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Poor-shooting Louisvilleekes past Northern Iowa


Times wires
Thursday, November 22, 2012

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — No. 2 Louisville overcame a poor offense in a 51-46 win over Northern Iowa at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Thursday. It faces No. 13 Missouri in tonight's semis.

The Cardinals (4-0) led 26-20 at halftime despite making 10 of 37 shots and committing 10 turnovers. They held Northern Iowa to one field goal over 10:47 of the second half in going up 40-24. It then went 5:12 without scoring, and it was 48-46 when the Cardinals missed a shot.

But a jump ball was called on the rebound with 6.3 seconds left with the possession favoring Louisville. Russ Smith, who scored a team-high 16, made a layup off the inbounds, was fouled and finished the three-point play.

No. 5 Duke 89, Minn. 71: Mason Plumlee scored 20 and tied a career high with 17 rebounds for the Blue Devils in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Seth Curry scored 25 for Duke (4-0), which got all but two points from starters and faces Virginia Commonwealth in today's semis. In an 88-67 victory over Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday, Plumlee scored a career-high 28 with nine rebounds.

No. 13 Mizzou 78, Stanford 70:

Laurence Bowers scored 13 of his 19 in the second half for the Tigers in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Bowers, who also had 10 rebounds, entered averaging 1.5 points in the first half and 14 in the second. Down 12 in the first half, Stanford cut it to 72-68 with 1:15 left before Missouri (4-0) sealed it with free throws.

No. 17 Gonzaga 57, Clemson 49: Kelly Olynyk, back after a three-game suspension for violating the student code of conduct, had 13 points and two blocked shots for the Bulldogs in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. Gonzaga (4-0) faces Oklahoma in today's semis.

VCU 78, No. 19 Memphis 65: Treveon Graham scored 26 for the Rams in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Down 16 in the first half, the Tigers (2-1) cut it to 63-61 with 4:05 left. Virginia Commonwealth then went on an 11-0 run.

Coach in trouble: Morehead State said it is discussing punishing coach Sean Woods for appearing to shove his point guard, Devon Atkinson, during Wednesday's 81-70 loss at Kentucky. A decision is expected this morning.


No. 2 UConn 95, Wake 34: Breanna Stewart scored 20 for the Huskies in the first round of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. UConn (3-0) led 12-0 then 45-12 at halftime.

No. 14 Purdue 71, Marist 51: KK Houser scored 17 for the Boilermakers (4-0), who closed the first half with a 23-6 run at the Paradise Jam.

UF corners shrug flags for results


Times wires
Thursday, November 22, 2012

GAINESVILLE — Will Muschamp constantly gives his cornerbacks high-risk, high-stress assignments.

They work alone, desperate to keep a receiver occupied long enough for Florida's pass rush to invade the backfield. Not only do they shoulder the responsibility of man-to-man coverage with little or no safety net, they play bump-and-run at the line of scrimmage and chase receivers downfield without an eye on the quarterback.

More often than not, corners such as Loucheiz Purifoy, Jaylen Watkins and Marcus Roberson are winning those battles. As No. 6 Florida prepares for its final regular-season game, Saturday at No. 10 Florida State, it leads Division I-A in pass efficiency defense.

"We put a lot of pressure on our guys, and our guys rise up and make plays," Muschamp said of his corners. "If people understood how much pressure we put on our guys, they'd probably be a little more understanding every now and then about a pass-interference call."

Every pass-interference penalty is frustrating, but the Gators tolerate many of them as simply the cost of their playing style. Florida emphasizes denying short passes and pressuring the backfield. Muschamp said that is the plan, as opposed to playing back and leaving space underneath the coverage, at least 80 percent of the time.

If that means defensive backs commit pass interference or defensive holding, which they have done 12 times (three were declined), so be it.

"Sometimes it's a bang-bang play," Muschamp said. "That's where I get frustrated sometimes when people complain about pass interference. Well, you know, the way we play, sometimes there is contact. That's part of the deal."

Roberson and Purifoy have been flagged three times each, though two of Roberson's were declined. Watkins has been caught once.

The tradeoff: Roberson is second in the SEC with 11 pass breakups, Watkins is sixth with eight and Purifoy has five. Watkins also leads Florida with three interceptions. The Gators are 13th in I-A with 63 passes broken up or intercepted.

Because those corners are dependable, Florida can use a variety of blitzes and schemes without worrying about receivers running free.

The unit will be tested extensively Saturday. Florida State has one of the best passing attacks in the ACC. The Seminoles have six players with at least 20 catches and average 281.5 passing yards.

Florida's pass defense is No. 19 in I-A, allowing 185.8 yards per game. The Gators have held opponents to 17 completions or fewer in seven of their past eight games.

"It's very difficult, especially against some of the skilled people we've played against," Muschamp said. "It's not that we ask them to do a lot of stuff, but we ask them to do a difficult job."

Ballhawking TCU topples No. 18 Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Christian could get used to these Thanksgiving games. Given their first chance to play one since 1928, the Horned Frogs beat No. 18 Texas to get the biggest win of their first season in the Big 12.

Matthew Tucker scored two touchdowns, Jaden Oaberkrom kicked two field goals and TCU's defense forced four turnovers, three by Texas quarterback David Ash in the first half. Shortly after the Horned Frogs had dumped their old Southwest Conference rivals 20-13, purple-clad fans sprinkled among the burnt-orange of Royal-Memorial Stadium chanted "T-C-U!"

"I'm going to probably get home sometime tomorrow and go out in the street and yell," TCU coach Gary Patterson said.

The Horned Frogs (7-4, 4-4) picked off two passes near their own goal line to kill Texas scoring drives and picked up an Ash fumble at the Texas 16 that set up Tucker's second touchdown. The Horned Frogs also dominated the line of scrimmage, running the ball 48 times for 217 yards and passing just 10 times.

Ash was relieved by Case McCoy, who led a late touchdown drive before an interception by Sam Carter in the final two minutes sealed the win.

Texas (8-3, 5-3) had won four in a row and came in with an outside shot at the Big 12 title or a BCS bowl bid with a win.

"We missed a great opportunity to get back in the mix for some things," coach Mack Brown said. "You can't win a football game when you have four turnovers."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Jets gift 200th to Belichick


Times wires
Thursday, November 22, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tom Brady and the Patriots turned four Jets turnovers into touchdowns during a 35-point second quarter on their way to a 49-19 victory on Thursday.

In all, New York committed five turnovers, including an interception by Mark Sanchez.

New England's scoring explosion came a week after it put up 59 against the Colts, and it helped Bill Belichick become the eighth NFL coach with 200 career victories, including the playoffs.

Brady opened the scoring with a 3-yard pass to Wes Welker on the first play of the second quarter. From there, the Jets made it easy for the Patriots.

Shonn Greene's fumble gave the ball back, and Brady needed one play, an 83-yard pass to Shane Vereen, to go up 14-0.

Sanchez fumbled, and Steve Gregory scooped it up for a 32-yard return and 21-0 lead.

