MSNBC.com - Sports
Date PostedArticle
8 hours ago Forbes estimates Yankees worth $3.2 billion

NEW YORK (AP) Forbes estimates the New York Yankees are baseball's most valuable team for the 18th straight year.

Forbes claimed Wednesday the Yankees are worth $3.2 billion, up from $2.5 billion last year and matching the Dallas Cowboys for the high among U.S. teams. Forbes estimated the Yankees' revenue last year at $508 million.

The magazine estimated the Dodgers are worth $2.4 billion and World Series champion San Francisco at $2 billion. It pegged the average worth of an MLB team is $1.2 billion, an increase of 48 percent from last year.

Forbes assigns Real Madrid the high value among all teams in all sports at $3.44 billion.

---

Online: http://www.forbes.com/

8 hours ago Coach Zimmer 'fully expects' Peterson to be with Vikings

PHOENIX (AP) The Minnesota Vikings don't plan to trade Adrian Peterson and fully expect him to be with the team for the 2015 season.

His agent and Peterson believe otherwise.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was emphatic about keeping Peterson at the NFL owners' meetings Wednesday.

"We're good to go. I mean, he's under contract and we expect him to honor it," Zimmer said. "I think when he goes into the Hall of Fame, he's going to want to go in with the jersey that everyone remembers him as. That will be as a Viking."

Not so fast, agent Ben Dogra told The Associated Press.

"Adrian and I feel it is in his best interest, and it would be his desire, to play elsewhere in the NFL," Dogra said. "This is not personal in any way, it is business."

Peterson's contract has three years remaining, with a $12.75 million salary for 2015. None of the remaining money on the deal is guaranteed.

Peterson, 30, has not yet been reinstated by the NFL from his suspension under the personal conduct policy. The star running back and 2012 league MVP has balked at returning to the team, questioning the Minnesota organization's support of him after he was suspended for disciplining his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch. The case was resolved in court with a plea bargain.

"I think we are pretty firm," Zimmer said. "I think we handled everything the way we are allowed to handle it.

"At times we were not able to speak with him, which really is kind of ridiculous because of the (league) rules."

Peterson currently is on the commissioner's exempt list while the NFL appeals a federal judge's decision to nullify an arbitration ruling that upheld his suspension.

Dogra said the standstill comes down to how the Vikings view his client.

"I would like to have their position in writing, and they have not done so," Dogra said. "Is Adrian the face of their franchise or is he in their mind a 30-year-old running back? I want them

8 hours ago Flyers roll past Blackhawks 4-1 in Timonen's return

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Ryan White and Michael Raffl scored goals to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

Giroux had his 22nd goal for his first even-strength score at home this season. Steve Mason was stout again for the Flyers, finishing with 34 saves.

Andrew Shaw scored for the Blackhawks.

Flyers fans gave Blackhawks defenseman Kimmo Timonen a standing ovation during a video tribute for the returning defenseman who helped lead Philadelphia to the 2010 Stanley Cup final.

Timonen returned to Philadelphia for the first time since he was traded to Chicago in February for two draft picks.

8 hours ago San Antonio routs Oklahoma City 130-91

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Tony Parker had 21 points and six assists, and the San Antonio Spurs stopped Oklahoma City's four-game winning streak with a runaway 130-91 victory over the Thunder on Wednesday night.

Boris Diaw scored 19 points and Tim Duncan had 16 for San Antonio (44-26), which has won 11 of 13. Kawhi Leonard finished with 14 points in the Spurs' highest scoring game of the season.

Thunder star Russell Westbrook was held to 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting. He left midway through the third quarter with the Spurs leading by 30.

Westbrook was averaging 32.7 points, 11.2 assists and 9.6 rebounds in his previous 13 games, but the Spurs sent numerous defenders at the MVP candidate to hold him in check.

Westbrook removed a mask he wears after surgery on a fractured cheekbone, rubbing the side of his face and flexing his jaw after taking a blow to the head in a collision with Manu Ginobili in the first quarter. Westbrook later pushed Duncan's hand aside in frustration when the Spurs forward attempted to catch the point guard as he sailed through the lane after being pushed from behind by Danny Green.

Westbrook and Parker pushed the ball on almost every possession early on, setting a torrid pace.

San Antonio stretched its lead to 44 points in snapping a six-game skid during the regular season to the Thunder. The Spurs scored 71 points in the first half, the most the Thunder have allowed in any half.

Oklahoma City (41-30) had four turnovers in the first six minutes, resulting in 10 of San Antonio's first 14 points.

Parker had 13 points in the first quarter, going 6 for 8 from the field.

Enes Kanter had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who shot 40 percent from the field, compared to 58 percent for the Spurs.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Westbrook received thunderous boos when he was announced in the starting lineup. ... C Steven Adams, who returned earlier this month after missing 11 games with a

8 hours ago AP source: Hurley agrees to new contract at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Bobby Hurley has agreed to a new contract with the University at Buffalo that will make him the Mid-American Conference's highest paid men's basketball coach, a person familiar with negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the school has not announced the contract restructuring. Hurley will make more than $550,000 a season, the person said. The person said that while the sides have agreed on the deal, it has not yet been signed as the school and coach work out final details.

The agreement was reached after the former Duke star point guard led the Bulls to their first NCAA Tournament berth in only his second year on the job. Hurley's immediate success had made him a potential candidate to be lured away by higher-profile schools this offseason.

