ATLANTA—John Shurna, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, had 25 points to lead Northwestern past Georgia Tech 76-60 on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Shurna, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, made three 3-pointers and had a team-high eight rebounds as Northwestern (6-0) remained unbeaten. Drew Crawford had 14 points and Luka Mirkovic had 13.Jason Morris led Georgia Tech (4-3) with a career-high 21 points. Mfon Udofia had 12.Georgia Tech already knew about Shurna’s scoring exploits. Shurna had 21 points as Northwestern beat Georgia Tech 91-71 in last year’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Evanston, Ill. Shurna had 15 points in the first half Tuesday. The Wildcats led by 13 points at 27-14 midway through the half.Each team played in the recent Charleston Classic. Northwestern won the tournament, beating LSU, Tulsa and Seton Hall. Georgia Tech lost to Saint Joseph’s and LSU and beat VCU.Shurna had a career-high 37 points in the win over LSU and was leading the Big Ten with his average of 21.2 points per game before Tuesday night.Georgia Tech, playing under first-year coach Brian Gregory, made its first appearance of the season at Philips Arena, home of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. The arena is one of two home courts for the Yellow Jackets this season as their on-campus facility is rebuilt.Morris helped Georgia Tech rally, scoring 11 of his team’s 13 points in one stretch. Morris had seven straight points to cut the Northwestern lead to 36-33. The Wildcats led 44-39 at halftime but stretched the lead back to 10 at 55-45 on Alex Marcotullio’s 3-pointer.Daniel Miller and Glen Rice Jr. each had 10 points for Georgia Tech.Northwestern made 31 of 56 shots (55.4 percent). Georgia Tech struggled with 29.6 percent shooting in the second half to finish at 42.6 percent (23 of 54).
COLLEGE PARK—Sam Maniscalco scored 24 points, Brandon Paul had 17 and undefeated Illinois pulled away to a 71-62 victory over Maryland on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Fighting Illini (7-0) trailed at halftime and led by only one point with 8 minutes left before Maniscalco knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in a 10-2 run that proved too difficult for the feisty Terrapins to overcome. Terrell Stoglin scored 25 for Maryland (3-3) and James Padgett had 16. The Terrapins had won six straight in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and were riding a 13-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents. But Maryland, playing its first season under coach Mark Turgeon, gave the Illini all they could handle before fading down the stretch. Illinois trailed 41-37 before Paul scored on a drive and Maniscalco hit a 3-pointer to give the Illini their first lead since 2-0. Nnanna Egwu followed with a layup and Tyler Griffey popped a jumper from deep in the corner to make it 47-41 and seal the 10-point run. After the lead dwindled to 51-50, Maniscalco scored from beyond the arc with 7:45 left. The 6-foot guard popped another 3 with 5:28 remaining to make it 59-52, and although the Terrapins closed to five points in the final minute, they couldn’t complete the comeback.. Maryland limited the Illini to 40 percent shooting and held a 17-15 edge on the boards in taking a 35-31 halftime lead. The margin might have been more if the Terrapins didn’t miss seven of 15 free throws. Padgett scored Maryland’s opening six points, and Illinois missed seven of its first eight shots while the Terrapins took an 8-2 lead. Minutes later, Sean Mosley drilled a 3-pointer to cap a 7-2 spurt that made it 20-11. After Paul scored five points in a 9-0 run that tied it, Stoglin scored Maryland’s next nine points – including a pair of 3-pointers and a pull-up jumper in the lane – for a 29-23 cushion. It was 30-25 before follow-shots by Padgett and Berend Weijs rebuilt the Terrapins’ lead to nine.
Goalie Mike Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes caught the Blackhawks on their first game back after a long road trip and came away with a convincing victory. The visiting Coyotes looked fresh. The glad-to-be-home Blackhawks were sluggish.Ray Whitney had a goal and two assists for Phoenix, which improved to 7-3-1 on the road. Daymond Langkow, Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata also scored.Smith was working on his second straight shutout going until Patrick Sharp scored with 42.9 seconds left. He made a couple of nice saves in the final period but acknowledged: “I really wasn’t tested that much.” The Blackhawks were playing their first home game since Nov. 13 after splitting a six-game western trip. They had won their previous two games against the Ducks and the Kings.Most teams say the first game back after a long road trip is usually difficult, but Sharp wasn’t buying it.The Blackhawks are now 7-2-2 at the United Center, where they play 17 of their next 23 games.When Whitney scored Phoenix’s second goal in the final period, Joel Quenneville pulled goalie Corey Crawford, who gave up four scores on 21 shots.Langkow took a crossing pass from Whitney and his backhander hit Crawford’s glove before trickling into the net late in the opening period.On a break, Doan got a dropoff pass from Mikkel Boedker and scored from the right circle midway through the second. Doan’s rising shot hit the post and went past Crawford.Less than two minutes into the final period, Vrbata scored from the right side of the net for his 11th goal in the last 14 games and No. 12 on the season. He took a shovel pass from Whitney, who’d gained possession of the puck behind the net when the Blackhawks couldn’t control it.About four minutes later, Martin Hanzal controlled the puck behind the net and passed to a wide-open Whitney for another score.The Hawks came out strong with four shot attempts in the first three minutes, but had only four more over the next period and a half.