Joe McKnight fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Julian Edelman ran it in from 22 yards, New England's third touchdown in a 52-second span. Only two other times had a team scored three touchdowns in less than a minute since the NFL-American Football League merger in 1970, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: the Seahawks against the Falcons in 2002 and Falcons against the Panthers in 1998.

Brady hit Edelman with 56-yard touchdown with 3:08 left as the Patriots widened the lead to 35-0 and Jets fans started chanting for Tim Tebow to replace Sanchez. They never got him. Coach Rex Ryan said Tebow, who was questionable with a rib injury, could have played in the wildcat if the game was close.

Top-10 rankings add luster to Florida Gators -Florida State Seminoles showdown


By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2012

Throughout the 1990s, Florida vs. Florida State was among the premier college football rivalries in the nation. But as each program went through various struggles and periods of rebuilding, the game lost some of its luster. Florida won six consecutive meetings between 2004 and 2009, seven of nine from 2001-09.

But Florida and Florida State meet this afternoon at Doak Campbell Stadium and the national prominence has returned. The No. 6 Gators (10-1) are ranked No. 4 in the BCS and are playing for a BCS bowl berth and a potential shot at a national title game appearance — with help from a few other teams. The 10th-ranked Seminoles (10-1) need a victory over the Gators to maintain their top-10 BCS standing and attempt to move up.

But this week you'd be hard-pressed to find any Gators discussing anything but the Seminoles. And vice versa. Florida coach Will Muschamp's message for his team on Monday was simple: focus on what you can control, leave the BCS "clutter" outside where it belongs.

"We can only control what we can control, we can't worry about everything else going on," Florida junior center Jonotthan Harrison said. "Our next step to the BCS is beating FSU. So that's the point of emphasis. We can't worry about any external factors. All we can control is us."

Muschamp and FSU coach Jimbo Fisher understand what's at stake for both programs. The Gators have lost two straight in the series and scored a combined 14 points in that span. The Seminoles are trying to extend their recent dominance. So, to be clear, the rivalry is as important as the rankings.

"This game is important for a lot of reasons besides any ranking that's involved or anything outside of that," said Muschamp, who added that coaches hired at Florida understand beating FSU is part of keeping their jobs. "It's an important game for the University of Florida. It's important for your state to win this football game. There's a lot of other reasons that come first and foremost in my mind as opposed to the external situation out there."

Fisher couldn't agree more.

"This is a Florida game," Fisher said. "If you need that for motivation to play Florida, then something isn't right. We're going to play Florida, and it's nothing about the BCS or rankings or anything else. We know the importance of this game because it's Florida. That's why you're here at Florida State — to play, compete and do well against Florida, and that's our sole purpose."

The game features two of the nation's top defenses. FSU is ranked No. 1 in total defense (236.27), while the Gators are No. 4 (281).

"We definitely want to try our best to have a dominant defensive performance," Florida junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins said.

UF's biggest issue in handling the talented FSU defense is that it's working with an offense ranked No. 104 nationally and with sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel returning for the first time since suffering a sprained ankle on Nov. 10. Driskel's health will be a concern.

"I know it's a very physical game," Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "I know, because you're playing against your friends, you're playing against kids that you've grown up with, not necessarily at your school but other schools that you've played against in high school. So you want to be at your best. You want to have that bragging right for a year. And you know, you want to have the credit to step out and be proud of what you've done. It's going to be, the kids have got the passion to win this one, obviously."

FSU quarterback EJ Manuel said the key against Florida's defense will be picking up the blitzes and getting the ball out quickly. Ultimately, he said, it's still all about the rivalry.

"I just look forward to playing the game," Manuel said. "It's a huge game, it's Florida. Even if both of these teams weren't in the top 10 or both of us were 0-11, it would still be a huge game in the state of Florida. I have learned that in my five years here, and I am extremely happy about (today's) game."

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

No. 6 Florida at No. 10 Florida State

3:30 p.m. today, Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee

TV/radio: Ch. 28; 620-AM, 1040-AM

Line: FSU by 7

Weather: Sunny, mid to low 60s, no chance of rain, wind 9-10 mph

Today's top national games

• No. 20 Michigan at No. 4 Ohio State, noon, Ch. 28

• Auburn at No. 2 Alabama, 3:30, Ch. 10

• No. 1 Notre Dame at USC, 8, Ch. 28

Safety Mark Barron gets chance to shine Sunday against Falcons


By Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2012

TAMPA — Rookie running back Doug Martin has been a star, rushing his way through the record books.

Rookie linebacker Lavonte David has been one of the Bucs' most consistent defensive players, turning into a tackling machine.

But there are games, such as Sunday's against the Falcons and their future Hall of Fame tight end, Tony Gonzalez, that highlight why the Bucs took safety Mark Barron seventh overall in April's draft.

Barron, a 6-foot-1, 213-pound thumper, is providing the physical presence and run-stopping ability the Bucs saw from him while he was at Alabama. But Tampa Bay also believed Barron's size, height and athleticism would make him invaluable against a league filled with physically gifted tight ends.

And Gonzalez, 36, might be as good as they get.

"It's another big test this week for Mark, for sure," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "One of the big things we really loved was the way Mark run-supported in college. In our division, having to defend these great tight ends, Mark would be a great matchup. I think he has been. He needs to play really well."

Barron has made mistakes with the Bucs. At times he has relied too much on his athleticism, and he needs to make better decisions in pass coverage.

Barron said he enjoys the challenge of facing the seemingly ageless Gonzalez, a 6-5, 247-pounder who has a team-high 64 receptions. Only Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice (1,549) has more career catches than Gonzalez (1,213), in his 16th season. "I'm honestly surprised he's still performing at the level that he is," Barron said. "He's still performing at a high level. I've got to make sure I prepare well."

Barron made a splash in his debut, Week 1 against Carolina, limiting tight end Greg Olsen to six catches for 56 yards and delivering a huge hit on veteran receiver Steve Smith. A few weeks later against Washington, a blitzing Barron body slammed touted rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III for a sack.

"Mark is a silent killer," Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "He doesn't do too much talking, but when he hits you, you know it. He hits you and looks at you like, 'That's what I do.' "

It seems like each week Barron and the Bucs must contend with a gifted tight end. The must face in their division Olsen, Gonzalez and the Saints' Jimmy Graham, not to mention nondivision matchups against the Cowboys' Jason Witten and the Chargers' Antonio Gates.

Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said Barron made necessary adjustments after the 34-24 win over San Diego on Nov. 11 and carried them over into the Carolina game last weekend. Though Barron did get called for pass interference in the end zone, Sheridan said it wasn't indicative of his performance in the 27-21 overtime win.

"I think he played all right," Sheridan said. "Like a lot of our guys, Mark's a developing player. He's getting better every single week. Some of the things we emphasized coming off the San Diego game — keeping depth in his coverages, because if you don't get the depth, you risk getting the ball thrown past you — we asked him to do a better job with, and he did that."

