No. 23 Sooners earn Big 12 2nd seed, 97-67 at TCU
Buddy Hield scored 24 points and 23rd-ranked Oklahoma clinched the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament with a 97-67 victory Saturday at TCU, the league’s first team in 10 years to go through the regular season without winning a conference game.
Isaiah Cousins and Cameron Clark had 18 points each for the Sooners (23-8, 12-6), who have won five of their last six games. Ryan Spangler added 10 points.
Injury-plagued TCU (9-21, 0-18) won nine of its last 10 games before beginning Big 12 play. The Horned Frogs lost their league opener 74-69 to West Virginia, but that ended up being one of only three conference games they lost by single digits — and none were closer.
The last Big 12 team to go without a league win was Texas A&M during the 2003-04 season, when the Aggies were 0-16. That is the same mark Baylor had in 1998-99.
TCU plays seventh-seeded Baylor, which has won seven of its last eight games, in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament on Wednesday night in Kansas City. The winner of that game plays the next night against Oklahoma.
The Horned Frogs went 2-16 last season in their Big 12 debut, with one of the wins being over Oklahoma in the regular-season finale. They also beat then-No. 5 Kansas at home last season.
But there wouldn’t be another upset in the final game at Daniel Meyer Coliseum before the arena undergoes a $59 million renovation that will force the Frogs to play their home games off campus next season. Read more …
Jackson leads No. 20 Memphis past No. 18 SMU 67-58
Memphis senior guard Joe Jackson closed his home career with a half that carried the No. 20 Tigers to victory.
Jackson scored 15 of his 18 points after intermission leading Memphis to a 67-58 victory over No. 18 SMU on Saturday.
The performance provided some redemption for Jackson, who was 16 of 47 from the field in his last five games and started Saturday 1 for 7.
“I was frustrated at halftime,” Jackson said, “and wanted to play better for myself and my teammates. I had to turn on an extra gear and get the game going.
“We had to run and speed the tempo up, which we did in the second half.”
Jackson hit his first four shots after intermission as the Tigers (23-8, 12-6 American Athletic Conference) shot 59 percent in the second half while building the lead to as many as 14 with a 20-5 run.
Memphis senior guard Chris Crawford scored all nine of his points in the game during the rally converting a trio of 3-pointers over a minute and a half span. It was evidence of how Memphis’ senior guards — Jackson, Crawford, Geron Johnson and Michael Dixon — can propel the Tigers.
“Those senior guards willed us to a win,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. “Those senior guards would not let us lose.”
Freshman forward Austin Nichols finished with 14 points and nine rebounds for Memphis. Read more …
Stars set to retire Modano’s No. 9
Even if the next face of the franchise is in the building when the Dallas Stars retire Mike Modano’s No. 9, any comparison will fall short.
This is the guy who made hockey cool in Dallas as many fans were just trying to figure out what they were watching. This is the guy who knew how daunting the task was the moment he arrived from puck-mad Minnesota two decades ago.
Sure, Jamie Benn or Tyler Seguin could be the one leading the Stars back to championship contention one of these days. But after Saturday, any return to glory will come under Modano’s number hanging in the rafters.
“The only difference is I was 22, 23 coming into a town that didn’t know anything about hockey,” Modano told The Associated Press.
“So I grew up with this town, with the sport, so people couldn’t relate to the sport without relating to a few of us in the same sense. And having the success that our team did and individually that I was able to have, those opportunities and those scenarios don’t get played out too often in many cities or organizations.”
It’ll be a pretty rare party Saturday when the Stars play Minnesota, where Modano started his career as a No. 1 pick before the North Stars moved south in 1993, replaced by the expansion Wild seven years later.
There are 53 names on the “green carpet” list for the pregame festivities, many of them former teammates who beat Buffalo for the franchise’s only Stanley Cup in 1999 and lost in the finals a year later to New Jersey.
Modano had several tearful farewells as his playing days wound down — first saying goodbye to Dallas and Minnesota fans in 2010, and then leaving the game in 2011 after the Livonia, Mich., native’s one season with Detroit.
Now an executive with the Stars, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer and two-time Olympian had a big hand in planning this send-off. But that won’t make it any less emotional for someone who hasn’t been afraid to show his soft side. Read more …
Harper, Ramos homer, Nationals top Astros
Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos both hit mammoth home runs in the first inning, and the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros 8-5 Friday.
Harper, who said he has felt no pain in his surgically-repaired left knee this spring, hit a two-run homer off Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer in the first inning.
“I’ve felt great,” Harper said. “I’ve had zero pain on it. I’ve been able to do everything I’ve wanted to do. It’s felt really good. I’m excited about that.”
