UIC falls to first place Cleveland State, still winless in Horizon League play


Norris Cole scored a game-high 22 points in Cleveland State’s 63-49 victory over UIC on Thursday night.The Vikings (19-3, 8-2 Horizon) trailed 31-29 at halftime but pulled ahead in the second half on 50 percent shooting from the field. The final score was their largest lead.Jeremy Montgomery added 13 points for Cleveland State.The Flames (5-16, 0-9) led by as many as nine points in the first half on 50 percent shooting from the field, but they fell off to 26.9 percent after the break. Brad Birton grabbed a double-double for UIC, scoring 14 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Robo Kreps added 10 points for the Flames.

Gophers too strong inside for Wildcats

MINNEAPOLIS—Blake Hoffarber scored 20 points while playing point guard in place of Al Nolen, Trevor Mbakwe rammed his way to 18 points and 14 rebounds, and 16th-ranked Minnesota beat Northwestern 81-70 on Wednesday night.Mbakwe got his 12th double-double of the season while matching his career high in points and moving back in the starting lineup for the first time in four games, helping the Gophers (16-4, 5-3 Big Ten) win their fourth straight despite the loss of their steady senior leader Nolen, who broke his right foot last weekend.Colton Iverson added 15 points, Ralph Sampson III had 14 points and the Gophers started a parade to the free throw line for a season-high 46 attempts. They drew 32 fouls on the Wildcats (13-6, 3-6) and wore them out with hustle, muscle and decent passing despite a struggle to shoot from outside the lane and only eight healthy players in the rotation.John Shurna had 16 points for Northwestern, his chin bandaged after a bad cut forced him out early in the first half. Juice Thompson led the way with 18 points and Drew Crawford had 15, all on 3-pointers, before fouling out.The Wildcats had been just as competitive as the Gophers, losing just one non-conference game and only to opponents in the top half of the Big Ten, until they wilted in a 32-point loss at home to Wisconsin last weekend.Crawford went scoreless in that game, and coach Bill Carmody was critical of his team’s overall ability to carry out the scouting report against the disciplined Badgers.They were on their way to being buried again, falling behind 29-16 near the 5½-minute mark of the first half after freshman Austin Hollins grabbed a rebound under the basket and flicked it as he fell out of bounds to Sampson for an easy layup. Mbakwe was too strong for the Wildcats to stop underneath, throwing down three rim-rattling dunks.Crawford found his stroke, though, and in a span of 135 seconds the Wildcats used an 11-0 run to surge back. The Gophers didn’t make a jump shot until Hoffarber’s pull-up from the top of the key with 65 seconds left in the half, and they had trouble maneuvering when the Wildcats used a backcourt trap to start their 1-3-1 zone defense. Rodney Williams, who shifted to shooting guard, had plenty of passing trouble.Alex Marcotullio made 3-pointers on both sides of the halftime break, and the Gophers suddenly trailed 37-33. But Shurna, the conference’s fourth-leading scorer, lost his shot in the second half and the rest of the Wildcats went with him. The Gophers, who used a 2-3 zone defense to help compensate for the loss of Nolen on their perimeter defense, went back to their effective high-low passing game over the top of the zone and used their decided strength and size advantage inside to wear the Wildcats down.On one highlight-reel sequence, the ball zipped between all three big men — Iverson to Mbakwe with his back to the basket to Sampson as he dashed to the lane for a layup and a 52-44 lead.Mbakwe struggled again at the line for the Big Ten’s worst free throw shooting team, going 4 for 10, but Sampson made up for it by hitting 8 of 9 and the Gophers didn’t let up down the stretch.

ISU wins first I-74 battle in OT. Bradley still winless in MVC

PEORIA—Austin Hill made two free throws with 3 seconds remaining in overtime and Illinois State rallied to beat Bradley 79-78 on Wednesday night.Andrew Warren, who scored 25 points, made a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to give Bradley a 78-77 lead. But the Braves (6-15, 0-10) missed out on their first Missouri Valley win this season.Jackie Carmichael had 24 points and 17 rebounds for Illinois State (10-11, 2-8). The Redbirds trailed 23-8 early and 61-52 with 2:40 left, then scored eight straight points beginning with Anthony Cousin’s two free throws after the Bradley bench was assessed a technical foul and ending with John Wilkins’ 3-pointer with 38 seconds remaining. ISU took its first lead at 64-63 on Jon Ekey’s two free throws with 13 seconds left.Carmichael made a free throw with 4 seconds left, then Bradley’s Will Egolf hit two free throws with a second remaining.