Barron also has earned the praise of opposing coaches.

"Mark is an impact player," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "He's a guy you can put close to the line of scrimmage and he feels comfortable. But at the same time, he can match up with those displaced tight ends. I've been very impressed with him."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Captain's Corner: Kingfish, cobia, Spanish mackerel still out there


By Ed Walker, Times Correspondent
Friday, November 23, 2012

What's hot: Though Thanksgiving is often regarded as the end of the fall fishing season in north Pinellas, migratory game fish and forage species show no sign of leaving. Kingfish, cobia and Spanish mackerel have been abundant from deep offshore waters to the shallow grass flats of Tarpon Springs.

Techniques: Cast small jigs or shiny spoons over the flats. The really big mackerel often bite through the typical 25- or 30-pound test leader. If you are catching small- to medium-sized mackerel but getting "chewed off," there's a good chance you are missing the really big mackerel. Try using extra-heavy monofilament leader. By adding a short section of 60- or 80-pound test mono for a leader, the fish will still strike but be far less likely to bite through. Wire leader can be used but will reduce bites.

Tackle: When targeting toothy species such as mackerel, swivels often cause cutoffs. But tying 80-pound test leader directly to a 25-pounder can be tricky. We have two options for leader connections. The Albright Special joins lines of unequal size. Or tie a Bimini Twist in the mainline and connect that to the heavier leader with a "No Name Knot."

Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at info@lighttacklecharters.com and (727) 944-3474.

College football previews: UCF, Miami, Bethune-Cookman, Florida International


Times staff, wires
Friday, November 23, 2012

UAB at UCF, noon, FSN, 1350-AM

The Knights (8-3, 6-1 Conference USA) seek their fourth East Division title in eight seasons along with a spot in the CUSA title game and another crack at Tulsa, which edged the Knights 23-21 last week and hosts the title game next week. Sophomore RB Darrin Reaves of the Blazers (3-8, 2-5) needs 34 rushing yards to become the fourth UAB player to reach 1,000 yards for a season.

Miami at Duke, 12:30, Ch. 44, 1470-AM

The Hurricanes (6-5, 4-3 ACC) can clinch a share of first in the Coastal Division with a win, but they are ineligible for the league title game because of a self-imposed bowl ban. Duke WR Desmond Scott had 10 receptions for 124 yards against Georgia Tech last week. The Blue Devils are 6-5 overall, 3-4 in the league.

Bethune-Cookman vs. Coastal Carolina, 2

The Wildcats (9-2), unbeaten in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play, make their fourth appearance in the Division I-AA playoffs. Coastal Carolina (7-4) won the Big South Conference.

Louisiana-Monroe at FIU, 6

FIU (3-8, 2-5) topped rival FAU last week in the Shula Bowl. Senior WR Wayne Times caught a pass for the 28th consecutive game. Louisiana-Monroe (7-4, 5-2) ended a two-game losing streak last week.

Times staff, wires

No. 7 Florida Gators remain unbeaten, wear down UCF Knights 79-66


By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2012

GAINESVILLE — There would be no upset this time.

Two years ago, the UCF men's basketball team christened the Amway Center in Orlando with an upset victory over the Gators. On Friday afternoon at the O'Connell Center, No. 7 Florida (5-0) overcame another rocky offensive start for a 79-66 victory over UCF (3-2).

Reminiscent of Tuesday's game against Savannah State, Florida struggled early. The Gators missed their first nine shots before junior guard Scottie Wilbekin hit a 3-pointer at 16:10. Florida shot 10-for-15 in an 11-0 run to take a 24-12 lead with 8:23 remaining in the half.

"We were missing every possible shot," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "I thought we had some good shots, but they just didn't go through. Our defense definitely kept us in the game."

Trailing 42-24 at halftime, UCF opened the second half with an 11-0 run to pull within seven, but that was as close as it could get. UCF shot 57.1 percent from the field overall and 80 percent from 3-point range in the second half, but the Knights are playing with eight scholarship players, and Florida's pressure and uptempo style eventually wore them down, coach Donnie Jones said.

Florida's bench outscored UCF's 28-0, led by Wilbekin's 17, and eight points and four rebounds from Casey Prather.

UCF's Kasey Wilson was 5-for-6 from 3-point range and scored a team-high 20.

"I'm not trying to take anything away from Florida. … They wore us down with constant pressure, and we turned the ball over 19 times; that's way too many," Jones said.

"That was our goal: We knew they played seven guys, and we definitely tried to press them and to get them tired," said Gators senior guard Kenny Boynton, who had a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds after spraining his left ankle Tuesday.

Prather played his first game after sustaining two concussions in nine days before the season. He left temporarily after he bit through his lip when he was hit on his first play; he required at least four stitches.

"I was upset because I wasn't sure I was going to be able to come back," Prather said. "It just feels great to be able to play again, really for the first time since the NCAA Tournament."

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

Injured Bucs cornerback Eric Wright might play vs. Falcons


By Rick Stroud and Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writers
Friday, November 23, 2012

TAMPA — Bucs CB Eric Wright has been down but still is not out for Sunday's game against the Falcons.

Wright, who aggravated an Achilles/ankle injury and did not finish either of the past two games, was limited at practice Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday.

But Wright, listed as questionable, has not been ruled out.

"I think he's done enough that we'll see," coach Greg Schiano said.

If Wright can't play, rookie Leonard Johnson, a former Largo High quarterback, likely would start at right cornerback opposite E.J. Biggers. LeQuan Lewis would be the nickel corner in passing situations. With Atlanta QB Matt Ryan leading the NFL in passing, it's not an ideal scenario. "It's going to be very challenging," Schiano said. "And now you have some moving parts on our side."

KEEPING CLOSE: If the recent history of the Bucs-Falcons rivalry is any indication, Sunday's game will be won in the final minutes.

Though Atlanta has won six of the past seven, six games since 2008 have been decided by 10 or fewer points, including three by three points.

"I think the NFC South is one of the most competitive divisions in all of football year in and year out," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "It's always been hard-fought games, and we anticipate the same type of game this weekend."

In 2010, Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount was stopped short of the goal line on fourth and 1, allowing Atlanta to squeak out a 27-21 home win. In their second meeting that year, the Bucs blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to lose 28-24 at home. Last season the Bucs won 16-13 at home. Last season's finale was a 45-24 Falcons home win. "Sunday's going to be a fun one," Bucs TE Dallas Clark said. "It's going to be a great environment, a great atmosphere. I expect a hard-fought, 60-minute-and-then-some type of game."

RIGHT FIT: Lost in the shuffle of Sunday's come-from-behind victory over the Panthers was the first career touchdown by Bucs backup TE Nate Byham. Byham, 24, a third-year pro out of Pittsburgh, caught a 3-yard pass from Josh Freeman in the back of the end zone in the first quarter.

"It was awesome," he said. "It was a really cool experience. It happened so quick."

