Creighton's McDermott scores 45, goes over 3,000
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Doug McDermott scored a career-high 45 points and became the eighth player in Division I history to go over 3,000 for a career, and No. 13 Creighton rolled to an 88-73 victory over Providence on Saturday night.
McDermott passed the milestone with a 3-pointer midway through the second half. After the ball went in, he ran backward with his right hand in the air, three fingers raised. At the next timeout Doug and his coach-father, Greg McDermott, shared a long embrace on the court as the team huddled at the bench.
McDermott scored 22 points in the first half as the Bluejays (24-6, 14-4 Big East) put away the Friars (20-11, 10-8) quickly.
Bryce Cotton, the Big East's second-leading scorer, had all of his 23 points in the second half for Providence. LaDontae Henton added 21.
Parker leads No. 4 Duke past No. 14 UNC, 93-81
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Freshman Jabari Parker had a season-high 30 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 4 Duke past No. 14 North Carolina 93-81 Saturday night.
Rodney Hood added 24 points to help the Blue Devils (24-7, 13-5) end the Tar Heels' 12-game winning streak and clinch the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Duke never trailed, shot 51 percent - 57 percent in the second half - and dominated the ACC's best team on the glass, outrebounding North Carolina 34-20.
Marcus Paige - who led UNC's second-half comeback two weeks ago - finished this one with 24 points, while Brice Johnson had 15 and James Michael McAdoo added 13 for the Tar Heels (23-8, 13-5).
They shot nearly 60 percent but couldn't overcome their disadvantage on the glass and are locked into the No. 4 seed in the league tournament.
Leslie McDonald added 12 points for North Carolina, which was denied its fourth win over a top-five team, but briefly made things tense in the final minutes when Paige converted a four-point play to make it 81-73 with 2:50 left.
But the Tar Heels' point guard missed 3s on the next two possessions - with Parker blocking the second of those with 2 1/2 minutes left.
Quinn Cook hit two free throws, Amile Jefferson added another and Parker hit two foul shots with 2:03 left to push the lead to 86-73 and effectively end it.
Cook finished with 11 points and Rasheed Sulaimon added 10.
In what might have been his final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Parker put on quite a show.
He hit 10 of his 17 shots, cracked his previous high of 29 points set last month at Boston College and showed off all the skills that have him as a likely high NBA draft pick - should he decide to forego his final three seasons of college eligibility and turn pro.
Parker set the tone early by converting repeatedly around the rim, and he hit two of his four attempts from 3-point range - including one from the corner that gave Duke its largest lead, 74-55, with 8 1/2 minutes left.
When those 3s are falling, the Blue Devils are tough to beat.
When they're not, Duke is usually in trouble.
The Blue Devils were only 5 of 22 from long range in their 74-66 loss in Chapel Hill. They made just 6 of 27 from beyond the arc in a 10-point loss at Wake Forest on Wednesday night.
In this one, Duke missed 12 of its first 14 3-pointers and held a tenuous 47-39 lead when pesky senior guard Tyler Thornton picked up his fourth foul with 17:11 left.
Cook came on to replace him and immediately hit a straightaway 3 that started the Blue Devils' big burst. Andre Dawkins followed with another one from the corner to help the Blue Devils open up a 53-41 lead.
Parker then added a jumper and two free throws before Cook hit and up-and-under layup. And Hood then followed that with a 3 with 14 minutes left to give Duke its largest lead to that point, 62-46.
That shot whipped an already amped-up Cameron crowd - which included Dallas Cowboys quarterback, and apparent Blue Devils fan, Tony Romo cheering enthusiastically from behind the scorers' table - into an absolute frenzy.
There were plenty of famous faces in the crowd for the latest renewal of college basketball's fiercest rivalry: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell - wearing a Duke sweater - watched from one baseline, while former Oklahoma coaches Barry Switzer and Billy Tubbs sat on the other one.
And Hood and Parker kept them entertained all night.
Those two clicked right from the opening tip - Parker scored 16 points in the first half, and helped the Blue Devils open up a 17-4 lead about 7 minutes in with a drive on Paige.
The Tar Heels - who had as many turnovers (six) as points in the opening 7 minutes - settled themselves down and clawed back in it, with Paige's jumper in the final seconds of the half pulling UNC to 40-37.
But that was as close as they could get.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap.
Oregon upsets No. 3 Arizona 64-57
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Jason Calliste made the go-ahead jumper and free throw with 4:22 left and finished with 18 points as Oregon defeated No. 3 Arizona 64-57 Saturday for its seventh straight victory.
Johnathan Loyd added 16 points for the Ducks (22-8, 10-8 Pac-10) who greatly improved their chances of a bid in the NCAA tournament.
