Sports News   150114

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Herd finishes 23rd in final AP Poll

For the third time since moving to the FCS, Marshall has finished the season ranked in the Associated Press poll. The Thundering Herd was No. 23 in the final AP poll released after Monday night’s national championship game.

The Thundering Herd went 13-1 in 2014, capturing its first Conference USA championship and rolling over Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois in the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl.

It’s the first time in 12 seasons that Marshall has appeared in the final AP Poll.

Marshall was in the top 25 for seven weeks during the regular season in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Poll. It climbed up to No. 18 before falling from both polls after a 67-66 overtime loss to Western Kentucky in the final week of the regular season.

The Thundering Herd is the second-highest ranked Group of 5 team in the poll, behind Fiesta Bowl champion Boise State at No. 16. The Broncos (12-2) won the WAC and defeated Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl.

This is the fifth time a Conference USA team has finished in the final AP poll since Marshall joined the league in 2005.

In 1999, Marshall reached its highest ever ranking, finishing a perfect 13-0 and ranked 10th in the country. The Herd was ranked 24th in the final AP Poll in 2002.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  National Championship delivers 18.5 overnight rating

Ohio State’s 42-20 victory over Oregon in the College Football Playoff national championship game delivered an 18.5 overnight rating.

This marked a 21% increase over the 2014 BCS National Championship game between Florida State and Auburn (15.3 rating). It also surpassed the 2011 BCS National Championship, which was the highest-rated game in cable history with a 16.1 rating.

In the primary home markets of the two schools, the telecast delivered a 51.2 in Columbus, meaning over 50% of households were tuned into the game, making it the No. 1 overall market. In Portland, Oregon, 37.6% of households were tuned into the game, which was the fourth best market in the overnight ratings.

►  Stretching the Field: Has the NCAA seen the light?

Isaac Newton declared for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

That wasn’t more evident when the NCAA took Penn State University to the woodshed with heavy sanctions in July 2012, stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

The general consensus from those who bleed blue and white was outrage, and that the penalties handed down from NCAA president Mark Emmert were superfluous. Why did the football team have to suffer for the abominable actions of a convicted child molester?

As a Penn State graduate and enthusiast, that’s a question I asked myself while strolling the beach in Ocean City, Maryland, on a typical gorgeous July morning behind the high-rise hotels. A text message from one of my two older sisters sent my relaxed, high-spirited demeanor into a tailspin.

Emmert slammed his gavel to the tune of a four-year postseason ban, which was lifted this season, reduced scholarships, a hefty $60 million fine and players having permission to transfer elsewhere without penalty for one year. Illinois set up camp in Happy Valley and tried to recruit players as if they were enlisting in one of the armed services. Only nine players left.

It seems the university accepted the sanctions without hesitation and opted to fire legendary coach Joe Paterno via a telephone call. Makes sense. The man dedicated his life and some of his earnings to the school, so let’s show some class by moving him along with a phone call. Why not send an e-mail, a text message or use skywriting?

This past November, the NCAA released internal e-mails written in 2012 that show it was questioning its right to sanction PSU. With jurisdiction or not, the NCAA overstepped its boundaries and now looks foolish.

Paterno was deemed as an enabler to Sandusky for allowing the monster on campus and taking advantage of innocent lives through his underprivileged youth organization known as The Second Mile. We all know the story. Sandusky took miles to horrify children and deserves to rot in his cell, but the discipline levied by the NCAA was too harsh.

Yes, I am obviously a staunch supporter of Penn State, but I can separate my feelings for the school with reality. Did Paterno do enough to stop his former defensive coordinator from his lewd acts? No, he didn’t because mentioning it to his superiors doesn’t suffice in this day and age. Paterno, who was criticized for missing or ignoring signs of Sandusky’s behavior, ran University Park and pretty much still does. He would have been more of a hero had he cut ties with Sandusky.

I’m not trying to open old wounds that may have slightly healed. I feel the NCAA is trying to backtrack with a recent report it will eliminate the sanctions entirely and restore Paterno’s 111 vacated wins. Taking away wins was utterly embarrassing for the NCAA. How are you going to tell Michael Robinson and the rest of the Nittany Lions they didn’t beat Bobby Bowden and the Florida State Seminoles in the Orange Bowl?

How can the NCAA tell the Paterno family, which is still pushing for a lawsuit, the 409 wins are no more? Paterno, who passed away after a bout with lung cancer shortly after his dismissal, compiled more wins than any other Division I football coach.

What Sandusky did was awful. Terrible. Disgusting. But it didn’t give Penn State an advantage athletically. There are other schools in the country with student-athletes who cheat in class, trade items for other goods, do drugs or run into the wrong arm of the law, and receive lesser sanctions.

Well, apparently the NCAA feels it was too harsh on Penn State and it was reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer it may wipe out the sanctions. Former FBI director Louis Freeh led the investigation, saying top Penn State officials conspired to keep the abuse allegations under lock and key.

The NCAA seems to have opened its proverbial, and seemingly blind, eyes with the latest news of replenishment. I couldn’t be more happy for the university, the players, the students and alumni.

Bill O’Brien couldn’t have done a better job in his short tenure as Paterno’s successor and knew what he was walking into. He was Penn State’s Moses to the Israelites before taking an NFL gig with the Houston Texans. You can’t blame him for that. A statue in O’Brien’s likeness is deserved.

Paterno had a statue once. True story. It was located alongside Beaver Stadium, which should be called Paterno Field when all is said and done. Perhaps one day the bronze version of Paterno will reappear alongside a stadium that holds more than 100,000 fans.

Penn State coach James Franklin runs the show now in Happy Valley and maybe one day he will be immortalized by the creative hands of a sculptor. I may be going overboard here with the icons.

Franklin, though, has the Nittany Lions headed in the right direction and is living up to the recruiting moniker “Dominate The State.“ Franklin guided the Nittany Lions to a Pin Stripe Bowl win over Boston College a few weeks ago.

It’s been awhile since Penn State dominated college football, but it feels even longer with what happened there a few years ago.

If this recent report of the NCAA realizing its mistake is true, Penn State can breathe more life into the program and restore its pristine reputation.  ~~  Shawn Clarke ~~

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Check out the Atlanta Falcons’ new, ridiculously cool stadium

A series of conceptual drawings were brought to life on Tuesday when the Atlanta Falcons released a video showing the 3-D computer model of their planned new football stadium and, holy cow, is it awesome. The dramatic music that seems ripped straight from the soundtrack of an action movie certainly doesn’t hurt.

To review, you saw:

• A retractable stadium roof inspired by the oculus in ancient Rome’s Pantheon Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Atlanta’s city skyline

• A 100-yard long bar, which will be open to all

• A “technology lounge” set aside so fan can check in on their fantasy teams

• Several luxury zones for club-level ticket holders

• A “360-Degree HD Video Halo Board,” which is probably making Jerry Jones lose his mind.

About that last point, the halo board is the first of its kind, “a true game changer,” according to the stadium’s Web site. For one, it’s 58 feet tall, or nearly five-stories, with a 1,100-foot diameter, making it the largest video board in the world. Unlike the Jumbotrons of yore, this means ever person in the stadium will be able to easily view instant replays.

Alas, as exciting as it all sounds, the $1.4 billion stadium won’t be in use until the 2017 season, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. The Falcons will also have to share the space with Atlanta’s MLS team, NCAA Final Four basketball and various concerts and live events.

►  Steelers name Keith Butler defensive coordinator

The Pittsburgh Steelers promoted Keith Butler to defensive coordinator on Tuesday.

Butler served as the team’s linebackers coach the past 12 years and replaces legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who resigned on January 10.

“It’s the dream of a lifetime,“ said Butler on Tuesday. “There are only 32 of these jobs on this Earth. I am excited about the opportunity and I look forward to getting this process started immediately.“

Prior to joining the Steelers, Butler was linebackers coach for the Cleveland Browns for four years. He has also served as defensive coordinator for Arkansas State University and linebackers/defensive ends coach at the University of Memphis, where he and current Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin were on the same coaching staff in 1996.

“We are excited to announce Keith Butler as our defensive coordinator,“ said Tomlin in a statement Tuesday. “Keith has been an integral part of our defensive game planning and schemes for several years and we look forward to him moving into the role of calling the defense. His passion and energy will be important to us taking the next steps to being one of the top defenses in the NFL.“

Butler was a three-year starting linebacker at Memphis, leading the team in tackles his junior and senior year. He was a second-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 1978 and played 10 seasons with Seattle, where he still ranks second all-time in franchise history with 813 tackles.

LeBeau, 77, helped the Steelers win two Super Bowls following the 2005 and ‘08 seasons. He had been with the Steelers’ organization for 16 seasons.

►  Garrett, Cowboys nearing 5-year deal

Jason Garrett is close to a new five-year contract agreement to remain the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach, according to multiple media reports.

Garrett led the Cowboys to the playoffs this season for the first time since 2009. The Cowboys captured the NFC East title with a 12-4 record and then beat the Detroit Lions in the wild-card round before losing to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round Sunday.

The 48-year-old Garrett became the Cowboys’ interim head coach in the middle of the 2010 season, replacing Wade Phillips, who was fired following the team’s 1-7 start.

