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    By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    The farewells of veterans B.J. Upton and James Shields naturally got much more attention, but Elliot Johnson deserves at least a long goodbye.

    Johnson, 29, had 11 seasons in the Rays organization — just more than Upton, just fewer than Shields — and he earned every one of them. Unlike the other two, Johnson was never a prospect. He wasn't drafted. Never touted. Spent most of his time in the minors. Didn't have the benefit of being comfortable.

    "I'm kind of this organization's baby," Johnson said. "I was a great example of great scouting and great player development, not being drafted and making it to the big leagues."

    Johnson was designated for assignment Tuesday, leaving him in limbo for up to 10 days as the Rays decide whether to trade or release him, or put him through waivers. In any event, his time with the Rays is likely over.

    Johnson, his wife and son spent this offseason in the bay area. They had their spring rental lined up in Port Charlotte. They had a place for the season set. As of Saturday, everything was still on hold.

    "It's unfortunate, but it's part of the business," Johnson said. "This is the only place I've ever known. But if there's an opportunity to play in the big leagues somewhere, that's where I'd like to be."

    PRICE CHECK: You could understand if there were some "amens" and high fives from David Price's camp with word of a five-year extension for Mariners ace Felix Hernandez that gives him a seven-year, $175 million contract. And that Hernandez got it two years from free agency, which is where Price will be after this season.

    Price had a pretty good reaction himself, posting on Twitter: "Monopoly money?? That isn't real … "

    Among the fallout is speculation about which pitcher will get the first $200 million deal: Clayton Kershaw from the Dodgers, Justin Verlander from the Tigers or Price — from whichever team he would get traded to, because it would be shocking to see the Rays do such a deal.

    Price, meanwhile, filmed a national TV/Internet commercial for ADT Security with his dog, Astro. And he is in Los Angeles for the Cartoon Network's Hall of Games award show, nominated in the "In It to Win It" category with the Ravens' Joe Flacco, Kings Stanley Cup playoff MVP Jonathan Quick and the Heat's Dwyane Wade. The show airs at 7 p.m. Monday.

    RAYS RUMBLINGS: Equipment/home clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland planned to not issue Nos. 2, 33 and 39 in deference to Upton, Shields and J.P. Howell, but when new INF Kelly Johnson requested 2, Westmoreland called Upton and said the now-Braves CF was fine with it. … INF Reid Brignac and RHP Dane De La Rosa, also designated for assignment last week, are still in limbo, too. … RHP Alex Cobb made Tom Verducci's SI.com list of pitchers "at risk" based on their increased workload. … Longoria is said to be running again at his normal gait, with no signs of the hamstring issue that limited him last season. … OF Wil Myers was ranked the No. 4 prospect in Keith Law's ESPN.com top 100; RHP Taylor Guerrieri was 47, RHP Chris Archer 53, RHP Jake Odorizzi 68, SS Hak-Ju Lee 78 (down from 12), RHP Alex Colome 81. … Henry O!, the documentary about blind Spanish radio analyst Enrique Oliu, will be shown this weekend at the Houston Disabilities Film Festival. … Ex-Rays C Toby Hall had another hit golf event benefiting the Miracle League through his foundation. … Saturday's FanFest highlights include players reading to kids and giving high fives, coaches doing clinics and Joe Maddon's charity lunch.

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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    BOSTON — Here's the thing about Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback: He continues to make saves worthy of any how-to video. But he also keeps allowing bad goals.

    Take Thursday's 4-2 loss to the Devils. His stunning right-leg stop of Stefan Matteau's redirect with 18 seconds left in the first preserved a 0-0 tie. But in the second, Lindback lost track of the puck after Anton Volchenkov's blue-line slap shot hit him in the chest, and Adam Henrique easily knocked in the rebound for a 1-0 lead.

    In every game, Lindback has allowed at least one soft goal. He always says the right things, that he has to learn from it and apply it going forward.

    That was fine while the Lightning scored goals in bunches. But now that games have settled into tight-checking, playoff-type affairs, those soft goals that had been part of a learning curve are liabilities. If they continue, they no doubt will test the patience of coach Guy Boucher.

    "We have to have a lot of patience because he's young," Boucher said. "That's the reality. Let's say it like it is: That first goal (against the Devils), I know eventually those won't go in."

    Lindback, 24, has played just 46 NHL games — 38 the past two seasons as the backup to Nashville's Pekka Rinne — so there is validity to Boucher's forward-looking sentiment. And Lindback shows flashes of spectacular ability.

    In the meantime, Boucher said, "He's just a young goaltender that has to live through all the experiences a No. 1 guy has to go through."

    Lindback is 5-3-0. That's not bad, but his 2.89 goals-against average entered Saturday 23rd among goalies with at least five games, and his .905 save percentage was 20th.

    In other words, for all Bou­cher's explanation about how Sami Salo and Matt Carle have "transformed" the Lightning's defense, it doesn't mean much if your goalie doesn't stop the puck.

    That's not saying Lindback won't eventually be a good No. 1. It's just going to take him time to get there. As Boucher said, "I love my garden. I want it to grow because I know what it's going to look like three years from now. But if I pull at it, it's gone. You've got to water it, and eventually it's growing. But it's growing at its own pace. I think it's important we respect that."

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  • 02/09/13--15:14: Rays spring training preview
  • By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
    Saturday, February 9, 2013


    Things are always complicated with the Rays. • Coming off a season in which they won 90 games despite being ravaged by injuries and heading into one with their division considered as wide open and winnable as ever, they would have seemed positioned to stay relatively intact and to bid to extend their run of contention to an impressive sixth straight season. • But that's not how they do business. Can't be, they say. • So when they gather in Port Charlotte this week to open spring training, more than a half-dozen key players, including workhorse pitching leader James Shields and top homer/RBI man B.J. Upton, won't be there. • Some are gone for dollars, some for sense. • "It's always difficult, and it's always an issue that is extremely prevalent in our thought process of balancing the now and the future," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "And obviously the most difficult thing to do is to thread the needle where you have a very realistic chance of playing competitive games in September and putting yourself in a better position for the future."

    "But we're optimistic that we've been able to accomplish that."

    Besides Shields and Upton, the departed include Jeff Keppinger, who was the Rays' top hitter; Carlos Peña, who ranked third in homers and RBIs; and three members of their American League-best bullpen: Burke Badenhop, Wade Davis and J.P. Howell.

    One issue: The best of the dozen or so players they acquired, blue-chip outfield prospect Wil Myers, is projected to be a future star but may not be of much, if any, help this season. Same for the next-best prospect, pitcher Jake Odorizzi.

    Another issue: The moves chopped off $28 million of 2012 dollars (and $36.3 million in 2013), but the net result, due to raises for incumbents, was negligible. The Rays basically maintained a payroll in the low $60 millions.

    For now, they'll fill some spots internally with younger/cheaper players, others with discount-aisle replacements, veterans with pedigrees of past success but present-day questions: Yunel Escobar, Roberto Hernandez, Kelly Johnson, James Loney. Having Evan Longoria healthy, and Luke Scott, will be key, too.

    For it to work again, the Rays are going to need a convergence of good — play, health, karma, timing, luck, etc.

    Even without Shields and the extra 40-50 innings he worked, Friedman believes the rotation "will continue to be a strength." The bullpen was reinforced, in talent and depth.

    The infield defense looks to be better, the outfield a matchup-driven puzzle. The bench is deeper. The lingering question is the offense, which will be more contact-oriented, and they hope more productive overall.