Buffalo (23-10) was eliminated with a 68-62 loss to West Virginia in the round of 64 on Friday. With a 42-20 record, Hurley became Buffalo's first coach to reach 40 wins in two seasons.

Hurley's splash and playing history made the Bulls a popular upset pick for the opening game. During the game Hurley wore the championship ring he got for leading Duke to consecutive national titles in 1991-92 after digging the memento out of storage earlier this season.

Hurley said it's tough to be satisfied with a great effort, that he felt his team could win games in the tournament.

Buffalo will return four of five starters next season.

Hurley had to fight the notion when he came to Buffalo that he lacked the coaching experience to lift the team to any glimpse of national prominence.

After his NBA career ended in 1998, Hurley spent a decade away from the game.

He returned to the sport in 2010 as an assistant under his brother Dan Hurley at Staten Island's Wagner College. The two spent two years at Wagner before spending a season together at Rhode Island.

8 hours ago Haden says email confirm USC treated unfairly by NCAA

LOS ANGELES (AP) Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says private email between members of the NCAA committee on infractions made public as part of a lawsuit by a former Trojans assistant coach confirm the school was treated unfairly in the association's handling of the Reggie Bush case.

"I think these documents are cause for concern about the NCAA's own institutional controls," Haden said Wednesday in statement released by the school. "It should be concerning to all schools that the NCAA didn't appear to follow its own rules."

USC was banned from the postseason for two seasons and stripped of dozens after an NCAA investigation determined Bush and his family received cash and gifts from aspiring marketers in 2004 and 2005. The football program was hit with a two-year postseason ban and had dozens of scholarships taken away over a four-year period.

Former Trojans running backs Todd McNair sued the NCAA in June 2011, claiming the association's investigation was one-sided and his future earnings were hurt by its report on the Bush scandal. The NCAA determined McNair lied about knowing about the extra benefits being provided to Bush and gave the former coach a one-year show cause order, effectively keeping him out of college coaching for a season. He has not worked as a college coach since.

The email were among hundreds of documents filed in the case Tuesday that were obtained by the Los Angeles Times, which had along with The New York Times fought to have them unsealed. The NCAA had asked the court to keep the documents sealed.

A statement from the school says USC officials are "extremely disappointed and dismayed at the way the NCAA investigated, judged and penalized our university throughout this process.

"USC hopes that the transparency in this case will ultimately lead to review and changes so that all member institutions receive the fair and impartial treatment they deserve. It seems likely that there are a

8 hours ago Howard returns, Rockets beat Pelicans 95-93

NEW ORLEANS (AP) James Harden had 25 points and 10 assists, Dwight Howard had seven rebounds and a block on Anthony Davis in his return from a two-month absence, and the Houston Rockets handed New Orleans its fourth straight loss with a 95-93 victory on Wednesday night.

Davis had 24 points and 14 rebounds for the Pelicans, but uncharacteristically missed eight free throws, including one that could have pulled New Orleans to 94-93 with 7 seconds left. The Pelicans still had a chance to set up a trying 3-pointer after Harden missed a free throw with 3.3 seconds left, but Corey Brewer intentionally fouled Eric Gordon on the inbounds pass to force free throws. Gordon made the first and purposely missed the second in hopes for a tying putback that never materialized.

8 hours ago Change to extra points likely in NFL

PHOENIX (AP) Spice it up.

The NFL's dullest play, the extra point, appears to be headed for some changes, perhaps significant ones, for the 2015 season.

While team owners didn't vote on any extra-point proposals Wednesday, there was so much discussion and interest in potential changes that the issue will be a main focal point for the next set of league meetings in May.

"There's a clear movement to wanting to change and change it this year," said Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee and president of the Falcons.

McKay's committee will "develop alternatives and be ready for a potential vote" in two months in San Francisco.

Among the possibilities are moving the line of scrimmage back for PAT kicks; placing the ball on the 1 1/2-yard line for a 2-point conversion; eliminating the PAT kicks entirely, requiring teams to run a play from scrimmage; and allowing the defense to score, as in college football, if the ball is turned over on a 2-point try.

McKay described the discussions as "lively, with lots of ideas ... it's time to make this a football play."

"A couple coaches said they favor just lining up on the 2 and going for the 2-point play," he said. "Or move the ball to the 1 1-2 for two points, or kick from the 15 for one, your choice."

The league experimented with extra-point kicks from a longer distance last preseason.

Currently, the line of scrimmage for both an extra point and 2-point conversion try is the 2-yard line.

Voted down as the meetings concluded was Chicago's proposal that each team get a possession in overtime regardless of what happens on the first series.

Now, if the side receiving the OT kickoff scores a touchdown, the game ends. If it kicks a field goal, the opponent gets a possession.

Unsportsmanlike penalties handed out at the end of a half now will carry over, either to the second half or to overtime.

Lining up players with eligible nu

Yesterday Warriors clinch division with 122-108 victory over Blazers

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Stephen Curry had 33 points and 10 assists and the Golden State Warriors pulled away from the shorthanded Trail Blazers in the second half for a 122-108 victory on Tuesday night, clinching the team's first division title in 39 years.

Andre Iguodala came off the bench to score 21 points for the Warriors, who won their seventh straight to push their record to and NBA-best 58-13.

Golden State hasn't claimed the Pacific Division crown since the 1975-76 season, the year after the team won the NBA championship.

With a comfortable lead on second-place Memphis in the Western Conference, Golden State has dropped just one of its last 12 games.