It has been a whirlwind for Byham, who was signed Oct. 2 after spending his first two seasons with San Francisco. A sixth-round draft pick in 2010, Byham had a strong rookie season, playing in 14 games. He tore his left ACL on the second day of camp last year, ending his season.

Byham, released in August, was confident he'd get another shot and hoped it would be in Tampa Bay due to his connections. Tight end coach Brian Angelichio coached him at Pitt, and he faced Schiano's Rutgers team for four seasons.

Byham, 6 feet 4, 264 pounds, is known for being a good blocker, and that's how he mainly has been used. But he also has caught three passes for 18 yards in four games (one start).

"I feel really comfortable in the offense now," Byham said. "It took only a few weeks to get caught up to speed. It's been good for me. I've come in at the right time and have been riding the wave."

Panther fined: The NFL fined Carolina LB Thomas Davis $21,000 for Sunday's helmet-to-helmet hit on Bucs WR Tiquan Underwood.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

Kickin' back with Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson


By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2012

I understand you almost went to Columbia University. You must have been quite a student, yes?

Well, it was always education first for me. It's a one-in-a-million chance that you'll make it as a professional athlete, so education was always first in my household. Before I could go out and play sports, I had to take care of the books. It came down to Columbia or Northern Colorado. I had some Division II offers, too. I had a 4.1 GPA and was (fourth) in my class. Columbia was really appealing, but the Ivy League schools don't really give athletic scholarships. I didn't want to leave college with a bunch of loans. So I took the partial scholarship at Northern Colorado and ended up playing basketball my second year to get a little more (financial aid) to get my school taken care of.

What were your aspirations outside of football?

My interests have always been around business. Northern Colorado has a great business school; probably one of the top five west of the Mississippi. Now I invest in a few restaurants in San Diego. I've got a partnership in a real estate business out of Reno (Nev.). I'm involved in Lacer Headwear, which is the hat I'm wearing. I like to try some different things. And I'm always learning.

Why didn't anyone recruit you coming out of high school?

I don't know. I had size. I was 6-3, 190 (pounds). I played both ways, safety and receiver. I was honorable mention all-state and had decent numbers. We weren't a powerhouse in high school football. We were like 4-6 in my junior and senior year. And Colorado Springs is not exactly a hub for (college recruiting). It's not like schools from the SEC are coming around to recruit. I sent tapes out and got no callbacks.

You seem to know a little about hard work. You had a number of jobs when you were younger, right?

I've had a lot of odd jobs. My first job was working at a Super 8 motel cleaning rooms. My best friend's grandfather was the manager, and it was a summer job for us. We didn't, like, wear aprons or anything. We did maintenance. I also sold Kirby vacuum cleaners. Honestly, I did very well with it. I was a shy kid. I didn't like speaking in front of crowds. But somehow, I managed. I used to catch the moms at home in the afternoons and play with the kids and clean a couple spots on the carpet. And next thing you know, you're closing a deal. It was an experience. I also was a cook at the airport. I worked at a military base, in the kitchen. I worked at Domino's (pizza). That was one of my favorite jobs. You got to drive your own car. You kept all the tips, and they paid you a little money for your gas. Hey, I couldn't always ask mom and dad for money for a pair of new kicks all the time, so I worked. I wanted to be able to have a little independence.

Here are our weekly questions: What's playing the most on your iPod right now?

It's hard for me to pinpoint one thing because I have such variety. (Rapper) Kendrick Lamar had a recent album that I like. I like hip-hop. But I also listen to a good bit of country. Jason Aldean has a new record that's pretty good. You're going to find a lot of combinations with me. I listen to even classical music.

What website do you visit most?

Actually, Bloomberg.com. My financial adviser and I are pretty close, so we talk quite a bit. I'm always interested in the market and the economy. It just has a lot of good stories about what's going on overseas. I like to stay up on things.

This might be a dumb question, but is there a reality TV show you watch regularly?

I do actually watch some, but it's not like the Kardashians. I watch the ones on A&E; like stuff on alligator hunting and the gold rush show. I love that kind of stuff. I love Swamp People. And I love Food Network, too. I love food, and I love to cook. I like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Man vs. Food. Intervention, too.

You like to cook? What's your best dish?

Right now, I'd say that turkey I fried (on Thanksgiving) was pretty good. I think I did a great job. I make a pretty good manicotti. I make grilled chicken tacos, too. Those are my two go-to things.

Your dad was in the Army, and you moved around a lot. What was your favorite place to live?

The time in Germany was probably most memorable. We actually lived off the base, and we were kind of in a little German community. We had a sheep pasture (nearby) that always had sheep. I always remember they would get out all the time. You'd wake up in the morning, and there'd be 40 sheep running through your front yard. You'd see the farmers trying to round them up. But it was great. While we were there, we went up to Sweden, visited Paris. I was about 10, so those memories are distinct. I think that's where I want to go in the offseason; take a trip back to Europe and see some different things as an adult.

Bucs vs. Falcons: What they're saying, by the numbers


Times staff
Friday, November 23, 2012

Bucs vs. Falcons

1, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa.

Radio: 620-AM, 103.5-FM

Line/over-under: Falcons by 1; 50

The poll

The Bucs have won five of their past six after a 1-3 start. Which victory was the most fun to watch/follow?

27-21 (OT) over Carolina: 50 percent

36-17 over Minnesota: 22 percent

42-32 over Oakland: 20 percent

34-24 over San Diego: 6 percent

38-10 over Kansas City: 2 percent

Total: 856 votes

Inside the numbers

19-18 Bucs' record against the Falcons, although the Falcons have won six of the past seven

2-2 Record of Falcons QB Matt Ryan in four trips to Tampa Bay.

5 Yards per carry allowed by the Falcons, 30th in the NFL

6/10 Touchdowns and interceptions the Bucs' Josh Freeman has thrown in his past five games against Atlanta

106.1 Passer rating of Freeman since Oct. 1 with an NFL-best 8.58 yards per attempt

What they're saying

"Their whole front is relentless. These guys don't quit until they hear the whistle. They play extremely hard. That jumps right off the tape at you. For us to be successful, we're going to have to outwork their front."

Dirk Koetter Falcons offensive coordinator, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Even with two head-to-head games remaining with the Falcons, it is probably too late to catch them. But the Bucs are in prime position to earn a wild card spot.

Brian Billick Fox Sports

As part of an offseason spending spree that drew plenty of attention but not nearly as much praise, the Buccaneers shelled out a five-year, $55.55 million contract to wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Many criticized the move as Jackson's off-the-field issues and contentious relationship with San Diego management raised plenty of red flags. Some called it a roll of the dice. If that's the case, it's a roll that has the Buccaneers collecting chips rather than heading back to the ATM machine.

Joe Fortenbaugh National Football Post

The picks

A tough one to call. It's in Tampa. Both teams are 5-1 since Oct. 1. The Falcons have been just okay the last two weeks (Falcons 50, Foes 50) with seven turnovers. I think John Abraham pesters Josh Freeman — who has become a very good clutch player — into a turnover or two. Falcons, 20-16.