    "We probably feel better about the 13 position players we have this year than last year in that our depth is extended," Friedman said. "We're not going to challenge any runs-scored records, but we're going to be a deep lineup that's dynamic, that adds value on the bases and also in the batter's box, and with guys that also play defense."

    Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

    Here's a look at the changes the Rays have made and the potential impacts this spring training:

    Pitching rotation

    What they did: Traded right-hander Shields to the Royals; signed right-hander Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona).

    What it means: Subtracting a 200-inning workhorse and the acknowledged veteran leader of an otherwise young staff is risky business. Their hope is that right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who didn't get through six innings in 14 of 31 starts last season, and lefty Matt Moore, who was inconsistent as a rookie, are ready to shoulder more innings (each threw 177) and responsibility as the Nos. 2-3 starters behind Cy Young Award-winning ace lefty David Price. Shields' "replacement" will come from which two make the rotation from the trio of right-hander Alex Cobb (impressive in most of his 23 starts last year), Jeff Niemann (coming back from a season lost to injuries) and Hernandez. Cobb probably has an edge.

    What we say: The rotation is clearly weakened, though Moore could close the gap quickly.


    What they did: Traded right-handers Davis to the Royals and Badenhop to the Brewers; lost left-hander Howell as free agent (Dodgers); re-signed free agent right-handers Joel Peralta and Kyle Farnsworth; signed Hernandez and right-hander Jamey Wright (minor-league deal).

    What it means: A strong bullpen is more vital with the potential of an increased workload in Shields' absence. The back end is intact, with Farnsworth, setup men Peralta and lefty Jake McGee, and righty closer Fernando Rodney, who would make the Rays happy if he is just close to as good as he was as last year. The void will be the 70 innings of better-than-you-thought "bridge" work by Davis, who made a team-high 23 appearances of more than one inning. Cesar Ramos is set to take Howell's spot as the other lefty. Badenhop will be replaced as the ground-ball specialist by Hernandez or Wright (or both).

    What we say: There are questions, but there is depth, too. Overall, even.


    What they did: Lost first baseman Peña (Astros) and infielder Keppinger (White Sox) as free agents; designated for assignment infielder Elliot Johnson and second baseman-shortstop Reid Brignac; acquired shortstop Escobar from the Marlins; signed first baseman Loney and infielder Kelly Johnson.

    What it means: Improving the defense was a priority, and the additions of Escobar and Loney (considered by some better than Peña and Casey Kotchman) should do it, plus the return to health of Gold Glove third baseman Longoria. Second base looks to be a four-way job share among Kelly Johnson (who also will get time in leftfield), Ryan Roberts, Sean Rodriguez (back to a super utility role) and Ben Zobrist (who will play in rightfield and occasionally at shortstop, too). Jose Molina and either Jose Lobaton or Chris Gimenez will again handle the catching.

    What we say: The defense is better, the offense unclear. Even for now.


    What they did: Lost centerfielder Upton as a free agent (Braves); re-signed free agent designated hitter Scott.

    What it means: For all Upton's supposed flaws, he will be missed, at the plate, on the field, in the clubhouse. Desmond Jennings slides from left to center, where he played 419 of his 455 minor-league games. The corners will be manned by a combo of Zobrist, Matt Joyce and Sam Fuld (a lefty hitter who will face many lefty pitchers), plus Johnson and Roberts (who will get spring looks), Rodriguez, maybe Scott.

    What we say: The Rays are weaker, though Jennings could have something to say about that.

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    By Doug Hemmer, Times Correspondent
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    Scouting: The best way to find fish is to scout. Snook, redfish, sheepshead and trout are continuously moving. Looking for fish without fishing is time well spent.

    What to look for: Snook and reds can be found in potholes outside rivers and creeks, and sunning in the shallows of residential canals. Look for dark shadows on the edges of the holes. Sheepshead can be found around the pilings of bridges and docks. Target these spots during the end of a tide and through the start of the next one. Because of the recent drop in water temperatures, large schools should be moving toward the beach to spawn, so head south of the Gandy Bridge.

    Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.

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  • 02/09/13--15:34: NFL quarterback rankings
  • By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    tom jones' two cents

    Every year at this time — a week after the NFL season — we rank the starting quarterbacks of all 32 teams.

    The rankings aren't based just on statistics. They aren't based just on victories. They're based on, well, statistics and victories, as well as intangibles that can't be fully explained.

    The Ravens' Joe Flacco moves up on our list, and the Panthers' Cam Newton drops a bit. Star rookies Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, as well as new starter Colin Kaepernick, debut high on the list.

    Remember, we are ranking just the starters, so Alex Smith of the 49ers, who is probably better than half the QBs listed here, doesn't qualify because he is a backup. You also won't find Tim Tebow, another backup.

    So here we go …

    No double check needed. He's still the best QB in football, and he has the QB rating to prove it.

    He's 35 and hasn't won a Super Bowl since he was 27. He's 7-7 in his past 14 postseason games, but come on, he remains arguably the best QB in football … and football history.

    He had a bit of a down season, but Eli's game is not often measured by sheer numbers. If you have a big drive in a big game, you'd want Eli at QB. Just see his two Super Bowl wins.

    He is the NFL's most prolific passer. He led the league in yards and TD passes last season. Uh, he also tied for the lead in interceptions with 19.

    Health is an issue, but he's still one of the best playmakers in football. And let's not forget that he has three Super Bowl appearances and two rings.

    6. Joe Flacco, Ravens

    He has moved from good to great with this year's Super Bowl MVP performance. He already has proven to be one of the better postseason QBs of his generation.

    7. Peyton Manning, Broncos

    He had an amazing comeback season after missing 2011. But a loss in his first playoff game again raises questions about his postseason abilities. In 20 playoff games, he's 9-11 with 21 interceptions.

    8. Matt Ryan, Falcons

    A terrific regular-season QB, he finally got over the hump of winning a playoff game. He is almost unbeatable at home.

    9. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers

    He has a Super Bowl appearance after only 10 starts and a scary good throwing-running combination.

    10. Andrew Luck, Colts

    He had a superb rookie season. Prediction: He will be the top QB from the class of 2012.

    11. Robert Griffin III, Redskins

    No question he's a special talent, but can he stay healthy over the long haul?

    12. Russell Wilson, Seahawks

    A surprise starter in 2012, he led the Seahawks to the playoffs with an 11-5 record. He threw 26 TD passes and only 10 interceptions.

    13. Matt Schaub, Texans

    He has strong numbers, but some still question whether he is a real winner and will ever lead the Texans even as far as the conference title game.

    14. Josh Freeman, Bucs

    He set career marks in 2012 for TD passes and yards. He ended up with 27 TD passes and 17 interceptions, though eight picks came in two awful games. Overall, it was his best pro season.

    15. Sam Bradford, Rams

    I might have him ranked a little higher than most, but that's how much I believe in Bradford's talent. He needs to work on accuracy, but I believe he will one day be among the top 10 QBs in football.

    16. Tony Romo, Cowboys

    He still takes too many risks, and as a result, he hurts his team as much as he helps it. He threw a league-high 19 picks. Oh, he's 17-21 in his past 38 starts.

    17. Cam Newton, Panthers

    A spectacular rookie season was followed up by a sophomore slump. However, he did rally late in the season, winning five of the final six games with 10 touchdown passes and only two interceptions, along with four rushing touchdowns. That proved he still has the makings of an elite QB.

    18. Jay Cutler, Bears

    I still question his leadership and decision-making in pressure situations. He has 100 interceptions in 93 regular-season starts. He has skills, but if I had one game to win, I wouldn't want Cutler as my QB.