Damian Lillard had 29 points for the Blazers, who have lost five straight following a 1-4 road trip. Despite the slump, Portland has remained atop the Northwest Division, five games in front of Oklahoma City.

The Blazers were without All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge because of a left index finger sprain, as well as fellow starting forward Nicolas Batum, who has lower back pain. Backup center Chris Kaman was out because of a right shoulder strain.

Portland was already missing guard Wesley Matthews, who was lost for the rest of the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon on March 5 against Dallas. The Blazers have gone 3-5 without him.

Because of the absences, Portland started a lineup that included regulars Lillard and Robin Lopez, along with Matthews' replacement Arron Afflalo and reserves Alonzo Gee and Dorell Wright.

Golden State limited guard Klay Thompson to 25 minutes because of a sore ankle that kept him out of three games during the team's homestand. Thompson, who finished with 16 points, returned on Monday night for the Warrior's 107-76 victory over the Washington Wizards.

The Blazers jumped ahead 24-18 early on Lillard's off-balance jumper, and extended the lead to 47-39 on CJ McCollum's 3-pointer.

Lillard's 3 made it 53-41 but Stephen Cu

Yesterday Olivera, Dodgers agree to $62.5M, 6-year contract

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Dodgers have added another player from Cuba, agreeing to a $62.5 million, six-year contract with infielder Hector Olivera, agent Greg Genske said Tuesday.

The agreement includes a $28 million signing bonus, Genske said.

Olivera, said to be 29, was on the Cuban team that won the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics. He also played for his country at the 2009 World Baseball Classic, where he hit .313 and played second base.

He will have some company as he joins an organization that already has a strong Cuban presence with All-Star outfielder Yasiel Puig, infielder Alex Guerrero and shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena, who was recently optioned to the Dodgers' minor league camp.

Olivera's deal will cause a $4,173,333 increase in this year's luxury tax for the Dodgers, who pay at a 40 percent rate at the payroll amount over $189 million.

There's not a lot of information about Olivera. He possesses a quick swing and a good hitting approach, according to Baseball America's website. The website said Olivera missed the entire 2012-13 season in Cuba because of a blood disorder.

The Dodgers have Jimmy Rollins penciled in to start at shortstop and Howie Kendrick at second base. Guerrero is attempting to make the team as a utility infielder.

Yesterday Sun Devils fire coach Herb Sendek after 9 seasons

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Herb Sendek was admired for his intellect, basketball and otherwise, for his straightforward manner and the class with which he treated people.

He was respected within the basketball program, across Arizona State's athletics department and campus, and around the basketball world.

But in a business based upon on-the-court success, he didn't do enough.

Arizona State fired Sendek on Tuesday after nine seasons that included two NCAA Tournaments, four NIT appearances and three seasons with no postseason.

"My opinion of Herb the man won't ever change, but I came to the conclusion over the course of the season, taking into consideration everything, that we weren't going to get better enough in the time frame we expect to be playing at a competitive level," athletic director Ray Anderson said from ASU's Hall of Fame inside Sun Devil Stadium.

After a few shaky seasons, Sendek appeared to have the program headed back in the right direction, landing prized local recruit Jahii Carson and leading the Sun Devils to the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

Arizona State rewarded him with a contract extension through 2019, though it came with success-based expectations; each year added to the deal was based upon benchmarks of winning games.

The Sun Devils failed to live up to those.

Carson and 7-foot center Jordan Bachynski, the cornerstones to Arizona State's NCAA Tournament run, were gone this season, leaving Sendek with a talented but unproven group of athletic players.

Arizona State had some good moments, beating rival Arizona, which was a top-5 team at the time, and finishing the Pac-12 season with six wins in nine games after an 0-4 conference start.

But there were too many glaring setbacks for Anderson to believe the program was still on an upward climb.

One came during the non-conference season, when the Sun Devils lost to Lehigh at home. Another was in the opening round of the Pac-12 tourna

Yesterday Blake Griffin battery complaint dismissed in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) Prosecutors have dropped a misdemeanor case stemming from a man's complaint that Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin slapped him and grabbed his cellphone at a Las Vegas Strip nightclub last October.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Tuesday that new information obtained since a battery charge was filed in November made it clear that the allegations couldn't be proved.

The 26-year-old Griffin didn't appear in court.

Prosecutor Giancarlo Pesci and defense attorney Richard Schonfeld noted for Justice of the Peace Pro Tem Holly Stoberski that Griffin is an active community service volunteer.

A telephone call to the alleged victim, Daniel Schuman of West Hollywood, California, rang unanswered.

Schuman told police that Griffin grabbed his cellphone after he photographed Griffin and Clippers teammates Oct. 19 at Tao nightclub.

Yesterday Bears agree to 1-year deal with former 49ers DE McDonald

CHICAGO (AP) Even the chairman of the Chicago Bears had his doubts about pursuing former San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald.

In fact, George McCaskey turned down the idea at first. A face-to-face meeting helped change his mind.

On Tuesday, the Bears agreed to a one-year contract with McDonald despite his past issues with the law.

Bringing in McDonald, who played under new Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in San Francisco, could be controversial in Chicago given his legal troubles.

"We have a 96-year tradition of doing things a certain way, of bringing a certain type of player into our team," McCaskey said at the NFL meetings in Phoenix.

"And those were my concerns going into the conversation with Ray. But I think you look at every situation individually. You try to find out as much information as you can that's reliable to make the best decision you can about whether to offer a player the privilege of becoming a Chicago Bear."

