Illini outlast UCLA in Bowl of Bad


SAN FRANCISCO—Terry Hawthorne returned an interception 39 yards for Illinois‘ first touchdown late in the third quarter and the Illini snapped a six-game losing streak by beating UCLA 20-14 in the Fight Hunger Bowl.Nathan Scheelhaase added a 60-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Jenkins midway through the fourth quarter to seal the first victory for Illinois (7-6) since beating Indiana on Oct. 8.It also gave the Illini bowl wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. The players celebrated it by dumping Gatorade on interim coach Vic Koenning during a postgame celebration.The game between two six-win teams who have already fired their head coaches matched the underwhelming expectations as there was little excitement before Hawthorne’s third-quarter touchdown that gave Illinois its first lead.UCLA (6-8) was held to 18 yards rushing in its third straight loss. Kevin Prince threw two TD passes, including one in the closing minute to Nelson Rosario after the game had been decided.It was an earlier pass by Prince that proved decisive. Three plays after Derek Dimke missed a 37-yard field goal for Illinois, Prince dropped back and threw to his left looking for Shaquelle Evans.Hawthorne read the play perfectly and stepped in front of the throw for the interception and had a clear path to the end zone for the score that gave the Illini a 10-7 lead.Dimke added a 37-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and Scheelhaase and Jenkins combined on their big play to make it 20-7 with 5:36 to go. Scheelhaase finished 18 for 30 for 139 yards with 110 yards rushing to lead the Illinois offense.Prince completed just 14 for 29 for 201 yards and the Bruins were held to a season-low in rushing, well below their 190.7 yard per game average, by the stout Illini front. The matchup between Big Ten and Pac-12 teams on New Year’s weekend at a picturesque setting in California conjures up memories of Rose Bowls past. But this game was played on San Francisco’s waterfront instead of with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background in Pasadena and was between two teams that had little to celebrate this season.Both teams fired their coaches after disappointing regular seasons with Ron Zook getting let go by Illinois after losing six straight games to end the season and Rick Neuheisel getting run out at UCLA after a 50-0 loss to rival Southern California in the regular season finale. Neuheisel coached the Bruins when they lost the Pac-12 title game at Oregon, leaving them as the first team to go to a bowl with a losing record since North Texas in 2001.With their head coaches gone and new coaches Tim Beckman at Illinois and Jim Mora at UCLA not set to take over until January, interim coaches Koenning and Mike Johnson ran the Illini and Bruins respectively.There was so much turmoil that Koenning did not know if his offensive assistants would take part in the game until seeing interim offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm at breakfast before the game. The Illini opened up the playbook in the first half but still trailed 7-3 at the break. They called a throwback pass to Scheelhaase, a reverse, a fake field goal and went for it on fourth-and-1 from their own territory.UCLA stuffed Donovonn Young for a loss on that run from the Illinois 45, setting up Prince’s 16-yard TD pass to Taylor Embree for the first score of the game.The game, which is sponsored by Kraft, generated three meals for local food banks for each of the 29,878 tickets sold. Officials used an Oreo cookie for the opening coin toss.

NU falls to A & M in Meineke Bowl. 9th straight Bowl loss to tie ND’s record.