Dallas finished the season 5-3 under Garrett, earning him the job on a full- time basis.

The Cowboys went 8-8 in each of the next three seasons, losing Week 17 games to division opponents to miss the playoffs each time.

►  Schwartz no longer with Bills

After just one season at the position, Jim Schwartz is out as Bills defensive coordinator.

Schwartz, formerly the head coach of the Detroit Lions, was tabbed to lead Buffalo’s defense after his successor, Mike Pettine, who ran the defense for the 2013 season, left to become Cleveland’s head coach.

“I have the utmost respect for Jim and what he has been able to accomplish throughout his career and I know he feels the same about me. Jim’s defenses are always tough and ranked near the top of the league standings,“ said new Bills head coach Rex Ryan in announcing the move on Tuesday.

“I wanted to give Jim the opportunity to pursue other opportunities and so we have terminated his contract. He did a terrific job with the Bills defense this past year and our plan is for our defense to continue to play well and be a dominating force.“

Under Schwartz, Buffalo ranked fourth in fewest points allowed (289), third in passing yards allowed per game (205.8) and 11th in rushing yards allowed per game (106.4).

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Free agent fantasy analysis

With the Super Bowl just a few weeks away, NFL free agents are thinking about their future. Fantasy owners in dynasty leagues have to do the same thing.

At some point over this long, cold winter, fantasy owners will have to decide which players on their roster to keep and which to abandon.

There won’t be much mystery at the quarterback position in 2015, as NFL teams have been particularly vigilant in signing their franchise-quality signal- callers.

But at both the running back and wide receiver positions, some of the very top players could be on the move which makes it a much tougher decision for fantasy owners.

Some might argue that a great player will be a great player no matter where he goes.

I have one name for you - Eric Decker.

If you had Mr. Decker on your fantasy team this season, I don’t have to remind you of what happened. For the rest, here is the story.

Decker had enjoyed two excellent seasons playing wideout in Denver after Peyton Manning arrived. The wideout’s combined numbers from 2012-13 were 258 receptions, 2,352 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns.

But Decker obviously wanted to “cash in” and signed a a multi-million dollar deal with the New York Jets before the 2014 season. Unfortunately, catching passes from Geno Smith and Michael Vick isn’t quite as easy as hauling them in from a future Hall of Fame quarterback. Decker caught just 74 balls for 962 yards and five touchdowns in 2014. And those totals only look respectable because he caught 10 balls for 221 yards and a touchdown in Week 17, which in most cases didn’t help owners because they came after the fantasy season had concluded already.

Owners who decided to keep Decker on their roster for the 2014 season are, in all likelihood, regretting that decision.

Below are 10 free agents for this season. At this moment, we don’t know where they will end up in 2015, but we can evaluate whether it’s likely to be better for their fantasy value or worse.

Running Backs

DeMarco Murray, Dallas - Running behind one of the strongest offensive lines in the league, Murray became a top-three fantasy option, rushing for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns. Even if he returns to Dallas, it would be hard to repeat those numbers because it’s unlikely the team would give him 497 touches for a second straight season. Or that even if the team wanted to, he could stand up to that type of workload. Playing in another city, with a weaker offensive line, Murray’s value could take a significant hit.

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo - Spiller spent another season frustrating fantasy owners. So much talent and so little production. If he stays in Buffalo, he’s still going to share the workload with Fred Jackson. That’s likely to be the same situation no matter where he goes.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego - Coming off a career-best 1,255 rushing yards in 2013, a lot was expected of Mathews and he failed miserably in 2014. Once again his body couldn’t take the pounding and he played just eight games this season. In a few situations, he could become a primary ball carrier, but it’s more likely he’ll end up in a RBBC (running-back-by-committee) either in San Diego or somewhere else.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans - Ingram was a major force through the middle of the season, rushing for over 100 yards four times in a six-week period from Week 8-13. But it appears the Saints will let him go this offseason. If he ends up with a team that isn’t so pass-happy, which is a virtual certainty since New Orleans threw the ball 659 times in 2014, his fantasy value could increase.

Justin Forsett, Baltimore - Forsett couldn’t have picked a better time to be a free agent. He posted career-best numbers in rushing yards (1,266), touchdowns (eight) and receptions (44). I think he’d be crazy to leave the situation in Baltimore, but he’s earned a starting spot wherever he lands for 2015. His fantasy value should stay at his current level.

Wide Receivers

Dez Bryant, Dallas - I can’t imagine circumstances in which Jerry Jones wouldn’t bring his star receiver back to Dallas either with a long-term contract or using the franchise tag. But if Bryant (88-1,320-16) leaves, he would be a fantasy star in any offense with a competent quarterback.

Demaryius Thomas, Denver - Like Bryant, Thomas (111-1,619-11) would be a star with any competent quarterback throwing him the ball, but having seen the Decker situation firsthand, I expect Thomas will want to continue catching passes from Manning. He’s already said he would offer a “hometown discount,“ so expect him in orange and navy blue next season and a top-three receiver with elite fantasy value.

Randall Cobb, Green Bay - The Packers’ No. 1 priority this offseason is signing Cobb and he’s more than likely going to continue catching passes from Aaron Rodgers. That will keep his fantasy value near the top of the charts, though we liked him a lot more back in 2012 when he also was returning punts and kickoffs.

Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia - Maclin signed a one-year deal last season in hopes that he would prove himself healthy and he did just that in catching a career-best 85 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, he said he wanted to stay in Philly. On the other hand, he grew up in Missouri, went to college there and the coach who drafted him just happens to be in Kansas City and in desperate need of a talented wideout or two. In Philadelphia, he should be able to repeat his 2014 season, but in Kansas City or elsewhere, his fantasy numbers could take a hit.

Torrey Smith, Baltimore - Smith, who grew up in nearby Virginia and went to school at Maryland, has said he’d like to get a deal done with Baltimore. Given his improved play over the second part of the season, I think it’s possible the two sides will figure out a way to keep him with the Ravens. On the other hand, if he stays in Baltimore, he won’t be an elite fantasy wide receivers because wideout Steve Smith Sr. is his equal.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Tuesday, January 13)

Saint Marys 58     Ritchie County 37

Calhoun County 53     Clay County 47

Lewis County 54     Grafton 50

#4 Fairmont Senior 74     Buckhannon-Upshur 42

#6 Robert C. Byrd 74     Elkins 37

#9 Lincoln 71     Philip Barbour 52

Fayetteville 65     Nicholas County 63

Wirt County 64     Tyler Consolidated 52

#2 Bridgeport 76     North Marion 58

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Tuesday, January 13)

#4 Williamstown 71     Doddridge County 38

Parkersburg 62     University 39

Parkersburg Catholic 58     Tyler Consolidated 35

Wood County Christian 68     Teays Valley Christian 50

The Gilmer Free Press

►  West Virginia crushes Oklahoma

Jevon Carter scored 18 points with a full line off the bench on Tuesday, leading No. 16 West Virginia to a convincing 86-65 win over 18th-ranked Oklahoma.

Devin Williams had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Juwan Staten, WVU’s leading scorer, shot just 1-of-9 but made up for it by dishing out a game-high eight assists. Carter made 4-of-6 from 3-point range and added seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“I thought he was really good in the second half,“ WVU coach Bob Huggins said about Staten. “He had a lot of assists and controlled the game.“

Nathan Adrian chipped in 11 points for West Virginia (15-2, 3-1 Big 12), which turned 22 OU turnovers into 27 points.

Buddy Hield scored 21 points and Isaiah Cousins had 14 on seven shots for Oklahoma (11-5, 2-2), but bench play was an issue once again in the Sooners’ second straight loss. Their four key reserves combined for just eight points, led by Khadeem Lattin’s four.

“We didn’t handle the ball very well,“ Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “We turned it over and they got easy points off of those turnovers.“

West Virginia was the better team for 40 minutes, never trailing on its way to a wire-to-wire victory.

Williams scored the game’s first four points, and a pair of 6-0 runs near the midpoint of the first period made it 29-17.

Later, Ryan Spangler’s dunk at 3:24 had the Sooners within three, but four Mountaineers scored during a 10-0 spurt to end the period and send the hosts into halftime with a 45-32 lead.

Oklahoma was within 12 at 14:17 of the second half following a pair of Hield free throws, but turnovers on the next two possessions by the OU star contributed to West Virginia’s 8-0 run. Carter opened the flurry with a 3 and Elijah Macon scored the next five points.

Game Notes

Staten, who finished with four points, had scored in double figures every game this season ... Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard is shooting 6-for-30 over his last five games ... OU is 3-2 in the series since West Virginia joined the Big 12.