NOTES—Daniel Carcillo returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch on the final day of the road trip Saturday in Los Angeles. Carcillo didn’t have a point in the five games he played on the trip. … Tuesday night’s game was part of a six-game stretch in which Phoenix plays five on the road, including two at the United Center. The Coyotes are right back in Chicago on Monday night.
GROBBER’S MONDAY RANTS—Nov 28,2011
***This was one time the Bears Special Teams were out performed.Sebastian Janikowski nailed all six of his field goal attempts while punter Shane Lechler had an 80 yarder and averaged 54.6 while neutralizing Devin Hester all day.Robbie Gould hit on both of his field goal tries. But the Raiders won this battle.
***One has to wonder why Mike Martz went back to being “Mike Martz” Sunday in Oakland. The Bears got away from running the ball against an Oakland team that’s one of the worst in the NFL against the run.Now it’s the awful Kansas City Chiefs,who were brutal against Pittsburgh Sunday night.
***Illinois has oulled the plug on Football Coach Ron Zook after the Illini started the season 6-0(and was ranked),but then dropped the last six straight. Zook’s record was 34-51. Interim Coach Vic Koenning will run the Illini if they get a Bowl bid as expected.
***The Illini Basketball team is now 6-0 after a 90-43 rout of winless Chicago State Sunday at the Assembley Hall. Bet you they do NOT lose their next six!
***Speaking of Chicago State, whom are the Cougars going to beat? They are 0-6 and play in the Great West with powerhouses like North Dakota, Utah Valley, N.J. Tech, Houston. Baptist, and UT-Pan American. Only CSU and UTPA are Division One for now.
OAKLAND—Sebastian Janikowski kicked a team-record six field goals, Shane Lechler had an 80-yard punt and neutralized ace returner Devin Hester and the Raiders took advantage of three interceptions from Caleb Hanie to beat the Bears 25-20 Sunday.Janikowski made field goals of 40, 47, 42, 19, 37 and 44 yards to break the team record he shared with one time Bear Jeff Jaeger. Lechler controlled field position all game with a 49.2 yard net average, pinning the Hester and the Bears inside the 20 on three of five punts and booming the team-record 80-yarder over his head with a boot that generated “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd and his teammates. The only remaining ties to the Raiders teams that won three straight division titles from 2000-02 were a major reason why Oakland (7-4) remained alone in first in the AFC West. Palmer threw for 301 yards and Michael Bush iced the game with a touchdown run in the fourth quarter to lead the Raiders to their third straight win against a Bears team missing starting quarterback Jay Cutler. Hanie struggled in his first career start for the Bears (7-4) in place of Cutler, who broke his right thumb last week in the Bears fifth straight win to put a major obstacle into what had been a promising season. Hanie, who nearly led a comeback in last season’s NFC title game, had thrown only 14 regular-season passes since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2008 and looked like a career backup for much of this game. Hanie completed 18 of 35 passes for 254 yards and three interceptions, including a crushing one late in the first half when the Bears were deep in Oakland territory and on the verge of taking the lead.But Hanie also threw two TD passes, including a 5-yarder to Kellen Davis with 2:11 to play that cut the deficit to 25-20. That was set up by an 81-yarder to Johnny Knox.The game ended when Hanie botched a spike play with 4 seconds left at his 46. Instead of immediately spiking the ball to stop the clock, he took an extra step back and hesitated, leading to a game-ending intentional grounding call. Bush was held to 69 yards on the ground by a strong defense and Palmer was sacked four times and threw an interception as the Raiders missed injured big-play threats Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore. But they made up for it on special teams, headed by Janikowski and Lechler. The Raiders did not shy away from the dangerous Hester, holding him to 7 yards on two punt returns. He didn’t get a chance on the 80-yarder as Lechler sailed it over his head once he saw the returner creeping up too far. Hanie managed to drive the Bears into field goal range on that drive and Robbie Gould’s 53-yard field goal cut Oakland’s lead to 18-13 with 7:17 to play.The Raiders answered with Palmer throwing a 47-yard pass to Louis Murphy on third-and-4 from midfield to set up Bush’s 3-yard TD run with 3:47 remaining.Hanie’s three first-half interceptions put the Bears in a 12-7 hole despite his 29-yard TD pass to Knox. The Bears had a chance to take the lead when they drove to the 7 late in the first half. Hanie attempted a throwback screen to Davis that was tipped by Aaron Curry and went right to Kamerion Wimbley, who returned it 83 yards before being dragged down by a horse-collar tackle by Lance Louis. Oakland settled for a 19-yard field goal. “We knew coming into this game that he lacked experience but we knew that he could still make plays, as you saw in the Green Bay title game last year,” Routt said. “We knew he still had the ability to make us look bad and come out of here with the W if we didn’t take care of business.”