The 49ers cut McDonald in December after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her following a night of drinking in which she injured her head in a fall by his swimming pool.

"Those things we've looked into," general manager Ryan Pace said in Phoenix. "I can tell you this, we know those are ongoing. But we wouldn't be where we're at right now if we didn't feel comfortable with where that's at. So it's been thorough."

The Bears also announced Tuesday a one-year deal with defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, who spent the past four seasons with the Washington Redskins.

As for McDonald, the woman who accused him of sexual assault told authorities she has no memory of the encounter at his San Jose house. The Santa Clara County district attorney is considering whether to file criminal charges.

McDonald filed a defamation lawsuit last week, saying security camera footage will show a consensual sexual encounter occurred in his hot tub.

In November, the

Mar 24, 2015 Colon, not Harvey, to start Mets' opener at Washington

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) Bartolo Colon, not Matt Harvey, has been picked to start the New York Mets' opener at Washington on April 6.

Harvey is returning from elbow ligament-replacement surgery that has sidelined him since August 2013. Colon was 15-13 with a 4.09 ERA last year and at 41 will become the oldest opening-day starting pitcher in the major leagues since April 2006, when 43-year-old Jamie Moyer was on the mound for Seattle and 42-year-old Randy Johnson for the New York Yankees.

"It's just one start," Mets manager Terry Collins said Monday. "I know it's a big deal to a lot of people. To me it's not. It's one of 32 starts. You go back and look at what Bart did all season long, he earned it."

Collins said he decided not to start Harvey because of the long layoff.

"He is our ace," Collins said. "We know that. He knows it."

Colon will be making his seventh opening-day start after taking the mound for Cleveland (2000-02) and the Angels (2004-06). He will become the Mets' oldest opening-day starting pitcher at 41 years, 317 days, topping Tom Glavine at 41 years, 7 days in 2007.

NL Rookie of the Year Jacob DeGrom is slated to start the second game and Harvey the third. DeGrom lines up to start the home opener against Philadelphia on April 13.

"I thought Jake deserved it," Collins said. "I thought he deserved the chance to pitch a big game."

Mar 24, 2015 Scherzer to start Nationals' opener, not Strasburg

VIERA, Fla. (AP) Max Scherzer will start the Washington Nationals' opener on April 6 against the New York Mets, not Stephen Strasburg.

"It's going to be real exciting," Scherzer said Monday. "It's a great honor to be able to start opening day, especially for this club, and especially on this staff. But at the end of the day, it's just game one. There are bigger and better things I want to check off."

Starting a $210 million, seven-year contract, Scherzer will be making his first opening-day start. Strasburg had pitched the last three for the Nationals.

Manager Matt Williams said there were "lots of reasons" for picking Scherzer.

"He's a really good pitcher," Williams said. "He's confident. We're confident in him."

Strasburg could slot in for game 3 if the team stays to its spring training rotation of Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Strasburg, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez.

Williams said he spoken with Strasburg about the opening-day start, approaching him with "honesty" and making sure that Strasburg understood the team had confidence in him, too.

"I can tell you this, to a man: The guys who are actually throwing the baseball, they don't much care about it," Williams said. "They just want the ball every fifth day."

Scherzer went 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA for Detroit last season and won the AL Cy Young Award in 2013. He did not get the opening day start last year, taken by Justin Verlander.

Scherzer said pitching the opener was secondary to making the postseason.

"In my experiences, the playoffs are more intense than anything I've ever seen in the regular season," Scherzer said. "I've started Game 1 of the playoffs. That's something special."

Mar 24, 2015 NFL suspending TV blackouts for 2015 season

PHOENIX (AP) The NFL is saying bye-bye to blackouts. At least for 2015.

No NFL games will be blocked from local television next season, the league said Monday at the owners' meetings. The teams voted for a one-year suspension of the long-standing blackout policy for the preseason and regular season.

There were no blackouts last season, because the minimum number of tickets, by NFL sellout standards, was sold for every game, and the league had only two blackouts in 2013.

Still, the experiment is a huge step for the NFL, whose blackout policy dates back decades. In the 1970s, half of NFL games were blocked from local TV because the games did not sell enough tickets. Some teams - Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Oakland, St. Louis and San Diego - have struggled to avoid blackouts, and the league is taking a bit of a gamble for 2015.

The policy stipulates that a home game must be sold out 72 hours in advance of kickoff in order to be televised locally. Often, that deadline is extended to ensure sellouts if a club believes it can meet the criteria for lifting the blackout.

The league's definition of a full house is not selling every seat but a large percentage of them, depending on the venue. The policy does not apply to suites or club seats.

Monday's move was met with immediate approval by one of the sponsors of legislation to eliminate the blackout permanently.

"This decision to suspend the blackout policy for the upcoming NFL season is a victory for the millions of sports fans and consumers across the country," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), "and it brings us one step closer to eliminating this anti-fan measure once and for all. This antiquated, anti-consumer rule has for too long served only to protect the NFL's bottom line at the expense of sports fans.

"I urge the FCC to take action to permanently remove the rule so that sports fans have the opportunity to cheer on their favorite teams, regardles

Mar 24, 2015 Mississippi St hires former UCLA coach Ben Howland

Mississippi State needed barely 48 hours to find its new basketball coach, settling on a veteran who has taken three different schools to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to three Final Fours.

The school announced on Monday night it had hired former UCLA coach Ben Howland. He'll be introduced on Tuesday during a news conference on campus in Starkville, Mississippi.