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Tuesday, January 13)

Final Score: (1) Kentucky 86, Missouri 37

Aaron Harrison scored 16 points and No. 1 Kentucky, which lost some support in the polls following its first rocky week of the season, answered its critics by spanking Missouri 86-37 on Tuesday. Harrison made five of his seven shots from the perimeter and Karl-Anthony Towns did a bit of everything, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. Kentucky, which established itself as the nation’s top team during a dominant non-conference slate, was due for a big win following a pair of nailbiters last week. The Wildcats (16-0, 3-0 SEC) needed overtime to beat Ole Miss on Jan. 6, then survived a double-OT thriller against Texas A&M four days later. They returned to the friendly confines of Rupp Arena after those two road tests and returned to form, hitting 48.2 percent of their shots while limiting Missouri to just 27.1 percent shooting. Missouri’s leading scorer Johnathan Williams III only managed three points on 1-of-13 shooting. Wes Clark and Keanau Post both had 10 points to lead the Tigers (7-9, 1-2).

Final Score: (2) Virginia 65, Clemson 42

Malcolm Brogdon scored 16 points to lead No. 2 Virginia in a 65-42 win over Clemson on Tuesday. Justin Anderson scored 15 points as the only other player in double figures for the Cavs (16-0, 4-0 ACC), who won the opening four ACC games on their slate for the first time since 1994-95. Jaron Blossomgame posted nine points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers (9-7, 1-3).

Final Score: Miami-Florida 90, (4) Duke 74

When Duke heads to Louisville for Saturday’s marquee matchup with Louisville, it’ll do so having dropped back-to-back ACC games for the first time in six years. Manu Lecomte scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half, leading a torrid shooting display from Miami-Florida after the break that propelled the Hurricanes to a stunning 90-74 upset of the fourth-ranked Blue Devils. Miami (12-4, 2-1 ACC) halted the nation’s longest home win streak in emphatic fashion, putting up 56 second-half points on an 18-of-27 effort from the field that included six makes in nine attempts from 3-point range. Lecomte and Angel Rodriguez were the catalysts of the onslaught, with the latter tallying 15 of his 24 points over the final 20 minutes. The duo combined to go 7-of-10 on 3-pointers for the game. Duke (14-2, 2-2) had prevailed in 41 straight tests at Cameron Indoor Stadium since an 88-70 loss to North Carolina on March 3, 2012. However, the shooting woes that plagued the Blue Devils in Sunday’s 87-75 defeat at NC State came back to haunt them again on Tuesday, resulting in the program’s first losing skid in conference play since Feb. 11-15, 2009. After shooting a season-low 36.9 percent from the floor against the Wolfpack, Duke made just 6-of-21 tries from beyond the arc to go along with a woeful 10- of-20 performance from the foul line. It’ll now take those struggles into a road showdown against one of the top defensive teams in the country in No. 6 Louisville. Quinn Cook did finish with 18 points in the loss, with Jahlil Okafor compiling 15 with 15 rebounds for the Blue Devils and Amile Jefferson posting 14 points and 12 boards.

Final Score: (6) Louisville 78, Virginia Tech 63

Terry Rozier’s 16 points led a balanced Louisville attack as the sixth-ranked Cardinals cruised to a 78-63 victory over Virginia Tech in an ACC clash. Rozier went 4-of-6 from 3-point range, while Wayne Blackshear hit three shots from beyond the arc in a 15-point effort in the Cardinals’ final tuneup before Saturday’s home showdown with No. 4 Duke. Montrezl Harrell and Mangok Mathiang each finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for Louisville (15-2, 3-1 ACC). Harrell added three blocks to anchor a Cardinal defense that held the Hokies to a 34.1 shooting percentage inside the arc. Adam Smith ended 5-of-7 on 3-point attempts and scored 19 points for Virginia Tech (8-8, 0-3). Justin Bibbs and Ahmed Hill had 15 and 14, respectively, in the Hokies’ fourth consecutive defeat.

Final Score: (9) Kansas 67, (24) Oklahoma State 57

Frank Mason III scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to help No. 9 Kansas beat 24th-ranked Oklahoma State 67-57 on Tuesday. Mason III was 9-of-11 from the free throw line, where Kansas (14-2, 3-0 Big 12) spent much of the night. The Jayhawks made 32 of their 46 attempts at the charity stripe and only attempted 43 shots from the field. Kansas also got 14 points and six rebounds from Kelly Oubre Jr. The Cowboys (12-4, 2-2) got 21 points from Le’Bryan Nash and 18 from Phil Forte, the Big 12’s two leading scorers. The pair totaled 20 of those points on free throws as Oklahoma State went 22-of-25 from the line. Beyond Nash and Forte, Oklahoma State got little production. The 10 other Cowboys that took the floor combined to shoot 7-of-29.

Final Score: (16) West Virginia 86, (18) Oklahoma 65

Jevon Carter scored 18 points with a full line off the bench on Tuesday, leading No. 16 West Virginia to a convincing 86-65 win over 18th-ranked Oklahoma. Devin Williams had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Juwan Staten, WVU’s leading scorer, shot just 1-of-9 but made up for it by dishing out a game-high eight assists. Carter made 4-of-6 from 3- point range and added seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Nathan Adrian chipped in 11 points for West Virginia (15-2, 3-1 Big 12), which turned 22 OU turnovers into 27 points. Buddy Hield scored 21 points and Isaiah Cousins had 14 on seven shots for Oklahoma (11-5, 2-2), but bench play was an issue once again in the Sooners’ second straight loss. Their four key reserves combined for just eight points, led by Khadeem Lattin’s four.

Final Score: (17) VCU 65, Rhode Island 60

Treveon Graham scored 16 of his 26 points in the second half and No. 17 VCU rallied from nine points down to beat Rhode Island 65-60 on Tuesday night. VCU took its first lead since the first half on Graham’s 3-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes left, part of a 12-2 run to end the game sparked by Melvin Johnson’s 3 on the previous possession. Mo Alie-Cox scored the last of his 10 points on a dunk during the surge and Johnson added nine points for VCU (14-3, 4-0 Atlantic 10), which has won nine in a row since falling to current No. 2 Virginia on Dec. 6. E.C. Matthews scored 22 points to lead Rhode Island (11-4, 3-1), which had a six-game winning streak stopped and lost for the first time in eight home games this season. Hassan Martin added 10 points and 10 rebounds in the loss and Jarelle Reischel also scored 10. Rhode Island only scored two more points after Matthews’ leaning 3 from the right corner and Jared Terrell’s dunk gave it a 58-53 lead with under 3 1/2 minutes remaining.

Final Score: Tennessee 74, (19) Arkansas 69

Josh Richardson scored 20 points and Tennessee knocked off No. 19 Arkansas 74-69 on Tuesday night after surviving a late rally by the Razorbacks. Arkansas found a hot hand, trimming a 16-point deficit in the second half to one with 13.9 seconds left on Anton Beard’s 3- pointer, which came after Devon Baulkman missed two foul shots at the other end. Kevin Punter made his free throws for a three-point Volunteers lead, then inexplicably fouled Beard on a long 3-point try with 5.1 seconds remaining. But Beard missed the first two foul shots, then the third one on purpose and Tennessee grabbed the rebound to hold on. Robert Hubbs III added 16 points and Armani Moore scored 14 for the Volunteers (10-5, 2-1 SEC), who have multiple wins over ranked teams for the ninth time in 10 seasons. The Vols beat then- No. 15 Butler in Knoxville on Dec. 14. SEC scoring leader Bobby Portis paced Arkansas with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Michael Qualls added 15 points and Beard scored 12 for the Razorbacks (13-3, 2-1), who had a seven-game winning streak snapped.

Final Score: Butler 79, (21) Seton Hall 75 (OT)

Roosevelt Jones made consecutive baskets late in overtime to help Butler beat No. 21 Seton Hall 79-75 on Tuesday night. Jones drove the baseline and made a reverse layup to put the Bulldogs up 75-72 with 56 seconds remaining. After Khadeen Carrington missed a jumper for Seton Hall, Jones powered down the lane for another layup. Carrington nailed a 3- pointer to pull the Pirates within three, but Jackson Aldridge sunk a free throw with four seconds left to seal the win. Jones finished with 23 points and eight rebounds for Butler (13-5, 3-2 Big East), which got nine points and 15 rebounds from Kameron Woods. Kellen Dunham had 21 points for the Bulldogs, but missed a potential game-winning jumper at the end of regulation. Sterling Gibbs made six 3-pointers and scored 30 points for the Pirates (13-4, 3-2). Carrington totaled 20 points in defeat.

Final Score: (23) Northern Iowa 63, Bradley 52

Seth Tuttle finished with 15 points and seven rebounds as No. 23 Northern Iowa held off Bradley for a 63-52 victory on Tuesday. Natt Buss supplied 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench and Paul Jesperson was 3-of-4 from 3-point range and finished with nine points for the Panthers (14-2, 3-1 MVC), who have won four straight games. Auston Barnes netted 14 points, Warren Jones scored 10 and Josh Cunningham had nine points and 11 boards for the Braves (6-11, 1-3), who were coming off a 66-56 loss to Evansville on Saturday.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Kevin Garnett suspended one game for head-butting Dwight Howard

The NBA announced early Tuesday Brooklyn Nets’ forward Kevin Garnett will be suspended for a game without pay after an ugly incident in which he head-butted Houston Rockets’ center Dwight Howard in Monday’s game at Barclays Center.

With 7 minutes 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Garnett and Howard got tangled under the basket while Howard was battling for position on the block. After the whistle blew, Garnett gave the Houston all-star a shove in the back, and Howard retaliated by appearing to tap Garnett in the stomach.

