers 58 (Odom 12), Minnesota 53 (Pekovic 9). AssistsL.A. Clippers 18 (Odom 6), Minnesota 19 (Rubio 6). Total FoulsL.A. Clippers 20, Minnesota 17. TechnicalsMinnesota defensive three second. A16,198.

    Bucks 98, Suns 94

    MILWAUKEE (98): Mbah a Moute 2-8 0-0 4, Ilyasova 2-6 0-2 4, Sanders 8-14 3-3 19, Jennings 6-14 2-3 16, Ellis 10-20 4-4 24, Udoh 1-3 1-2 3, Dunleavy 5-9 2-2 16, Udrih 0-2 0-0 0, Dalembert 0-1 0-0 0, Henson 5-12 0-2 10, Daniels 0-3 2-2 2, Gooden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 39-92 14-20 98.

    PHOENIX (94): Tucker 3-7 1-2 8, Scola 5-10 6-8 16, Gortat 3-10 1-4 7, Dragic 5-11 0-0 10, Dudley 4-10 3-3 13, O'Neal 1-2 5-6 7, Telfair 1-4 2-2 4, Brown 8-18 4-4 20, Morris 2-7 0-0 4, Beasley 2-10 0-0 5. Totals 34-89 22-29 94.

    Milwaukee 32 21 17 28— 98

    Phoenix 22 34 19 19— 94

    3-Point GoalsMilwaukee 6-16 (Dunleavy 4-5, Jennings 2-5, Daniels 0-1, Ilyasova 0-1, Mbah a Moute 0-1, Ellis 0-3), Phoenix 4-14 (Dudley 2-5, Beasley 1-1, Tucker 1-2, Brown 0-2, Dragic 0-2, Telfair 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMilwaukee 60 (Sanders 15), Phoenix 61 (Scola 8). AssistsMilwaukee 24 (Ellis, Udrih 6), Phoenix 20 (Dudley, Dragic 4). Total FoulsMil. 18, Phoenix 22. TechnicalsMil. Coach Boylan. A15,963.


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    By Mike Vorkunov, Special to the Times
    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    PISCATAWAY, N.J. — If USF's deflating start to the Big East schedule could at least be explained away prior to Thursday night, with losses to two top-10 teams, there was little consolation after a 70-67 loss at Rutgers that left the Bulls as the only winless team in the conference.

    The Bulls (9-7, 0-4 Big East) gave away a halftime lead and despite a late flurry that was led by Jawanza Poland, they could not claw all the way back. Poland scored a game-high 17 — 15 in the second half.

    USF trailed by three as it got the ball back with 11 seconds remaining and one timeout left. But after Poland fumbled the ball on the rebound, costing almost three seconds, coach Stan Heath decided not to call the final timeout because he saw an opportunity to capitalize with the Scarlet Knights defense not set.

    But Martino Brock missed a long off-balance 3-pointer with about two seconds remaining, shooting rather than passing to an open Poland in the corner.

    "That's why I held on to the timeout because Poland had a hot hand and I thought we were going to make one more pass,'' Heath said. "(Brock) had a great look, the ball went in and out, so I don't fault that shot.''

    Trailing 30-27, Rutgers (12-4, 3-2) opened the second half with an 11-2 run. Seven points came in transition, with Myles Mack's layup on the break giving Rutgers a 38-32 advantage.

    USF played catch-up the rest of the way.

    This was the stretch that Heath credited with changing the game, saying the Bulls let their guard down.

    The Bulls lost their ability to control the pace, as Rutgers turned up the tempo from what was a slog in the first half.

    Point guard Anthony Collins directed the USF offense, with eight assists and one turnover. He scored 11, one of four Bulls in double digits. Victor Rudd scored 11 and JaVontae Hawkins had 10.

    "I thought our team showed kind of a little who they are,'' Heath said. "We were 0-3 and we're on the road at Rutgers and some teams might have just showed up, but we didn't. We played. … We'll win games if we continue to play where we are right now and continue to work and get better."