Aaron Gordon had 21 points for the Wildcats (28-3, 15-3), who had already clinched the Pac-12 regular-season title heading into next week's conference tournament in Las Vegas.
The Ducks won 13 straight to start the season and got ranked as high as No. 10, but then they lost five straight to tumble out of the poll and fall in the Pac-12 standings.
But Oregon's six-game winning streak put them back in the conversation for a possible NCAA tournament bid and gave them their fourth straight season with at least 20 victories.
The Wildcats led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but Oregon closed to 31-29 at halftime. Mike Moser's 3-pointer got the Ducks within 36-34 early in the second half with a 3-pointer.
A six-point run put Arizona ahead 44-36 with 11:55 left and the Wildcats held on to the lead until Joseph Young's 3-pointer got the Ducks within 50-48 and Johnathan Loyd's layup tied it at 50 with five minutes left.
Calliste hit a jumper and a free throw to give the Ducks a 53-51 lead with 4:22 left for their first lead since the game's opening minute.
Calliste and Loyd hit back-to-back 3s to stretch the lead to 59-51 and the 12,364 fans at Matthew Knight Arena were on their feet. The Ducks held on for the win and the crowd rushed the court.
Arizona had won five straight since a 69-66 overtime loss to rival Arizona State on Feb. 14.
Oregon went into the game averaging a league-best 82.9 points a game, while the Wildcats were holding opponents to a league-low 58.5 points per game.
Arizona jumped out to a 9-2 lead that was snapped by Loyd's steal and fast-break layup for the Ducks. The Wildcats made it 20-8 on Nick Johnson's dunk midway through the first half.
Joseph Young's layup pulled Oregon within 24-18, but Caleb Tarczewski answered with a dunk for the Wildcats.
Oregon pulled to 31-29 at the half on Jason Calliste's 3-pointer with 3-seconds to go before the break.
Tarczewski led all players with 10 points in the first half.
Arizona defeated Oregon 67-65 in Tucson back on Feb. 6. It was Arizona's first full game without sophomore forward Brandon Ashley, who is out for the season after surgery on his right foot.
Seven Oregon seniors were playing in their final regular-season home game at Matthew Knight Arena.
Alvarez rebounds by stopping Angulo in 10th
LAS VEGAS (AP) Frustrated in his big fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Canelo Alvarez found a much easier target in Alfredo Angulo.
Alvarez battered a game but outclassed Angulo on Saturday night before stopping him with an uppercut that prompted referee Tony Weeks to move in at 47 seconds of the 10th round of their junior middleweight fight.
Alvarez (43-1-1) never was able to put down Angulo (22-4), but hit him throughout the fight with hard combinations that almost always found their mark. By the middle rounds, the only suspense left was whether Angulo could go the distance.
The fight was in marked contrast to the last bout for Alvarez, who was dominated by Mayweather in the richest bout ever. But while Mayweather was the master of defense, Angulo was there to be hit all night long - and Alvarez did just that.
"Tonight, I was the best fighter and definitely rebounded from the Mayweather fight with my performance," Alvarez said.
Angulo, who was never close to going down, protested when Weeks moved in to stop the fight after a big left uppercut to the head. Before the 10th round began, Angulo's corner had pleaded with the ring doctor to give their fighter one more round to try and turn things around.
"I'm upset because they should have let the fight go on," Angulo said. "I'm fine and I was fighting."
Angulo never stopped going forward, but he paid a price, taking shot after shot to the head as Alvarez teed off seemingly at will. Alvarez won all but one of the first nine rounds on two ringside scorecards, and two on the third. The Associated Press had him winning eight of the first nine rounds.
Ringside punching stats were just as lopsided, with Alvarez landing 295 punches to 104 for Angulo.
The ending was booed by many in the crowd that filled the MGM Grand arena for the junior middleweight showdown between the two Mexican fighters. There was no title at stake, but the 23-year-old Alvarez seemed determined to win big to erase memories of the loss to Mayweather, the only one of his career.
He landed the first left hook he threw seconds into the fight and it was quickly apparent that Angulo would have no answer for his speed and power.
"He wanted to please the fans because he felt in the Mayweather fight he let a lot of people down," promoter Richard Schaefer said. "Canelo was not satisfied with just the win. He came to make a statement and you saw that."
Alvarez was already a big star when he met Mayweather in September, but the red-haired fan favorite was frustrated by Mayweather's defense and lost almost every round. He said before this fight that he learned a lot against Mayweather, and vowed to show it in his comeback fight.
The only time Angulo even seemed to be in the fight was in the eighth round when he landed some good punches to the head and kept advancing. But Alvarez came back to dominate the ninth round, prompting the ring doctor to look at Angulo between rounds to see whether he could continue.
"I was so secure in my jab and my stamina was there," Alvarez said. "Of course I was a little tired, it's boxing. But I was ready to finish the fight and even go 10 more rounds."