It escalated quickly after that as Garnett threw the ball into Howard’s lower back and advanced right in the face of him as he turned around for an exchange of words. Garnett, not really breaking stride, head-butted Howard and was subsequently restrained by Houston’s Trevor Ariza before Brooklyn assistant coaches got to him.

Garnett was ejected from the contest. For his role in the skirmish, Howard has been fined $15,000.

These two players have a history of on-court incidents as the two got physical with one another on the court in the Eastern Conference finals back in 2010. Howard was a member of the Orlando Magic while Garnett suited up for the Boston Celtics.

►  Nothin’ but Net: Midseason hardware

The Orlando Magic are the only team in the NBA who have reached the halfway point in the season.

So, if it’s good enough for one team out of 30, then we shall declare it the midpoint of the 2014-15 NBA season. In doing so, let’s examine where the awards would go if the campaign was drastically shortened, which, no one would cry a single tear about.


Almost every other pundit has tabbed Steph Curry from the Golden State Warriors for this honor and I get it. Curry is the best player from the best team in the league, and, in the absence of a runaway contender, that formula is a solid means to an answer.

However, I believe Harden has been a more valuable player for the Rockets.

The statistics bare out pretty equal seasons. Harden is ahead in scoring, but Curry is up in assists. Pretty standard stuff since one is a shooting guard and the other is a point guard. (Although, I love that Harden is averaging a career-high 6.6 assists per game, which is second to LeBron James among non- point guards, and a near 90% clip from the foul line while leading the league in attempts.)

Here are the three things that give Harden an edge for me:

First, the Warriors are a much better, more complete team. Sounds like a plus for Curry, but Harden has done most of the heavy lifting in keeping the Rockets within four of the Warriors for the best record in the league. Curry is magnificent, but his team is loaded with two-way athletes in a manner that the Rockets are not. The overall talent is stronger in Golden State than in Houston, thus, making Harden’s achievements this season more impressive.

Second, when you are literally the butt of social media jokes about how horrendous a defender you are, it shows something to improve. Harden is not quite Gary Payton, but his defense has improved tremendously. He’s 12th in defensive rating and second in defensive win shares. Granted, those numbers changed with the arrival of Trevor Ariza and the continued solid defense from Dwight Howard, but Harden went from punch line to serviceable. The Rockets are third in opponents’ scoring and fourth in opponents’ field goal percentage. Last season, they were 23rd and seventh in those same categories. Harden isn’t at the heart of the turnaround, but he’s no longer weighing them down defensively like an anvil chained to the leg of a mob informant.

Finally, during an 11-game stretch when Howard was down with a knee injury from mid-November to mid-December, Harden kept the Rockets afloat, going 8-3 in the process. During that stretch, Harden averaged 29 points and 6.1 assists per game.

Curry hasn’t had to deal with anything like that. Adversity shouldn’t translate into automatic MVP victory. It’s not the Oscars, where an actress will win if she plays an alcoholic, single-mother stripper, whose daughter is a piano prodigy and mom must find a way to work a third job to pay for a good teacher as well as trips abroad so the daughter can perform in recitals.

Harden has kept the Rockets near the top of the league without a supporting cast like Curry’s. While Ariza has been a revelation, Howard is averaging nine- season lows in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. Harden has taken a team, I’ll admit, I had missing the playoffs, and got them the fourth-best record in the NBA.

With less around him, I go Harden over Curry.


This is possibly the closest competition for an award I can remember. How could you not like Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks? With a stunningly similar roster that finished under .500 last season, Bud has the Hawks atop the Eastern Conference by four games (Al Horford is really important, too).

However, Kerr gets my nod for the simple fact that he made extraordinary coaching decisions that paid massive dividends. He started Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green over Andre Iguodala and David Lee. Kerr put two infants in there at the expense of 21 combined seasons, three All-Star appearances and $27 million in 2014-15 salary. And it’s worked unbelievably.

His lineup changed meant the Warriors’ starters can switch almost any time without massive consequence.

Kerr had the hard job of replacing Mark Jackson, who is not quite Phil Jackson, but had the eternal respect of his players. Kerr erased any doubts, and quickly.

I will fault no one who votes Budenholzer, but I think Kerr has done just a little more.


Since Jabari Parker’s injury, Wiggins was destined to pull away some. He has, but he would have even if Parker’s ACL didn’t tear.

Over the last 10 games, Wiggins is averaging 21 ppg. Granted, they are all Timberwolves’ losses, but Wiggins’ game is rounding out nicely. Remember, he started slowly at Kansas, then emerged.

As the T-wolves continue to be terrible, Wiggins is getting a chance to develop greatly. Shabazz Mohammed’s insertion into the starting lineup, thus moving Wiggins to the shooting guard, paid off handsomely for the No. 1 pick as well.


Know who leads the league in Defensive Rating and Defensive Win Shares? Draymond Green.

Know how to calculate either of those? (Not rhetorical, please help me.)

The Warriors rank first in opponents’ field goal percentage. Green is one integral piece of that team-oriented puzzle.

Andrew Bogut is a top-five defensive big man.

Kyle Thompson and Andre Iguodala are both upper echelon wing defenders.

Steph Curry is underrated and leads the league in steals.

But here’s why I like Green so much for this award - he’s a wonderful combination of all of those things and that versatility is what makes the Warriors a stout defense.

Golden State can constantly switch anything because players like Green can cover all five positions. To have that kind of flexibility is huge. Green is the best demonstration of that.


Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers, Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Pelicans, Williams, Reggie Jackson of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Isaiah Thomas of the Phoenix Suns are all close in scoring.

I feel like Williams and Thomas have done more for their teams in terms of helping them win games. I feel like Williams did more when DeMar DeRozan was gone to help Toronto keep pace. Thomas missed a few too many games.


I’ll say it - I hate this award.

It’s too hard to figure out the meaning of a three-word award.

Too many people vote for someone who gets more playing time than the season before. Is that technically improvement or did that player just receive a mountain’s worth of more run? Or did the player improve so much during camp, that he forced his way into this new-found time?

I’ve always favored the player who improves, not the one who receives more playing time, although, I’ve softened on that. There is a reasonable argument to be made that a player like an Alex Len of the Suns improved enough to crack the rotation.

But, I’m going with a player who didn’t receive a bump in minutes. That would’ve been next to impossible considering Jimmy Butler shared the league lead in minutes per game last season. He’s first again this season.

In literally ONE MORE MINUTE of playing time per game this campaign than last, here is the tale of Jimmy Butler:

2013-14 2014-15

Points per game: 13.1 20.9

Assists per game: 2.6 3.4

Rebounds per game: 4.9 6.2

3-point percentage: 28.3 34.2

field goal percentage: 39.7 46.4

free throw percentage: 76.9 83.0

That’s with ONE MORE MINUTE a game. There’s not a better example of improvement in the league.    ~~  Jim Brighters ~~

►  NBA Game Results

(Tuesday, January 13)

Final Score: Minnesota 110, Indiana 101

Mo Williams poured in 37 of his career- high 52 points in the second half to fuel the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 110-101 win over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. Williams, who scored 16 points in the third quarter and 21 in the fourth, broke the franchise record for points previously held by Corey Brewer and Kevin Love. He also set the opponent scoring record at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Williams’ effort helped the Wolves snap a 15-game losing streak overall and 10-game skid on the road. Minnesota hadn’t won since Dec. 10 at home against the Portland Trail Blazers, and hadn’t tasted victory on the road since Nov. 28 against the Lakers. Andrew Wiggins added 20 points, Thaddeus Young had 11 and Gorgui Dieng chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the win. C.J. Miles paced Indiana with 22 points and C.J. Watson deposited 17 points for the Pacers, who have dropped two straight and three of their last four.

Final Score: Atlanta 105, Philadelphia 87

Al Horford had his first career triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the Atlanta Hawks routed the Philadelphia 76ers 105-87 on Tuesday night. Kent Bazemore netted 17 points off the bench, while Kyle Korver hit four 3-pointers and finished with 15 points for Atlanta, which is an NBA-best 23-2 over its last 25 games. Michael Carter-Williams posted 20 points, nine boards and four helpers to lead the 76ers, who had won three of their last four coming in, their best four-game stretch since winning four straight from Dec. 29-Jan. 4 a year ago.

Final Score: Washington 101, San Antonio 93

John Wall had 25 points and eight assists as the Washington Wizards ended a historic losing streak to San Antonio, holding off the Spurs for a 101-93 win. Kevin Seraphin scored 11 of his season-high 17 points in the fourth quarter for the Wizards, who beat San Antonio for the first time since Feb. 9, 2005. Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce added 13 points apiece, and Marcin Gortat pulled down 11 rebounds. The Spurs had won the previous 17 meetings. San Antonio got between five and 14 points from 10 players in a balanced scoring effort. Tony Parker led the bunch with 14 points, and Tim Duncan had 11 points and 12 boards for his first double-double since December.