    19. Andy Dalton, Bengals

    I'm still not sold on Dalton. He's 19-13 as a starter and has guided the Bengals to two playoff appearances, but he doesn't have too many signature wins on his resume and hasn't looked good in the postseason: two losses, no TD passes, four interceptions.

    20. Matt Stafford, Lions

    Bet you didn't know Stafford had more completions than any QB in 2012. Then again, he also threw the ball more than any QB. Only 20 TD passes and 17 picks was a definite step back from his super 2011 season. He should climb on this list in future.

    21. Philip Rivers, Chargers

    He has a world of talent, yet some numbers make you scratch your head: a 15-17 record over the past two seasons and 35 picks in his past 32 starts.

    22. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills

    He actually puts up okay numbers, but he just happens to be playing for a franchise that is in lousy shape at the moment. If he played in a place such as Dallas or Chicago, he might be a star.

    23. Michael Vick, Eagles

    You have to start wondering if Vick has much left, and he seems a long shot to ever find the game to get his team deep into the playoffs. If Nick Foles is Philly's starter next season, he would be ranked in this spot.

    24. Christian Ponder, Vikings

    He is improving, but his team is built around running back Adrian Peterson.

    25. Mark Sanchez, Jets

    From back-to-back AFC Championship Games to an awful 13-TD, 18-interception season, he's about to be run out of the Big Apple.

    26. Matt Cassel, Chiefs

    He had the worst QB rating among starters and just hasn't met expectations.

    27. Carson Palmer, Raiders

    It seems like a hundred years ago when he was such a bright up-and-comer with the Bengals. Wha' happened?

    28. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

    Just a kid, he has shown promise, but nowhere near the level of young QBs Andrew Luck and RG3.

    29. Brandon Weeden, Browns

    The explanation used for Tannehill also applies to Weeden.

    30. Jake Locker, Titans

    The explanation used for Tannehill and Weeden also applies to Locker.

    31. Kevin Kolb, Cardinals

    Kolb came over from Philly and was supposed to be the Cards' solution at QB, but injuries have gotten in the way.

    32. Chad Henne, Jaguars

    The Jags are a mess. You could put almost any average quarterback on this team and he would be last on this list.

    1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

    5. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

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  • 02/09/13--15:42: USF falls to Villanova
  • By Jon Marks, Special to the Times
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    VILLANOVA, Pa. — Last year must seem like light years ago to USF. So many things went right for it in a 22-14 campaign that got the Bulls to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

    But that was then, and this is now. The Bulls plummeted to 10-13 — just one fewer loss than they had all last season — and 1-10 in the Big East after digging a 23-point first-half hole in Saturday's dreary 68-40 loss at Villanova.

    Coach Stan Heath didn't blame the loss of leading scorer Victor Rudd, who strained his groin last week in practice and was held out, for USF's sixth straight loss. Rudd's absence didn't justify a woeful performance in which USF made its first shot, then only 4-of-21 for the remainder of the first half while letting the Wildcats have their way in the paint and in rebounding.

    By the end, after USF needed a late flurry against walk-ons to avoid being doubled up, Heath could only hope it was just one of those days.

    "We're struggling right now, and the basket seems really small," Heath said of USF, which shot 11-for-47 (23.4 percent) and was outrebounded 39-28 total, 21-8 in the first half. "That affects everything we do and affects our defense. It's confidence. We're not executing great, and teams are disrupting us."

    Coach Jay Wright's Wildcats (15-9, 6-5) did whatever they wanted at both ends. Villanova turned a 16-11 lead with 9:11 left in the first half into a 39-16 blowout by intermission.

    The second half wasn't any better for the Bulls, who didn't reach 30 points until 5:44 was left, though they never stopped hustling after loose balls and trying to defend.

    "We're a little frustrated as a team," said freshman JaVontae Hawkins, who came off the bench to score 13, USF's only player in double figures. "We've been losing games, so we've been showing our frustration.

    "Not having Victor affected us a lot. He's our leader out there. He's a scorer and a key on defense. But credit Villanova. They played well.

    "It was just one of those days where we couldn't make a shot."

    Heath hopes that will change for Wednesday's home game against Providence. Plus, he said he thought Rudd could be back by then.

    "I don't know how much difference he could've made," Heath said. "Victor's one of those guys who, when he gets on a streak, opens things up for everybody.

    "But no one's going to feel sorry for you. You just have to make the most with what you have."

    Villanova got 17 points from guard Darrun Hilliard and shot 22-for-42, 52.4 percent.

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    Times wires
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton offered a simple assessment when asked what his team did right Saturday.

    "We put our uniforms on right," he said. "That's about where it stopped."

    He only slightly exaggerated.

    The Seminoles never led and fell to .500 in ACC play in being routed by Wake Forest 71-46.

    "If I was in Wake Forest's shoes, I would have been disappointed that we didn't give them more of an effort, a challenge that would have helped them improve," Hamilton said.

    "With all of the progress that we've made with our program in the last six or seven years, we seemed to have taken a step back with our execution and our effort."

    Travis McKie scored 15 and C.J. Harris 14 for the Demon Deacons (11-12, 4-7), who ended a four-game skid and matched last season's ACC win total.

    "All we talked about was our pride, our confidence, our will, our desire and getting back to playing really good basketball," coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "Simple as that."

    Wake finished with a 45-25 edge in rebounding, which led to a 19-1 edge in second-chance points. Its 14-0 second-half run (Harris scoring seven) made it a 26-point game. FSU (13-10, 5-5) made 6 of 24 second-half shots.

    "They busted a lead open, saw us bleeding and kept going," said FSU's Michael Snaer, whose 13 points tied Clearwater High grad Okaro White for the team high.

    The loss extended FSU's recent up-and-down stretch. Its past six games have been: Snaer's last-second winning shot against Clemson, a 24-point loss to Miami, Snaer's last-second winning shot against Maryland, a 19-point loss to Duke, Snaer's last-second winning shot against Georgia Tech and Saturday's 25-point loss.

    If the trend continues, Miami, 10-0 in ACC play, will be in for some late heartbreak Wednesday in Tallahassee.

    "One good thing about being in the ACC is that you can't dwell on it for so long because you have another challenge coming down the pike," Hamil­ton said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't play excellent come Wednesday night."

    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    GAINESVILLE — Fresh off a humbling loss at Arkansas, and with a big-time game against Kentucky looming Tuesday night, No. 2 Florida got solid support from its reserves and capitalized on exceptional first-half 3-point shooting to earn an 83-58 victory over Mississippi State at sold-out O'Connell Center on Saturday.

    "You need a get-back game sometimes," senior guard Kenny Boynton said. "We did a lot of good things (Saturday). We had 21 assists, and when you have that and are hitting open shots like we were, we're going to be hard to beat. We haven't seen a lot of Kentucky yet, but we'll be focused and ready."

    The Gators (19-3, 9-1 SEC) got great help from freshman guard Michael Frazier II of Tampa and junior forward Casey Prather, who will be relied upon more because junior forward Will Yeguete is out with a knee injury.

    Florida missed its first five 3-pointers, then hit 5-of-6 on the way to a 31-16 lead with 7:36 left in the first half. Frazier hit 3-pointers on three of five possessions to help extend the lead.

    Frazier got his first career start in place of junior guard Scottie Wilbekin, whom coach Billy Donovan said was benched for a lack of energy and enthusiasm in practice the past week.

    "I was just trying to come in and help any way I can," said Frazier, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds. "My role is to bring energy to this team, and if that's starting or coming off the bench, that's what I'm going to try to do."