The 57-year-old Howland is best known for his 10 seasons at UCLA, where he led the program to three straight Final Fours from 2006 to 2008. But the Bruins never made it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament during the next five seasons and he was fired in 2013 despite winning the Pac-12.

ESPN first reported Mississippi State had hired Howland. Terms of Howland's deal weren't immediately disclosed.

Howland takes over for Rick Ray, who was fired on Saturday after three losing seasons. Ray had a 37-60 overall record, including a 15-44 mark against Southeastern Conference competition.

"I'm just so humble and grateful to be the new basketball coach at Mississippi State university," Howland said in a statement released by the school. "... I know we have some of the greatest fans in the country and I look forward to making them proud of our team and our efforts. Hail State."

The Bulldogs do have a recent history of success, making the NCAA Tournament six times during an eight-year stretch from 2002 to 2009. Mississippi State played in its only Final Four in 1996.

Howland had a 233-107 record as the longest-tenured coach at UCLA since the legendary John Wooden retired in 1975. He also coached at Pittsburgh and Northern Arizona, leading both programs to the NCAA Tournament.

He has spent the past two years as a television analyst.

"We have a coach who is a proven winner that's taken three schools to the NCAA Tournament," Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement. "Ben is someone who is ready to invest in the peopl

Mar 24, 2015 Maryland deals Princeton first loss of season

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Laurin Mincy scored 27 points, and top-seeded Maryland used a second-half blitz to knock off previously unbeaten Princeton 85-70 Monday night and advance to the Sweet 16 of the women's NCAA Tournament.

After leading by only 42-38 at the break, the Terrapins used a 17-2 run immediately after halftime to turn a surprisingly tight game into a rout.

The Terrapins (32-2) will bring a 26-game winning streak into a matchup with Duke on Saturday in Spokane, Washington. Maryland and Duke were longtime rivals in the Atlantic Coast Conference before the Terps moved to the Big Ten this season.

Lexie Brown scored 23 for the Terrapins, who will be making their fourth consecutive trip to the Sweet 16. Maryland reached the Final Four last year.

Eighth-seeded Princeton (31-1) was coming off the program's first-ever win in the NCAA Tournament, on Saturday against Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Ivy League champions hoped to make a statement against one of the nation's elite teams, and for a half, the Tigers hung right in there with the Big Ten titlists.

Blake Dietrick led Princeton with 26 points and Vanessa Smith added 15.

Princeton made 10 of its first 13 field-goal tries and led 28-24 on the Terrapins' own floor before an enthusiastic crowd that clearly favored the home team.

Outscoring Maryland 28-6 in the paint while holding center Brionna Jones without a point in the first half, Princeton had several leads before falling behind at the break. Jones had 22 points and 12 rebounds in the tournament opener against New Mexico State, but she was not a factor in this one until the second half.

With Jones struggling against the suffocating coverage of Alex Wheatley, the Terps opted to fire from the outside before halftime. Despite connecting on five 3s, Maryland was outrebounded 15-12 and allowed the Tigers to shoot at a 59 percent clip.

In the second half, however, Maryland proved to be too fast, too big an

Mar 24, 2015 Pacers still have no timetable for Paul George's return

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Paul George might be close to playing shape.

He's still not there yet.

The Pacers' two-time All-Star told reporters Monday that although he's eager to clear the final hurdle in his 7 1/2-month recovery from a broken right leg by returning to game action, he's not going to push himself to go too soon.

"We want to make sure I'm as close to 100 (percent) as possible," George said. "It's not coming down to you know, `Paul's feeling good, let's get him out there.' It's about making sure everything's where I'm comfortable, where the medical staff is comfortable, where the front office is comfortable."

The temptation, of course, is to make it back now.

Indiana (30-39) has lost five straight and has slid from the No. 6 spot in the East into a tie for ninth, which would keep them out of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, George has been looking and sounding more comfortable since returning to full practice in late February. He said he's moving better, feeling more confident and has become a more regular part of pregame warmups and post-practice shooting drills.

But it's unclear when fans should expect to see him suit up in his new No. 13 jersey.

"We've had conversations all year about many different (target) dates, and it all comes down to he's not going to play before he's ready and Larry (Bird) will make the final call on that," coach Frank Vogel said, referring to the Pacers president of basketball operations. "But the medical team is advising it, the coaching staff is watching how he's playing and we'll make a group decision."

George was one of the league's brightest young stars before running into a basketball stanchion during a U.S. national team scrimmage Aug. 1 in Las Vegas. He had surgery to repair the leg within hours of the injury and most expected the 24-year-old to miss the entire season.

Team doctors told the Pacers the bone should be fully healed by March 1.

After returnin

Mar 24, 2015 Darren Sharper admits drugging, rape counts in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) Former NFL star Darren Sharper removed all doubt Monday that he drugged and raped women, taking the first of several steps to own up to sex assaults in four states that will send him to federal prison for about nine years.

In two separate court cases, Sharper pleaded guilty to sexual assault in Arizona and no contest in California to raping two women he knocked out with a potent sedative mixed with booze.

Sharper, 39, wearing a striped, light blue suit, said it was in his best interest to enter the pleas.

The pleas came as Los Angeles prosecutors were prepared to present evidence of Sharper's fall from grace as a former all-pro safety who won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints. His clean-cut reputation took a hit when women began telling police in several cities similar stories of blacking out while drinking with him and waking up groggy to find they had been sexually abused.