Final Score: Phoenix 107, Cleveland 100

Markieff Morris scored a career-high 35 points and the Phoenix Suns held on to beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-100 on Tuesday night. James had 33 points in under 37 minutes after missing the previous two weeks because of back and knee injuries. He had 12 points in the fourth quarter to help the Cavs come back from 19 down in the third and take the lead four times in the last 7 1/2 minutes. P.J. Tucker had 10 points for the Suns and made two hustle plays that led to four consecutive free throws down the stretch to help them hang on.

Final Score: Golden State 116, Utah 105

Stephen Curry had 15 of his 27 points in the third quarter as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Utah Jazz 116- 105 on Tuesday night. Curry also had 11 assists, Draymond Green posted 15 points and Klay Thompson added 12 for the Warriors, who have won seven straight games. Derrick Favors tallied 22 points and 11 rebounds, Rudy Gobert supplied 16 points and 11 boards and Enes Kanter provided 13 points and 10 rebounds for Utah, which has dropped three consecutive contests and four of its last five.

Final Score: Dallas 108, Sacramento 104 (OT)

Monta Ellis had 28 points, 10 assists and four steals and the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Sacramento Kings 108-104 in overtime on Tuesday night. Tyson Chandler posted 16 points and 17 rebounds, while Rajon Rondo added 21 points, seven helpers and four swipes for Dallas, which snapped a brief two-game losing streak on the heels of a six-game winning stretch. DeMarcus Cousins was an assist shy of a triple-double, tallying 32 points, 16 boards and nine helpers before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Darren Collison provided 18 points and seven boards for the Kings, who have alternated wins and losses over their last seven contests.

Final Score: Miami 78, LA Lakers 75

Mario Chalmers scored 19 points with eight assists to help the Miami Heat in a 78-75 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. Hassan Whiteside continued his strong play with 15 points, nine rebounds and five blocks for Miami, while Chris Andersen supplied 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in the win. Dwyane Wade scored four points with five rebounds and five assists in the first half for the Heat before exiting in the second quarter with a strained left hamstring. He did not return. Kobe Bryant, Jordan Hill and Ed Davis each deposited 12 points for the Lakers, with Bryant going 3-of-19 from the floor.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Royals give Yost extension

After helping the Royals to the postseason for the first time in 29 years, Kansas City rewarded manager Ned Yost with a one-year contract extension on Tuesday.

The new deal will take Yost through the 2016 season.

Kansas City won 89 games in 2014 to clinch one of two wild card spots in the American League. Yost then became the first manager in major league history to win his first eight postseason games, capping it with the American League title.

The Royals took San Francisco to a seventh game in the 2014 World Series, before losing the deciding game.

Overall, Yost is 830-904 in 11 seasons as manager, going 373-402 in his time with the Royals. He trails only Whitey Herzog (410) and Dick Howser (404) for wins in franchise history.

►  Nationals sign Carp, Lerud to minor league deals

The Nationals signed infielder/outfielder Mike Carp and catcher Steven Lerud to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training on Tuesday.

Carp was with Texas and Boston last season, hitting a combined .175 in 59 games. He is a career .254 hitter with 27 homers and 127 RBI in 318 games over six seasons with Seattle, Boston and Texas.

Lerud spent last year in the Braves’ organization, hitting .250 with four homers and 19 RBI in Triple-A Gwinnett.

►  Yankees pick up RHP Martin from Rockies

The New York Yankees have acquired pitcher Chris Martin from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for cash considerations.

Martin made his big league debut last season and appeared in 16 games for the Rockies. He had no record with a 6.89 ERA in 15 2/3 innings.

The 28-year-old right-hander struck out 14 and walked only four. He has a 3.25 ERA with 230 strikeouts in 249 minor league innings.

New York also designated pitcher Gonzalez Germen for assignment. The Yankees had acquired Germen from the Mets for cash in December.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Tuesday, January 13)

Final Score: Boston 4, Tampa Bay 3

David Pastrnak recorded his second straight two-goal game and the Boston Bruins upended the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-3, at TD Garden. Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic also tallied for the Bruins, winners of four straight after losing three in a row. David Krejci and Torey Krug each posted a pair of assists while Tuukka Rask contributed 16 saves to the victory. Steven Stamkos tallied twice and Ryan Callahan once for the Lightning, who have lost back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 19-20. Ben Bishop surrendered four goals on 34 shots in defeat.

Final Score: Detroit 3, Buffalo 1

Petr Mrazek stopped 25 shots and the Detroit Red Wings walked away with a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Darren Helm all scored for the Red Wings, who have won three of their last four. Kyle Quincey posted two assists. Mike Weber scored the only goal of the game for the Sabres, who have lost their last eight games. Michal Neuvirth gave up all three goals on 30 shots. In a pregame ceremony, the Sabres retired the number 39 of former goaltender Dominik Hasek.

Final Score: NY Islanders 3, NY Rangers 0

Jaroslav Halak’s 27 saves and a dominant second period kept the Islanders the toast of New York, as the current Metropolitan Division leaders dealt the crosstown rival Rangers a 3-0 defeat at Madison Square Garden. Anders Lee, Nikolay Kulemin and Frans Nielsen all lit the lamp during the middle session to help the Islanders close out a season-high seven-game road trip with five wins and remain ahead of Pittsburgh for the division lead. The Rangers entered Tuesday’s anticipated showdown with victories in 13 of their previous 14 games, but couldn’t maintain the momentum as Halak outplayed Henrik Lundqvist and the Isles finished with a 44-27 advantage in shots. Lundqvist was replaced by Cam Talbot at the start of the third period after stopping 29-of-32 chances.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 7, Minnesota 2

David Perron posted two goals and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins powered past the slumping Minnesota Wild 7-2 on Tuesday. Paul Martin, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang each finished with a goal and an assist, Marcel Goc and Brandon Sutter also lit the lamp and Sidney Crosby tallied three assists for the Penguins, who improved to 8-2 this season against Western Conference opponents. Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves in the win. Jonas Brodin and Justin Fontaine each scored for the Wild, who dropped their sixth straight game. Niklas Backstrom allowed six goals on 35 shots and John Curry gave up a goal on two shots in relief.

Final Score: Carolina 3, Colorado 2 (SO)

Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm scored on Carolina’s first two chances in the shootout, and the Hurricanes overcame blowing a third-period lead to top the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Tuesday night. The Avalanche rallied with goals from Matt Duchene and John Mitchell, but were shut out by Anton Khudobin in the tiebreaker. Rask opened the shootout with a deke to the backhand. Lindholm also used the backhand to lift the puck over Calvin Pickard’s right pad. Jordan Staal and Patrick Dwyer scored in regulation for the Hurricanes, who improved to 4-1-1 in January. Khudobin made 28 saves. Pickard stopped 44 shots for Colorado, which has opened a five-game road trip with consecutive one-goal losses.

Final Score: St. Louis 4, Edmonton 2

David Backes and Vladimir Tarasenko each posted a goal and an assist to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Steen each scored a goal for the Blues, who have won five straight. Jake Allen allowed two goals on 15 shots. Benoit Pouliot scored twice for the Oilers, who have lost their past two. Ben Scrivens allowed four goals on 29 shots in the loss.

Final Score: Nashville 5, Vancouver 1

Colin Wilson registered a season high of four points thanks to two goals and two assists as the Nashville Predators downed the Vancouver Canucks, 5-1, at Bridgestone Arena. Craig Smith, Filip Forsberg and Mike Fisher also tallied for the Predators, the Central Division leaders who have won four in a row and six of their last seven. Pekka Rinne stopped 20-of-21 shots before exiting early in the third period. The Finnish netminder was knocked backwards into the end boards in a collision between Vancouver’s Chris Higgins and defenseman Anton Volchenkov. He was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Carter Hutton finished the final 17-plus minutes with 10 stops. Alex Edler supplied the lone offense and Eddie Lack stopped just 25-of-30 shots for the Canucks, who have lost three in a row.

Final Score: Winnipeg 8, Florida 2

Mathieu Perreault scored four goals to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a convincing 8-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. Perreault’s first two goals gave the Jets a 2-0 lead in the first period, and his next two were scored barely a minute apart late in the second period. Winnipeg got a pair of goals and an assist from Dustin Byfuglien. Jay Harrison and Evander Kane also lit the lamp for the Jets. Michael Hutchinson made 25 saves to help the Jets win for the second time in three games. Roberto Luongo allowed four goals on 20 shots for the Panthers before being yanked from the game. Al Montoya did not fare any better, allowing four more on 15 shots as Florida had its three-game winning streak snapped. Dave Bolland and Brad Boyes scored for the Panthers.

Final Score: Dallas 5, Ottawa 4

John Klingberg scored twice as the Dallas Stars ended a four-game skid with a 5-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. Erik Cole and Ales Hemsky each tallied a goal and an assist and Trevor Daley also lit the lamp for the Stars, who have earned points in 11 of their last 12 games against the Senators. Anders Lindback stopped 34-of-36 shots after Kari Lehtonen gave up two goals on five shots early in the game. Mike Hoffman, Jared Cowen. Clarke MacArthur and Milan Michalek all scored for the Senators, who have lost four of their last five. Robin Lehner allowed all five goals on 29 shots in defeat.