Alvarez was guaranteed $1.15 million to $850,000 for Angulo. The purses were adjusted when Alvarez agreed to pay $100,000 to Angulo on Friday to raise the weight limit to 155 pounds from 154 because he couldn't make the original weight.
Before the main event, Alvarez watched from his dressing room as his brother, Ricardo Alvarez, was knocked down twice on the way to a decision loss to Sergio Thompson in a 135-pound fight.
Thompson was the harder hitting fighter from the opening bell, winning easily on one scorecard and narrowly on the other two in taking the 10-round decision.
In another undercard fight, Leo Santa Cruz remained unbeaten in defending his 122-pound title with a lopsided decision win over Cristian Mijares of Mexico.
Santa Cruz, who lives in Los Angeles, shook off a cut near his right eye from a head butt in the fourth round to win every round on two ringside scorecards and all but one round on the third in improving to 27-0-1. Mijares, a former 115-pound champion, fell to 48-8-2.
Ilgauskas has No. 11 jersey retired by Cavs
CLEVELAND (AP) As the arena filled with the familiar drone of "Zeeeeeee," Zydrunas Ilgauskas waved his right hand and used his left to gently pat his heart.
The big man, the one who started off as a "skinny kid from Lithuania" and overcame injuries that would have stopped others, grappled with his emotions as he said thanks to the fans who adopted him as their own.
"Thanks for giving me a place I can proudly call home," he said.
Cleveland roared back.
At 7-foot-3, Ilgauskas towered over everyone yet stayed completely down to earth.
Soft-spoken and doggedly determined, Ilgauskas, who overcame injuries and personal tragedy to become one of Cleveland's best and most beloved players, had his No. 11 jersey retired Saturday night during an elaborate and emotional halftime ceremony as the Cavs hosted the Knicks.
The seventh player in team history to receive the honor, Ilgauskas joins Austin Carr, Nate Thurmond, Bobby "Bingo" Smith, Larry Nance, Brad Daugherty and Mark Price in having his number raised to the rafters of Quicken Loans Arena.
All of them have career credentials worthy of the tribute, but the celebration for Ilgauskas goes far beyond any statistics.
"Throw basketball stuff out the window," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "He's a terrific human being."
During the ceremony, Ilgauskas was joined on the court by his wife, Jennifer, and their adopted sons, Deividas and Povilas. His parents also attended along with friends, former Cavs owner Gordon Gund and dozens of ex-teammates, including superstar LeBron James, who was invited by Ilgauskas and wanted to support the player affectionately known as "Z."
"Probably one of the most talented guys I ever played with," said James, who chartered a jet and flew in to be with his close friend.
James kept a low profile during the ceremony, staying close to the Cavs bench. He took pictures with his phone but didn't want his appearance to overshadow his former teammate.
This was Z's night.
Ilgauskas thanked everyone he could during his speech.
"Thank you for not giving up on a skinny kid from Lithuania," he said to Gund.
Later, Ilgauskas said he was thrilled to have James at the event.
"It was special," said Ilgauskas, who recently became a U.S. citizen. "There was some talk leading up to it, this and that, but the way I looked at it if he wasn't able to make it, that's OK. I wanted to extend the invitation.
"Him being here was an added bonus for me because of what we've been through together. I consider him a dear friend. For me, it would have been almost a distraction if he wasn't here. That he was able to witness that made it even more special."
Ilgauskas conquered career-threatening foot injuries to become a two-time NBA All-Star as well as the Cavs' career leader in rebounds (5,904), games played (771) and blocks (1,269). He's second on the scoring list, behind only James.
A gentle giant off the floor, Ilgauskas accomplished it all through hard work, enduring endless hours of grueling rehab and treatment to fulfill a dream that began as a small boy playing soccer and volleyball in Lithuania.
Ilgauskas spent 12 seasons with the Cavs, and for a long stretch of his tenure he was the only good thing about the franchise. That all changed when James arrived in 2003, and along with Ilgauskas - an odd couple if there ever was one - they led the Cavs to their only NBA Finals appearance in 2007.
One of the enduring moments in Cleveland sports over the last 30 years was James and Ilgauskas wrapping their arms around each other to celebrate the Cavs' win over Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals. After being traded, Ilgauskas followed James to Miami and played one season with the Heat.
Ilgauskas retired in 2011, but returned to the Cavs the following year and has been working as a special assistant to the general manager.
He's always been special.
Ilgauskas connected with Cleveland fans like few pro athletes. Big Z endeared himself with his perseverance, resilience, loyalty and a dry, self-deprecating sense of humor. Shortly after undergoing his second major foot surgery, Ilgauskas quipped he "had as much hardware as Home Depot" in his feet.