    Prather, recovering from a high ankle sprain, had a season-high 12 points, five rebounds, one block and one steal.

    "I just know I have to bring more energy to the table," Prather said.

    Donovan said he was pleased with the way the Gators rebounded from Tuesday's loss but said they still need to improve, particularly on defense.

    "We've got to get even more focused defensively than we've been," he said. "Looking down the stat sheet against Mississippi State (7-15, 2-8), who has struggled to score, they got right around their average, and they ended up shooting around 46 percent in the second half. That's too high of a percentage. So we've got to see where we made some mistakes, and I think some guys have got to grow and get better."

    Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    TAMPA — Warren Sapp's improbable journey from a dirt road in Plymouth, near Orlando, to the steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, will be completed during his enshrinement ceremony Aug. 3.

    "There will be two buses leaving from my mother's front door," Sapp said. "And listen to this. How wild are these numbers? George Halas Hall is 999 miles from the front door of my mama's house."

    Sapp's No. 99 that he wore for the Bucs and Raiders was a fixture in the opponent's backfield during his 13 seasons. He was a member of the league's All-Decade teams for the 1990s and 2000s; defensive player of the year in '99; a Super Bowl XXXVII champion; and a seven-time Pro Bowl selection with 961/2 career sacks, second-most for a defensive tackle.

    He will join Lee Roy Selmon as the only Bucs in the Hall. But they shouldn't have to wait long for company.

    LB Derrick Brooks is eligible in 2014, and judging from discussions with many members of the selection committee, he is likely a first-ballot selection. Brooks was an 11-time Pro Bowl player and the defensive player of the year in 2002, when he led the Bucs to the Super Bowl victory over the Raiders. He also was a member of the All-Decade team for the 2000s.

    Former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy also is eligible for the Hall in 2014. Dungy might not be a slam dunk to be elected on his first try, though his accomplishments seem worthy. He went 139-69 (a .668 winning percentage) in 13 seasons, had an NFL-record 10 straight playoff appearances and won Super Bowl XLI as a head coach. (He also was a player on the Steelers' Super Bowl XIII winning team).

    Some voters might believe Dungy should've won more Super Bowls, particularly with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. But his overall contribution to the league might push him over the top. He was the first black head coach to win a Super Bowl.

    And his success as a coach produced a stellar tree of minority head coaches that included Herm Edwards, Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin and Leslie Frazier. In a league that just had eight head coach and seven general manager openings and did not have one filled by a minority candidate, Dungy's influence can't be overlooked.

    RING OF HONOR: Sapp, who should receive his Hall of Fame ring in a ceremony at Raymond James Stadium during the 2013 season, needs to also be immediately inducted into the team's Ring of Honor and his No. 99 retired. That should be followed closely by Brooks and Dungy.

    I'M THINKING: These thoughts:

    Ronde Barber will return for a 17th season if the job and the money are right. Former Bucs coach Raheem Morris, Barber's close friend, told him to play until the wheels fall off. Barber's move to safety was a great one, and he showed no signs of slowing last season. We should know something by the beginning of March.

    • The Bucs are perfect candidates to play in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio. Not only is Sapp being inducted a day earlier — and the team would benefit from the history lesson — but it would let coach Greg Schiano start training camp a week early and play a fifth preseason game. The Bucs have not played in the game since 1998.

    • When Schiano's 24-man coaching staff was officially announced last week, I thought: That's a heck of a lot of coaches, nearly one for every two players on the 53-man roster. Also, nearly half of them coached with Schiano at Rutgers. The man has a certain way of doing things, and he might not be easy to work for. Also, linebackers coach Bob Fraser — from Rutgers — was promoted to assistant defensive coordinator. That's a title I'm not familiar with, and you wonder why it was necessary to have an assistant for coordinator Bill Sheridan. Incidentally, Fraser was replaced by Robb Smith from, wait for it, Rutgers.

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  • 02/09/13--17:40: Sunday: Lightning at Rangers
  • By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Saturday, February 9, 2013


    Lightning at Rangers

    When/where: 7:30; Madison Square Garden, New York

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Lightning hasn't lost in regulation at the Garden since Feb. 14, 2010 (3-0-1). … The Rangers are in a 1 for 13 and 2 for 19 power-play slump. … New York entered Saturday third in the league with 296 hits.

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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    5 questions RW Teddy Purcell

    What do you think of the movie The Shawshank Redemption? It's in my top three.

    And those are? Shawshank Redemption, Usual Suspects, Dumb and Dumber.

    In that order? In no particular order.

    If you could have played a part, what would it have been? One of the extras in a jail cell so I wouldn't have to do a lot.

    Can you act? We did a funny commercial last week. I had the most simple line, and I kept forgetting it.

    New York state of mind

    When Cory Conacher on Wednesday, the day before the game at New Jersey, joined nine teammates for an Italian meal, it was the first time the rookie left wing had been to Manhattan.

    "Pretty intense," he said. "There was a lot of action going on, a lot of people."

    So many, Conacher said, he was "afraid of getting lost in the crowd at the train station." Even so, he loved the energy. "You see every kind of person, business people, parents with children. You see people playing guitars to make money in the station. You see that stuff in the movies. It's pretty cool."

    Grateful ex-teammate

    The Lightning took a chance in July 2009 by signing defenseman Kurtis Foster, who was coming off a broken left leg. Foster, with eight goals and a career-best 42 points in 2009-10, was rejuvenated, thanks, he said, to Marty St. Louis.

    "Marty really pushed me every day in practice and games to make better plays and expect more out of myself," Foster, now with the Flyers, told NHL.com. "When you follow a guy like that, it's going to make you a better player. I can't thank him enough."

    Said St. Louis: "It comes from within you to put the time in and work so you're ready to overcome that kind of injury. I thought he did that."

    Quote of the day

    "It's something that you work hard toward, but it's not something you set as a goal. It's an accomplishment to be up with guys like that."

    Steven Stamkos, whose 186 goals by age 23 trailed only Wayne Gretzky (329), Dale Hawerchuk (220) and Mario Lemieux (215)

    Number of the day

    1.73 Lightning's 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio entering Saturday, third in the league

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  • 02/09/13--18:47: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Saturday, February 9, 2013



    VINA DEL MAR, Chile — Rafael Nadal beat Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-2 on Saturday, putting the Spaniard in both finals of the VTR Open after a seven-month layoff due to a left knee injury and a stomach virus.

    Nadal was scheduled to play twice today, against Argentine Horacio Zeballos in the singles final and, with Juan Monaco, in the doubles final against Italian duo Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace. Nadal said he still has pain in his left knee but his focus is on becoming sharper.

    FED CUP: Varvara Lepchenko won her singles debut to lift the United States to a 1-1 tie against host Italy in a first-round match in Rimini, after Sara Errani beat Jamie Hampton 6-2, 6-1. Lepchenko rallied past Roberta Vinci 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.


    U.S. wins in coach's debut

    Tom Sermanni won in his debut as the U.S. women's coach as Christen Press scored twice in the first half in a 4-1 defeat of Scotland in an exhibition at Jacksonville. Sermanni was hired in October.

    ROWDIES: The NASL champions lost 4-0 to D.C. United of MLS at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic at Lake Buena Vista.


    HORSES: Tampa Bay Downs stewards are expected to conduct a hearing soon on the recent banning of Dr. Orlando Paraliticci from the Oldsmar grounds. Track management refused to discuss why it took the action against Paraliticci, a veterinarian with a clinic in Oldsmar. People can be banned from racing sites through private property rights. … Favorite Spectacular Sky held off Cheechako by a neck to win the $60,000 Manatee Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Ridden by Daniel Centeno, Spectacular Sky ($5.20) clocked 7 furlongs in 1 minute, 23.51 seconds. Appealing Stella was third. … Former Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom was second in what was expected to be his final U.S. race, the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap at Hallandale Beach, with Joel Rosario aboard. Point of Entry won the 11/8-mile race.