Final Score: San Jose 3, Arizona 2

Brenden Dillon’s first goal of the season came in the third period and gave the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl each had a goal for the Sharks, who had lost their previous two. Antti Niemi stopped 27 shots in the win. Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker each scored for the Coyotes, who have dropped three of four. Devan Dubnyk gave up all three goals on 25 shots.

The Gilmer Free Press

► Tour announces 2015 schedule

The Tour announced its 2015 schedule on Tuesday and the new campaign will begin in just over two weeks and will feature 25 events.

The season will commence with the Panama Claro Championship on January 29 and will run through February 01. The following week the tour will head to Colombia for the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship, which kicked off the 2014 season.

After three weeks off, the Tour will be back in Colombia for a new event, the Karibana Championship, which will be played from March 05-08. The next two events will be held in South America. The Brasil Champions is to be played March 12-15, followed by the Chile Classic from March 19-22.

The first event inside the U.S. will once again be the Chitimacha Louisiana Open from March 26-29 before heading to Mexico three weeks later for the El Bosque Mexico Championship.

The tour then returns to the U.S. for six straight events, which are the WNB Golf Classic, United Leasing Championship, BMW Charity Pro-Am, Rex Hospital Open, Rust-Oleum Championship and Air Capital Classic.

The Rust-Oleum Championship was formerly the Cleveland Open, which joined the tour last season.

Following the Nova Scotia Open in Canada, the tour’s regular season wraps up with seven straight events in the United States, finishing up at the WinCo Foods Portland Open.

Also during that stretch will be the Boise Open, Stonebrae Classic, Utah Championship, Midwest Classic, Price Cutter Charity Championship and News Sentinal Open.

Twenty-five PGA Tour cards will be up for grabs once again during the Tour Finals for those who did not secure one of the 25 awarded during the regular season.

Like the past two seasons, the Finals will feature four events beginning with the Hotel Fitness Championship followed by the Chiquita Classic and Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. The season once again comes to a close at the Tour Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

“The success of the Tour is due in large part to an incredible tournament and sponsor base, which allows us to enjoy a strong tournament schedule year in and year out,“ said Tour president Bill Calfee. “We are most appreciative of their efforts as we collectively work to keep building the foundation of this tour and have a greater impact in the communities where we play.“

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Halep pulls out; Kvitova wins, Radwanska falls in Sydney

Top seed Simona Halep pulled out of the tournament, while Petra Kvitova advanced and Agnieszka Radwanska lost Tuesday at the Sydney International tennis event, a final hardcourt Australian Open tune-up.

The French Open runner-up Halep, fresh off her title in Shenzhen, China, last week, cited gastroenteritis as the reason for her withdrawal. She believes she contracted the illness while in China and hopes to fully recover in time for the Australian Open, which begins Monday in Melbourne.

“During the tournament in China I got this problem in my stomach,“ explained Halep. “I was waiting until today to see if I was ready to play again, but I feel like I cannot play. It’s tough to play a tournament like this, so unfortunately I decided to withdraw.“

Fourth-seeded U.S. Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki withdrew from this tournament Monday with a wrist injury.

American Nicole Gibbs replaced Halep in the draw and was promptly double- bageled in 38 minutes by rising Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 on a rainy day in Sydney.

Meanwhile, the second-seeded Wimbledon champion Kvitova defeated Chinese Peng Shuai 6-1, 7-5, while rising Spaniard Garbine Muguruza ousted the third-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Radwanska 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.

In other second-round play involving seeds, No. 5 Angelique Kerber, a runner- up here a year ago, outlasted Russian wild card Daria Gavrilova 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-2), 6-3, Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro upended No. 6 Russian Ekaterina Makarova 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and wild card and Aussie favorite Jarmila Gajdosova knocked out seventh-seeded Aussie Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. Cibulkova was a finalist in Sydney two years ago.

Also on Day 3, American Madison Keys beat qualifier and defending Sydney champion Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-4, 1-4, retired and Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova dismissed Aussie favorite, former U.S. Open champ and 2005 Sydney runner-up Samantha Stosur 7-6 (7-1), 6-2. Pironkova upset Kerber in last year’s final here.

Wednesday’s quarterfinals will pit Kvitova against Gajdosova; Kerber versus Muguruza; Keys against Zahlavova Strycova; and Pliskova versus Suarez Navarro.

This week’s winner will take home $124,000.

►  Del Potro returns a winner in Sydney

Playing his first tennis since last February, wild card Juan Martin del Potro returned a winner Tuesday at the Sydney International tennis event, a final Australian Open tune-up.

The reigning champion from Argentina handled Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in opening-round play on the hardcourts at NSW Tennis Centre.

The oft-injured 2009 U.S. Open champion del Potro had been sidelined for 11 months with a wrist injury.

“It was a great moment for me,“ del Potro said. “I think I played well in my first match after 10 months. I served well. My forehand is still working out. So that’s a good signal for the future. I need to work very hard to my backhands and my movements, but I think now is time to think about my comeback and enjoy this moment a lot.

“I’ve been at home for a long time; [it’s been] really sad. To be honest, I didn’t expect this moment to be early in the season. I’m so happy, so glad. I would like to share with a lot of people who were behind me last year, but all of them are in Argentina. So I will meet them once again very soon.“

The tall slugger, unseeded this week, beat Aussie and 2013 Sydney titlist Bernard Tomic in last year’s final here.

Tomic whipped Dutch qualifier Igor Sijsling 6-1, 6-2 on Day 2.

In action involving seeds, No. 7 Frenchman Jeremy Chardy handled American Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-4 and Serbian qualifier and 2011 runner-up Viktor Troicki knocked out No. 8 Slovak Martin Klizan 6-2, 6-3.

Meanwhile, Spaniard Pablo Andujar doused Finnish qualifier, 2012 champion and 2009 runner-up Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 6-2; Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller overcame Aussie wild card Sam Groth 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6); Kazakhstani qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin topped Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-3, 7-6 (7-1); Canadian Vasek Pospisil bested Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3, 7-6 (7-4); and Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz outlasted promising Aussie Nick Kyrgios 6-1, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-5).

In some second-round action on Wednesday, top-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini will face del Potro and second-seeded Belgian David Goffin will meet Italian Simone Bolelli.

This week’s winner will claim $80,000.

►  Giraldo, Garcia-Lopez exit Auckland

Seeded players Santiago Giraldo and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez were a pair of losers Tuesday at the Heineken Open, a final tune-up for the Australian Open.

French qualifier Kenny De Schepper upended the sixth-seeded Colombian Giraldo 6-2, 6-3, while Argentine Diego Schwartzman doused the seventh-seeded Spaniard Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 on the hardcourts at ASB Tennis Centre.

Ninth-seeded 2014 runner-up Yen-Hsun Lu moved on by holding off Argentine Juan Monaco 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.

Two-time winner John Isner is not defending his title this year after beating Taiwan’s Lu in last year’s final.

Meanwhile, American Donald Young overcame Japanese qualifier Go Soeda 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 6-3.

Additional wins came for Colombian lucky loser Alejandro Falla, wild card Michael Venus of New Zealand, Spaniards Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Pablo Carreno Busta, and Czech qualifier Jiri Vesely.

This year’s champion will earn $84,500.

►  Watson beats Stephens in Hobart

Great Britain’s Heather Watson continued her dominance of Sloane Stephens on Tuesday with a straight-set victory in the second round of the Hobart International.

Watson rolled to a 6-3, 6-1 triumph for her fourth win in as many tries against the fifth-seeded American. The other three matches went three sets, but it was no contest on Tuesday as Watson made it a rout by winning nine of 10 games after the match was even at 3-3.

Next up for Watson will be ninth-seeded Italian Roberta Vinci, who rallied Tuesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Germany’s Annika Beck. Vinci was down a set and a break before battling back.

Japan’s Kurumi Nara also advanced with a 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 triumph over Swedish qualifier Johanna Larsson.

Tuesday’s evening match between third-seeded Camila Giorgi of Italy and Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi was postponed. It was rescheduled for Wednesday with the remainder of the second-round matches.

The top two seeds will also be in action Wednesday, as top-seeded Casey Dellacqua of Australia will meet Italy’s Karin Knapp and second-seeded Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan will square off against Slovakian wild card Daniela Hantuchova.

This year’s Hobart titlist will earn $43,000.