The Cavs selected Ilgauskas with the 20th overall pick in 1996, and after a promising rookie season in 1997-98, he encountered the first of many medical obstacles.
After visiting foot specialists across the country, Ilgauskas underwent a risky operation in 2000 to have his left foot radically reconstructed. He tortured himself during workouts to get back, and spent countless hours getting treatment on his feet, which required extensive icing before and after he played.
It all paid off when Ilgauskas was named an All-Star reserve in 2003. There were other hardships, the most challenging in 2007 when he and Jennifer lost the twins she was carrying.
Through it all, Ilgauskas was the consummate teammate.
"Z's like a big brother to me," Cavs center Anderson Varejao said. "He helped me a lot in this league, with everything, basketball, on the road. When I got here I didn't speak any English. He put me under his wing and took care of me. He's a big part of my life."
And in Cleveland, Ilgauskas has always been so much more than big.
UCSB fan arrested after confronting rival coach
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) A UC Santa Barbara fan who went on court and confronted Hawaii coach Gib Arnold during a game has been arrested.
UCSB athletic department spokesman Bill Mahoney said Friday the man was arrested after the incident in the first half of Thursday night's game. He provided no other details and a spokesman for the campus police didn't immediately return phone calls Friday.
Gauchos basketball coach Bob Williams apologized to Arnold for the incident in which the fan confronted Arnold while the coach was arguing a call that went against Hawaii. Two Hawaii players pushed the man away from the coach.
The school's athletic department said it issued apologies to Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay and Big West Conference Commissioner Dennis Farrell for what happened during UCSB's victory.
The department said the safety of student-athletes, staff and fans was important and it was reviewing the incident and "solidifying event protocol" in hopes of preventing a repeat in the future.
Female goalie Szabados signing with men's team
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) Canadian women's goalie Shannon Szabados has agreed to a contract with the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The two-time Olympic champion will join the Georgia men's team next week.
"When I got home from Sochi, I thought I'd be hanging my stuff up for the summer, but definitely excited to get over there," Szabados told The Canadian Press.
Szabados was the first woman to play in the Western Hockey League and will become the first in the SPHL. She played provincial college hockey at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology with current Cottonmouths players Jordan Draper, Andy Willigar and Kyle Johnson.
"They've been bugging me for a couple of years to go there," Szabados said. "Probably the guys had a lot to do with it. It probably made the coach feel a little more at ease with the situation."
The 27-year-old Szabados made 27 saves in Canada's 3-2 overtime victory over the United States in the title game in Sochi. She had a 28-save shutout over the Americans in the 2010 Olympic final.
"I am very excited to get a world-class athlete that has competed and has faced high-pressured situations. Shannon has won at every level she has played, in women's hockey or men's hockey," Cottonmouths coach Jerome Bechard said.
"She won a championship with NAIT last year alongside Andy Willigar and Jordan Draper, so I know she can compete at this level. We are working on her immigration, and we are looking to sign her officially Thursday, where she will be backing up (Andrew) Loewen. She will play when she feels comfortable and situated."
Szabados was in the news this week when she filled in at practice for the Edmonton Oilers while the NHL team waited for Viktor Fasth to arrive after a trade with Anaheim.
That was her first time on the ice since the Olympic championship game Feb. 20.
"I haven't been in the gym, I haven't been on the ice, I haven't been sleeping well," Szabados said. "It's been a whirlwind. I told (the coach) I'm not going to rush into anything. If I don't feel comfortable I might not even play at all this year.
"I want to go there and get on the ice and see how I feel. I still have to unpack from Sochi and pack for this. I'm not too worried. It's only been two weeks."
Judge: Sharper can't be held indefinitely in jail
LOS ANGELES (AP) A judge refused Friday to immediately release former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper from jail in a Los Angeles rape case but said she would have to free him soon if charges aren't filed in a similar case in Louisiana.
The ruling came after lawyers for Sharper argued that he had been freed on $1 million bail and pleaded not guilty in the Los Angeles case but was jailed again after an arrest warrant was issued last week in Louisiana.
"To hold him into perpetuity on an arrest warrant seems to be grotesquely unfair," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Renee Korn said.
The judge set a hearing for Thursday to give Louisiana prosecutors time to charge Sharper or for that state's governor to seek his return through another type of warrant.
It was the latest development in several ongoing sexual assault investigations involving the 38-year-old Sharper in Louisiana, California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.
In a bail motion filed last month, Los Angeles County Investigator John Maccharella described a pattern in which the former football star met women at clubs or parties and lured them to a hotel room, where they were allegedly drugged and raped.
The New Orleans warrant says police learned from witnesses that Sharper and associate Erik Nunez had acknowledged having nonconsensual sex with two women.
It does not elaborate on how the information was obtained or disclose the names of the witnesses.