HOUSTON—Ryan Tannehill threw for 329 yards and a touchdown and Ben Malena ran for two more scores to lead Texas A&M to a 33-22 win over Northwestern on Saturday in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.Northwestern led 7-3 early in the second quarter before A&M reeled off 27 straight points to take a decisive lead and then fight off a late rally to capture its first bowl victory since 2001.Texas A&M broke a five-game bowl losing streak in a win the team dedicated to fired coach Mike Sherman and offensive lineman Joseph Villavisencio, who was killed in a car accident last week.Malena ran for 77 yards, filling in ably for Cyrus Gray, who missed his second straight game with a stress fracture in his left shoulder.Northwestern hasn’t won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl, a span of nine losses,tying Notre Dame’s NCAA recoding losing streak.A&M won a bowl for the first time since a 28-9 victory over TCU after the 2001 season. That also came in Houston, when this game was called the bowl and played next door at the Astrodome.The Aggies were up 30-7 before Brian Peters intercepted Tannehill early in the fourth quarter and the Wildcats took advantage of that mistake when Kain Colter scored on a 1-yard run for Northwestern’s first points since early in the second quarter. The 2-point conversion left A&M ahead 30-15.Colter found Tim Riley in the corner of the end zone for on a 2-yard touchdown pass to get NU within 30-22 with less than six minutes remaining.A&M responded with a clock-eating drive capped by a 31-yard field goal to secure the win. Senior Jeff Fuller, who has had a disappointing and injury-plagued year, had a key third down catch for 29 yards on that drive and finished with a season-high 119 yards receiving.The Aggies were led by interim coach Tim DeRuyter in his last game at Texas A&M before leaving to become Fresno State’s coach. The Aggies hired former Houston coach Kevin Sumlin earlier this month to replace Sherman, but he wasn’t involved in bowl preparations.Texas A&M wore helmet decals honoring Villavisencio, who died Dec. 22. The black and white decal, which says `Joey V.,’ had his No. 67 and the Texas A&M logo. There was a moment of silence for Villavisencio before the game and fellow offensive lineman Danny Baker wore his number and greeted his father before the game.Texas A&M erased a 7-3 second quarter deficit thanks to touchdowns by Malena and Fuller and a field goal by Randy Bullock to lead 20-7 at halftime.Malena’s second touchdown came on a 19-yard run early in the third quarter that made it 27-7. Another field goal by Bullock, this one from 47 yards, pushed A&M’s advantage to 30-7.The Wildcats alternated quarterbacks for much of the day with Dan Persa leading the more traditional offense and Colter directing the wildcat offense. But neither player could generate much offense while often under heavy pressure from the Aggies, who finished with eight sacks.Texas A&M’s offense got rolling in the second quarter when Tannehill found Ryan Swope, who was a high school running back, on a short pass that he took 37 yards to the 1. Swope tight-roped the sideline and avoided a half dozen tacklers before he was brought down.Malena scored a play later to put A&M on top 10-7.NU took a 7-3 lead in the second quarter when Venric Mark scored 2-yard option run.Mark provided another highlight for the Wildcats on a nifty 47-yard punt return where he spun away from a pair of tacklers before hurdling another one before being pushed out of bounds in the second half.

Bulls 2-0 in LA as Rose leads win over Clippers

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

LOS ANGELES—Derrick Rose had 29 points and 16 assists, and the Bulls pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 114-101 Friday night. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah added 19 points apiece and Richard Hamilton had 16 for the Bulls against their former coach, Vinny Del Negro.Blake Griffin had 34 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers, who kept it close most of the way coming off a 25-point loss at San Antonio. Caron Butler added 16 points and Chris Paul had 15 points and 14 assists in his matchup against Rose, the NBA’s MVP last season.The Clippers, who outshot the Bulls and outscored them in the paint, got within three early in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by rookie Trey Thompkins. Then the Bulls took over.Ronnie Brewer hit a 3-pointer and made two free throws before Rose made two free throws, then Deng hit a 3-pointer from in front of the Clippers’ bench to give the Bulls a 97-84 lead.Griffin singlehandedly fueled the Clippers’ offense with eight straight points that included a ferocious dunk in which he walked away with his fists clenched and his teeth gritted. Still, it left his team trailing by eight points with less than five minutes to play. The Bulls effectively used 3-pointers to keep the Clippers at bay in the fourth, when they hit four, including two by Rose.The Bulls finished their trip with a 3-1 mark, losing at Golden State. Rose was disgusted with his effort in the eight-point loss on Monday.The Bulls moved out to a seven-point lead in the third quarter, when the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan picked up his fourth foul and was forced to sit down for more than eight minutes. He finished with 10 points. Mo Williams and Butler hit consecutive 3-pointers as part of a 13-6 run that helped the Clippers tie the game at 77. But the Bulls answered with six straight points while the Clippers missed their final five shots to lead 83-77 going into the fourth. Deng had 10 points in the quarter. The Bulls closed on a 10-2 run, including four straight by Noah, to lead 57-52 at halftime. The first two quarters were mostly back and forth, with the Clippers leading by eight in the first 12 minutes.

