Troy beats Chicago State in Vegas Consolation Round

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LAS VEGAS—Jordon Varnado scored all 21 of his points in the second half when Troy pulled away from Chicago State 83-65 on Friday.The Trojans’ victory came in the championship game of the ”Visitors’ Finals” at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic.Kevin Baker made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points, and Wesley Person and Jeremy Hollimon each scored 14 for Troy (8-6), which was 13 of 30 from the arc.Fred Sims Jr. had five 3-pointers and 21 points to lead the Cougars (4-10). Delundre Dixon and Trayvon Palmer added 12 points each. Deionte Simmons grabbed 10 rebounds.Chicago State scored back-to-back baskets to open the second half and tie the game at 40. But Baker made a 3-pointer and two free throws to give Troy the lead for good. A 10-0 run bookended by a 3-pointer and a layup by Varnado put Troy in front by 20 with five minutes left.

ISU beats Hawaii in Diamond Head Classic opener.


HONOLULU—Deontae Hawkins had 16 points and Illinois State scored 18 straight points in the second half to beat Hawaii 71-45 in the quarterfinals of the Diamond Head Classic on Thursday night.Phil Fayne scored 14 Madison Williams added 11 points for the Redbirds (7-3), who advanced to the semifinals to face San Francisco on Friday night. The Rainbow Warriors (4-6) will host Utah in the consolation bracket.ISU scored the first 10 points of the game and led the entire way. The Redbirds held Hawaii to 25.5 percent shooting and had their largest lead at 69-36.The Rainbow Warriors closed within 14 on Brocke Stepteau’s 3-pointer with 15:10 left in the second half. That was Hawaii’s last field goal until Matthew Owies’ putback with 1:54 left ended a streak of 15 missed shots from the field.Stepteau, Noah Allen and Gibson Johnson had 10 points each for Hawaii.

NU recovers from awful first half to beat Houston Baptist

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

EVANSTON—Scottie Lindsey had 19 points, Isiah Brown added 12 and Northwestern overcame a sluggish first half for a 72-63 victory over Houston Baptist on Thursday night.Sanjay Lumpkin and Vic Law had 11 points apiece as the Wildcats (11-2) won their eighth straight game.

”Certainly, I feel fortunate with the outcome; we had a lot of things going against us there tonight,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. ”The thing I was proud of at halftime was we didn’t panic. What we tried to talk about was there was still 20 minutes to play.”

Colter Lasher and Atif Russell had 13 points apiece for HBU (4-6).Before Thursday, HBU had allowed opponents to shoot a blistering 48.7 percent from the field, but Northwestern made only 8 of 30 (26.7 percent) first-half shots. Lindsey, Law and Bryant McIntosh – the Wildcats’ top three scorers – were a combined 4-for-23 before the break.HBU, which led by as many as 12 points, took a 35-25 halftime lead.Lumpkin opened the second half scoring with a 3-pointer and, roughly seven minutes later, his putback of a McIntosh miss gave the Wildcats a 45-44 lead – their first since early in the first half.Russell put the Huskies back on top with a fast-break dunk with just over 12 minutes to play, but Lindsey gave NU the lead for good with a 3-pointer to make it 48-46 with 11:17 remaining.HBU, which shot 53.8 percent in the first half, went cold midway through the second. The Huskies were scoreless for 3:28 and were held without a field goal for 5:39 as Northwestern took command.

”We just had a hard time getting going,” Collins said. ”I thought we had really good looks throughout the course of the game and we couldn’t throw it in the ocean.We finally did enough to get the lead. I never felt like we shot the ball well the entire night.”

