Update on the latest in sports:


Associated Press

Posted on March 16, 2012 at 10:00 AM


Syracuse survives a scare

UNDATED (AP) — Top seeds Kentucky and Syracuse were able to advance to the third round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament Thursday, although it took a late rally for the Orange to avoid becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16th seed in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

The Orange trailed with six minutes left before defeating UNC-Asheville 72-65 in the East Regional.

Backup forward James Southerland finished with 15 points and a season-high eight rebounds while giving Syracuse more of an inside presence following the loss of Fab Melo due to ineligibility. The Orange didn't do much from outside, missing 17 of their first 20 three-point attempts and finishing 5-for-23.

Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters both had 12 points for Syracuse, while J.P. Primm had a game-high 18 points for Asheville.

The Bulldogs led 34-30 at the breaking, making them just the third No. 16 seed to lead at halftime. But a couple of controversial calls over the final 80 seconds prevented them from getting any closer than three points down the stretch.

Kentucky raced out to a 45-26 lead and beat No. 16 Western Kentucky 81-66 in the South Regional. Terrence Jones delivered 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Doron Lamb added 16 to help the Wildcats bounce back from their loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC title game.

The defending champs have been bounced from the tournament for the first time since UCLA in 1996. Chris Allen led four Iowa State players in double figures with 20 points in a 77-64 triumph over Connecticut. The Cyclones led by 22 in the first half and earned the right to play Kentucky on Saturday.

The South Regional also included third seed Baylor squeezing out a 68-60 win over No. 14 South Dakota State after trailing by 12 in the first half. Pierre Jackson finished with 18 points and Brady Heslip added 17 to spoil the Jackrabbits' first trip to the NCAA tournament.

No. 11 Colorado will take a crack and beating Baylor after the Buffaloes upset No. 6 UNLV 68-64. Askia Booker contributed 16 points and Colorado squandered most of a 49-29 lead before winning their first NCAA appearance in nine years.

Bradford Burgess drained a go-ahead three-pointer with 1:33 left as No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth pulled out a 62-59 win over fifth seed Wichita State. Ragland had 15 points for the Rams, who blew a 13-point lead in the second half.

Next up for VCU is Indiana, which came away with a 79-65 win over New Mexico behind Jordan Hulls' 22 points. Hulls shot 7-of-8 in the second half, including his own 11-point run that allowed the Hoosiers to blow it open.

Back to the East Regional, where Deshean Thomas scored a career-high 31 points and snared 12 rebounds to lead second-ranked Ohio State to a 78-59 romp over Loyola of Maryland. Jared Sullinger delivered 12 points, grabbed 11 boards and helped the Buckeyes outrebound the Greyhounds 49-24.

Robert Sacre and Gary Bell Jr. each scored 14 points as seventh seed Gonzaga coasted by No. 10 West Virginia 77-54. The Bulldogs shot 56 percent, put together a 13-0 run in the first half and dealt the Mountaineers their worst postseason loss in 28 years.

Rodney McGruder scored 30 points to lead eighth-seeded Kansas State over No. 9 Southern Miss 70-64. Jordan Henriquez added 15 points, nine rebounds and six blocks as the Wildcats earned the right to face Syracuse on Saturday.

No. 4 Wisconsin ripped No. 13 Montana 73-49 as Jordan Taylor provided 17 points, six assists and eight rebounds. Ryan Evans added a team-high 18 points for the Badgers, who will take on Vanderbilt on Saturday.

John Jenkins went 6-for-6 from the line down the stretch and finished with 27 points in No. 5 Vanderbilt's 79-70 triumph over Harvard. The Commodores led by 18 early in the second half and won despite failing to make a field goal over the final 5:22.

Over to the West Regional, where third seed Marquette blew most of a 19-point lead before whipping BYU 88-68. Jae Crowder finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds, and Darius Johnson-Odom provided 12 of his 20 points after halftime.

No. 4 Louisville was a 69-62 winner against Davidson as Peyton Siva (SEE'-vah) scored 17 points and had six assists. Chane Behanan added 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Cardinals advanced to play New Mexico in the third round.

The fifth-seeded Lobos were 75-68 winners against Long Beach State as Kendall Williams scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half. Drew Gordon produced 18 points and 13 rebounds while New Mexico was holding Big West player of the year Casper Ware to 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting.