NOTES—Los Angeles opened with a bang, making its first six shots, with Paul feeding Griffin for a two-handed dunk on the Clippers’ first basket. Jordan had the crowd roaring with his one-handed dunk off a ball tossed toward the basket by Butler. NOTES—The Clippers fell to 5-8 in home openers at Staples Center…….Rose heard chants of “MVP” when he was at the free throw line. “It’s great, especially when you’re on the road,” he said……Paul has yet to beat Rose in five career games. His previous four losses came when Paul played for New Orleans….Clippers PA announcer David Courtney introduced Williams as Chauncey Billups during pregame intros. Billups was the first player introduced and he sat out with a sore right groin…..Boxer Floyd Mayweather attended the game.



Seabrook’s game winner helps Hawks edge Wings 3-2

Brent Seabrook scored a goal to break a tie early in the third period, and the Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 on Friday. Seabrook scored the game-winner 1:52 into the third when he fired from the blue line and overpowered Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard with a rising shot that sailed over his glove.Marian Hossa scored and Jonathan Toews connected on a penalty shot for the Hawks, who improved to 10-2-1 in its past 13 before a season-high crowd of 22,166 at the United Center.Justin Abdelkader and Todd Bertuzzi had goals for the Red Wings.The win gave the Hawks 52 points. The Blackhawks, in first place in the Central Division, opened a five-point lead on second-place Detroit.Toews scored on the first penalty shot attempt by a Blackhawks player this season, and the second of his career. He was stopped on his first career penalty shot in March 2009 against Edmonton.Corey Crawford made 26 saves. Howard stopped 25 shots.The Blackhawks and Red Wings met for the first time in 2011-12, marking the latest the “Original Six” rivals had faced each other for the first time in a season since 1928-29.Hossa has points in nine of his past 10 games and has six goals and nine assists during the stretch.Abdelkader opened the scoring 9:48 in when he plowed to the net and popped in a loose puck before Crawford could dive out and cover it.Drew Miller’s shot hit Blackhawks defenseman Sean O’Donnell, then fell at the edge of the crease to set up the goal.Toews tied it at 1 on his penalty shot with 5:28 left in period. He skated straight in, delayed an instant and fired a low shot under Howard’s right pad.Toews was awarded the attempt after being hooked lightly from behind by Detroit’s defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom on a breakaway.Bertuzzi was credited with a goal at 5:25 of the second to put Detroit ahead 2-1.Mike Commodore ripped a slap shot into traffic from the blue line and it glanced in off Bertuzzi, who was in front of the crease.Hossa tied it at 2 just over two minutes later. After skating across the top of the Detroit zone, he turned down the left wing and beat Howard from the circle. Set up by Toews, Hossa fired at an open net with just under six minutes left in the second, but Lidstrom blocked the shot.Seabrook put the Hawks ahead for good 3-2 with his second goal of the season. In 42 career games against Detroit, he has seven goals 18 assists.Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg backhanded a close-in shot off the post with 7:40 left.

NOTES—Jimmy Hayes made his NHL debut for the Blackhawks who recalled the 6-foot-6 22-year-old from Rockford of the AHL on Thursday. … Daniel Carcillo returned after missing six games with an upper-body injury…..Marcus Kruger (concussion) missed his second straight game. … Detroit recalled C Gustav Nyquist from Grand Rapids on Thursday to take the roster spot of LW Tomas Holmstrom, who was placed on IR with a groin injury. Red Wings C Darren Helm also sat out Friday with a groin injury. … Red Wings RW Dan Cleary got his 200th NHL assist on Abdelkader’s goal. … Toews’ penalty shot was the first by a Blackhawk since Hossa scored on Jan. 23, 2011.