Hawks head into All-Star break with 4-2 loss to Minnesota

Antti Miettinen scored the go-ahead goal, Niklas Backstrom made 31 saves and the Minnesota Wild beat the Blackhawks 4-2 Tuesday in the teams’ final game before the All-Star break.The Wild go into the break on a roll, with four wins in five games after the comeback victory. The Hawks lost their second straight after a 5-0-1 stretch.Miettinen’s goal on a splendid tip-in of Andrew Brunette’s pass from the left circle broke a 2-all tie with 3:47 left in the second. Pierre-Marc Bouchard made it a two-goal lead in the third by scoring on a backhanded rebound over sprawling goalie Corey Crawford.Chuck Kobasew and Martin Havlat also scored for the Wild, while Patrick Sharp and Troy Brouwer had Hawk goals.With 4:33 left the Blackhawks got an apparent goal from Jonathan Toews that would have pulled them within one, but officials ruled the net had been knocked off its mooring before the puck crossed the line. But a replay showed that the puck went in before the net was knocked loose, drawing an angry reaction from the Blackhawks and the crowd at the United Center where some fans began chanting a profanity in protest. Minnesota has 14 road wins this season, one more than all of last season.Kobasew tied the game early in the second when he directed the puck between Crawford’s legs from in front of the goal after a shot from Jared Spurgeon hit both of the goalie’s pads.Havlat, the former Blackhawk who was added to the All-Star Game on Tuesday, wasted little time in burning his former team. He took a crossing pass from Kyle Broadziak after a Hawk turnover, gathered it off the boards and rifled a high shot from the right circle over Crawford’s glove just 1:47 into the game.But two minutes later, Sharp scored on the power play from the near left side — his 26th goal, one more than the All-Star had all of last season. The score came after a penalty against another former Blackhawk, defenseman Cam Barker.Backstrom’s fabulous diving stick save on Brouwer, who was wide open in front of the net, preserved the tie momentarily for the Wild.Brouwer came back a short time later and shoveled a puck around defenseman Greg Zanon — who had his back turned — and into the net to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead Minnesota had a two-man advantage for 47 seconds in the opening period but Crawford was able to fight off the power play and the Hawks held on for the one-goal lead after one.

NOTES—Marian Hossa was a scratch because he was not feeling well. He missed the morning skate. … The Blackhawks don’t play at the United Center again until Feb. 16, when Minnesota returns. They have a six-game road trip after the All-Star break, starting Feb. 1 against Columbus. The Wild’s next game is Feb. 1 at home against the Kings. … Nick Leddy, a first-round pick of the Wild before he was traded to the Blackhawks last February as part of the deal that sent Barker to Minnesota, played against the team that drafted him for the first time. Barker faced the Blackhawks for the first time. … It will be Havlat’s second All-Star appearance. He went in 2007 while with the Hawks. … The Blackhawks are 16-13 at home this season.

Thomas goes off as Bulls beat Bucks 92-83


Kurt Thomas scored 22 points and Derrick Rose added 21 points and 10 assists to lead the Bulls to a 92-83 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. Thomas scored his most points since Jan. 25, 2005. He also had nine rebounds and five assists in the win.Chris Douglas-Roberts scored a season-high 30 points, one shy of his career high, for the Bucks. Andrew Bogut had eight points and 18 rebounds and Ersan Ilyasova added 17 points.In the fourth quarter, Milwaukee’s Luc Mbah a Moute closed the deficit to eight points with a layup.However, Luol Deng answered with a layup and a 3-pointer, putting the Bulls up 75-62 with nine minutes left in the game.However, the Bucks twice cut the lead to seven as the Bulls once again fell into a fourth-quarter funk on the offensive end and Douglas-Roberts stayed hot for Milwaukee.Carlos Boozer responded with five of his 14 points down the stretch, pushing the lead to 88-77 with 1:52 to play. Milwaukee got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.Rose’s highlight-reel, twisting layup and subsequent free throw gave his team its biggest lead at 61-41 in the third quarter.Douglas-Roberts got hot for Milwaukee, scoring 15 points in the third as the Bucks closed within 68-58 entering the final period.The Bulls led 19-18 after a sluggish first quarter before Thomas scored eight points in the first three minutes of the second quarter, helping establish a lead.Thomas scored mostly off open jump shots that popped open after he set screens, as Milwaukee focused its defense elsewhere.Thomas played last season with the Bucks and he was the primary replacement at center for the Bucks after Bogut went down with a season-ending elbow injury.C.J. Watson’s basket off a goaltending call capped a 10-0 run that put the Bulls up 43-28. Rose finished the half with a layup at the buzzer, putting the winners up 48-32 at the break.The Bulls moved the ball well in the opening half and had 15 assists on their 17 first-half field goals. Bogut had 15 rebounds in the first half, 10 in the first quarter.