NOTES—Bush’s TD gave Oakland’s its first points in the fourth quarter since Oct. 9 at Houston….Knox had 278 total yards with 145 coming on his four catches and 133 on four kick returns.
CHAMPAIGN—After starting the 2011 season with six straight victories and being ranked, Illinois lost its final six games of the season to finish at 6-6 and the collapse has cost head coach Ron Zook his job. Zook was fired on Sunday morning. The school made it official with a release on Sunday afternoon.
“I assessed the entire program and felt that it was time for a change in leadership,” said Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas in a release.
“It is imperative that our program shows some consistency and competes for championships, and I think a change in coaches can help us get there sooner. I wasn’t here seven years ago when Ron Zook took over as coach, but it’s clear the program is in better shape than what he inherited. I believe we need new leadership to take the program to the level to compete for championships on a consistent basis. This is an extremely competitive conference, and we are determined to go head-to-head with the very best.”
Current Illinois defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has been named as the team’s interim head coach.Zook spent seven seasons with Illinois, going 34-51 in that span. The high point of his time in Champaign came in 2007 when the Illini finished the season 9-4 and went to the Rose Bowl and lost to USC. Illinois’ only other bowl appearance under Zook came last season when it beat Baylor in the Texas Bowl.
CHAMPAIGN—Myke Henry scored 14 points and Illinois easily defeated Chicago State 90-43 on Sunday.Illinois (6-0) jumped to a 13-3 lead, and a 17-4 run at the end of the first half pushed the Illini’s advantage to 44-19 at the break.Henry, a freshman forward, returned from an ankle injury and came off the bench on Sunday. After close wins against Richmond and Illinois State in which coach Bruce Weber had to rely on a small rotation of veteran players, the large leads throughout Sunday’s game allowed Weber to dip deep into his bench.Five Illini players finished in double figures, with the bench contributing 48 points.Chicago State (0-6) was led by forward Jeremy Robinson’s 14 points and six rebounds in its lowest scoring effort of the season.
LAKE BUENA VISTA—Cleveland Melvin had 18 points and Brandon Young added 13 to help DePaul hold off a late charge by Arizona State and secure a 68-64 win on Sunday in the fifth-place game of the Old Spice Classic.Arizona State trailed by four points at halftime and throughout the second half before getting it down to a basket in the waning seconds. But Jordan Bachynski came up empty on a pair of free-throw attempts that would have tied it at 66. Two free throws by Melvin on the other end to provide the final margin.ASU was led by Keala King’s 22 points, followed by Trent Lockett with 19. But the Sun Devils were hamstrung by 19 turnovers, a throwback to their tournament-opening loss to Fairfield in which they turned it over 22 times. DePaul kept about an eight-point cushion most of the second half until a flurry of action under the three- minute mark opened the door.A three-point play by Lockett cut DePaul’s lead to 62-60 with 1:59 to play and he trimmed it to a basket again a few possessions later at 66-64.Bachynski rebounded a missed Carrick Felix 3-pointer in the corner with 4.3 seconds left. But he missed his first ensuing free-throw attempt. A lane violation then negated his second and Melvin was able to ice the game at the line.Arizona State held a 44-30 rebounding edge, but struggled to transform the extra opportunities into points as struggled to get clean looks at the basket. The Sun Devils played great half-court defense at times, though often surrendered baskets late in the shot clock.The Blue Demons won despite shooting just 38.2 percent for the game (26 of 68) and 8 of 22 from the 3-point line.DePaul led by as many as 12 in the first half, but up 29-19 following back-to-back 3’s by Moses Morgan the Blue Demons allowed Arizona to outscore them 8-2 over the final three minutes.The Blue Demons also shot just 36.4 percent from the field in the half (12 of 33) and were outrebounded 27-13.Arizona State didn’t get much out of the edge on the glass, though, thanks to 11 turnovers.