Bulls bounce back with 108-98 win in Sacramento

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

SACRAMENTO—Derrick Rose had 19 points and eight assists and the Bulls earned a 108-98 victory over the Sacramento Kings.The Bulls ran off 15 straight points early in the game and never trailed again in defeating the youthful Kings, the NBA’s youngest team. Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulls (2-1). Richard Hamilton also had 16 points, while reserve Ronnie Brewer led a productive bench with 12 points. Luol Deng also scored 12 points. Marcus Thornton had 20 points and Tyreke Evans had 19 for Sacramento (1-2). DeMarcus Cousins, who fouled out in the fourth quarter, had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Rookie Jimmer Fredette scored 14 points and John Salmons had 12.

Big fourth quarter leads Florida State past Irish in Champs Sports Bowl

ORLANDO—The day before his team took the field for its Champs Sports Bowl matchup with Notre Dame, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher acknowledged that he had higher hopes for his team than how they ended up in 2011.Loaded with talent and expectations in the preseason, the No. 25 Seminoles squandered early season opportunities against ranked foes and fizzled again late in the year to end any path back to the Bowl Championship Series.Thursday night’s 18-14 win over Notre Dame in front of a sellout crowd at Florida’s Citrus Bowl might not have been the national stage FSU expected to be on this season, but how it won the game could be proof it is finally making progress.The Seminoles rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit and used a pair of touchdown passes by E.J. Manuel and two field goals from Dustin Hopkins to earn their fourth straight bowl win and second under Fisher.FSU receiver Rashad Greene, who caught one of Manuel’s touchdown passes, was selected the game’s MVP.The Seminoles had just 18 yards of total offense in the first half. They finished with just 290, including going 3 for 14 on third down, and got an efficient night from Manuel. He played behind a young offensive line, but was 20 for 31 passing for 249 yards. Injuries forced the Seminoles to start four freshman on their line and they gave up five sacks, but their defense picked off Notre Dame quarterbacks Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix three times and also had four sacks. Notre Dame shuffled between Rees and Hendrix throughout the game, but both struggled. They were a combined 19 for 35 and 187 yards passing.FSU scored on all four of its red zone chances. The Irish also were without their biggest offensive weapon late, with receiver Michael Floyd being forced to the sideline following a third quarter touchdown catch with what coach Brian Kelly described afterward was an “upper body injury.” He returned to the game, but was a non-factor.Junior linebacker Manti Te’o, who led Notre Dame with 13 tackles and got in on a sack Thursday, said fatigue was not a factor in the Irish not being able to maintain pressure on Manuel in the fourth quarter.The Seminoles closed the gap to 14-9 with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Manuel to Bert Reed to open the fourth quarter, but failed on their 2-point conversion attempt.They took the lead just 1:32 later after Nigel Bradham intercepted a Hendrix pass inside the Notre Dame 20 to set up an 18-yard touchdown catch by Greene to make it 15-14 with just over 13 minutes to play following another failed 2-point try.The Seminoles added their second field goal of the game a series later. Notre Dame punted on its next possession, but pinned FSU inside its own 5 and forced a quick three-and-out.A poor punt by the Seminoles and a facemask penalty on the return gave the Irish the ball on the FSU 28 with 3:56 to play, but Rees was picked off in the end zone with 2:48 left and FSU was able run out most of the remaining time.Notre Dame took a 14-0 lead on its opening drive of the second half by capping a nine-play, 62-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Rees to Floyd. Floyd fought Seminoles cornerback Greg Reid for the ball on to play, juggling it multiple times before finally getting his hands around it.Reid stayed down on the turf after the play and left the game with concussion symptoms.FSU bounced right back with a 77-yard kickoff return by Lamarcus Joyner, but Notre Dame’s fifth sack of the night on Manuel helped force the Seminoles to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Hopkins. Safety Terrance Brooks had a late interception to help seal the win.