NOTES—Milwaukee’s Drew Gooden was a late scratch. He’s been battling plantar faciitis in his left foot for much of the season. John Salmons, a former Bull, missed his fourth straight game with a hip injury. The Bucks are hopeful that Brandon Jennings, who has been out since Dec. 18 with a left foot injury, will be cleared to practice on Tuesday. … The Bulls played their 21st straight game without center Joakim Noah, who had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right hand. The Bulls are 15-6 in his absence. Noah is expected back after the All-Star break. … The Bulls improved to 10-0 against Central Division opponents. They are the league’s only team with a perfect mark against division opponents. … The Bulls are 26-1 when holding opponents to 95 points or fewer.

Steelers hold on against Jets. Face Packers in Super Bowl

PITTSBURGH—The Pittsburgh Steelers advanced to their third Super Bowl in six years thanks to a big-play defense that returned a fumble for a touchdown and staged a late goal-line stand in a 24-19 victory over the New York Jets.Pittsburgh, which led 24-0 in the first half and held on, faces the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl in Dallas in two weeks. The Packers beat the Bears 21-14 earlier Sunday.William Gay went 22 yards after fellow defensive back Ike Taylor sacked Mark Sanchez and the ball came loose. Pittsburgh then stopped New York four times inside the 2 in hanging on.The Steelers (14-4) have won a record six Super Bowls. New York (13-5) has not been back since winning the most significant Super Bowl(III) in 1969, validating the AFL with a victory over the Baltimore Colts.