That it came against a left-hander is a good sign for the lefty swinging Harper, who struggled against them last year. He has a career .229 average against left-handers as opposed to a .292 mark against righties.
“I hit lefties pretty good,” Harper said. “I always have. Last year, my knee killed me. I couldn’t stay back on lefties. I was killing myself on that. It’s going to be a little bit different this year.”
Ramos followed three batters later with a three-run drive that went over 400 feet and might have gone out of Space Coast Stadium. The wind was blowing at 16 mph but Ramos didn’t need help with this shot.
“I heard it (but) I couldn’t even see it,” Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark said. “I saw a guy in the beer deck look behind him and I went, `Wow.”
Nationals right-hander Doug Fister was scratched from his scheduled start because of inflammation in his elbow. Manager Matt Williams says he’ll “push him (back) a couple of days, just to make sure; get it out of there.”
Washington closer Rafael Soriano saw his first action of the spring and gave up two runs on three hits in one inning. Read more …
Ramirez returns, homers to send Dodgers over Texas
Hanley Ramirez returned to the lineup and hit his first homer this spring, a two-run shot in the first inning that sent the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Texas Rangers 2-1 Friday.
Ramirez was pulled in the sixth inning Thursday as a precaution after he was hit by a pitch in his right triceps. The All-Star infielder, who hit .345 with 20 homers in 86 games last season, is batting .167 this spring.
Carl Crawford drew a walk from Martin Perez, and Ramirez homered to center field.
Ramirez’s return from thumb and hamstring injuries on June 4 last season helped spark a 46-10 run that carried Los Angeles from last place to first in the NL West.
“I think Hanley is getting his timing,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s not one of those guys I worry about.”
Despite the home run, Perez was mostly happy with his three innings of work in his second spring start. He gave up two hits, walked three and struck out two.
“I feel pretty good,” said the 22-year-old Perez, who broke his forearm last spring but came back to go 10-6 with a 3.62 ERA. “I still need to attack more with my fastball. My other pitches are good. The only thing I have to work on is my fastball. A couple of hitters, I was behind in the count.”
Los Angeles starter Zach Lee worked two innings, giving up two hits. Read more …
Sources: Cowboys under cap after moves
By Todd Archer | ESPN.com
IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys are under the salary cap.
The Cowboys released center Phil Costa and reworked the contract of right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau on Friday to get under the $134.55 million salary cap, according to sources. The Cowboys trimmed roughly $20 million in cap room during the week by cutting Costa, reworking Bernadeau’s deal and restructuring the contracts of Tony Romo, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick.
With free agency set to open next week, the Cowboys now have roughly $2 million in cap room.
There is a chance they could gain more space if they reach a new deal with DeMarcus Ware or release the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks.
According to a source, the Cowboys approached Ware this week about taking less money to remain with the club. Ware is set to make $12.75 million this year in salary and workout bonus, and will count a little more than $16 million against the cap.
The Cowboys would like to keep Ware at a lower price, which could give them a chance to add pieces in free agency or keep their own free agents, such as Jason Hatcher and/or Anthony Spencer. If the Cowboys cut Ware, they would save $7.4 million against the cap.
Ware is coming off a six-sack season in 2013 and turns 32 in July, but after undergoing right elbow surgery, he told ESPN.com he expects to return to Pro Bowl form.
“I’m going to shut my mouth and be quiet and let my work on the field characterize who I am,” Ware said last month. “I’m not going to sit here and talk about what I’m going to do. I’m going behind the scenes and do what I need to do and get the job done, and at the end of the day there’s going to be a bandwagon everybody needs to jump back on.” Read more …
Mavs rally past Blazers after losing 30-point lead
Dirk Nowitzki says he wasn’t thinking about the last time the Dallas Mavericks blew a 30-point lead and lost.
The biggest collapse in franchise history was a long time ago, and he was too busy trying to make sure it didn’t happen again.
Nowitzki scored 22 points, Devin Harris hit the go-ahead shot in the final minute and the Mavericks rallied in the fourth quarter after blowing their huge first-half lead, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 103-98 Friday night.
“You’re just out there battling,” Nowitzki said. “They’re a very, very good team. They came back a lot quicker than we wanted it to be, but we kept fighting and got the win.”
LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 30 for Portland, including 18 in the third quarter when the Blazers went in front for the first time at 69-67 after trailing 44-14 early in the second quarter.
But Nowitzki didn’t pause to remember Dec. 6, 2002, when the Mavericks lost at the Los Angeles Lakers 105-103 after leading 66-36 early in the third quarter.
Rick Carlisle wasn’t dwelling on the blown lead either. Read more …