    NFL: The Saints hired former Cowboys and Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan for the same post.

    TRACK: Usain Bolt kicked off his season with a rare 400-meter run, winning a heat in 46.74 seconds in Kingston, Jamaica.

    alpine skiing: Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal won the men's downhill at the world championships in Schladming, Austria.

    Don Jensen, Times correspondent; Times wires

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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    BOSTON — Lightning RW B.J. Crombeen will be back in the lineup tonight against the Rangers, five days after he was convinced he was ready to play.

    Crombeen was held out of Thursday's game with the Devils as a precaution after taking some heavy punches to the head during Tuesday's first-period fight with the Flyers' Zac Rinaldo.

    He said he began lobbying to get back on the ice in the second period after the league-mandated concussion testing protocol determined he did not have symptoms.

    "I've gotten hit pretty good in a fight before and come back," Crombeen said after Saturday's skate at TD Garden. "You try to plead your case. You say you feel fine. You passed the tests. Obviously, they had the final call."

    Tampa Bay missed Crombeen's size against the Devils, especially after starting Dana Tyrell instead of 6-foot-4, 220-pound RW Pierre-Cedric Labrie.

    But coach Guy Boucher said sitting Crombeen, 6-2, 209, was the right choice, especially with the heightened concerns about head trauma.

    "There's a person behind the player," Boucher said. "I always try to make my decisions as if the player were my son, what I would want for him. So we made the same type of decision with B.J."

    "I obviously understood but not happily agreed," Crombeen said. "You want to be in there and be part of it."

    LINE DANCING: It sounded as if Boucher would stick with a line he used a bit Thursday with grinder Nate Thompson on the wing with C Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis.

    "It gives us some drive, some quick retrievals, some reliability defensively and some grit to match whoever they're going to put against Stamkos and St. Louis," Boucher said. "That's how you win on the road: a little less fancy plays, less east-west plays."

    Thompson has played this season mostly with Crombeen and Adam Hall. He has two goals and is plus-2 while averaging 13:58 of ice time and winning 55 percent of faceoffs.

    "I can't change my game too much," Thompson said. "I can't go out there and dangle and toe drag like those guys can. I just have to play my game and create space for them and, hopefully, complement that line."

    ROSTER MOVES: Tyrell is on 24-hour waivers with the intention of sending him to AHL Syracuse. Alex Killorn will be promoted for tonight's game.

    GM Steve Yzerman said the move does not reflect on Tyrell, who is 5-11, 192, and had a goal and two points in six games. But the team needs size. Killorn, with 16 goals and 38 points in 41 games with Syracuse, is 6-1, 202.

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    Times wires
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Brandt Snedeker, the hottest player without a win this year, had four straight birdies at Pebble Beach for 4-under 68 Saturday and a share of the lead with rookie James Hahn after three rounds at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

    "I feel like I'm in great position, and I'm going to be surely more prepared, no matter who is around me in the last group," said Snedeker, who posted his ninth straight round in the 60s. "I'm probably going to have the most experience of anybody in those last couple groups of winning a golf tournament."

    Snedeker missed four birdie putts inside 10 feet, including on the last two holes.

    Hahn, 31, birdied his last three holes for 66 at Spyglass Hill — three courses are played in the tournament — putting him in the final group for the first time. He and Snedeker were at 12-under 202, one shot ahead of Chris Kirk (64 at Monterey Peninsula).

    Phil Mickelson, last week's winner in the Phoenix Open over Snedeker, tumbled down the rocks and down the leaderboard at Pebble Beach.

    The defending champion hit a tee shot on the par-5 18th over the cliff and toward the beach. Mickelson was going down to seek the ball when his right foot gave way and he landed hard on his rear end, bracing himself with his hands. "I got lucky. I didn't get hurt," he said. He hit his next shot into the Pacific Ocean and had to scramble for triple bogey, leaving him 11 shots behind after 73.

    Tampa resident Ryuji Imada made the cut at 3 under after 73 at Pebble Beach. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was leading the pro-am with partner Jordan Spieth.

    CHAMPIONS: Rocco Mediate, trying to become the 16th player to win his debut on the 50-and-over tour, shot a course-record 61 for a three-shot lead over Tom Pernice Jr. (65) at 16-under 128 after two rounds at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton.

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    By Derek J. LaRiviere, Times Correspondent
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    ST. CLOUD — Springstead, the back-to-back defending Class 2A state champion, captured its third consecutive Region 2 wrestling team title Saturday.

    The Eagles (196 points) topped runnerup Lake Gibson (187.5) for the team title and qualified nine for next weekend's state championships at the Lakeland Center.

    Although Springstead fell short of last season's total of 12 wrestlers moving on to state, the Eagles crowned three region champions: Mike McDonald (113 pounds), Stephen Pavao (120) and Jordan Rivera (138).

    For Rivera, it was his second consecutive region title. The two-time state placer pinned over Harmony's Jeremy Beesley in 3 minutes, 11 seconds.

    McDonald and Pavao needed more effort to capture their crowns. McDonald scored a 5-2 decision over St. Cloud's Joe McGinley in his final, while Pavao edged Lake Gibson's Sa'Derian Perry 6-4.

    Matt Landgraff (106), Andrew Smith (126), Joe Russo (152), Billy Swift (160), Conor Ross (170), and Corey Humphrey (220) rounded out the Eagles' state qualifiers.

    One week after finishing second to Springstead at the district meet, Nature Coast (108.5 points) was third at region for the second straight season. The Sharks had three qualifiers for state, all earning individual crowns. Sean Nguyen (106 pounds), who lost the district final 9-7 to Springstead's Landgraff, scored an 8-2 win this time. Brandon Vovan (160) beat Sebring's Christopher DeJesus 7-3 for his first region title. And Dylan Savoury (182) pinned Citrus' Brandon Taylor in 4:31.

    Among the other North Suncoast wrestlers to qualify for state was Hernando's Jesse Gaudin (220), who pinned Springstead's Humphrey in 1:30 and Zephyrhills' Joel Morrison (182). Land O'Lakes will send three: Dominic Telesco (106), Bobby Austin (170), and Gary Garcia (195). And Sunlake (Kendrich Portorreal at 132, Zach Kweller at 160), Central (Josh Marquez at 120, Jesus Nieves at 145) and River Ridge (Dakota Arends at 113, Hayden Krautner at 285) each qualified a pair for state.

    3A-2: Brandon rolls

    KISSIMMEE — As expected, Brandon won the 3A-2 region team title, scoring 294 points, but second-place Osceola Kissimmee (212) and others showed the competition is creeping up.

    Palm Harbor University was third (165), while Durant (48.5) and Riverview (46) grabbed top 10 spots at seventh and ninth, respectively.

    "This is probably the best year for this region, as far as the level of talent involved, in the last 30 years," said Eagles coach Russ Cozart, who qualified 13 wrestlers and crowned six individual champions Saturday.

    Capping the meet was a heavyweight rematch between Brandon's Darren Lester and Plant City's Lance Dounges. Lester pulled an upset last week at district after being down 5-1. In the region final at 285 pounds, Lester got the third-period pin again.

    "This time, when he threw me into a lateral, I knew how to counter it," Lester said.