Peter King Sports Illustrated

A month ago, who thought this game would be so important? The Bucs are in the playoff race thanks to their offense. The defense is still struggling. I think the Falcons take advantage of that with a good offensive showing. Falcons, 38-30.

Pete Prisco CBSSports.com

Bucs are scaring everyone with their offense. They will scare but not beat the Falcons. Falcons, 30-27.

Barry Wilner Associated Press

Bucs hope trio avoids hitting rookie wall


By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2012


Considering the number of NFL games he has played since August, S Mark Barron normally would be shutting it down after winning a national title at Alabama.

RB Doug Martin no longer would be running on the Smurf Turf at Boise State, having returned from a bowl game in Las Vegas.

LB Lavonte David would have squeezed all the juice from the season with Nebraska's trip to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Ten weeks into the NFL season is when first-year players typically begin to hit what is known as the rookie wall, banging into the rock-hard reality of physical and mental fatigue.

All three players have filled enormous roles for the Bucs this season. Barron (picked sixth overall) is third with 57 tackles. Martin (31st) is among the league's top rookies with 1,000 yards rushing. David (58th) leads the team in tackles with 90.

Bucs coach Greg Schiano says his staff has monitored the energy level of the rookies and believes they are handling the marathon that is the NFL season pretty well.

"A lot of it is mental," Schiano said. "It's kind of like when you're working out. If you say you're going to do 10 reps, at nine, you start straining. If you say you're going to do 12, you fly past nine. So we don't want to make too big a deal of it with our guys because the reality is the guys who are playing, who are young, are well-conditioned athletes. I think our coaches do a really good job of taking care of them in practice, limiting the reps they can.

"We stress it, and they do it; taking care of their bodies. I think that's one of the biggest parts of being a true professional. It's taking that extra time in the tubs. And with the massage people and with all the treatments, do you just leave the building and get out of here?"

Typically, that's the biggest adjustment for young players. Their bodies recover pretty quickly because of their age. But the hits are harder and the season longer, so recovery habits must be learned.

Getting treatment for bumps and bruises and spending time in the weight room, pools and other areas of recovery are critical.

"If you look at the three guys who are really playing a ton and some of the other guys, they come from programs where they have done that," Schiano said. "At Alabama, (coach Nick Saban) talks about taking care of your body. At Boise (State), the same thing. You just go down the list; at Nebraska with Bo (Pelini).

"So those kids come here understanding that, and we just amp it up a degree. The best teacher for that is our current players. When you have guys like Ronde (Barber) and Vincent Jackson, guys who really take care of their bodies, now they look up and say, 'That's how you do it.' "

BLOUNTED ROLE: Although the past three games suggest otherwise, LeGarrette Blount still is the backup tailback, Schiano says. Blount had only two carries for 5 yards against Oakland, one for 3 against San Diego and none against Carolina.

In fact, replacing Martin more often than not is third-down back D.J. Ware. But Schiano insists there still is a role for Blount and he will not hesitate to utilize him.

"I think D.J. has a specific role. He's our third-down back, and LeGarrette is our backup running back," Schiano said.

"I wouldn't read too much into the last (three) weeks of him not (playing much). He'll have a role, and he'll do fine. I'm confident he'll do fine."

College football preview: No. 6 Florida Gators at No. 10 FSU Seminoles, 3:30 Saturday


By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2012

Sports in brief


Times wires
Friday, November 23, 2012


Ill mcilroy shares lead

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Rory McIlroy overcame what he thought was sunstroke to move into a share of the halfway lead at the PGA European Tour's season-ending World Championship on Friday.

McIlroy shot 5-under 67 and was tied with first-round leader Luke Donald (68) and Marc Warren (67) at 11-under 133. They were one stroke ahead of Louis Oosthuizen (67) and Branden Grace (65).

McIlroy said he had "a really sore head and a fever" after his Thursday 66 that left him one behind Donald. "I think it was a bit of sunstroke. I took a few things and felt better, but I'm not feeling great again."

Sergio Garcia, playing for the first time since laser eye surgery, matched the course record with 64 to sit four shots behind.

Et cetera

Alpine skiing: Though weakened by a stomach virus, four-time overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn will compete in one of two Cup races this weekend at Aspen, Colo. She will race in today's giant slalom and skip Sunday's slalom. Vonn was hospitalized for two nights last week, then resumed training a few days later. "It was definitely the most pain I've been in in my life," she said.

Figure skating: Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu improved his world-record score in the men's short program to lead at the NHK Trophy in Sendai, Japan. Japan's Mao Asada led the women; American Mirai Nagasu was second. In ice dance, 2011 world champion Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White led.

Bobsled: American Steven Holcomb extended his season-opening winning streak to three in a World Cup two-man race at Whistler, British Columbia.

Autos: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first day of practice for Formula One's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Palo with a lap of 1 minute, 14.026 seconds.

Baseball: Gail Harris, the last player to homer for the New York Giants before they moved to San Francisco in 1957, died Nov. 14 in Gainesville, Va. He was 81.

Soccer: Two Italian men ID'd as Roma fans were charged with attempted homicide in a mob attack on Tottenham fans at a Rome bar before the English club's Europa League match vs. Lazio on Thursday. Seven were hurt.

Times wires

Changes at Tampa Bay Downs raise spirits ahead of 87th season


By Don Jensen, Times Correspondent
Friday, November 23, 2012

OLDSMAR — More than 200 days ago, four-time leading jockey Ronnie Allen Jr. closed out the Tampa Bay Downs 2011-12 meet with a win aboard Senor Habanero.

The Oldsmar thoroughbred track's 87th season begins Dec. 1 with Allen and other familiar horsemen back for the 91-day meet.

After a challenging year, vice president and general manager Peter Berube has made several tweaks, including a four-day racing schedule most weeks. The majority of races will be on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"We hope the change in schedule and the enthusiasm of the horsemen will make for a promising meet," Downs spokeswoman Margo Flynn said. "The goal is to try to improve over last season."

Led by Jamie Ness, the track's six-time defending champion and the nation's wins leader, all top 10 trainers are returning. Three Breeders' Cup-winning trainers have stalls: William "Buff" Bradley, Tom Proctor and Ian Wilkes.

New conditioners include Alan Benning and Bill Kaplan (both from Miami), Jena Antonucci (New York), Martin Drexler (Canada) and Tim Hamm, who tied Ness for second-leading trainer at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa. Olga Nowak and Bobby Raymond are among the conditioners from Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Mass.

Midwest Thoroughbreds, a Ness client, goes for its fourth consecutive owner crown. The Illinois outfit ranks first nationally in victories and finished second to Ken and Sarah Ramsey in 2011 Eclipse Award voting for owner.

The jockey colony is solid with the returns of Allen, four-time track wins leader Daniel Centeno and Willie Martinez, a former Downs champion who won the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Nov. 3 with Trinniberg.