"Through further investigation by the detective's it was learned that Nunez and Sharper admitted to other known witnesses that he and Sharper had vaginal and/or oral sex with victim's (hash)1 and (hash)2 without their knowledge or permission," the warrant states.
Sharper's attorneys say he never made such statements and the arrest warrant was a pretext to hold him indefinitely without bail.
Prosecutors, however, said they were following the law.
Chris Bowman, a spokesman for New Orleans District Attorney Leon A. Cannizzaro Jr., said he could not comment on whether Sharper would be charged before the Thursday deadline set by Judge Korn.
"It's an open investigation," Bowman said. "I'm not going to comment on it. I'm not going to put a timetable on it."
In Los Angeles, Deputy District Attorney Javan Wygal said it would be difficult for Louisiana authorities to prosecute Sharper because under the laws of that state, the case there would expire within four months if Sharper isn't tried.
Sharper was selected All-Pro six times and chosen for the Pro Bowl five times. He played in two Super Bowls, one with the Green Bay Packers as a rookie and was part of a successful championship run while with the New Orleans Saints.
He retired after the 2010 season and was working as an analyst for the NFL Network before being fired last week.
Leonard Levine, a lawyer for Sharper in Los Angeles, has said Sharper will be cleared in the cases.
"All of these were consensual contact between Mr. Sharper and women who wanted to be in his company," Levine said after a court hearing last month.
Nunez, a waiter, has been arrested in New Orleans, where a judge on Friday set his bail at $400,000. His lawyer Herbert Larson said prosecutors only had hearsay evidence against his client.
Court documents in Los Angeles state that Sharper has submitted DNA samples to New Orleans police and agreed to turn himself in there if he is charged. Nunez also submitted DNA in the case, Larson said, adding that his client is not a flight risk.
Sharper had been released on bail in Los Angeles on the condition that he remain in the city, stay away from nightclubs and not be alone with any woman he did not know before October, when the first allegations emerged.
His attorneys contend he did not violate any of those terms before turning himself in after the Louisiana warrant was issued.
Associated Press Writer Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans contributed to this report. Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP
AP Source: Cassel to re-sign with Vikings
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Matt Cassel was one day away from hitting the free agent market and fielding offers from other suitors. Then the Minnesota Vikings swooped in at the last minute.
The Vikings agreed to terms with Cassel on Friday on a deal that will keep him in Minnesota, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person requested anonymity because an official announcement had not been made. Terms of the deal, which was first reported by NFL Network, were not immediately available.
The move helps solidify the Vikings' shaky quarterback situation. The team used a musical chairs approach to the position last season, rotating Christian Ponder and Cassel, and even starting Josh Freeman for one game during a miserable 5-10-1 season. Cassel was by far the most effective of the three, going 3-3 in his six starts and being on the field at the end of all five of the team's victories.
He completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 1,807 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions after signing as a free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs. But he opted out of the final year of his two-year deal in February, and there was concern Cassel would choose to move to another team after he was forced to split time with the ineffective Ponder.
New head coach Mike Zimmer said Thursday he "would love to have Matt Cassel back if Matt Cassel wants to be back." But the coach was also bracing for the likelihood Cassel would at least test free agency before giving the Vikings an answer.
"He's got a bunch of pretty girls looking at him right now," Zimmer said then. "And he wants to explore and see what's best for him. I don't blame any of these guys. In free agency, I think that's why they have the rules is that they get a chance to go see what their market's worth. Then if they find a better situation than what they think is here, then I think that's everywhere."
It appears Cassel knew where he wanted to be all along.
Cassel's familiarity with the team's offensive players - Adrian Peterson, Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph among them - and the way the team responded to Cassel's leadership on the field were among the big reasons the Vikings wanted him back.
The agreement would appear to make Cassel the front-runner to be the starter when the 2014 season opens with new offensive coordinator Norv Turner calling the plays. Ponder is still on the roster, but his performance over his first three seasons has inspired little confidence among his teammates.
The Vikings have the eighth overall pick in the upcoming draft, and there remains a strong possibility they will select someone to be the team's quarterback of the future. But keeping Cassel in the fold will reduce the pressure on the team to start a rookie.
"It all depends, but what I want to do is play the best guy," Zimmer said. "I don't care if he's a rookie, if he's a veteran, if he's a returner. It doesn't matter to me who the quarterback is if he can win games, and that's really what it's about, winning football games and figuring out how to do that."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
No. 2 Wichita State 32-0 after beating Evansville
ST. LOUIS (AP) Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker scored 17 points apiece and No. 2 Wichita State dominated on defense with Missouri Valley tournament-record 11 blocked shots, staying perfect for the season with an 80-58 romp over Evansville in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament on Friday.