    The 120-pound final was a rematch of last year's 3A state final at 113, when Brandon's James Flint beat Palm Harbor University's Jared Prince 3-2. This year's region final was 3-2 in favor of Prince, who used a foot grab both last week and Saturday. "I saw it, he was leaning in on his left leg so I went for it," Prince said.

    Brandon senior Kyle Norstrem scored major decisions against each of his region opponents, including a 17-2 final against junior Tucker Hardwick of Palm Harbor U.

    A-3: Robinson tops Gulf

    TAMPA — Robinson crowned two region champions and qualified six for state to beat runnerup Gulf 165-128 at the A-3 meet hosted by Berkeley Prep.

    Robinson's Kionte Crocker (138 pounds) and Luis Pegero (170) won their weight class finals.

    Gulf's lone champion was Spencer Baxter (160) but the Buccaneers will send five to state.

    "We could have eight go and I would have been upset it wasn't 10," Gulf coach Travis DeWalt said. "There is room for improvement but we have a good chance of coming home with some winners at state so I'm happy."

    Wesley Chapel was fifth and qualified four for state, led by region champs Tony Ruggio (120) and Jon Galvin (126).

    Times correspondents Andy Warrener and David Rice contributed to this report.


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    Times staff, wires
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    AUSTIN, Texas — Odyssey Sims had 18 points and Brittney Griner sparked No. 1 Baylor's clinching second-half run with her 13th career dunk, leading the Bears to an easy 75-48 win over Texas on Saturday night.

    Griner's dunk was the highlight for the 6-foot-8 All-American forward, who had a mostly forgettable game. Griner had just two points in the first half and didn't have a rebound until midway through the second half.

    Griner finished with 14 points and three rebounds for Baylor (22-1, 12-0 Big 12).

    NO. 2 NOTRE DAME 69, SETON HALL 49: Ariel Braker matched a career high with 15 points as the visiting Irish (22-1, 10-0 Big East) won their 17th straight game.

    NO. 11 LOUISVILLE 78, PITT 45: Shoni Schimmel led five players in double figures with 22 points for the host Cardinals (20-4, 8-2 Big East), who won their sixth straight game.

    NO. 25 IOWA ST. 87, KANSAS ST. 71: Chelsea Poppens had 22 points and 18 rebounds as the host Cyclones (17-5, 8-4 Big 12) won their third game in a row.

    Bulls postponed

    USF's game at Providence, scheduled for Saturday night, was postponed to 1 p.m. today to allow for safer travel after heavy snow blanketed the area. USF's scheduled Tuesday night home game against St. John's was moved to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

    FLA. TECH 63, ECKERD 52: The visiting Panthers erased a seven-point first-half deficit and rallied past the Tritons (9-10, 5-6 Sunshine State).

    TAMPA 64, LYNN 43: Greta Bartkute had 14 points in her first start this season for the host Spartans (14-6, 4-6 SSC), who opened with a 10-0 run.

    BARRY 66, SAINT LEO 58: The Bucs held the host Lions (10-11, 5-6 SSC) to 29 percent shooting in the second half and rallied.

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    By Steve Lee, Times Correspondent
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    WESLEY CHAPEL — A third straight trip to a district final finally paid off for Wesley Chapel, which handily defeated Anclote 65-46 Saturday for the boys Class 5A, District 8 crown.

    The Wildcats, runnersup each of the past two seasons, claimed their first district title in seven years.

    "We've just got a ton of experience, and it really shows," Wesley Chapel coach Doug Greseth said.

    The Wildcats (24-4) advance to the region quarterfinals on Thursday and host Eustis, while Anclote (17-9) will make its playoff debut at Nature Coast.

    As has been the case all season, Erik Thomas led the Wildcats with 25 points and seven rebounds. The senior, who earlier this season surpassed the 2,000-point mark for his high school career, was thrilled to be part of his first district championship team.

    "It feels great," Thomas said. "This is the third year we've been in the championship and we pulled it off. We're part of history now."

    So too are the Sharks, who had advanced to the second round of a district tournament on three previous occasions before winning a district semifinal on Friday, 53-30 over Hudson.

    Carson Emery also had a productive game for Wesley Chapel, contributing 15 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers to stave off a late run by Anclote.

    The Sharks were led by the Carter brothers with Ty scoring 14 points and Shy adding 10.

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    By Derek J. LaRiviere, Times Correspondent
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    ST. CLOUD — Dunedin defending state champion Clarence Arrington continued his undefeated march toward another title Saturday at the Class 2A, Region 2 wrestling meet.

    Arrington scored a 4-2 victory over Springstead's Andrew Smith in the 126-pound region final to improve to 35-0 this season. He was one of four Falcons wrestlers to qualify for the state meet next week in Lakeland.

    Dunedin (86 points) placed fifth in the team standings.

    Marc Allison (132), who had been rolling through the season, had to settle for getting through on a fourth-place finish Saturday. Alex Lebhar (138) won his consolation final in a 13-2 major decision over Auburndale's Devin Glenn to advance. Anthony Dampier (160) lost a 3-1 decision in his consolation final to Springstead's Billy Swift.

    Meanwhile, Springstead, the back-to-back defending Class 2A state champion, captured its third consecutive region team title. The Eagles (196 points) topped runnerup Lake Gibson (187.5) and qualified nine for state.

    Although Springstead fell short of last season's total of 12 wrestlers moving on to state, the Eagles crowned three individual region winners, including Mike McDonald (113 pounds), Stephen Pavao (120) and Jordan Rivera (138).

    For Rivera, it was his second consecutive region title. The two-time state placer pinned over Harmony's Jeremy Beesley in 3 minutes, 11 seconds.

    McDonald and Pavao needed more effort to capture their crowns. McDonald scored a 5-2 decision over St. Cloud's Joe McGinley in his final, while Pavao edged Lake Gibson's Sa'Derian Perry 6-4.

    3A-2: Brandon rolls

    KISSIMMEE — As expected, Brandon won the 3A-2 region team title, scoring 294 points, but second-place Osceola Kissimmee (212) and others showed the competition is creeping up.

    Palm Harbor University was third (165), while Durant (48.5) and Riverview (46) grabbed top 10 spots at seventh and ninth, respectively.

    "This is probably the best year for this region, as far as the level of talent involved, in the last 30 years," said Eagles coach Russ Cozart, who qualified 13 wrestlers and crowned six individual champions Saturday.

    The 120-pound final was a rematch of last year's 3A state final at 113, when Brandon's James Flint beat Palm Harbor University's Jared Prince 3-2. This year's region final was 3-2 in favor of Prince, who used a foot grab both last week and Saturday. "I saw it, he was leaning in on his left leg so I went for it," Prince said.

    St. Petersburg's Thomas Moser came into the event with a recently healed broken nose. He broke it again and was bumped to the consolation bracket. Trainers spent several minutes on the bleeding and Moser got more scratches on his face from the mask. Despite it all, he rallied to win his consolation semifinal and then his third-place match 3-2.

    "I was just determined, all the hard work I put in, I couldn't give up," Moser said.

    A-3: Robinson tops Gulf

    TAMPA — Robinson crowned two region champions and qualified six for state to beat runnerup Gulf 165-128 at the meet hosted by Berkeley Prep.

    Pinellas County schools were led by sixth-place Indian Rocks Christian, which qualified four for state: Jarred Wolfenbarger (113), Jay Dugmore (126), Conner Allshouse (138) and Shackleton Steward (220).

    Admiral Farragut's Noah Huntley won the 285-pound title, pinning Bradenton Southeast's Michael Quintero in 5:36.

    And Northside Christian's Alex Kruklinski won at 195 pounds.