HBU: The Huskies suffered a 43-point loss at Indiana on Dec. 10, but were much more competitive against this Big Ten opponent. Still, Northwestern’s talent and depth showed in the second half as HBU’s double-digit lead became a double-digit deficit. Things could have been ugly if Northwestern shot better.With the holidays and the Big Ten season fast approaching, it’s not surprising that the Wildcats weren’t at their best against HBU. How successful their season is will depend on how they play in conference. ”To be 11-2 with the schedule we’ve played, I’m very pleased with the position we’re in heading into the Big Ten,” Collins said. ”But like I told our guys, it’s a new battle starting next Tuesday.”

The Wildcats begin their Big Ten schedule at Penn State on Tuesday.

Bulls fall apart(again)against mediocre Wizards, fall 107-97

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All the Washington Wizards want for Christmas is Bradley Beal and John Wall at their healthy best.That’s what Washington got in a 107-97 victory over the Bulls on Wednesday night, when the Beal-Wall backcourt combined for 44 points, 14 assists, five steals and only four turnovers. The Wizards are 13-11 when both are in the starting lineup.

”We made a conscious effort about a dozen or 14 games ago to play faster,” coach Scott Brooks said. ”We’ve got all this athleticism and we have one of the fastest point guards (Wall) in the league. We want to be able to utilize it every trip down the court.”

Wall finished with 23 points and nine assists, while Beal totaled 21 points and five assists. Neither played in the first meeting between the teams on Nov. 12, which the Bulls won 106-95 in Chicago.

”We are a totally different team when me and (Beal) are rolling,” said Wall, who did not attempt a shot in the opening 9:30, then scored 19 points in the final three quarters.

Washington also received a boost from reserves Trey Burke and Marcus Thornton, who sparked a key burst early in the fourth quarter. After the teams entered the period tied at 77, the two combined for 10 points to give the Wizards a 91-85 lead.Dwyane Wade’s jump shot closed the gap to 97-93 with 2:54 left, but Beal, Marcin Gortat and Wall followed with baskets to seal it.

”(Wall) is the head of their snake over there,” Wade said. ”And Bradley Beal has been playing amazing.”
Wade wants his hometown fans to be more supportive. The Chicago Bulls guard told reporters Wednesday that he was not thrilled with the United Center crowd booing them last Friday during their 95-69 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I’m an honest guy,” Wade said,. “I was very disappointed our fans booed us. We’re trying to figure it out. We win home games against Cleveland, San Antonio. And then we get our butts kicked against Milwaukee. I don’t think we deserved to get booed. We’re out here trying. I’d like to see more patience and more support from everybody. Like I said at the beginning of the year, we’re not winning a championship today. We’re not winning a championship tomorrow. We got stages and levels to get to where we want to get to. And everyone gotta understand that.”

Gortat had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Burke scored 10 and Thornton six.

”There were so many parts of the game that were great for us tonight,” Brooks said. ”Guys off the bench were terrific.”

Jimmy Butler led a balanced offense with 20 points, and Wade added 19. Rajon Rondo had 10 assists.The Wizards overcame an early 13-point deficit to post their fourth victory in five games. They are 3-9 on the road.The Bulls lost for the fourth time in five games to conclude a 1-2 homestand.The Bulls jumped out to a 33-22 lead on the strength of 62.5 percent shooting from the field. Butler and Taj Gibson led the way with nine and eight points, respectively.In the second quarter, Wall capped a late 9-0 run with a fast-break dunk that gave his team a one-point advantage.After a timeout, the Bulls regrouped to take a 56-55 lead at halftime.

”We allowed them to get the momentum going into the half,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. ”We lost our pace and never regained it.”