Defense lawyers had previously said the sexual intercourse was consensual. One lawyer had said Sharper didn't mix the sleepy shots of alcohol.

But Sharper wielded no defense in court Monday.

By not contesting the California charges, he admitted he raped two women he drugged after meeting them at Bootsy Bellows, a West Hollywood bar. The pleas have the same effect as a conviction.

Both encounters were eerily similar.

In October 2013, Sharper invited a woman and her friend to go to a party but stopped on the way to get something at his Century City hotel and invited them upstairs.

He insisted they drink a shot and they blacked out. One woman awoke with Sharper on top of her having sex.

The women were not in court, but prosecutors said they had agreed to the plea.

Under the unusual deal negotiated by Sharper's lawyers and state and federal prosecutors, Sharper will serve sentences concurrently in federal prison, though the full term has not yet been announced.

He was sentenced to nine yea

Mar 21, 2015 Price to start opening day for Tigers, not Verlander

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) David Price is getting the nod as opening-day starter for the Detroit Tigers, ending Justin Verlander's run of having that honor at seven straight seasons.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus announced his decision about the April 6 opener against Minnesota on Friday.

"I'm just doing what I think is best for the 2015 Tigers," Ausmus said. "They are both great pitchers. We'll just see. They will both get their starts."

Price was acquired from Tampa Bay at the July 31 trade deadline and had a better season than Verlander.

After a dominant run which included the 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award, Verlander struggled last year, going 15-12 with a 4.54 ERA. Price went 4-4 with a 3.59 ERA for Detroit and had a 3.26 ERA overall.

"I just hope that one year today (Verlander) will have proven me wrong," Ausmus said. "It was a tough decision."

Ausmus said Verlander would get the second start of the season and likely be followed by Anibal Sanchez, Alfredo Simon and Shane Green.

Mar 21, 2015 Stuck in neutral: Providence falls 66-53 to Dayton in NCAAs

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Providence coach Ed Cooley insisted it was a neutral site even though it sounded anything but in Nationwide Arena.

Dyshawn Pierre scored 20 points and Dayton rode a loud home-state advantage to another NCAA Tournament victory, beating Providence 66-53 Friday night.

"Like coach said, it was neutral," Providence's LaDonate Henton said. "We could have put it out if we would have played better."

The 11th-seeded Flyers (27-8) will face Oklahoma on Sunday night, with a chance to reach the round of 16 for the second straight season.

Sixth-seeded Providence (22-12) could not overcome early foul trouble on Big East player of the year Kris Dunn or a Dayton team buoyed by a legion of fans that made the 80-mile trip to Columbus. Dunn finished with 11 points before fouling out. Henton had 18.

The Friars shot 34 percent and turned it over 16 times.

"No, I don't think we was nervous," Henton said. "I just got to give credit to Dayton defense. They were pretty much everywhere."

Dayton was playing its fifth game in eight days after reaching the final of the Atlantic 10 Tournament on Sunday in New York, then winning a First Four game against Boise State on its home court Wednesday.

"We feel fine, We have a great opportunity in front of us now. We're not focusing on the games we played. We're focusing on the game we got left," said Pierre, who also had nine rebounds.

Jordan Sibert, who made the key late 3 that helped Dayton rally to beat Boise State, scored 15 points.

The Flyers have been the busiest team in the country lately, so they might not have minded the 10:53 ET tip-off. Anything to get a little extra rest. Though both teams played as if it was past their bedtimes in the first 11 minutes. With nine minutes left in the first half, Dayton was up 9-5.

It didn't help Providence that Dunn picked up two fouls in the first five minutes and took a seat for a while.

Things picked

Mar 21, 2015 Attorney: Ex-NFL player Sharper plans to plea in rape cases

LOS ANGELES (AP) Just five years from reaching the NFL pinnacle as an All-Pro and Super Bowl champion, Darren Sharper is now likely headed for a lengthy prison sentence after reaching plea agreements in charges involving the drugging and sexual assault of at least nine women in four states, his lawyer said Friday.

The alleged sexual assaults happened after Sharper's 2011 retirement and followed a similar pattern. In all of the cases, Sharper is accused of slipping drugs to women and sexually assaulting them when they were unconscious or otherwise unable to resist or consent.

His Los Angeles attorney, Blair Berk, said Sharper would enter pleas in Los Angeles and Phoenix on Monday and would make similar pleas later in New Orleans and Las Vegas. Brian Russo, his attorney in Arizona, said his client will use video conferencing from Los Angeles, where he's being held, to allow him to make a change of plea in Phoenix.

Sharper had a 14-year All-Pro career as a safety with three teams, including the 2010 Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. He was later an analyst for the NFL Network.

Only prosecutors in Nevada provided details of their part of the deal with Sharper. He is expected to plead guilty there on Tuesday to one felony charge of attempted sexual assault, with the expectation that he'll face between 38 months and eight years in prison, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told The Associated Press.

He had previously been charged in Nevada with two counts of felony sexual assault, each carrying a possible sentence of 10 years to life.

"We are pleased that Mr. Sharper is accepting responsibility for the crimes he committed in Nevada," Wolfson said.

Wolfson said the Nevada prison term would run concurrent with other sentences in other states.

"I'm not sure where he's going to serve his time," Wolfson said, "But he's going to serve significant time."

The announcement came following a morning o

Mar 21, 2015 No. 1 seed Duke, No. 2 seed Virginia advance in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Duke started fast. Virginia finished strong.