Isaiah Canaan (KAN'-uhn) had 15 points and backcourt mate Donte Poole added 13 to lead No. 6 Murray State past Colorado State 58-41. The Racers went on an 18-2 run in the second half to take control earn a third-round meeting with Marquette.


Stansbury retiring

UNDATED (AP) — Mississippi State men's basketball coach Rick Stansbury is retiring after 14 seasons, 11 postseason appearances and a 293-166 record at the school.

The Bulldogs failed to make the NCAA tournament field the last three years and lost in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday.


Thunder down Nuggets

UNDATED (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder padded their lead in the NBA's Western Conference while rebounding from Monday's loss to Houston.

Kevin Durant had 24 points and Russell Westbrook added 23 as the Thunder dumped Denver 103-90. James Harden scored 18 points off the bench for the Thunder, who opened a four-game lead over San Antonio in the West.

Also in the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points and Dallas rallied from 14 points down in the second quarter to beat Charlotte 101-96. Jason Terry added 18 points as the Mavericks won for only the fourth time in their last 12 games.

Gordon Hayward scored 18 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead Utah past Minnesota 111-105. Paul Millsap stole the ball twice in the final minute of overtime, made a key jumper and fed Hayward for a dunk as Utah scored the final six points.

The Clippers were 91-87 losers to Phoenix, putting Los Angeles two games behind the Lakers for the Pacific Division lead. Shannon Brown dropped in a season-high 21 points and the Suns outscored the Clippers 27-12 in the fourth quarter.

Washington's John Wall had 26 points and 12 assists in a 99-89 triumph at New Orleans.


Howard staying put

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Dwight Howard is staying in Orlando.

The Magic center has signed papers agreeing to waive the early termination option in his contract. Howard had the option of ending his five-year deal in July and entering the open market, which prompted the Magic to shop him around.


McMillan fired

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers have fired coach Nate McMillan. The move came one day after a 42-point loss to the Knicks in New York. Assistant coach Caleb Kanales will be the interim head coach.

The Blazers have lost seven of their last 10 games to fall out of the Western Conference playoff race at 20-23. McMillan went 266-269 in over six seasons as coach of the Blazers and led them to the playoffs the previous three seasons


Beating the deadline

UNDATED (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers were able to swing a pair of deals just before Thursday's trade deadline.

They acquired backup point guard Ramon Sessions and forward Christian Eyenga from Cleveland for forward Luke Walton and Jason Kapono (kah-POH'-noh). The Lakers also sent veteran guard Derek Fisher and a first-round selection in this year's draft to Houston for forward Jordan Hill.

The Rockets pulled off a trade with Portland, getting center Marcus Camby from the Trail Blazers for point guard Jonny Flynn, center Hasheem Thabeet and a second-round pick.

Portland continued its roster alteration by sending Gerald Wallace to New Jersey for center Mehmet Okur (meh-MET' oh-KOOR'), forward Shawne Williams and a protected first-round draft pick. The pick is protected if it is in the top three.

The Nuggets have shipped Nene (neh-NAY') to the Wizards in a three-team deal, with Washington sending JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf (ROHN'-ee TOOR'-ee-ahf) to Denver and Nick Young to the Los Angeles Clippers. Washington also picks up forward Brian Cook and a second-round draft choice in 2015 from the Clippers.

Also at the trade deadline, the Raptors dealt guards Leandro Barbosa to the Pacers in exchange for a second-round draft pick and cash.

The Warriors shipped Stephen Jackson to the Spurs for small forward Richard Jefferson and a conditional first-round pick this year.

The 76ers have acquired Sam Young from the Grizzlies for the rights to Ricky Sanchez.

And the Trail Blazers have waived center Greg Oden, ending the former No. 1 overall pick's disappointing career in Portland.


Crosby returns as Pens inch closer to Rangers.

UNDATED (AP) — Sidney Crosby returned to action for the first time in more than three months, and he helped the Pittsburgh Penguins pull within four points of the first-place New York Rangers in the NHL's Eastern Conference.

Crosby assisted on an insurance goal as the Pens knocked off the Rangers 5-2. It was his first game since another bout with concussion symptoms forced him to the sidelines on December 5.