Bad start costs Bears who fall short, 21-14 to Packers in NFC Title Game

A bad start cost the Bears a shot at their third Super Bowl as the hated Green Bay Packers took a quick lead on the game’s first possession, led 14-0 at halftime,and held on (when the third of three quarterbacks the Bears had to use,came up short) for a 21-14 win in the NFC Championship Game.Green Bay will now face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV in two weeks.
Green Bay lost the toss,but Lovie Smith chose to defer as he has most of the season and that back fired. Robbie Gould kicked off to James Starks who slipped and fell at his 16.But the Bears defense was shredded for 84 yards on seven plays.Aaron Rodgers had plenty of time and hit Greg Jennings for 22 at the GB 38.He then hit him again for 26 to the Bears 36.After a six yard gain by Starks, Rodgers avoided a rush and hit Starks on the right at the 23,then Jordy Nelson for 22 to the Bears two.Starks got to the one on a delay.Then Rodgers on a boot leg out ran Danieal for the left side corner and quickly put the Packers ahead 7-0 just 4:10 into the game.Kellen Davis returned Crosby’s kickoff to his own 37.After a two yard run by Matt Forte, he grabbed a screen pass from Jay Cutler and got 22 yards to the GB 37.Tao plays later,including an over throw intended for Devin Hester, Brad Maynard punted out at the GB ten. On first down,Starks broke two tackles and got 16 yards.James Jones caught a ten yarder to the 36 and another first down.Starks was finally stopped, for one yard, by Julius Peppers.But Brandon Jackson got a quick ten up the middle.Rodgers first incompleted pass,intended for Jennings was a bit over thrown.He then over threw Nelson.Under pressure,Rodgers threw one through the hands of John Kuhn and Tim Masthay punted to Hester who returned three yards to his 16.A false start by Chris Williams and three downs (including a sack of Cutler)later,Maynard had to punt and the Packers started with great field position at the Bears 49.On first down, Jennings grabbed a crossing route pass for 21 to the Bears 30.Starks ran around right end and gained two before Brian Urlacher ran him out.Starks then gained 1 after Tommie Harris missed a tackle behind the line.Urlacher then sacked Rodgers back at the 35.Masthay punted 32 yards as Hester let it go to the three.A holding forced the Bears to start at their two and Forte gained a yard as the first quarter ended.Two plays later,Maynard kicked again, and Tramon Williams muffed it,recovered and returned to the Packers 49.A couple of minutes later,this game was pretty much over.On second down, Jackson took a pass over the middle and faked UIrlacher into Lake Michigan for a first down to the 31. Then Starks caught a 12 yarder.With all the time in the world, Rodgers hit Nelson at the Bears 4. Starks then reached the ball to the plain of the goal line to make it 14-0 with 11:13 left in the half.The kickoff to Manning resulted in the Bears starting at their 34.Cutler hit Johnny Knox for 24 yards at the GB 42.Chester Taylor caught a pass to the right for twelve yards to the GB 30. Cutler tried to find Hester on the fly,but badly over threw him.The drive killer as a holding on Taylor. Cutler had to keep it twice and slid the second time well short of the first down.Maynard’s punt just deflected into the end zone.After a ten yard run by Starks, Rodgers scrambled and got twenty before any Bears were in the same area code as he was.A nice third down stop by Lance Briggs on Starks forced a Masthay punt that rolled dead at the Bears 11 after taking a funny bounce. A Cutler to Forte pass was behind him and almost picked off.A defensive holding on Williams gave the Bears a first down at their 16.A first down pass into triple coverage was knocked down before Greg Olson could try top catch it.On a draw, Forte gained 14 to the thirty,but that was the end of the Bears drive. Maynard kicked out of bounds at the GB 35.Rodgers scrambled for 12 to the GB 48.After an incompleted pass,Donald Driver got nine on his first catch of the game and Rodgers kept for a first down. Rodgers then had a pass picked by Briggs at his 42 with :49 left in the half.Cutler hit Forte on a passing rout for 17 to the GB 41.Cutler then tried for Knox,but Sam Shields intercepted at his three. Cutler was hit hard and suffered an apparent knee injury. Rodgers took a knee as the clock ran out with Green Bay holding a 14-0 lead.
Cutler did start the second half,but the Bears went three and out after Hester returned the kickoff to Bears 41.Maynard kicked to the GB 17 where Corey Graham downed it.On a third and 8, Nelson got free for a twenty yard pass to the 40.Then Jennings caught a pass for 20 to the Bears 40. Starks ran around the right side for nine,breaking two more tackles.Two plays later on third and 1,Rodgers tried to hit Jones and Tim Jennings was flagged for pass interference at the Bears 8.Rodgers then danced around and threw one right into the mid second of Urlacher who picked it off and returned it 39 yards to the Bears 45.Todd Collins replaced the injured Cutler After an incompletion,and a false start, he threw a pass into the ground,short of Olsen.Then his third down pass was picked off by Nick Collins at his 45.Lovie Smith got into a heated chad with Referee Terry McAulay before angrily throwing the challenge flag near his feet,claiming that the pass was incomplete and it was indeed-the call on the field was overthrown. Maynard’s punt started to take a Green Bay bounce before Garrett Wolfe grabbed it at the GB 21.Jennings caught a 22 yader to his 37 to nullify a holding penalty on Scott Wells.But after that,the Bears held and forced a Masthay punt which Hester caught,but slipped on the horrible turf and was downed after a two return to his 18.Three awful downs later, Maynard kicked again, to Williams who was clobbered,and fumbled, only to have Brett Swain recover.The Bears also were called for ineligible man down field so the Packers started at their 32 but thanks to a nice hit by Urlacher on Starks,it was a three and out. A 65 yard kick by Masthay was returned 22 yards by Bennett to the Bears 33.