    2A-3: Largo's Derrick Doss (182) scored a 12-5 decision to win a region title while teammate Danny Bergstrom (195) fell just short in 3-2 finals loss at the meet hosted by Charlotte. Dixie Hollins teammates Luis Aldana (170) and Andre Matthews (285) both won their consolation finals to advance to state. Dixie Hollins was fifth and Largo ninth behind team winner Fort Myers Riverdale.

    Times correspondent Andy Warrener and David Rice contributed to this report.


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  • 02/09/13--20:06: Hurricanes win 11th straight
  • Times wires
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    CORAL GABLES — Miami played so well Saturday, it earned a standing ovation from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

    With the Heat stars watching from the front row, the No. 8 Hurricanes put on another show at home, tying a school record with 15 3-pointers and winning their 11th straight game, beating North Carolina 87-61.

    Sophomore Shane Larkin had 18 points and a career-high nine assists for the ACC leaders, who built margins of 9-0 and 44-27 en route to another rout. They improved to 11-0 at home, where each of the past four wins have been by at least 22 points.

    "It's crazy; I see how great of a team we can be," Miami guard Durand Scott said. "We're just rolling."

    Such success is unprecedented for the Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0), who set a school record for ACC victories in a season with eight games to go. They are the last unbeaten team in league play among the major conferences.

    North Carolina, which began the season 18-2 against the Hurricanes, lost to them for the second time in four weeks. Since the formation of the ACC in 1953, Miami is the first team to beat both Duke and UNC by at least 25 points in one season, the Elias Sports Bureau said.

    "Everybody from North Carolina always thinks it's just about North Carolina," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "It's not. Miami is pretty dadgum good."

    Word is spreading, and the attendance-challenged Hurricanes sold out a game for the third in the past four home games. James and Wade, accompanied by teammate James Jones, were on their feet several times to join the cheers.

    Coach Jim Larranaga said he received a phone call early in the week requesting tickets for the Heat players.

    "I told them, 'Sorry, it's sold out.' But then we said, 'We think we can fit you in.' For our recruiting purposes, it gives us a lot of credibility when we tell them we're a hot ticket in town and our program is headed in the right direction," he said.

    Michigan stunned

    MADISON, Wis. — When Ben Brust tied the score at the end of regulation with a shot from just inside midcourt, Mike Bruesewitz looked over at Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and saw something unusual.

    His coach had both his arms in the air.

    "You know when he shows some emotion, you've done something pretty special," Bruesewitz said.

    Brust then hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with less than 40 seconds left in overtime as Wisconsin beat No. 3 Michigan 65-62.

    "It was awesome, something I'll remember forever, and I'm sure a lot of people will," Brust said of the game, which ended with students storming the court and Bruesewitz taking the public address announcer's microphone to thank the crowd as students celebrated around him.

    The Wolverines (21-3, 8-3 Big Ten) became the third top-three team to lose last week, after No. 1 Indiana and No. 2 Florida.

    OKLA. 72, NO. 5 KANSAS 66: Romero Osby had 17 points for the host Sooners, who sent the Jayhawks (19-4, 7-3) to their first three-game skid in eight years.

    NO. 6 GONZAGA 74, LMU 55: Kevin Pangos and Kelly Olynyk had 20 points each for the host Bulldogs (23-2, 10-0 West Coast).

    NO. 12 MICH. ST. 78, PURDUE 65: Branden Dawson had 20 points for the visiting Spartans (20-4, 9-2 Big Ten), who have won nine of their past 10 games.

    NO. 13 KANSAS ST. 79, IOWA ST. 70: Rodney McGruder had 22 points for the host Wildcats (19-4, 8-2 Big 12), now alone in first place in the conference.

    NO. 14 BUTLER 59, GW 56: Rotnei Clark had 14 points for the Bulldogs (20-4, 7-2 Atlantic 10), who nearly blew a 17-point lead by going the last 7½ minutes without a field goal before snapping a two-game road skid.

    UNLV 64, NO. 15 NEW MEXICO 55: Anthony Bennett had 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead the host Runnin' Rebels to a much-needed win over the Lobos (20-4, 7-2 MWC) after two straight losses.

    NO. 23 PITT 62, NO. 17 UC 52: Tray Woodall had 14 points for the visiting Panthers (20-5, 8-4 Big East), whose conference-best defense held the Bearcats (18-6, 6-5) without a field goal over the final 9:21 en route to their seventh win in eight games.

    NO. 19 OREGON 73, UTAH 64: E.J. Singler had 21 points for the host Ducks (19-5, 8-3 Pac-12), who overcame a poor start to end their three-game losing streak.

    NO. 20 G'TOWN 69, RUTGERS 63: Markel Starks had 20 points and Otto Porter had 15 of his 19 in the second half for the visiting Hoyas (17-4, 7-3 Big East), who have won five straight and seven of eight.

    NO. 21 MIssouri 98, OLE MISS 79: Alex Oriakhi had a career-high 22 points to go with 18 rebounds and three blocks for the host Tigers (17-6, 6-4 SEC).

    NO. 22 OKLA. ST. 72, TEXAS 59: Marcus Smart had 23 points for the visiting Cowboys (17-5, 7-3 Big 12), who sputtered offensively for long stretches but used their tough defense to clamp down.

    NO. 24 MARQUETTE 89, DEPAUL 78: Vander Blue had 18 points for the host Golden Eagles (17-5, 8-2 Big East), who moved one-half game ahead of Syracuse for first place in the conference.


    UCF 83, ECU 73: Isaiah Sykes had 20 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and 11 assists for his second triple double this season for the host Knights (17-6, 7-2 C-USA).

    UNCC 51, FAMU 43: Jeremy Ingram had 18 points and seven rebounds as the host Eagles handed the Rattlers (6-17, 3-6 MEAC) their third straight loss.

    N.C. A&T 65, B-CU 55: Lamont Middleton had 17 points for the host Aggies, who shot 64.7 percent in the second half to pull away from Bethune-Cookman (9-15, 4-5 MEAC).

    FLA. TECH 70, ECKERD 69: The visiting Panthers rallied from a 50-34 second-half deficit, going ahead on Chris Carter's three-point play to shock the Tritons (13-6, 6-5 Sunshine State).

    LYNN 71, TAMPA 61: Kaleb Clyburn had 22 points for the visiting Knights, who held off a rally by the Spartans (16-7, 3-7 SSC) to sweep the season series.

    SAINT LEO 65, BARRY 52: Trent Thomas had 19 points for the host Lions (17-4, 9-2 SSC), who clinched the first back-to-back winning conference seasons in program history.

    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    Times wires
    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    CLEVELAND — Danilo Gallinari had 19 points, Kenneth Faried added 17 and the Nuggets won their ninth straight game Saturday night, 111-103 over the Cavaliers.

    The Nuggets, who have won 15 of 17, are on their longest winning streak since posting 10 straight from March 30-April 15, 2005.

    Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 26 points but had foul trouble. The All-Star guard picked up his fourth foul with 5:20 left in the third quarter and went to the bench with the Nuggets up 72-61. Irving returned to start the fourth with Denver ahead 84-73. He scored 12 points in the quarter, but Cleveland's rally fell short.

    The loss ended Cleveland's three-game winning streak that matched a season high.

    Game highlights: Jrue Holiday had 20 points, leading five Philadelphia players in double figures, as the host 76ers defeated the Bobcats 87-76. … Shawn Marion had 26 points and 11 rebounds as the host Mavericks beat the Warriors 116-91.