Wall was whistled for his eighth technical foul, one fewer than Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins, the NBA leader. … F Otto Porter (back spasms) sat out the second half. … G-F Danuel House (broken right wrist) remained out.The Bulls fell to 5-1 when Rondo has at least 10 assists. He shot 1 for 10 from the field … G Michael Carter-Williams (sprained left wrist) could resume 2-on-2 drills this week.The Bulls have lost five of their last nine at home, where lethargic crowds have been the rule of late. ”Fans aren’t cheering, but we have to give them a reason to cheer,” Gibson said. ”We have to play better.” The Bulls have a road game against Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Hawks come up short against Ottawa, 5 game winning streak ends

Derick Brassard and Tom Pyatt scored 10 seconds apart during Ottawa’s three-goal second period, and the Senators beat the Blackhawks 4-3 on Tuesday night for their third consecutive victory.Bobby Ryan added a goal and an assist as Ottawa stopped a seven-game road losing streak against the Hawks, earning its first win at the United Center since March 28, 2001. Dion Phaneuf scored a power-play goal, and Kyle Turris had two assists.Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte and Richard Panik scored for the Blackhawks, who had won five in a row and six of seven. Scott Darling made 26 saves while dropping to 6-3-1 in 10 starts since Corey Crawford had an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3.The Hawks played without center Artem Anisimov for the second straight game due to an injury, and forward Marian Hossa left in the first period. The Blackhawks did not provide a reason for Hossa’s departure.Panik’s ninth of the season on a delayed penalty made it 4-3 just 1:42 into the third, but the Blackhawks couldn’t come up with the tying score despite putting heavy pressure on Mike Condon in the final minutes. Panik had a shot go off the left post and Condon stopped a penalty shot by Marcus Kruger with 4:52 left.Condon made 23 saves after getting the win in relief of Andrew Hammond in Sunday’s 6-2 victory against the New York Islanders. Hammond departed in the first period of that game with an ankle injury, but coach Guy Boucher said he doesn’t think it’s a long-term thing.Panarin’s one-timer – a laser from just outside the faceoff dot in the left circle – tied it at 1 at 11:17 of the first. It was Panarin’s fifth goal and 12th point in his last six games.It was still tied in the second when Brassard drove a pass from Chris Wideman past Darling for his seventh of the season just one second after a hooking penalty on Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews ran out.Moments after the ensuing faceoff, Ottawa drove right back down the ice and Pyatt showed off some nifty stickwork on the right side of the net for his fourth goal of the season at 7:41.Motte got one back for the Hawks when Vinnie Hinostroza’s deflected shot went right to him, setting up his first goal since Nov. 1 against Calgary. The rookie forward punctuated the score with a big upper cut as he skated behind the Ottawa net.Clinging to a 3-2 lead, the Senators then made the most of their third power-play opportunity of the night. With Brent Seabrook in the box for tripping, Turris’ big drive went off Phaneuf’s left knee and past Darling on glove side at 14:22.

NOTES—Crawford participated in the morning skate and could return Friday against Colorado. … Senators F Mike Hoffman returned to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension for cross-checking San Jose F Logan Couture. … Seabrook got his 300th career assist on Panarin’s goal. … The Senators recalled G Matt O’Connor from Binghamton of the AHL to back up Condon….The Blackhawks host Colorado on Friday night.

Bulls wake up & clobber Pistons 113-82

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For the “Dow Jones” Bulls, snapping out of their recent slump was as simple as putting the ball in the basket.Jimmy Butler scored 19 points, Rajon Rondo had 10 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds, and the Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons 113-82 on Monday night to end a three-game losing streak.

”Everything looks better when you’re making shots,” Butler said. ”If you’re not making shots, it’s hard to win.”

Taj Gibson added 16 points, Robin Lopez had 14 and Dwyane Wade, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic had 13 apiece, which had lost six of eight.Jon Leuer scored 16 points for the Pistons, who have dropped three straight and four of five.

”We got crushed,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. ”It was a disgusting performance by all of us, me included. I mean, it was unprofessional, embarrassing, humiliating. Whatever you want to say, it was terrible.It looks to me like a lack of effort and a lack of heart. And if you don’t play hard, you’re not going to have any confidence. We looked like we were hoping the game would be easy tonight, and it wasn’t. And we just caved.”