Kings QUICK to blank Hawks 2-0

Jonathan Quick was perfect in the nets, with a bit of help from his Los Angeles Kings teammates. Quick made 38 saves to earn his NHL-leading fifth shutout, and Trent Hunter and Jarret Stoll scored to lead the Kings past the Blackhawks 2-0 on Wednesday.Quick was solid in earning his 19th NHL shutout, but he wasn’t heavily tested until the third period. The Blackhawks managed few prime scoring chances in the first two frames. When the Blackhawks did get their attack going — outshooting the Kings 18-10 in the third period — Quick was in position to turn them away. The Kings improved to 5-1-1 in their last seven and 3-0-1 under coach Darryl Sutter, who took over behind the Los Angeles bench last week. Sutter spent his eight-year NHL playing career with the Blackhawks, and began his NHL coaching career with Chicago in 1992. Los Angeles has struggled offensively this season, and for the 15th time in 16 games, scored two goals or fewer in regulation. On Wednesday, however, the Kings’ fourth line of Hunter, Kyle Clifford and Colin Fraser generated an offensive buzz. Hunter and Clifford both had three shots. Sutter decided to play Hunter, who scored just his second goal this season, following the Kings’ morning skate. The Blackhawks, who lead the NHL with 50 points, where shut out for the fourth time this season. The Hawks are 9-2-1 in its last 12 and 13-3-3 at home. Corey Crawford stopped 36 shots and was exceptional in his third straight start following a string of six consecutive starts by backup Ray Emery. Crawford made seven close-in saves in the second period – including a stop on Mike Richards’ penalty shot – when the Kings dominated.The Kings killed all four power plays, and haven’t allowed a goal in their past 20 short-handed situations. The Blackhawks were 10-0-1 against Kings in the teams last 11 meetings.The Kings wasted a four-minute advantage early in the first period after Patrick Sharp was sent off for four minutes for high-sticking. Los Angeles managed just three shots during the power play. Hunter scored the only goal of the second, with 7:53 left, to give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead. Crawford stopped a point-blank attempt by Kyle Clifford, then landed on his stomach. Hunter lofted in the rebound. Crawford kept it at 1-0 with a glove save on Richards’ backhand attempt on the penalty shot with 3:22 left in the second. Richards was awarded the attempt after he slipped past forward Jonathan Toews, who had lost his stick, and broke in alone. Toews caught Richards, but pushed him down from behind.Stoll made it 2-0 at 1:16 of the third. Quick made his toughest saves in the third. He stopped Michael Frolik’s shot from the crease, and a rebound by Toews with nine minutes left. Just seconds later, Quick smothered a chance from a scrum in the crease. Quenneville felt neither Kings goal should have counted because of Los Angeles “infractions” on the plays. Quenneville claimed there was goalie interference on Hunter’s goal, and added that a Kings player committed a slew foot during Stoll’s tally.

NOTES—Los Angeles ended a six-game losing streak in the United Center, dating to December 2007…..Dan Carcillo sat out a sixth game with an upper body injury…..Marcus Kruger (upper body) also missed the game. Kruger had returned on Monday, following a one-game absence, after taking a hit to the head from Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland last week.