Defending champion Leandro Goncalves isn't returning; he has opted to ride at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. One newcomer is Ryan Curatolo (New York), who was second to Kyle Frey in 2011 Eclipse Award voting for apprentice rider.

"We've had a lot of interest from people coming from all over … yet again — western Canada, eastern Canada and right here in Florida," Flynn said. "People have come from far and wide to enjoy the track surfaces that we have."

Opening day also is Cotillion Day, a card featuring 2-year-olds only. There will be two $75,000 stakes races at 6 furlongs: the Inaugural and the Sandpiper (for fillies). They kick off a 25-race stakes program totaling $2,595,000. A breakfast that allows patrons to mingle with jockeys and trainers is from 8 to 10 that morning in the track pavilion near the paddock.

Cotillion Day is part of a major day of horse racing in the state. Gulfstream Park also opens its meet that afternoon, with the Hallandale Beach site hosting the 14th annual Claiming Crown, a national event for claiming horses that have started under tags of $7,500 or less to $35,000 since Jan. 1, 2011.

NFL to review challenge rule


Times wires
Friday, November 23, 2012

NEW YORK — The rule that negated using instant replay to overrule a Texans touchdown "may be too harsh," will be re-examined immediately and could be changed this season, NFL director of football operations Ray Anderson said Friday.

"Not being able to review a play in this situation may be too harsh and an unintended consequence of trying to prevent coaches from throwing their challenge flag for strategic purposes in situations that are not subject to a coaches' challenge," Anderson said in a statement released by the league,

Anderson said the NFL is not bound by past events when a rule is proved to have loopholes and a 15-yard penalty for throwing the challenge flag on a play that is automatically reviewed might be enough. For now, throwing the challenge flag also eliminates the use of replay. All scoring plays otherwise are reviewed.

Justin Forsett's third-quarter 81-yard run Thursday for Houston initially was ruled a touchdown. Replays showed his knee and elbow touched the turf. Detroit coach Jim Schwartz challenged, resulting in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the negated use of instant replay.

Anderson said getting the calls right is paramount and the league might have overlooked the scenario that occurred Thursday.

Suh kick: The league said it will review Thursday's play in which Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh appeared to kick Texans quarterback Matt Schaub intentionally in the groin. Anderson called the play "out of the ordinary. … It didn't appear to be a natural football move."

Tebow hurt: Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has two broken ribs. The former Gator was hurt two weeks ago against Seattle, but initial X-rays were negative. He played three snaps Sunday against St. Louis. Tebow was active but did not play Thursday against New England. Before the game, he refused pain-killing injections. His status for the Jets' next game has not been determined.

Bounty scandal: New Orleans linebacker Jon Vilma said he is disappointed that he won't be present for testimony given by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and former assistant Mike Cerullo. Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue is scheduled to hear from Cerullo on Thursday and Williams on Friday morning, both in Washington. But the Saints play the Falcons on Thursday.

Bears: Coach Lovie Smith hopes to learn today if quarterback Jay Cutler can start Sunday. He sat out Monday with a concussion. If Cutler can't go, Jason Campbell will start.

Browns: Former Gator cornerback Joe Haden, who sat out last week with an oblique injury, said he is "90 percent" recovered and will play Sunday.

Chargers: Left tackle Jared Gaither went on season-ending injured reserve with a groin injury. Gaither signed a four-year, $24.5 million deal in March but played in only four games (starting all of them). He missed almost all of training camp and the first three games with a back injury. He injured his groin against the Saints on Oct. 7 and played only two games afterward. Asked if he was happy with Gaither's work ethic, coach Norv Turner said, "It is what it is. There's not really a lot left to be said about it."

49ers: Coach Jim Harbaugh said he expects quarterback Alex Smith, who sat out Monday with a concussion, to be medically cleared by today. But Harbaugh denied Thursday's espn.com report that he has decided Colin Kaepernick will start Sunday.

Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu, who has played only five quarters this season due to a strained right calf, practiced for the first time in seven weeks. He's doubtful to play Sunday.

Blackout: The Bengals' home game against the Raiders won't air in Cincinnati, their second straight blackout.

Bucs vs. Falcons: Scouting report


By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2012

The Bucs face their biggest test of the season, putting a four-game win streak on the line. The key to this game: Tampa Bay's porous pass defense against league-leading passer Matt Ryan. Can the Bucs limit the damage enough to give their quarterback, Josh Freeman, an opportunity to win?

Falcons' top offensive player

QB Matt Ryan, right, is having a career year, and it's no coincidence the Falcons are flying high. He has thrown for an NFL-high 3,072 yards and 20 touchdowns. His .718 winning percentage since 2008 is third best in the NFL.

Falcons' top defensive player

End John Abraham, left, is having another big year with nine sacks. Key stat: Abraham has just one sack against the Bucs over the past six meetings.

What the Falcons do best

With downfield threats in receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons throw deep early and often.

How you beat the Falcons

Get them into a shootout. The Saints did that in handing the Falcons their only loss. The Bucs average more points than Atlanta.

Bucs must avoid …

Turnovers. After playing so soundly in previous weeks, the Bucs had three last week and barely won. That can't happen.


Falcons 28, Bucs 24

Projected starters



WR: Vincent Jackson

LT: Donald Penn

LG: Jeremy Zuttah

C: Ted Larsen

RG: Jamon Meredith

RT: Demar Dotson

TE: Dallas Clark

WR: Mike Williams

QB: Josh Freeman

RB: Doug Martin

FB: Erik Lorig


LDE: Michael Bennett

DT: Gerald McCoy

DT: Roy Miller

RDE: Daniel


SLB: Adam Hayward

MLB: Mason Foster

WLB: Lavonte David

CB: E.J. Biggers

CB: Eric Wright

SS: Mark Barron

FS: Ronde Barber

special teams

PR: Roscoe Parrish

KR: LeQuan Lewis

PK: Connor Barth

P/KO: Michael Koenen



WR: Julio Jones

LT: Sam Baker

LG: Justin Blalock

C: Robert McClure

RG: Peter Konz

RT: Tyson Clabo

TE: Tony Gonzalez

WR: Roddy White

QB: Matt Ryan

RB: Michael Turner

WR: Hugh Douglas


LDE: John Abraham

DT: Corey Peters

DT: Jonathan Babineaux

RDE: Peria Jerry

OLB: Mike Peterson

MLB: Sean Weatherspoon

OLB: Stephen Nicholas

CB: Dunta Robinson

CB: Asante Samuel

SS: Will Moore

FS: Thomas DeCoud

special teams

PR: Dominique Franks

KR: Jacquizz Rodgers

PK/KO: Matt Bryant

P: Matt Bosher

Stat pack

1, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa | Radio: Ch. 13; 620-AM, 103.5-FM | Line, O/U: Falcons by 1; 50

Injury report

Bucs — Out: S Cody Grimm (hamstring). Questionable: CB Eric Wright (Achilles). Probable: DE Michael Bennett (shoulder), S Ahmad Black (illness), CB Leonard Johnson (heel), DE Aaron Morgan (shoulder), WR Tiquan Underwood (head), LB Dekoda Watson (hamstring).