Third QB Caleb replaced Collins,who was at best ineffective and at worst, awful.Forte ran 12 yards to the 34.He then got 4 as the third quarter ended.With the running of Forte,the Bears drove to the GB 30 for a first down.Taylor lost three on a hand off behind the line.Hanie then hit Knox on the right side and was forced out at the 1 for a thirty two yard gain.Taylor then crashed over to finally get the Bears on the board with 12:02 to play.Gould kicked off to Starks who returned to his 24.A pass by Rodgers was well over thrown under Peppers pressure ,but McAulay called roughing the passer moving the ball to the 39. A false start put the ball back on the 34.A pass to Driver was over thrown and Tim Jennings was whistled for pass interference at the GB 49. It became third and 2 from the Bears 43, and Rodgers overthrew Driver. Masthay punted and the Packers were unable to down it before it crossed the plain of the goal line.The Bears took over at their twenty. After a no gainer and incompleted pass under pressure, Hanie threw one away to the West sideline forcing another Maynard punt,which he shanked to the left for just 24 net yards,dying at the Bears 44.Rodgers threw an incompletion, but then hit Jennings at the Bears 35.On third down, Rodgers was chased by Anthony Adams and had to throw it away.Masthay angled his punt out of bounds at the Bears 10.It ended up third and five from the 15, after the Bears used a time out, Hanie had his pass go right into the hands of B.J.Raji who had an easy 18 yard return for the dagger TD making it 21-7 with 6:04 left. The Bears would not go away however as Hanie then drove them down to the GB 35 and then hit Bennett on the left sideline and he took it in for a touchdown to make it 21-14 with 4:43 left. Gould’s kickoff to Charles Woodson was returned to the Packers 26. Starks was hit for no gain.He was then tossed out of bounds for a two yard loss.Rodgers then was forced to slide down on a scramble and Masthay punted to Hester who got it to his 29 with 2:53 left.A pass under a rush to Forte was off target and incomplete. A high snap was grabbed by Hanie and he hit Forte,but only for a one yard pickup. He then beat the blitz by hitting Olsen at the Bears 40 for a first down.A horrible intentional grounding call on a pass intended for Hester made it second and 20.Forte got back to the 41 with a screen pass.Forte then caught a pass and was downed just short of midfield,leaving a fourth and one at the two minute warning.Taylor kept the Bears alive with a 4 yard run to the GB 47.Then came a pass to Forte for 13 to the GB 34.After a throw away, Hanie hit Olsen at the 27.On third and two,Mike Martz did the same thing he did Jan 2nd in Green Bay by calling a quick time out,leaving the Bears with just one.Bennett was stuffed on an end around for a two yard loss to the 29. On fourth and five. shields then clinched it with his second interception with :37 left.


Flyers beat Hawks 4-1 in only meeting of last Spring’s Fianlists.

Jeff Carter had two goals and an assist, and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 4-1 win over the the Blackhawks on Sunday.Nikolay Zherdev and Scott Hartnell added goals, and Claude Giroux had three assists for the Flyers in the the only regular-season rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals.The 22-year-old Bobrovsky lost a bid for his first career shutout at 6:49 of the third period when Marian Hossa scored on a penalty shot. Philadelphia improved to a league-leading 69 points and is 9-2-0 in its last 11.The Hawks lost in regulation for the first time since Jan. 5 and had been on a 5-0-1 roll.Corey Crawford finished with 30 saves

Wisconsin routs Wildcats 78-46

EVANSTON—Jon Leuer scored 19 points to lead a balanced attack and No. 18 Wisconsin rolled to a 78-46 Big Ten victory over Northwestern on Sunday.Keaton Nankival had 16 points and Taylor Jordan added 14 as the Badgers (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten) won their third straight game to remain third in the conference standings.Wisconsin freshman Josh Gasser had a triple-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.John Shurna and Luka Mirkovic scored 13 points apiece for the Wildcats (13-6, 3-5).The Badgers broke the game open midway through the opening quarter and put it out of reach early in the second half.The victory margin was Wisconsin’s most lopsided of the conference season and third largest of the year.

Ramblers keep Flames winless in Horizon League play

Loyola University Chicago   

Geoff McCammon hit five 3-pointers among his 19 points to lead Loyola to a 68-59 victory over UIC on Saturday.Courtney Stanley scored 13 points and Ben Averkamp 12 for the Ramblers (12-8, 3-6 Horizon League), who won their second in a row. Andy Polka had 11 rebounds and four assists, and Stanley matched that assist total.Robo Kreps’ 19 points led the Flames (5-15, 0-8), who lost their eighth straight. Paul Carter had his eighth double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and K.C. Robbins scored 10 points.The Ramblers led 40-27 at halftime and stretched it to 53-33 with 12:52 to play. However, leading 62-50 with 5:47 left, Loyola missed its final seven shots, allowing UIC to climb within 62-57 with 1:34 left. But the Ramblers hit six free throws in the final minute to close it out.Loyola had nine turnovers but forced 18.