D.J. Balentine had 31 points with seven 3-pointers for ninth-seeded Evansville (14-19), which lost twice by an average of 15 points to Wichita State (32-0) in the regular season.
Kadeem Coleby had six of the blocks for the Shockers, who are two wins shy of matching the NCAA record of 34 wins in a row by UNLV in 1990-91. UNLV was perfect before losing in the NCAA title game to Duke that season.
Joey Logano wins NASCAR pole in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) Joey Logano believes two facts are abundantly clear after he emerged from the organized chaos of NASCAR's first three-round knockout qualifying session Friday with the pole position at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
This new qualifying system is a whole lot more interesting than the prior system.
And nobody is quite sure what they're doing yet.
"It gets crazy out there," said Logano, who earned his eighth career pole. "I think it's way cooler than old-style qualifying, don't get me wrong. It's awesome. ... We're all learning right now. It's all new to us, but we're having fun with it. I enjoy it. I think it's cool."
The Penske Ford team has figured it out better than most. Logano won the pole for Sunday's Las Vegas race with a qualifying lap at a track-record 193.28 mph, and he'll start on the front row next to teammate Brad Keselowski, who came in second at 193.099.
The Penske drivers swept the top two spots for the second straight race, reversing their two-round qualifying finish in Phoenix a week ago. Clint Bowyer finished third, with Austin Dillon in fourth and Jimmie Johnson in fifth.
NASCAR added the knockout system to goose interest in a dull weekly ritual, and it's working. The teams are challenged by multiple chances to hit top speed. The drivers are both worried about the danger and excited by the challenge.
And fans seem quite intrigued, judging by the larger-than-normal crowd in the Speedway stands.
"That's the whole point of this," Logano said of the fan turnout. "A lot more preparation goes into it, a lot more communication between myself, my spotter, my crew chief. Not really about our race car, but how are we going to go out there, and what's our game plan? Every time we've had a game plan going into it, it's changed so far. At least we're pulling audibles and they're working."
Drivers are understandably concerned by the huge speed disparities on the track during the qualifying sessions. While some drivers were going about 30 mph to cool their engines, others were ripping right past them about 150 mph faster, resulting in a handful of near-misses. Brian Vickers even called Friday's session "the most dangerous thing I've ever done in a race car."
Bowyer echoed the mix of excitement and concern.
"Our normal deal is to be scared once a weekend," Bowyer said of the previous one-lap qualifying scheme. "Three times is a lot to ask out of us. You know, it is really exciting."
Logano is expecting NASCAR to eventually allow teams to use portable cool-down units instead of taking those dangerously slow cool-down laps. As for the strategic decisions necessary to turn the best laps in the allotted time, everybody is still working on it.
"So much more goes into qualifying," Logano said. "To me, it's even more special to get a pole."
As if the knockout style wasn't exciting enough, the majority of the drivers surpassed the previous track speed record during qualifying. Bowyer and Keselowski expect track speed records to fall all season under the cars' new setups.
"It's just simple physics," Keselowski said. "The cars make 300-400 pounds more downforce. The engine manufacturers continue to find more horsepower, so they're going to go faster. I don't think it has anything to do with this (qualifying) format. In fact, I think if it wasn't for this format, they would be even faster."
Defending champion Matt Kenseth finished way back in 29th place, failing to make it out of the first knockout round. Overall standings leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 14th, between Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon.
Gamecocks' Martin apologizes for harsh language
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Suspended South Carolina coach Frank Martin apologized to fans for his harsh words aimed at Gamecocks point guard Duane Notice in the loss to No. 1 Florida this week.
"I can't do anything other than apologize," Martin said Friday in a press conference to address the suspension. "I'm sorry is a powerful two words and if you use it over and over again for the same reason it loses its meaning. I can't force people to like me, but I've got to respect this university."
Martin was suspended one game by athletic director Ray Tanner on Thursday. He already apologized to Notice and is not travelling with the team to its regular-season finale at Mississippi State on Saturday. Associate head coach Matt Figger will take over the team in Starkville.
Martin will resume his duties before the Gamecocks play in the Southeastern Conference tournament next week.
"I talk to my players a lot about maturity," he said. "I think it's time I work on my maturity as well."
Martin was caught on tape cursing at Notice late in the 72-46 loss to the Gators on Tuesday night, and the tape went viral. He said he felt uneasy after the game and understood he had crossed a line. Martin called Tanner while on a recruiting trip to apologize for the tirade. He talked with his players, although stopped short of saying he had apologized to them.
The Gamecocks (11-19, 4-13 SEC) are wrapping up their second straight losing season, the first two of Martin's career.
The 47-year-old Martin has had a fiery reputation since becoming a head basketball coach at Kansas State seven years ago. He signed a six-year contract with South Carolina to leave Kansas State.