LOS ANGELES—Jonathan Toews scored the go-ahead goal in the second period after winning a faceoff from Mike Richards, helping the Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Saturday.Toews, who came in leading the NHL with a 61.8 winning percentage on faceoffs, put the Hawks ahead 2-1 with 3:22 left in the second on his 13th goal after beating Richards clean on the draw.The puck went back to Duncan Keith, whose long screened wrist shot went wide of the left post on a deflection off teammate Viktor Stalberg. But Toews was right there to get the hard carom off the end boards and slam it home behind Jonathan Quick, who stuck out his right leg too late.It was the second straight game-winner and fourth this season for the Blackhawks’ captain, who had two goals and three assists on Friday in a wild 6-5 win down the freeway against the Anaheim Ducks.Andrew Brunette also scored for the Blackhawks and Keith had two assists.Corey Crawford, 4-0 with a 1.75 goals-against average in four career starts against the Kings, stopped 26 shots after making 23 saves against the Ducks. It was the first time he started on consecutive days since splitting a home-and-home set against the Dallas Stars to open the season.The Kings lost to the Blackhawks for the seventh straight time and fourth in a row at home. Quick had 25 saves and Jarret Stoll ended a 17-game goal drought. Richards’ career-best goal-scoring streak ended at five games. The Hawks, 9-0-1 when scoring first, got the jump on the Kings at 3:08 of the opening period. Brunette scored on a wraparound, as Quick tried to scramble around Kopitar and Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland in the crease to cover the right post. The Blackhawks are 5-0 when Brunette scores a goal, and in four of those games he got their first one. The Blackhawks had a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 about eight minutes into the second period, as Stalberg and Patrick Kane flashed down the ice on a 2-on-none break. But Stalberg shot wide of the right post after getting Kane’s cross-ice feed, and the opportunistic Kings tied it with 7:58 to go in the period.Matt Greene’s shot from the right point was blocked by Keith, but the puck caromed to Stoll, and he beat Crawford high to the glove side with a 25-foot wrist shot for his first goal since Oct. 18.The Blackhawks were 3-3-0 on their annual circus road trip, which included a two-day stopover in Las Vegas. They won’t play consecutive games on the road again until they go on a franchise record-tying nine-game trip that runs from Jan. 31 through Feb. 18 and spans four time zones. The only other nine-game trip in the franchise’s 85-year history was in 1955-56, when the NHL was comprised of just six teams — all within a 987-mile radius.
NOTES—Joel Quenneville played his final nine NHL games for current Kings coach Terry Murray during the 1990-91 season, when Murray was coaching the Washington Capitals. … Keith, who the Norris Trophy in 2010 as the league’s top defenseman, has been on the ice for 17 of the 21 goals scored against the Blackhawks in their last five games. He also leads the team in ice time per game. … Kings C Colin Fraser helped the Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup in 2010 before he was traded to Edmonton for a draft pick just 15 days after the Cup clincher. … This was the 27th time the Hawks have played back-to-back road games against Kings and Ducks, and only the fourth time the Blackhawks have won both. It also happened in March 1994, February 1996, and last November. … The Kings lost all four meetings with the Blackhawks last season, three of them by one-goal margins. Their next rendezvous will be Dec. 28 at the United Center, where Los Angeles hasn’t won in six tries since Dec. 30, 2007. … The Kings have not allowed a goal in 11 short-handed situations over their last three games, after giving up at least one in eight straight contests.
HOFFMAN ESTATES—Ben Brust scored 21 points on seven 3-pointers and No. 11 Wisconsin beat BYU 73-56 on Saturday night to win the Chicago Invitational Challenge championship.Brust was 7 of 10 beyond the arc as the Badgers improved to 6-0 for their best start since the 1996-97 season. The sophomore reserve had five 3s in the second half.Tournament MVP Jordan Taylor added 18 points while Mike Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren had 13 points apiece for Wisconsin.The Badgers put together an 11-0 run to take a 53-42 lead with 8:47 to play.Forward Noah Hartsock paced the Cougars (4-2) with 18 points.Saturday’s game was the first meeting between Wisconsin and BYU in nearly 80 years. The Badgers beat the Cougars 32-16 on Dec. 11, 1931, in Madison, Wis.