After scoring just 69 points in a 26-point loss to Milwaukee on Friday, the Bulls busted out for 69 points in the first two quarters, their best for any half this season.The Bulls, who entered tied for sixth-worst in the NBA with a .436 field-goal percentage, made 17 of 21 shots (81 percent) in taking a 35-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.The Bulls had 15 assists on their 17 field goals, with Rondo (seven) and Butler (six) leading the way.

”That ball was moving so rapidly and everybody was getting rhythm shots,” Butler said. ”When you see your first few go in, it’s a long night for whoever’s guarding you.”

The Bulls still were shooting a blistering 72.7 percent at halftime – they led 69-34 – and even managed to knock down 4 of 6 3-pointers, which had been a problem during their recent struggles.The lead was 97-63 entering the fourth quarter, and the Pistons offered little resistance from there. None of the Bulls starters played in the fourth.

”Give the guys a lot of credit for stepping up,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. ”Last week was an embarrassing week for everybody.”

The Pistons held a players-only meeting following Saturday’s 15-point home loss to Indiana, but Van Gundy didn’t place much significance on it. ”Team meeting my (butt),” he said. ”Like I said before, that stuff means nothing. It’s what you do on the court. Talking’s easy.” The Bulls shot a season-best 59.8 percent from the field and tied a season high with 34 assists. Their 15 first-quarter assists are tied (with Golden State) for the most assists in a quarter this season. . Their previous high for a half was 65 points in the first half of a game Oct. 31 at Brooklyn.After not playing the previous two games (both coach’s decisions), Mirotic entered the game with 3:39 left in the first quarter. He hit his first three shots, including a 3-pointer, and finished with 10 points in 12 first-half minutes.

”The big thing was the way he performed at practice,” Hoiberg said. ”He has been coming in to get to work. He was the first guy in the gym four or five straight days. I wanted to get him back in there and he hit a couple of shots.”

A large portion of the Bulls three-hour practice on Sunday was watching lowlights of the 95-69 loss to Milwaukee on Friday.
”Everybody came in with an open mind, took the criticism that they deserved and learned from it and got better,” Butler said.
The Bulls conclude a three-game homestand against Washington on Wednesday night.

DePaul pulls out squeaker from SEMO

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ROSEMONT—Billy Garrett Jr. scored 19 points and made the go-ahead free throw with 44 seconds left to lift DePaul over Southeast Missouri State 81-78 in Monday night’s Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic game.Trailing by five at halftime, DePaul closed to 57-55 on Eli Cain’s 3, then led 62-60 on R.J. Curington’s layup. Daniel Simmons’ 3 put the Redhawks back on top, but Cain hit back-to-back 3s amid a 10-2 run and DePaul led 72-67.The Redhawks scored eight straight and led 78-77 on Antonius Cleveland’s dunk with 58 seconds left. Garrett made two free throws to give DePaul a 79-78 edge, then Tre’Darius McCallum made two more to seal it. Jamaal Calvin’s game-tying 3 attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim.Cain scored 15 and Curington had 13 for the Blue Demons (7-4).Cleveland scored a career-high 28 points and Calvin added 20 with a career-high six 3-pointers for the Redhawks (4-8), who have lost five straight.

Streaking Hawks beat Sharks 4-1 for 5th in a row.

Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza and Patrick Kane scored in the third period, and the streaking Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks 4-1 on Sunday night for their fifth consecutive victory.The division leaders in the Western Conference were tied at 1 when Hinostroza won a faceoff for and Hartman whipped the puck right by Martin Jones on the stick side at 6:59. It was Hartman’s first goal since Nov. 25 at Anaheim, ending an 11-game drought.Hinostroza then got his third of the season when he shot it through Jones’ legs at 17:40 on a break with Marian Hossa. Hinostroza also scored the game winner in the Hawks 6-4 win at St. Louis on Saturday night.Kane added an empty-netter as Hawks improved to 13-2-3 at home. Duncan Keith scored his first goal of the season in the second, and Scott Darling made 33 saves.Joe Pavelski scored for San Jose, which had won four in a row. Jones finished with 22 stops.San Jose jumped in front when Pavelski deflected Brent Burns’ long wrist shot past Darling at 1:13 of the second. It looked as if the puck also might have gone off the stick of Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson on its way to the net.It was Pavelski’s third goal in four games and No. 11 on the year.The Sharks then started buzzing around the Blackhawks’ end. Patrick Marleau got open for a tip in front, but Darling was there. Chris Tierney shot it off the left post with about 4:45 left in the period.The Blackhawks picked up the tying goal when Keith drove a pass from Artemi Panarin past Jones from just inside the blue line at 16:49. Panarin extended his point streak to five games with his 19th assist.Darling took over from there, improving to 6-2-1 in his ninth straight start since Corey Crawford was sidelined by an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said they talked about starting rookie Lars Johansson against the Sharks, but they decided to stay with Darling despite signs of fatigue the past couple games.It worked out quite well for the Hawks, who have won six of seven overall.

NOTES—Crawford skated again before the game and could return Friday against Colorado. ”He was out there today with some players, so he got some good work again today,” Quenneville said. Crawford, who turns 32 on Dec. 31, is 12-6-2 with a 2.27 goals-against average in 20 games this season. … Blackhawks C Artem Anisimov was sidelined with the usual unidentified injury. He is day to day. … Pavelski has 30 points in 34 career games against the Hawks…..The Blackhawks are home to Ottawa on Tuesday night.

Fox goes for tie, and Bears lose on last play in sub zero wind chill factors.

John Fox, with nothing to lose, went for a tying field goal with under two minutes to play, and left Green Bay more than enough time to get in field goal range.Aaron Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson with a 60-yard pass to set up Mason Crosby’s 32-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Green Bay Packers to a 30-27 victory over the Bears in one of the coldest games ever played in Chicago on Sunday afternoon.Wide receiver-turned-running back Ty Montgomery ran for a career-high 162 yards and two touchdowns, and the Packers (8-6) earned their fourth straight victory despite blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter.They also moved ahead of Minnesota for sole possession of second place in the NFC North and pulled within a game of division leader Detroit, with the Vikings getting pounded by Indianapolis and the Lions losing to the New York Giants.The Bears (3-11) had tied it on a field goal by Connor Barth with 1:19 left. The Packers took over at their 27, and on third down at the 26, Rodgers unleashed a deep pass down the middle of the field to Nelson, who got behind Cre’Von LeBlanc.With no timeouts, the Packers downed the ball before Crosby booted his winner.The game-time temperature for their matchup against Green Bay on Sunday was 11 degrees with a minus-4 wind chill.The Bears hosted the Packers in 3-degree temperature and a minus-15 wind chill – the lowest ever for a Bears home game – on Dec. 18, 1983. The Bears’ coldest home game, temperature-wise, was against Green Bay on Dec. 22, 2008, when it was 2 degrees with a minus-13 wind chill.Green Bay, of course, played the coldest NFL game on record when it beat Dallas in the 1967 NFL championship game – the ”Ice Bowl.” Rodgers threw for 252 yards despite problems his left hamstring and right calf that kept him out of practice during the week.Montgomery had several big runs, including a 61-yarder, after coach Mike McCarthy announced he is now a full-time running back. He also scored from the 4 on the game’s opening possession and added a 3-yard TD in the third quarter that made it 20-10.Christine Michael ran for a 42-yard touchdown. Julius Peppers had a strip-sack that led to a field goal. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix added two interceptions, and the Packers tied the NFL’s oldest rivalry for the first time since 1933 at 94-94-6.Matt Barkley threw for 362 yards and two touchdowns, but was picked off three times.Alshon Jeffery came on strong near the end to finish with 89 yards on six catches in his return from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.Deonte Thompson led THE bEARS with 110 yards receiving. Cameron Meredith added nine catches for 104 yards, but the Bears lost for the fifth time in six games.The Packers as though they were on their way to an easy win after that huge third quarter. But the Bears came storming back.An 8-yard touchdown catch by Jeffery and 9-yard run by Jordan Howard midway through the fourth cut it to 27-24.The Bears took over on their 21 with 5:42 remaining and had a third down at the Packers 4 when Micah Hyde reached in front of Meredith at the goal line, forcing the Bears to settle for Barth’s tying field goal.Fox could have gone for it but chose the conservative rout, and it backfired.