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

National Basketball Association
San Antonio at Charlotte, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest, SportSouth, DSS
Houston at Orlando, 7:00 PM - ROOT-Southwest, FS-Florida, DSS
Philadelphia at Toronto, 7:30 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, TSN, DSS
New Orleans at Detroit, 7:30 PM - FS-New Orleans, Detroit, DSS
Memphis at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM - SportSouth, YES, DSS
Washington at Chicago, 8:00 PM - CSN-DC, Chicago, ESPN
Atlanta at Boston, 8:00 PM - CSN-New England, DSS
Dallas at Denver, 9:00 PM - FS-Southwest, Altitude, DSS
Miami at Golden State, 10:30 PM - SunSports, CSN-Bay, DSS
LA Clippers at Portland, 10:30 PM - FS-Prime Ticket, KGW, ESPN
National Hockey League
Montreal at Columbus, 7:00 PM - SNET, FS-Ohio, DSS
Philadelphia at Washington, 8:00 PM - NBCSN
Toronto at Anaheim, 10:00 PM - SNET-Ontario, KCOP, DSS
New Jersey at Los Angeles, 10:30 PM - MSG+, FS-West, DSS
College Basketball
Harvard at Boston College, 7:00 PM -
Binghamton at Albany, 7:00 PM -
Navy at Bucknell, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Northern Ill at Buffalo, 7:00 PM -
Miami-Ohio at Central Michigan, 7:00 PM -
Boston University at Colgate, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
La Salle at Dayton, 7:00 PM - WHIO
Houston at East Carolina, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Notre Dame at Georgia Tech, 7:00 PM - RSN,
Loyola-MD at Lafayette, 7:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Rutgers at Maryland, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
North Carolina at NC State, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Florida Gulf Coast at North Florida, 7:00 PM -
Hofstra at Northeastern, 7:00 PM - NBCSN
Kennesaw State at Northern Kentucky, 7:00 PM -
LSU at Ole Miss, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
St. John’s at Providence, 7:00 PM - FS1
George Mason vs. St Bonaventure, 7:00 PM - MASN
SMU at Temple, 7:00 PM - CBSSN
Tulane at UCF, 7:00 PM -
Winthrop at UNC Asheville, 7:00 PM - Big South Network
Ball State at Western Michigan, 7:00 PM -
Cleveland State at Wright State, 7:00 PM - Time Warner,
Lehigh at American University, 7:30 PM - Patriot League Network
Army at Holy Cross, 8:00 PM - MASN2, Patriot League Network
Detroit at Ill-Chicago, 8:00 PM -
Texas Tech at Kansas State, 8:00 PM - ESPNews
Drake at Loyola-Chicago, 8:00 PM -
Nebraska Omaha at Oral Roberts, 8:00 PM -
Duquesne at Saint Louis, 8:00 PM - FS-Midwest
North Dakota State at South Dakota, 8:00 PM - Midco Sports Net,
Southern Ill at Wichita State, 8:00 PM - COX,
Evansville at Missouri State, 8:05 PM - Mediacom
Youngstown State at Milwaukee, 8:30 PM - Time Warner,
Iowa State at Baylor, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Nevada at Colorado State, 9:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Creighton at Marquette, 9:00 PM - CBSSN
Air Force at New Mexico, 9:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain
Illinois at Northwestern, 9:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Florida State at Pittsburgh, 9:00 PM - RSN, ROOT-Pittsburgh,
UCLA at USC, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
Georgia at Vanderbilt, 9:00 PM - SEC Network
Xavier at Villanova, 9:00 PM - FS1
Fresno State at San Jose State, 10:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Stanford at California, 11:00 PM - ESPN U
San Diego State at Wyoming, 11:00 PM - ESPN 2
Women’s College Basketball
Wright State at Milwaukee, 6:00 PM -
North Florida at Florida Gulf Coast, 7:00 PM -
Northern Kentucky at Kennesaw State, 7:00 PM -
Lipscomb at USC Upstate, 7:00 PM -
Jacksonville at Stetson, 7:00 PM -
Temple at Connecticut, 7:00 PM - SNY,
SMU at South Florida, 7:00 PM -
NC State at Louisville, 7:00 PM -
Akron at Toledo, 7:00 PM -
Texas Tech at West Virginia, 7:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh
Texas at Oklahoma, 8:00 PM - Sooner Sports
Northwestern at Iowa, 8:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
TCU at Kansas, 8:00 PM - Jayhawk TV,
Cincinnati at Memphis, 8:00 PM -
East Carolina at Tulsa, 8:00 PM - American Athletic Network
International Soccer
Parma FC vs. Cagliari Calcio, 11:55 AM - beIN Sport
Torino FC vs. S.S. Lazio, 2:55 PM - beIN Sport

Sports News   150113

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Ohio State upsets Oregon in CFP title game

A chant of “Zeke” reverberated around AT&T Stadium before Ezekiel Elliott powered into the end zone for his fourth and final touchdown.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are back on top.

They can thank the inaugural College Football Playoff for that.

Elliott ran for 246 yards, totaling over 200 for a third straight game, and Ohio State won its first national championship since 2002 with a 42-20 victory over Oregon in the CFP National Championship Game on Monday night.

“I’m not shy about the love I have about this great state,“ Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “To bring a national title to the great state of Ohio, it’s almost surreal.“

The Buckeyes snuck into the final four of the CFP committee’s final rankings on Dec. 7 after not being included in any of their previous unveilings.

Their vaulting into the No. 4 spot came a day after Elliott gained 220 yards and two scores in Ohio State’s 59-0 shutout win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

The Buckeyes then went out and silenced their critics in the Sugar Bowl when Elliott ran for 230 yards and two more touchdowns in their 42-35 win over top- seeded Alabama.

“He’s one of the best post-contact yard guys I’ve ever been around,“ Meyer said of Elliott.

Elliott put the final stamp on the stunning title run Monday night.

After the Ducks pulled within a point in the third quarter, Elliott ran for a trio of scores to lift Ohio State to its sixth national championship.

“We knew that our o-line was bigger and more physical than their d-line,“ Elliott said. “They paved the way for me.“

The emergence of the sophomore Elliott took the pressure off Cardale Jones, who was making his third career start. Jones, of course, took over at quarterback following the injuries to Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett.

Jones was 16-of-23 for 242 yards with a touchdown and an interception and added 38 yards rushing and a score for Ohio State, which won despite turning the ball over four times.

Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota was 24-of-37 for 333 yards and two touchdowns to go with a pick for the No. 2 Ducks, who routed Florida State 59-20 in the Rose Bowl to reach the title game.

“It’s tough to go out with a loss,“ Mariota said. “They just out- executed us for a couple more quarters.“

Mariota also carried the ball 10 times for 39 yards, Byron Marshall caught eight passes for 169 yards and a score and Thomas Tyner ran for 62 yards on 12 totes in defeat.

“I love this guy and will forever,“ Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said of Mariota. “The impact that he’s had on the field is significant, but off the field even bigger.“

After failing to capitalize on a pair of Ohio State miscues in the first half, the Ducks were able to post 10 points on the Buckeyes’ first two turnovers of the third quarter.

The Buckeyes committed their third turnover on the opening series of the second half. The ball popped off the hands of Jalin Marshall after Ohio State moved the ball into Oregon territory, and an alert Danny Mattingly was there to pick it off.

Mariota fired a 70-yard TD pass to a wide-open Byron Marshall on the very next play to trim the gap to 21-17.

Elliott darted up the middle for two yards to move the chains on a 4th-and-1, but Jones lost the ball on the next snap when the ball slipped out of his hand as he rolled right. Aidan Schneider hit a 23-yard field goal to whittle the deficit to 21-20 midway through the third quarter.

Ohio State, though, responded by pounding the ball with Elliott.

He carried it six times for 44 yards on its ensuing touch, finishing off the 12-play sequence with a bruising 9-yard TD run off the left edge to up the Buckeyes’ margin to 28-20 on the final play of the third.

The Buckeyes’ defense then forced a three-and-out and Elliott was back at it again.

Jones zipped a 19-yard completion to Jalin Marshall over the middle and Elliott barreled in from two yards out to make it 35-20 at the 9:44 mark of the fourth.

Joey Bosa drove Mariota’s shoulder to the turf on a first down play and the signal caller had to exit for a snap. Jake Fisher was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Tyrell Crosby was whistled for a false start to make matters worse.

It was 3rd-and-26 when Mariota re-entered the game and he hit Dwayne Stanford for a pickup of 19 yards, and Helfrich elected to punt.

Mariota’s 4th-and-11 pass fell incomplete on the Ducks’ next touch and Elliott powered in from a yard out with 28 ticks on the clock to cap the scoring.

Earlier, the Buckeyes put up 21 straight points after Oregon scored a touchdown on its opening drive. Ohio State found the end zone on consecutive possessions late in the first quarter after punting on its initial series.

Jones fired a 26-yard strike on a 3rd-and-8 to Corey Smith, then rolled left and tossed another 26-yard completion to Jalin Marshall. Jalin Marshall prolonged the drive when he fought for the first-down marker after going in motion and receiving a pop pass from Jones on a 4th-and-2. Elliott then zoomed through the secondary off the left side of the line for a 33-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7-7.

Marshall returned a punt 17 yards to the Oregon 46 and Elliott later barreled to the 1 following a 17-yard run. Jones flipped a 1-yard TD pass to Nick Vannett in the left flat with 1:08 left in the first quarter.

After a rolling Jones lofted a 43-yard completion to Devin Smith on a 3rd- and-12 in the second quarter, he snuck in from a yard out three plays later for a 21-7 Buckeyes advantage with 4:49 to go in the half.

Schneider nailed a 28-yard field goal in the final minute to get the Ducks within 21-10.

The Ducks, who turned the ball over just 10 times during the regular season, had a pair of close calls on their opening drive.

Tyner lost the football after dashing through a huge hole off right guard, but it bounced right back to him and he gained 12 yards. Mariota later fumbled when he picked his way for seven yards on a scramble, but a replay showed that his knee was down.