And along the way, two of the Atlantic Coast Conference's top teams had moments that got their attention - and maybe had them feeling a bit of March pressure - during their NCAA Tournament openers in Charlotte.

The Blue Devils, the No. 1 seed in the South Region, let 16th-seeded Robert Morris pull within 10 midway through the second half - a stretch that included an angry coach Mike Krzyzewski letting his team have it during a timeout - before the Blue Devils again found their edge and pulled away for an 85-56 win.

As for the Cavaliers, the No. 2 seed in the East, they let No. 15 seed Belmont get within a basket with about 4 1/2 minutes left before taking control in a 79-67 win.

The wins sent Duke (30-4) to face No. 8 seed San Diego State and Virginia (30-3) to play No. 7 seed Michigan State on Sunday in the round of 32.

"Every year I think the seedings become less significant," Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said. "You just look around how close the games are, the upsets are there. It's just happening more and more. ... So when you play a team, match-ups are so important."

The Blue Devils, a No. 1 seed for the first time since 2011, have four freshmen among their eight scholarship players. And only three had played in an NCAA victory before Friday.

That's meant Krzyzewski is still teaching his group, and it was on display Friday after Jahlil Okafor blew a reverse dunk in the second half. Krzyzewski sprung up angrily and pointed for reserve Marshall Plumlee to replace the star freshman big man. Then came a timeout at the 14:53 mark, with Krzyzewski animatedly addressing his team from the edge of his chair in the huddle.

What was his message?

"You just can't do that," Krzyzewski said. "So, I mean, that's an easy one."

Okafor said Krzyzewski was focused on "just staying sharp and not getting sloppy."

"I don't think it's anyth

Mar 21, 2015 Westbrook posts another triple-double; Thunder beat Hawks

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Russell Westbrook had yet another triple-double and scored 17 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Atlanta Hawks 123-115 on Friday night.

It was Westbrook's seventh triple-double since the All-Star break, his ninth of the season and the 17th of his career. He had 10 rebounds and 14 assists while making all 17 of his free throws.

Dion Waiters matched a season high with 26 points, Anthony Morrow scored 12 of his 21 in the fourth quarter and Steven Adams had 12 points and 16 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which learned earlier Friday that reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant likely will miss the rest of the season with pain in his right foot.

Pero Antic scored a career-high 22 points and Dennis Schroder added 21 for the Eastern Conference-leading Hawks, who were blown out by Western Conference leader Golden State on Wednesday.

Mar 21, 2015 Favorites have a much better Day 2 of NCAA Tournament

There were no big upsets in the first half of Friday's action in the NCAA Tournament. There will be, however, some good matchups in the round of 32, including one the state of Kansas has been anticipating for almost 20 years.

The Atlantic Coast Conference ran its perfect start to 6-0, and the Pac-12 is 4 for 4 so far. Big Ten teams are 6-1, while the Big 12 is 3-4.

SOUTH REGION

DUKE 85, ROBERT MORRIS 56

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Quinn Cook scored 22 points to help No. 1 seed Duke get off to a torrid start.

Freshman Jahlil Okafor added 21 as the Blue Devils (30-4) wasted little time getting their offense revving, hitting their first seven shots and 12 of 15 to quickly build a big lead.

That's not to say everything went smoothly for Duke, a team with half of its eight scholarship players making its tournament debut. Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski furiously burned a timeout after Okafor blew a reverse dunk, while Robert Morris - the No. 16 seed that had to win a First Four game to get here - showed plenty of fight.

Rodney Pryor scored 23 points on 10-for-19 shooting for Robert Morris (20-15).

SAN DIEGO STATE 76, ST. JOHN'S 64

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - JJ O'Brien scored 18 points for San Diego State, and Dwayne Polee II added 15 points on five 3-pointers against his former team.

Skylar Spencer added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Aztecs (27-8), who will face the top-seeded Duke on Sunday.

The Aztecs never trailed in the second half and improved to 6-4 in NCAA Tournament play since 2011 under coach Steve Fisher.

Sir'Dominic Pointer had 21 points and 10 rebounds for St. John's, which failed in its quest to win its first tournament game since 2000.

GONZAGA 86, NORTH DAKOTA STATE 76

SEATTLE (AP) - Kyle Wiltjer scored 23 points to lead Gonzaga to the victory.

The second-seeded Zags (33-2) will play Iowa on Sunday to try to make the second weekend of the NCAA Tournam

Mar 21, 2015 Thunder star Kevin Durant has foot pain, remains out

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant likely won't return this season.

General manager Sam Presti said Friday that Durant still has pain in his right foot, well after he was expected to be ready to return. When asked if the best thing would be best to shut him down for the season, Presti said: "Essentially, that's the direction that we're taking right now, in terms of removing him from all basketball-related activities."

Oklahoma City now faces the prospect of trying to make the playoffs without the four-time scoring champion. The Thunder led the New Orleans Pelicans by a game for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoffs heading into Friday night's games.

Durant is averaging 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists, but he's played in just 27 of the team's 68 games this season. He last played Feb. 19 against Memphis and had surgery three days later to replace a screw that was causing discomfort in the right foot that he broke during the preseason. At the time, Brooks said Durant could return to the lineup in 1-2 weeks.

The Thunder had hoped to get a boost from Durant's return, but Presti said Durant's long-term health is his primary concern. Presti said he's unsure of the source of the current pain, so Durant will see specialists in the coming days.