He's known for his pointed words in timeout huddles and a steely stare at players who don't follow orders or officials who Martin believes made bad calls.
But this time, Martin said he was wrong and pledged to work on improving his language and demeanor during games. Things really hit home when 6-year-old son Christian asked why they weren't heading to Mississippi State to watch basketball.
"I'm extremely disappointed in my ignorant reactions that have impacted my team in a negative way," he said.
Martin said he's leaving for Tennessee later Friday to attend a cheerleading competition for his daughter. He's unsure if he'll stay in a hotel room to watch his team play or keeping reflecting on the suspension before leading the team in practice Monday.
"It's got to change. I don't know what else I can tell you," he said.
Martin said he's successfully confronted this problem before. He gave up swearing in the last of his five seasons at Kansas State. Martin said he'd continue that policy at South Carolina, but backslid as he was confronted with the vast rebuilding job with the Gamecocks.
Martin had reached the NCAA tournament four of five years with Kansas State.
This year, Martin's roster has seven freshmen. He lost two experienced point guards during the season, the first when senior two-sport standout Bruce Ellington gave up his final seasons in basketball and football to enter the NFL draft and the second when Villanova transfer Tyrone Johnson broke his foot at Texas A&M when an official stepped on it.
Martin wouldn't say what penalties could occur if he does it again, but believes he can overcome the problems that he alone created.
When Tanner announced the suspension, he issued a statement that it was the "result of inappropriate verbal communication as it relates to the well-being of our student-athletes."
Martin acknowledged he'd embarrassed himself, the university and his family.
"My mother hasn't stopped crying since she heard," he said.
Martin had to apologize to Brenton Williams for an outburst this January during a home game against Mississippi. Martin said Williams' father shook his hand at senior night ceremonies before the Florida game and told him, "Thank you for helping my son become a man."
"I live for those moments," Martin said.
Martin is friendly and engaging away from the court. No matter how animated and loud he gets on the bench, he gives thoughtful and rational responses to media in his postgame sessions.
He believes the curse-filled tirades don't define him. Martin called the cursing about "12 seconds out of my 24 hour day. I've got to work on those 12 seconds."
Neighbor: Pistorius prayed over girlfriend's body after shooting
PRETORIA, South Africa -- Oscar Pistorius shook slightly, his hands covering his ears as a neighbor described in court Thursday how the famous athlete knelt next to his dead or dying girlfriend, praying as he tried to help Reeva Steenkamp breathe.
The testimony in high court in Pistorius' murder trial was riveting and was the first detailed public description of the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, by the double-amputee Paralympic champion in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14 -- Valentine's Day -- last year.
"It was obvious that she was mortally wounded," said Johan Stipp, a radiologist, as he described what he saw at Pistorius' villa. Stipp said he was one of the first there.
"At the bottom of the stairs ... there was a lady lying on her back on the floor," Stipp testified.
Sitting on a courtroom bench on Thursday, Pistorius bent forward and put his hand over his face, then moved them to cover both ears. He stayed that way for a while, even when one of his lawyers reached back to reassure him and touch him on the head.
"I went near her and as I bent down, I also noticed a man on the left kneeling by her side," Stipp said under questioning by prosecutor Gerrie Nel. "He had his left hand on her right groin, and his right hand, the second and third fingers in her mouth. I remember the first thing he said when I got there was 'I shot her. I thought she was a burglar. I shot her."
Stipp, who said he didn't know that man was Pistorius until later, said he tried to help, but that he knew it was probably no good because Steenkamp showed no signs of life. Stipp said he noticed a wound in her right thigh, in her upper arm and in the right side of the head, and there was brain tissue around the skull.
Pistorius is charged with shooting Steenkamp three times out of four shots through a toilet door in his home. Prosecutors said the athlete intentionally killed Steenkamp after an argument but Pistorius says it was a mistake.
"She had no pulse in the neck, she had no peripheral pulse. She had no breathing movements that she made," Stipp said. "Oscar was crying all the time," he said. "He was praying to God, 'Please let her live.'"
Oscar said he would dedicate "his life and her life to God" if she would live and not die that night, according to Stipp.
Pistorius, who ran at the 2012 Olympics on his prosthetic legs and who was known as the Blade Runner, is charged with murder with premeditation.
Pistorius' lead defense lawyer started the fourth day of the trial by cross-examining another neighbor and questioning whether the man heard a woman screaming and then gunshots on the night Steenkamp died.
The neighbor, Charl Johnson, said he also owned a gun, a 9mm pistol, and knew what gunfire sounded like.
"I can confidently say I heard gunshots," Johnson insisted on cross-examination by Barry Roux. Later, Johnson said: "I'm convinced that I heard a lady's voice."