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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, January 18, 2013

    ST. PETERSBURG — By so many important measurements, Collin Klein meets the standards required of NFL quarterbacks.

    At 6 feet 5 and 226 pounds, he has the necessary size plus a presence that can command a huddle of large men. He's got the charisma you want from a player who must face hard questions at both good and bad times. And he's a proven success, going 22-6 as a starter in his career at Kansas State, setting records and nearly winning the Heisman Trophy along the way.

    But when it comes to his future at the game's highest level, Klein is hardly considered an elite prospect heading into April's NFL draft. The flaws in his game threaten to undermine so much of the good.

    That's why Saturday's performance in the East-West Shrine Game college all-star affair at Tropicana Field can only help Klein, who has been subjected to much scrutiny by NFL scouts during the week's practices in St. Petersburg.

    Klein thinks he can win them over.

    "I think I just need to show that I can execute and make all the throws, and also show that I can pick up a new system in a week," said Klein, who will play for the East team. "I just need to play the best that I can and get better and better every day."

    Klein will be joined by prospects from a number of major programs, including Pittsburgh 1,000-yard rusher Ray Graham, Arizona quarterback Matt Scott and others. Each is vying to become the next Alfred Morris, a participant in last year's game who fell to the Redskins in the sixth round but went on to lead all rookies in rushing.

    During practices this week, scouts saw up close what everyone who watches Klein has: He struggles with his throwing motion, perhaps more so than Tim Tebow did when coming out of Florida.

    Klein's tendency to seemingly push the ball rather than throw it fluidly won't go over well. And his arm strength and accuracy are considered limited, major red flags among NFL decision makers.

    Klein counters by stressing a track record that suggests he can make a team better. Put simply, he's a winner. He was far and away the most impactful player on his Kansas State team and, at times, one of the most dominant in the country.

    "I think that's huge," Klein said of his .786 career winning percentage. "When it's all said and done, that's what really matters, right?"

    Klein's imperfections will get close examination. But his attributes can't be ignored. His size is key, as is his athletic ability. But a major part of Klein's makeup is his mental grasp of the game.

    Former NFL coach Jerry Glanville, who is coaching the East squad, recalled this week his first meeting years ago with a young Peyton Manning. Glanville pointed out a parallel he saw in Klein.

    "Tennessee had a kid like him years ago," Glanville said. "He had a little hitch in his throwing motion. That guy at Tennessee, he's bounced around a little bit now, but he's now playing for the Denver Broncos. Inside, (Klein) is a Peyton Manning. There is no difference. None. He knows football."

    If Klein struggles to show the necessary skill set to play quarterback as a pro, there may come a time when the discussion turns to a possible position change (Klein began his career at Kansas State as a receiver). But he has a pretty firm stance on this.

    "I see myself as a quarterback," said Klein, currently projected as a late-round draft choice. "Mentally, I love the strategy of the game. I think I have a lot of mental toughness, the kind of stuff that you need to play with at that position. And I think I have the ability to do it."

    By Saturday's end, we'll have more evidence for or against that notion. The game is a precious chance for a kid with lots to prove.

    "It is," Klein said, "an amazing opportunity."

    Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@tampabay.com.


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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Friday, January 18, 2013

    Behind the bench

    Coach: Guy Boucher, 41, enters his third season with the Lightning with an 84-61-19 record.

    Assistants: Wayne Fleming, 62; Daniel Lacroix, 43; Martin Raymond, 45; Steve Thomas, 49.

    Video coach: Nigel Kirwan.

    Executives

    Principal owner: Jeff Vinik, 53

    Chief executive officer/minority owner: Tod Leiweke, 53

    Chief operating officer: Steve Griggs, 45

    General manager: Steve Yzerman, 47

    Assistant general managers: Julien BriseBois, 35; Pat Verbeek, 48

    Senior adviser to the general manager: Tom Kurvers, 50


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