Evgeni Malkin notched his team-high 39th goal and Matt Cooke scored twice in the Penguins' 10th consecutive win.

The Rangers weren't the only conference leader to drop a game Thursday. Cam Ward picked up his 20th career shutout and 200th victory by making 40 saves in Carolina's 2-0 win over the West-leading St. Louis Blues. Chad La Rose and Jeff Skinner scored against the Blues, who suffered their second straight loss and finished the game without Andy McDonald because of an apparent shoulder injury.

St. Louis still tops its conference by six points over Vancouver, which now has two games in hand.

Also on ice, Ilya Bryzgalov (brihz-GAH'-lahv) stopped 29 shots and Scott Hartnell provided the eventual game-winner as Philadelphia beat the New York Islanders 3-2. The Flyers are within six points of the East-leading Rangers with 12 games remaining following their seventh victory in eight games.

Shootout goals by Ilya Kovalchuk (KOH'-vul-chuhk) and Zach Parise (pah-REE'-see) gave New Jersey a 1-0 win over Colorado. Martin Brodeur (broh-DOOR') turned back 28 shots in his league-record 118th career shutout as the Devils moved eight points behind the Rangers.

Florida stretched its Southeast Division lead to three points over Washington as Brian Campbell set up three goals in a 6-2 romp over Boston. The Bruins lost for the eighth time in 11 games and remain just a point ahead of Ottawa for the Northeast Division lead.

Jarome Iginla (ih-GIHN'-luh) ran his goal streak to six games by providing the game-winner in Calgary's 4-1 verdict over Phoenix. The outcome gets the Flames within a point of the Coyotes and Colorado in the battle for the last two West playoff berths.

Ryan Clowe (kloh) scored the lone shootout goal on San Jose's third and final attempt to close out a 2-1 win against Nashville. Joe Thornton tied the game 55 seconds into the third period to help the Sharks climb within one point of a Western Conference playoff slot. The Predators are eight points off the West lead.

James Reimer (RY'-mur) made 34 saves and blanked Tampa Bay until the last 26 seconds of Toronto's 3-1 win over the Lightning.


Bills nab Williams

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Star defensive end Mario Williams has agreed to a six-year contract with the Buffalo Bills.

His agent says the deal is worth up to $100 million, with $50 million guaranteed.

Williams leaves Houston, where he was the single-season and career sack leader. He had 14 sacks in 2007 and 53 in six years with the Texans.


— Tennessee has come to terms on a multi-year contract with five-time All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson, who spent the last six seasons with Minnesota before being released Saturday.

— The Saints have agreed to terms on a five-year, $36 million contract with Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs.

— The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed free agent quarterback Dan Orlovsky to a two-year contract.

— The Cowboys have reached a deal with free agent safety Brodney Pool, who played the last two seasons for the New York Jets.

— Free agent safety Brandon Meriweather has signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Washington Redskins.


Kurcz goes to Bosox in Epstein compensation

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — The Chicago Cubs have sent minor league pitcher Aaron Kurcz to Boston as part of the compensation deal for hiring executive Theo Epstein.

The 21-year-old righty was 5-4 with a 3.28 ERA last season as a starter and reliever at Class A Daytona.

The Cubs previously sent reliever Chris Carpenter to the Red Sox, who still owe a player to Chicago to complete the deal.


Harrington cards personal best

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington has set the course record at the Transitions Championship with a 10-under 61 today in Florida. The lowest score of the Irishman's professional career is one better than the old mark for the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook.

Harrington leads the tournament by three shots over Will Claxton.


Woods says Achilles is better, eyes Masters run

NEW YORK (AP) — Tiger Woods plans to return to practice Friday and tells "Good Morning, America" he will be at the Masters.

Woods withdrew from the final round of the Cadillac Championship at Doral on Sunday with what he described as tightness in the left Achilles tendon. He said the next day that doctors told him it was a mild sprain.


Co-leaders through 18

PHOENIX (AP) — Top-ranked Yani Tseng and Hee Young Park share the first-round lead at the LPGA Founder's Cup.

Tseng played a seven-hole stretch on the back nine in 7 under and finished with a 7-under 65. Park had to settle for a 65 following a bogey on her final hole.