"He's not making the progress that we had hoped and anticipated him making," Presti said. "He still has some soreness in his foot, and the protocol that's in place calls for him to be able to compete on the floor without that at this stage."

This is just the latest in a barrage of bad news the Thunder have dealt with this season. Serge Ibaka, a versatile forward who is the team's best defensive player, could miss the rest of the season after having an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee earlier this week. Guard Russell Westbrook missed 14 games early in the season with a broken bone in his left hand. Center Steven Adams recently returned from missing

Mar 20, 2015 This March, 14 is the new 12 in the NCAA Tournament

Fourteen is the new 12 this year at the NCAA Tournament.

The heart-pounding first full day of the tournament was headlined by two No. 14 seeds taking down two No. 3 seeds before the day was even half over. Trendy Final Four pick Iowa State lost to UAB, 60-59, and Georgia State edged Baylor, 57-56. Northeastern nearly made it a clean sweep for the three 14s in action on Thursday when it put a scare into Notre Dame before falling 69-65.

Georgia State and UAB had two of the five one-point victories on the day, the most ever for a single day in the tournament and as many as the previous two tournaments combined. Now at least one 14-seed has beaten a 3 in each of the last three tournaments. It was the first time since 1995 that two No. 14s have advanced.

Conventional wisdom when filling out brackets includes always picking a 12 seed to beat a No. 5. It happens practically every year. But this time around, Utah beat Stephen F. Austin and Arkansas beat underdog Wofford to make the No. 5s 2-0 on the day.

There is one more 14 seed waiting to play. Albany will play No. 3 Oklahoma on Friday.

"I'm very surprised," Sooners coach Lon Kruger said of Iowa State and Baylor losing. "Two great teams that had great years and outstanding players. That's the nature of the NCAA Tournament, I guess. It's surprising anytime that happens, but it's happened before."

Here are some of the things we learned on Thursday:

---

BRACKETS BUSTED: The losses by Iowa State and Baylor decimated millions of brackets across the country in a matter of minutes. Just six games into the tournament, only 14,797 of the 11.57 million filled out on ESPN.com were perfect, according to ESPN's metrics. That just 0.12 percent.

---

TIGHT SITE: Louisville was the place to be on Thursday, with three of the five games that were decided by one point. The Blazers beat Iowa State and No. 11 UCLA nipped No. 6 SMU by identical scores, 60-59, while No. 8 C

Mar 20, 2015 Defensive lineman Devon Still decides to play for Bengals

CINCINNATI (AP) Defensive tackle Devon Still signed a one-year contract to stay with the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday, a few days after getting encouraging news about his 4-year-old daughter's fight with cancer.

The Bengals had offered Still a one-year deal. He waited to see how his daughter, Leah, was doing before making a decision. Results of her tests this week showed her cancer treatments are working.

If the results weren't as encouraging, Still would have had to decide whether to try to sign on with a team on the East Coast so he could be closer to his daughter, or return to Cincinnati and see her less often.

"Everything really depended upon my daughter's results," Still said during a conference call. "Now that they are going the right way, obviously I am going back to Cincinnati because that's the team that drafted me and stood by me the whole time."

Leah Still was diagnosed with cancer last year and had surgery to remove a rumor from her abdomen. After her most recent course of chemotherapy, a test found no trace of the disease. Still is waiting for the results of more tests to see if the cancer is gone.

Still has played in 30 games with Cincinnati during the last three seasons, including 12 last year. He also helped to raise more than $1.3 million for pediatric cancer research and treatment. His daughter attended a game at Paul Brown Stadium and met Lauren Hill, the Mount St. Joseph freshman basketball player who is dying from brain cancer.

"It's great to have Devon back with us," coach Marvin Lewis said. "We know it has been a very difficult journey for him the last year. Devon remains focused on Leah's recovery and on furthering his NFL career, and we're excited to be able to provide that opportunity."

The Bengals kept Still on the practice squad to start last season, when he was immersed in his daughter's treatment and didn't have his heart in playing football. Still has been grateful for the team's g

Mar 20, 2015 AP source: Yelich agrees to 7-year deal for nearly $50M

MIAMI (AP) The Marlins have made another long-term investment in their young, talented outfield.

Left fielder Christian Yelich agreed to a seven-year contract worth about $49.6 million, a person familiar with the situation said Thursday. The person confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it hadn't been announced.

Yelich is expected to sign the agreement this weekend, and a news conference tentatively is planned for Sunday.

Yelich, 23, is part of an outfield Miami considers the best in the majors, with $325 million slugger Giancarlo Stanton in right field and Marcell Ozuna in center. Two-thirds of that outfield will be under contract through at least 2021, with the 25-year-old Stanton signing a 13-year agreement in November.

Miami has discussed a long-term deal with the 24-year-old Ozuna, who hit 23 home runs last year.

The Marlins haven't reached the playoffs since 2003, but historically thrifty owner Jeffrey Loria approved higher spending this year, and they expect to contend after a busy offseason that has pushed their payroll above $70 million.

Yelich won a Gold Glove and hit .284 with nine homers and 54 RBIs in his first full major league season last year, when he made $505,000. His base salary this year will be $570,000 before the contract escalates.

A left-handed hitter, Yelich was the 23rd overall pick in the 2010 draft. He wasn't due to become arbitration-eligible until after the 2016 season. In 206 games over two big league seasons, he's a career .285 hitter with a .365 on-base percentage, a .400 slugging percentage and 31 stolen bases.