NOTES—RB James Starks sat out because of a concussion. McCarthy said the veteran running back was in a car crash Monday…..NT Eddie Goldman was inactive after leaving last week’s game at Detroit because of an ankle injury. … LB Jerrell Freeman served the final game of a four-game suspension for a PED violation…..The Bears host Washington on Saturday.

Illini hold off BYU in Chicago Legends finale

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Illinois went to some unfamiliar offensive weapons to hang on against BYU.Reserve center Maverick Morgan had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and forward Michael Finke added 10 points off the bench as the Illini edged the Cougars 75-73 on Saturday night.

”We’ve got some guys that can score in there, and they did a good job of getting the ball inside,” Illinois coach John Groce said.

Tracy Abrams scored 15 points, Jalen Coleman-Lands added 12 and Malcolm Hill 10 for the Illini (9-3), who have won five straight.

”They went zone a couple times, they went man,” Abrams said about BYU. ”Just adjusting to the game play and understanding we’ve got to get it down there to the bigs.”

Eric Mika led BYU with 25 points in the second game of the State Farm Chicago Legends doubleheader.BYU (7-4) shot just 43 percent from the field after averaging 85.8 points on the strength of its transition game. Nick Emery added 16 points and TJ Haws 10 for the Cougars.

”Defensively, we took a step in the right direction tonight against a very, very potent offensive team,” Groce said.

Illinois made 10 of 26 3s.The Cougars got within one on Colby Leifson’s 3 with 1:59 left. Morgan made a jumper and Abrams got a steal and a layup before BYU’s L.J. Rose hit a 3 to pull BYU within two with 16.7 seconds left. Hill made two free throws before Rose nailed a jumper to get the Cougars back within two. Emery missed a 3 at the buzzer.

”It came down to really one, two, maybe three big-time plays we needed to make,” Mika said. ”Illinois just did a good job. They made those hustle plays, the 50-50 balls, and we didn’t convert on a couple things that we could have.”

Hill shot 3 for 12 from the field after averaging a team-high 18.9 points.Illinois’ bench outscored BYU’s reserves 28-7.

”They had some big guys,” Mika said. ”They have that rotation we’re they’re all different, but they’re all strong. They can all get rebounds. It was tough getting used to. We saw how they were calling fouls. We were able to fight through it pretty well.”

Illinois led by as much as 16 before BYU went on an 11-0 run and trailed 43-37 at halftime.

”We didn’t come ready to play in the beginning,” Rose said. ”We got a group out there that was ready to compete. They brought us back into the game.”

BYU fell short of a quality win against a Power 5 conference team. The Cougars will close out their nonconference schedule against Idaho State and CSU Bakersfield next week.Illinois started its season on a four-game winning streak before losing three straight and winning its last five.The Illini lead the series against BYU 4-2. The Cougars won the last meeting 80-75 in 1980 in Knoxville, Tenn. … The State Farm Chicago Legends recognized the city’s basketball tradition. Former DePaul player Mark Aguirre and the late coach Ray Meyer, both Chicago natives, were honored during halftime. … The Cubs’ World Series trophy made an appearance. … Illinois is 37-14 at the United Center.Redshirt freshman forward Kipper Nichols played one minute in his first game with Illinois. After he originally signed with Tulane, Nichols transferred last December and sat out a year per transfer requirements.Illinois will play its Braggin’ Rights game against Missouri on Wednesday in St. Louis.