Falcons: Out: S Charles Mitchell (calf). Questionable: WR Kevin Cone (groin), DT Peria Jerry (quadriceps), WR Julio Jones (ankle), CB Asante Samuel (shoulder), DT Vance Walker (ribs), LB Sean Weatherspoon (illness, ankle). Probable: DE John Abraham (back), DT Jonathan Babineaux (neck), K Matt Bryant (back), CB Christopher Owens (thigh), QB Matt Ryan (finger), RB Michael Turner (groin).

Huskers win division


Times wires
Friday, November 23, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Winning five straight games mostly without him didn't mean Nebraska doesn't need Rex Burkhead.

On a cold and blustery afternoon with a spot in the Big Ten title game on the line, Burkhead proved why he's so valuable to the Cornhuskers.

Burkhead scored the go-ahead touchdown in his return from a knee injury and No. 17 Nebraska beat Iowa 13-7 Friday to claim the Legends Division's berth in the league championship game.

The Huskers (10-2, 7-1) face Wisconsin on Dec. 1 in Indianapolis after winning six straight since a loss at Ohio State.

It'll be a rematch of Nebraska's thrilling 30-27 home win over the Badgers in late September.

"I remember after Ohio State, I said what we needed to do, and you all looked at me like I was a crazy man. I probably thought I was a crazy man that night. I believe in this team. Honestly, I'm proud of those kids in that locker room," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said.

Burkhead, making his first appearance since aggravating a sprained left knee Oct. 20 against Northwestern, broke through with a 3-yard scoring run to make it 13-7 late in the third quarter. He rushed for 69 yards, all in the second half.

Alonzo Whaley's interception with 2:11 left sealed the victory for Nebraska as the Huskers held the Hawkeyes (4-8, 2-6) scoreless in the final three quarters in windy conditions.

Mark Weisman had 91 yards rushing for Iowa, which finished the season on a six-game losing streak. The Hawkeyes will miss out on a bowl game for just the second time since 2000.

"Nobody's happy about where we're at," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We fully realize we have a lot of work to do right now."

LSU wins, awaits help

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Jarvis Landry helped LSU keep the SEC championship in reach with a 20-13 win over Arkansas.

Now the receiver and the rest of the No. 8 Tigers must sit back and wait as their next destination — perhaps next weekend's SEC title game — is played out elsewhere.

Landry's spectacular one-handed touchdown catch in the second quarter helped LSU (10-2, 6-2 SEC) hold off the reeling Razorbacks. It marked the sixth time in eight seasons that the Tigers have reached double-digit wins under coach Les Miles.

LSU must hope for an unlikely Alabama loss to Auburn and a very possible Texas A&M victory against Missouri today to win the SEC West and earn a trip to Atlanta. Even without a division crown, the Tigers could still get an at-large bid to the BCS.

Ryan Wilson threw for 359 yards to break Ryan Mallet's mark of 7,493 career passing yards, finishing with 7,765 for the Razorbacks (4-8, 2-6).

"We'll take the next day and a half or so and watch TV tomorrow and be excited about it, and move forward and see how things go," Miles said.

Zach Mettenberger passed for 217 yards and hit Landry for the play of the day with 1:12 left in the first half to put LSU up 10-0.

NO. 23 KENT ST. 28, OHIO 6: Senior linebacker C.J. Malauulu returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown — 12 seconds after another Kent State touchdown — and the host Golden Flashes (11-1, 8-0 MAC) remained perfect in the conference with their 10th straight win. They are ranked for the first time since 1972, the last time they appeared in a bowl.

NO. 24 N. ILLINOIS 49, E. MICHIGAN 7: Jordan Lynch ran for 107 yards and Akeem Daniels scored a career-best four touchdowns for the visiting Huskies (11-1, 8-0 MAC), who rolled in a tuneup for next week's league title game against No. 23 Kent State.

SYRACUSE 38, TEMPLE 20: The Orange left the Big East winners. Ryan Nassib threw for 215 yards and a touchdown, and Adonis Ameen-Moore rushed for two scores in Syracuse's final game in the league. The Orange (7-5, 5-2) is moving to the ACC next season. Temple (4-7, 2-5) led 20-17 lead midway through the third on Clinton Granger's 10-yard run.

WASH. ST. 31, WASH. 28, OT: Andrew Furney kicked a 27-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime as the host Cougars (3-9, 1-8 Pac-12) overcame an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to shock their rival. Washington had a chance to win on the final play of regulation, but Travis Coons' 35-yard field goal was wide right after a bad snap.

WEST VIRGINIA 31, IOWA ST. 24: Tavon Austin turned a touch pass from Geno Smith into a 75-yard touchdown with 6:31 left for the visiting Mountaineers (6-5, 3-5 Big 12), who broke a five-game skid and became bowl eligible for the 11th straight season.

UTAH 42, COLORADO 35: Reggie Dunn responded to Marques Mosley's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with one of his own 13 seconds later for the visiting Utes (5-7, 3-6 Pac-12). The Buffaloes (1-11, 1-8) had their worst record since the school's inaugural 0-4 campaign in 1890 and went winless at home for the first time since 1920.

E. CAROLINA 65, MARSHALL 59, 2OT: Shane Carden's 1-yard touchdown run in the second overtime Friday lifted the host Pirates (8-4, 7-1 Conference USA). The Thundering Herd (5-7, 4-4) failed to become bowl eligible, increasing the chances that C-USA won't have enough teams to fill all of its bowl slots, including the one at the Beef O'Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg. The result also means UCF must beat UAB today to make the C-USA title game; otherwise, East Carolina wins the East Division and faces Tulsa next week.

C. MICHIGAN 41, UMASS 21: Zurlon Tipton ran for 185 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries as the visiting Chippewas (6-6, 4-4 MAC) became bowl eligible.

Soccer: FSU advances

TALLAHASSEE — Senior forward Tiffany McCarty scored in the 53rd minute as Florida State made the women's soccer College Cup semifinals with a 1-0 victory over visiting Notre Dame. The Seminoles (19-3), the top seed in their region, meet fellow No. 1 Penn State, a 1-0 winner over Duke, on Nov. 30 in San Diego. FSU made the College Cup semifinals for the sixth time overall and second year in a row.

VOLLEYBALL: Host FSU clinched the ACC title, defeating Miami 3-1 in the regular-season finale. The ACC does not have a conference tournament in volleyball. The Seminoles (27-3, 18-2) were tied after winning the first set 25-20 and losing the second 22-25, but they took the last two 25-14, 29-27. The Hurricanes (25-5, 17-3) led 19-14 in the fourth before FSU rallied.

Seminoles post fourth rout in four games


Times wires
Friday, November 23, 2012

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Leonor Rodriguez scored a career-high 22 and Chasity Clayton had 21 as Florida State posted its school-record fourth consecutive victory of 30 points or more Friday, 90-51 over Eastern Kentucky at the San Juan Shootout.