Roux says the banging sounds were actually Pistorius hitting a toilet door with a cricket bat and the screaming was the distressed athlete calling for help -- and there were no sounds from Steenkamp who had been shot in the head.
Johnson said he "disputed" some of what Roux was saying and described in more detail what he heard on the night Pistorius shot his girlfriend to death. Johnson and his wife live around 177 meters from Pistorius' villa.
"The fear ... in the lady person's calls contrasted with a very monotone male voice," Johnson testified. "The man almost sounded embarrassed to be calling for help."
Johnson also said the timing of the bangs didn't match a repeated bat swing. He said it would have taken Pistorius more time to swing the bat repeatedly, and that the bangs he heard were closer together.
Roux did get Johnson to concede that he never heard what he thought was the woman's voice and the man's voice at the same time. Roux wants to show that it was the same person, Pistorius, screaming.
The sequence of events soon after 3 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 14 last year is a critical aspect of the case. Prosecutors say there was a loud argument between Pistorius and Steenkamp before the shooting. Pistorius says there was no argument and that he had thought Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, was in bed when he fired through the locked toilet stall door.
Sheriff seeks to charge Hernandez in jail fight
DARTMOUTH, Mass. (AP) A Massachusetts sheriff is seeking a criminal complaint against former NFL star Aaron Hernandez after a recent jail scuffle with another inmate.
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told Boston's WHDH-TV Thursday the paperwork has been filed in district court. A clerk magistrate will review it.
Hodgson said last week neither inmate required medical attention after the Feb. 25 fight in the Bristol House of Correction. Hernandez is held there without bail after pleading not guilty to murder in the 2013 death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a Boston man dating Hernandez's fiancee's sister.
Bristol County district attorney's spokesman Gregg Miliote said his office was aware a complaint was filed against the former New England Patriots tight end by the sheriff's department, but had no further comment.
Hodgson's spokesman and Hernandez's attorney didn't return messages Thursday night.
Red Wings retire Nicklas Lidstrom's No. 5 jersey
DETROIT (AP) Nicklas Lidstrom was the last person to speak at his Detroit Red Wings jersey-retirement ceremony.
He might have spoken the least while perhaps saying the most, fittingly for a player who was subtly spectacular on the ice.
Lidstrom was honored Thursday night before Detroit hosted the Colorado Avalanche. A red banner - with his last name and number in white - was raised to the rafters.
"It's not like winning a trophy for a successful season or playoff; it's not winning an individual trophy," he said on a puck-shaped podium. "This is something different. This is all about being a Detroit Red Wing."
The storied franchise previously retired six jerseys: Gordie Howe's No. 9, Steve Yzerman's No. 19, Ted Lindsay's No. 7, Terry Sawchuk's No. 1, Alex Delvecchio's No. 10 and Sid Abel's No. 12. But Lidstrom is the first defenseman to have his jersey retired by the Red Wings.
Detroit drafted the Swede in the third round and between 1991 and 2012 he played in the most games (1,564) by someone who was on only one NHL team.
"For the first couple of years, he didn't seem that great, but then you began to appreciate him," Delvecchio said.
Lidstrom, with sound positioning and a strong shot, helped the Red Wings win four of their 11 Stanley Cups between 1997 and 2008. He won seven Norris Trophies as the NHL's best defenseman and trailed only Bobby Orr's record total of eight.
"As much as we didn't like him when we were playing against each other, I had tons of respect for him," Colorado coach and former NHL goaltending great Patrick Roy said.
Lidstrom became the first European-born captain to win a Stanley Cup in 2008, six years after being the first from Europe to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league's postseason MVP. With his signature slap shot, he scored the gold-medal winning goal for Sweden against Finland at the 2006 Olympics.
In a video tribute shown during a first-period timeout, Yzerman said Lidstrom was one of the game's all-time greats.
"You made our jobs so much easier," Yzerman said.
Lidstrom retired after the 2011-12 season - his 20th with the Red Wings. He refused to settle for being merely a good defenseman in the league and turned down a chance to make about $6 million with a third straight one-year contract.
"No regrets, but that doesn't mean I don't miss it," he said. "I miss playing, but I never had any urge to get back to being on the ice and playing in a game."
With his wife and their four hockey-playing boys, he is living back home in Sweden and enjoying a simple life.
"What's been so relaxing about it is that I get weekends off," Lidstrom said. "I never had any weekends off that I can remember since I was a teenager."
When Lidstrom was 21 and going into his first NHL season, he was asked what number he wanted to wear if he made the team.
Not knowing much about the Red Wings other than Yzerman being their captain, Lidstrom asked for No. 9 - a number that had been retired for nearly 20 years to honor Howe.
"Kid, that just ain't going to happen," Lidstrom recalled being told.
Lidstrom was later given a winged-wheel jersey with another single digit.
"No. 5 was handed to me," he said with a grin.
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