Cats look like ANYTHING but Tournament team in 87-54 beat down by #2 Ohio State


COLUMBUS—If Northwestern hopes to get to the NCAA Tournamentg for the first time ever,they did not do themselves any favors in this one. William Buford had career-highs of 28 points and five 3-pointers as #2 Ohio State showed off its perimeter shooting in an 87-54 victory over Northwestern on Wednesday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Buford was 9 of 14 from the field including 5 of 7 on 3-pointers.Next-to-last in the conference in 3-pointers at 4.8 per game, the Buckeyes hit seven in the first half to build a big lead and finished 10 for 20 from long range. It wasn’t just a bunch of guys firing up shots from a distance, either. Jared Sullinger added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Buckeyes (13-1, 1-0), who dominated the boards 49-30. Deshaun Thomas had 16 points for Ohio State, which broke the game open with a 13-0 first-half run fueled by 3-pointers. Jordan Sibert added 12 points, all on 3s. The conference’s top two scorers, John Shurna and Drew Crawford, had miserable games. They were held to 11 and 13 points, respectively, on a combined 9-for-30 shooting. The loss was the 31st straight for the Wildcats (10-3) in Columbus, dating to 1977. Even when NU pared what was a 19-point lead down to 12 in the second half, the Buckeyes pulled away again and Buford led the way. He hit four free throws in a 10-3 run — all the points coming at the line — to push the lead to 59-39 with 11:55 left. By then, a refreshed Sullinger and point guard Aaron Craft, who sat out for several minutes due to foul trouble, were back on the court and the game was well in hand for Ohio State.With Shurna and Crawford struggling — shadowed wherever they went, taking bad shots when they did get a chance — the Buckeyes took a 41-26 halftime lead.The pace favored the Wildcats in the early going. They pulled to a tie at 13 on Davide Curletti’s 3 at the 12:16 mark.But the Buckeyes suddenly found the range behind the arc and the game teetered in their favor.Sibert, just 8 for 31 on 3-pointers coming in, hit 3 of 4, as did Buford. Sibert’s 3 ignited a 13-0 rally as the Buckeyes held the Wildcats scoreless for 4:36.The injury certainly didn’t seem to bother him.His four 3s and 12 points were career-highs.Matta joked that Sibert’s shooting is so much better with the injured hand that even if it required surgery, Sibert would have to play through the pain. Thomas continued the spurt by hitting a short jumper before Buford nailed a 3 and then made the play of the game. Shurna muscled past the smaller Craft and broke free for a short jumper but Buford went high to block it.That seemed to set the tone for the rest of the surge. Sibert hit another 3 and Buford followed with a perimeter jumper that was first signaled a 3 but then discounted to a two-point basket after a video review.The lead never dropped below 11 points again as Ohio State won its 34th straight home game and stayed perfect at home against Northwestern since 1977. Buford, who came in averaging 8 points and 4 rebounds in five previous games against Northwestern, had 13 points and 7 rebounds at halftime.

Illini open Big Ten play with 2OT win over Minnesota

CHAMPAIGN—Brandon Paul scored a breakaway dunk that put Illinois ahead in double overtime Tuesday night and Meyers Leonard hit the layup that sealed the 81-72 victory over Minnesota.Paul swiped the ball from Ralph Sampson III for the dunk that gave the Illini (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten) a three-point cushion at 73-70. Leonard’s layup with 1:11 left made it 78-72 and finished the Golden Gophers (12-2, 0-1).Paul finished with 21 points. Leonard had 20 and a game-high 11 rebounds for his third straight double-double.Sampson led Minnesota with a game-high 22 points plus nine rebounds. Julian Welch added 15 points.The Illini led by 13 midway through the second half before the Gophers stormed back to tie it with just over 6 minutes to play on a 3-pointer by Welch. A pair of Leonard free throws with 7 seconds left sent the game to overtime.

Irish surprise #22 Pitt 72-59 to open Big East play

SOUTH BEND—Alex Dragicevich hit four 3-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points to lead Notre Dame to a 72-59 win over the No. 22 Panthers in the Big East opener for both teams. Jerian Grant added 15 points and nine assists, and Eric Atkins also scored 15 points for the Irish (9-5, 1-0), who trailed 26-25 at intermission but missed only seven shots in the final 20 minutes of play. Notre Dame was 18 of 25 from the field after the break, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range. The onslaught was led by Dragicevich, who scored 17 points in the second half and made all three of his long range attempts. Jack Cooley pulled down 14 rebounds for Notre Dame. The loss was Pitt’s second straight after a 59-54 loss to Wagner at home on Friday, while Notre Dame extended its home winning streak to 28 games. Talib Zanna had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Panthers (11-3, 0-1), who shot 40 percent from the field (24 for 60). Nasir Robinson and Ashton Gibbs each added 12 points for Pitt.