The Seminoles (4-0) opened the season with home wins over Samford (77-42), Florida (98-67) and Stetson (76-44).

FSU faces its first ranked opponent today, taking on No. 17 Vanderbilt, which is coming off a 73-66 loss to Virginia.

Rodriguez went 8-for-8 from the floor with three 3s against EKU (3-1). Guard Morgan Toles didn't score, but she had 10 assists and no turnovers as the Seminoles shot 54 percent from the field.

"Not since (ex-Seminole) Courtney Ward have I seen a point guard that can distribute the ball like Morgan and Cheetah (Yashira Delgado, six assists) can," FSU coach Sue Semrau said. "Morgan was dishing it (Friday) where they could score."

Virginia 73, No. 17 Vandy 66: Jazmin Pitts scored a career-high 20 off the bench as the Cavaliers upended the Commodores (3-2) at the San Juan Shootout.

UF 66, N.C. State 64: Carlie Needles' 3-pointer with six seconds left lifted the Gators (4-1) past the Wolfpack at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas. N.C. State lost the ball going upcourt and fouled Sydney Moss (15 points, 10 rebounds), who hit a free throw for the final margin. Needles had nine points.

"This was a really a gutsy performance, and I could not be more proud of how we handled the adversity of a lot of moments," said coach Amanda Butler, whose Gators play Northern Iowa today.

USF 85, N. Dakota 58: Junior guard Inga Orekhova scored a career-high 23, including five of the host Bulls' 11 3-pointers, and USF improved to 4-0 with a rout of winless North Dakota.

"This might have been Inga's best game, shot selection-wise," coach Jose Fernandez said. "The good thing was our guards were able to find her."

No. 2 UConn 81, Marist 39: Freshman Breanna Stewart had 20 points and the Huskies (4-0) held Marist without a field goal for 13 minutes at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. UConn plays Purdue today.

No. 14 Purdue 67, Wake 53: Sam Ostarello had 15 points as the Boilermakers (5-0) pulled away.

No. 3 Baylor 92, Liberty 60: The Bears (5-1) cruised to their 43rd consecutive win at home.

No. 4 Duke 90, Valpo 45: The Blue Devils (3-0) posted their 57th consecutive home victory over unranked nonconference foes.

No. 5 Notre Dame 76, No. 19 UCLA 64: Freshman Jewell Loyd (19 points) and Kayla McBride (18) made up for the off game by All-American Skylar Diggins (12 points, four turnovers) and the Irish (4-0) pulled away against the host Bruins (2-1).

No. 6 Penn St. 80, Detroit 72: Maggie Lucas scored 27 and the Nittany Lions (4-0) held on at the Cal State Northridge tournament in Los Angeles.

No. 8 Ga. 84, St. Bonaventure 48: Khaalidah Miller scored 22 and had five steals as the Bulldogs (6-0) forced 24 turnovers at the University of New Mexico tournament in Albuquerque.

No. 9 Ky. 73, Morehead St. 37: Samarie Walker scored 15 as the host Wildcats (3-1) had a 34-7 edge on the offensive glass.

No. 11 Cal 91, E. Wash. 58: The host Golden Bears (4-0) got 28 points off turnovers.

LSU 71, No. 12 W. Va. 63: Danielle Ballard scored 25 and the Tigers upset the Mountaineers (3-1) at the Thanksgiving Classic in Miami.

No. 13 Okla. 73, Ark. 70: The Sooners (3-1) overcame a 30-point night from the Razorbacks' Keira Peak at the Wahine Showdown in Honolulu.

No. 22 Kansas 76, Ala. A&M 59: Carolyn Davis scored 19 for the host Jayhawks (4-0).

No. 23 Neb. 74, USC 65: Lindsey Moore scored 23 and the Cornhuskers (5-1) rallied with a 17-2 ending run over the host Trojans.

No. 24 Dayton 68, Buffalo 44: The host Flyers are 5-0, their best start since going 6-0 in 1992-93.

Eckerd 83, P.R.-Bayamon 55: Liga Vente and Annie Armstrong each scored 18 as the host Tritons (2-1) won their home opener in the Thanksgiving Classic.

USF Bulls scuffle with Cincinnati on final play in loss


By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2012

TAMPA — The final play in USF's 27-10 loss to Cincinnati on Friday saw players having to be separated by officials after a Bulls defensive player was taken to the ground along the Bearcats sideline.

One official was knocked down trying to separate the teams.

Bulls coaches said they didn't see enough to know who instigated the scuffle but would check the footage.

"It's an emotional game. I certainly don't condone (what happened)," USF coach Skip Holtz said.

"I'm anxious to see what happened at the end. I asked the official at the end, 'Can you tell me what happened over there?' And he said just a lot of pushing and shoving. I really could not tell instigators or what happened."

Cincinnati ran plays with backups rather than taking a knee at the end. The scuffle started away from the ball, with a USF player on his back on the Cincinnati sideline. The teams had been separated on previous occasions late in the game.

"You don't want that in football," USF defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said.

HURTING: Holtz said he was concerned about sophomore WR Terrence Mitchell, who had concussion symptoms and memory loss after helmet-to-helmet contact with a Cincinnati player as he tried to make a block. Mitchell, a Hillsborough High graduate who took a medical redshirt last year after missing most of the season with a concussion, stayed on the field for several minutes before being helped off. He likely will sit out next week's finale against Pittsburgh.

"I am concerned about Terrence Mitchell's welfare," Holtz said.

ONE FLAG: One bright spot for USF was a lack of penalties. It had one flag for 5 yards, an all-time low for the program in both categories. USF had drawn two penalties twice, against East Carolina in 2003 and Drake in 1997, and had a previous low of 15 yards in that East Carolina game.

BIG KICK: Senior P Justin Brockhaus-Kann had a busy first half with six punts, including a 70-yarder that was a career long and the second longest in USF history. The kick bounced and rolled from the USF 11-yard line to the Cincinnati 19. The only USF punt longer was a 72-yarder by Devin Sanderson in a 42-3 loss at Arkansas in 2002.

NOT SO GOOD: Cincinnati had four punts in the first half, allowing USF to try Andre Davis in a second stint as returner. Mitchell has fumbled or muffed four punts this season, losing three of the loose balls.

Davis let Cincinnati's first punt go over his head, and that went for 65 yards, after USF had punted from the Cincinnati 40 for a touchback. Between the punts, Cincinnati picked up 45 net yards. Davis finished the first half with minus-2 yards on his returns, then slipped and fell on his first return of the third quarter.

FIRST STARTS: Hoping to improve a pass defense that has been a consistent weak spot, the Bulls gave redshirt freshman CB Kenneth Durden his first career start in place of senior George Baker, who started the first 10 games. USF also made a change at left tackle, starting junior Lawrence Martin, who had played sparingly all season. Senior Mark Popek was sidelined by a lingering ankle injury after returning last week.

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