    Working around snow: After staying overnight in Minnesota because of the massive snow that hit the New York-to-Boston corridor, the Knicks arrived home safely on Saturday afternoon ahead of today's game against the Clippers. The Clippers stayed in Miami overnight after their game Friday night and landed in New York late Saturday afternoon.

    Around the league: The Hawks said they are optimistic guard Lou Williams will be ready for training camp after reconstructive surgery on his right knee. The surgery was performed Thursday in Gulf Breeze by Dr. James Andrews.

    Howard's dad jumps into Lakers story

    First the Lakers' Dwight Howard responded to teammate Kobe Bryant's insistence that the center play hurt. Now Howard is trying to not comment on his dad's comments.

    Dwight Howard Sr. told the Atlanta Journal Constitution he believes coach Mike D'Antoni should have stepped in and curtailed Bryant's public criticism of his son.

    "I promise, if that had been (former Magic coach) Stan Van Gundy, that wouldn't have happened," the elder Howard said. "I think the coach has a lot to do with who controls Kobe's mouth right now."

    The elder Howard said his son needed to sit down with Bryant to hash out their differences. Bryant's response? Enough already.

    "Honestly, I'm done talking about it. … It's silly," he said.

    Howard, in his first season since coming over from the Magic, said, "My dad is a grown man. If that's how he feels, then we'll leave it at that. I'm not going to get into it."

    Nuggets 111, Cavaliers 103

    DENVER (111): Gallinari 6-13 4-5 19, Faried 7-12 3-6 17, Koufos 5-8 0-0 10, Lawson 3-11 4-4 11, Iguodala 6-9 0-0 14, Chandler 2-6 3-4 7, McGee 6-7 1-2 13, A.Miller 3-8 4-5 10, Brewer 2-6 6-8 10. Totals 40-80 25-34 111.

    CLEVELAND (103): Gee 8-8 1-2 20, Thompson 4-10 3-4 11, Zeller 1-3 5-6 7, Irving 10-24 4-4 26, Waiters 1-6 1-2 3, Speights 1-10 3-4 5, Livingston 5-8 1-2 11, Walton 0-2 0-0 0, Ellington 4-6 2-2 13, Miles 3-7 0-0 7. Totals 37-84 20-26 103.

    Denver 30 28 26 27— 111

    Cleveland 32 20 21 30— 103

    3-PointersDenver 6-17 (Gallinari 3-6, Iguodala 2-3, Lawson 1-2, A.Miller 0-1, Chandler 0-2, Brewer 0-3), Cleveland 9-20 (Gee 3-3, Ellington 3-4, Irving 2-5, Miles 1-5, Walton 0-1, Thompson 0-1, Speights 0-1). ReboundsDenver 55 (Gallinari, Koufos 9), Cleveland 47 (Irving, Zeller 6). AssistsDenver 23 (Iguodala 7), Cleveland 24 (Irving 7). Total FoulsDenver 21, Cleveland 23. TechnicalsZeller. A20,562 (20,562).

    76ers 87, Bobcats 76

    CHARLOTTE (76): Kidd-Gilchrist 1-6 0-0 2, Mullens 7-19 2-3 16, Biyombo 0-2 0-0 0, Walker 2-9 2-2 6, Henderson 4-12 5-6 13, Haywood 3-7 3-4 9, Sessions 6-16 7-7 20, Adrien 1-4 0-0 2, Gordon 3-10 1-1 8, Taylor 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 27-88 20-23 76.

    PHILADELPHIA (87): Turner 7-17 2-2 16, Allen 7-16 0-0 14, Hawes 8-15 0-0 17, Holiday 10-23 0-0 20, N.Young 2-8 1-2 5, Pargo 4-9 3-3 12, Moultrie 1-3 1-3 3, Wright 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 39-93 7-10 87.

    Charlotte 17 20 17 22— 76

    Philadelphia 23 15 25 24— 87

    3-PointersCharlotte 2-16 (Sessions 1-2, Gordon 1-4, Henderson 0-2, Walker 0-2, Taylor 0-2, Mullens 0-4), Philadelphia 2-16 (Pargo 1-2, Hawes 1-3, Turner 0-1, Wright 0-2, Holiday 0-3, N.Young 0-5). ReboundsCharlotte 54 (Haywood, Biyombo 7), Philadelphia 67 (Allen 22). AssistsCharlotte 20 (Walker, Sessions 4), Philadelphia 24 (Holiday 7). Total FoulsCharlotte 17, Philadelphia 19. TechnicalsPargo. A15,048 (20,328).

    Pistons 105, Bucks 100

    DETROIT (105): Singler 5-11 1-2 11, Maxiell 2-4 0-0 4, Monroe 6-12 2-3 14, Calderon 10-13 0-0 23, Knight 2-13 0-0 4, Stuckey 5-9 8-8 19, Villanueva 7-13 0-0 18, Bynum 4-8 4-4 12, Kravtsov 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 41-83 15-19 105.

    MILWAUKEE (100): Mbah a Moute 5-9 1-2 11, Ilyasova 5-8 3-3 15, Dalembert 5-10 4-4 14, Jennings 8-27 6-6 26, Ellis 3-9 2-2 8, Udrih 1-7 0-0 2, Dunleavy 3-7 3-3 10, Udoh 1-4 5-6 7, Henson 3-5 1-2 7. Totals 34-86 25-28 100.

    Detroit 33 24 24 24— 105

    Milwaukee 22 34 26 18— 100

    3-PointersDetroit 8-17 (Villanueva 4-7, Calderon 3-4, Stuckey 1-2, Singler 0-1, Knight 0-3), Milwaukee 7-17 (Jennings 4-10, Ilyasova 2-3, Dunleavy 1-3, Udrih 0-1). ReboundsDetroit 53 (Monroe, Villanueva 13), Milwaukee 48 (Dalembert 12). AssistsDetroit 25 (Calderon 10), Milwaukee 19 (Jennings 7). Total FoulsDetroit 20, Milwaukee 14. A15,511 (18,717).

    Mavericks 116, Warriors 91

    GOLDEN STATE (91): Barnes 4-10 2-2 12, Lee 4-9 2-2 10, Biedrins 0-0 0-0 0, Curry 8-23 1-1 18, Thompson 4-14 0-0 11, Landry 4-6 5-7 13, Bazemore 3-11 1-4 7, Jefferson 1-1 3-4 5, Green 3-8 2-2 8, Ezeli 2-3 0-0 4, Jenkins 0-2 0-0 0, Tyler 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 34-89 17-24 91.

    DALLAS (116): Marion 11-16 2-2 26, Nowitzki 3-12 8-11 15, B.James 1-2 0-3 2, Collison 5-9 5-5 18, Mayo 6-13 5-5 19, Brand 5-9 1-2 11, Carter 1-4 4-6 7, Crowder 2-5 0-0 6, Beaubois 2-3 0-0 4, Da.Jones 1-2 4-4 6, M.James 0-0 0-0 0, Wright 1-1 0-0 2, Do.Jones 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 38-77 29-38 116.

    Golden State 16 20 30 25— 91

    Dallas 30 32 23 31— 116

    3-PointersGolden State 6-16 (Thompson 3-7, Barnes 2-3, Curry 1-3, Bazemore 0-3), Dallas 11-20 (Collison 3-4, Marion 2-3, Crowder 2-3, Mayo 2-4, Nowitzki 1-2, Carter 1-3, Beaubois 0-1). ReboundsGolden State 61 (Green 9), Dallas 49 (Marion, Brand 11). AssistsGolden State 12 (Curry 4), Dallas 25 (Mayo 9). Total FoulsGolden State 26, Dallas 23. A20,355 (19,200).

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