Mariota then capped the initial 11-play, 75-yard march when he eluded pressure, stepped up in the pocket and hit Keanon Lowe for a 7-yard score.

Oregon’s first half was defined by miscues. Mariota’s first two incompletions were third-down drops and the Ducks were not able to capitalize on a pair of Ohio State fumbles.

The aggressive Ducks elected to go for it on a 4th-and-goal from the OSU 3 following a fumbled exchange between Jones and Elliott, but the Buckeyes stuffed Tyner at the 1. Oregon then went three-and-out after recovering a Corey Smith fumble following a 47-yard reception.

Game Notes

Meyer won his third national title and first with the Buckeyes. He became the second head coach to win national championships at two different schools, joining Nick Saban ... Elliott carried the ball 36 times, averaging 6.8 yards per carry ... The Ducks fell to 0-2 in national championship games. They fell in the 2010 title game to Auburn ... Oregon was without freshman receiver Darren Carrington, who failed an NCAA administered drug test prior to the game ... Ohio State outgained Oregon 538-465 ... The Buckeyes were 8-of-15 on third down, while the Ducks finished 2-of-12.

►  College Football Championship Game Result

(Monday, January 12)

Final Score: Ohio State 42, Oregon 20

A chant of “Zeke” reverberated around AT&T Stadium before Ezekiel Elliott powered into the end zone for his fourth and final touchdown. The Ohio State Buckeyes are back on top. They can thank the inaugural College Football Playoff for that. Elliott ran for 246 yards, totaling over 200 for a third straight game, and Ohio State won its first national championship since 2002 with a 42-20 victory over Oregon in the CFP National Championship Game on Monday night. The Buckeyes snuck into the final four of the CFP committee’s final rankings on Dec. 7 after not being included in any of their previous unveilings. Their vaulting into the No. 4 spot came a day after Elliott gained 220 yards and two scores in Ohio State’s 59-0 shutout win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes then went out and silenced their critics in the Sugar Bowl when Elliott ran for 230 yards and two more touchdowns in their 42-35 win over top-seeded Alabama. Elliott put the final stamp on the stunning title run Monday night. After the Ducks pulled within a point in the third quarter, Elliott ran for a trio of scores to lift Ohio State to its sixth national championship. The emergence of the sophomore Elliott took the pressure off Cardale Jones, who was making his third career start. Jones, of course, took over at quarterback following the injuries to Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett. Jones was 16-of-23 for 242 yards with a touchdown and an interception and added 38 yards rushing and a score for Ohio State, which won despite turning the ball over four times. Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota was 24-of-37 for 333 yards and two touchdowns to go with a pick for the No. 2 Ducks, who routed Florida State 59-20 in the Rose Bowl to reach the title game. Mariota also carried the ball 10 times for 39 yards, Byron Marshall caught eight passes for 169 yards and a score and Thomas Tyner ran for 62 yards on 12 totes in defeat.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Redskins GM Scot McCloughan won’t rule out taking a quarterback in the first round

Robert Griffin III’s name was mentioned only rarely during Scot McCloughlan’s introductory press conference last week, but the quarterback was discussed quite a bit during McCloughlan’s subsequent media appearances.

“The one thing he did do was he took the team to the playoffs as a rookie and that’s hard to do for any quarterback,” McCloughan said during a meeting with beat writers. “Don’t give up too quick on him because you know there’s ability there.”

Quarterbacks are “so hard to find, and he’s still young,” McCloughan said on ESPN 980. “Give him the benefit of the doubt, he’s been banged up. You can say, ‘Yeah, the grass is greener,’ but who can we go get? If all of a sudden he goes somewhere and starts lighting it up, you know? And Jay’s system, that’s a tough system the first year for to learn, you know? So, I’m very curious to see how his second year [with Gruden] goes. Very curious.”

“The key thing with me, the same thing we did with Alex Smith when we drafted him in San Fran was, build around him,” McCloughan said on 106.7 The Fan. “Don’t make the quarterback have to win and lose the game for you. Let’s get him some stud offensive linemen, let’s get a damn good running game, let’s get a tight end that can stretch the field, a couple of receivers to make plays. Then all of a sudden that one guy becomes much better.”

All that sounds very positive about RGIII’s future in Washington. And yet in an interview with Fox 5′s Scott Smith, McCloughan would not rule out drafting a quarterback in the first round of the draft.

“Is there any position that is off-limits at the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft?” Smith asked.

“No,” McCloughan answered.

“And that includes quarterback?” Smith asked.

“Correct,” McCloughan said.

That’s certainly the most practical answer, but it’s still interesting. Smith also asked how McCloughan would go about evaluating Griffin.

“I’m going to want to probably start with his rookie year, when he was healthy, for sure,” the GM said. “And see that, and then see how it progressed. I know year two was tough, and then see year three, and just see have his mechanics changed? Is there something different about him because of the knee injury?

“But I’ll hold off judgment until I see that,” McCloughan went on. “And it’ll be important to see him in person, [to see him] move around, do things like that. It’s a tough position. Everybody’s trying to find ‘em, and about 5 teams have ‘em, so you’ve got to be careful giving up on a young guy too early.”

McCloughan was also asked if it’s his place as the general manager to question whether or not his the team’s quarterbacks are being utilized correctly.

“It’s a coach’s responsibility,” he responded. “I’m here to be the general manager and oversee the personnel department; Jay’s here to hire his own staff, and he does the Xs and Os on the field and coaches [the team]. Now, there might be certain times he might come to me and say can I see your report, because it seems like we thought he might be a better left tackle, or a right tackle, or a better 3 technique than 1 technique. But I’ll never be one that meddles with coaches whatsoever, unless they need a sounding board. That’s it.”

►  Peyton Manning played the last month with a torn quadriceps, report says

There may be a physical reason why Peyton Manning looked so unlike himself in the Denver Broncos’ loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday and it has nothing to do with his neck surgeries, his arm strength or his advancing age.

For the last month, the quarterback has been playing with a torn right quadriceps, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. He tore the muscle in the game against the San Diego Chargers on December 14 and for weeks the injury was reported as a thigh bruise. However, an MRI at the time reported the tear, a source not connected to Manning or the Broncos told Schefter.

Manning completed 26 of 46 passses for an un-Manninglike 211 yards and one touchdown, in the Broncos’ 24-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC divisional-round game Sunday, prompting all manner of speculation about whether he would ever be seen in a football uniform again. Manning himself seemed uncertain about his future and was critical of his play. “I’m not smart enough to be able to answer every single question about reasons for things,” Manning said. “But I think … I’ve always taken a pretty accurate look and fair evaluation of myself. I think I’m as honest with myself as anybody else and probably as critical of myself as anybody else is. Didn’t play well enough [against the Colts] and didn’t play well consistently enough in the second half of the season, especially in the games we lost.”

A December 14 injury means that Manning played three games with the injury and the Broncos were 1-2 over that span and, the week after the injury, he threw four interceptions in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. A quad injury would help to explain why Manning chose to attempt a pass rather than run when he had wide-open lanes against the Colts on Sunday. However, it probably won’t do much to quell the debate over whether he should retire now.

►  Is Aaron Rodgers healthy enough to get to Super Bowl XLIX?

A hobbled Aaron Rodgers, hopping and skipping and extremely immobile because of a calf injury, was a painful sight Sunday.

And it’s one that isn’t likely to improve by the time the NFC Championship game begins Sunday in Seattle. Rodgers wasn’t spelling out R-E-L-A-X after the Green Bay Packers’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys in an NFC divisional game; instead, he was measuring out the amount of football he needs to be able to play to win a championship.

“I think I’ve got 120 minutes left in me,” Rodgers said Sunday. “So I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I can play all those minutes.”

Don’t be surprised at reports that Rodgers isn’t practicing this week. He spent all but part of one practice last week seeking treatment that included acupuncture. Still, it was a bit of a surprise that the injury, suffered in the regular-season finale, hadn’t healed more with a bye week.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to our training staff,” Rodgers said. “They spent a lot of hours with me this week. They did a great job of getting me ready. My acupuncturist as well. She really helps. I’d like to say thanks to all of the fans and medical people out there who sent in ideas over the hotline. There was some really interesting ones. Kind of wish at some point we could release some of the emails and messages we got, but I know they’re all in good faith there, so I appreciate the ideas. But, ultimately, it came down to our training staff, and they helped me get through this one.”

Rodgers, vying to become the modern Willis Reed, threw for three touchdowns and 317 yards against the Cowboys.

“The rhythm isn’t affected by the left calf, just the mobility,” he said.

Next up: the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom.

►  NFL says replay review of pass interference calls will be discussed after Cowboys-Lions flub

This postseason hasn’t been the best of times for NFL officiating crews. On Sunday, the Calvin Johnson rule was correctly applied to a catch by Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, but it’s a rule and is held in almost universal distaste. And the week before, the issue of whether pass interference calls should be subject to replay was raised by a play between Andrew Hitchens and Brandon Pettigrew in wild-card game between the Cowboys and Detroit Lions.

On Monday, the NFL’s vice president for officiating stood by the decision on Bryant’s catch, which was ruled a non-catch after Green Bay Coach Mike McCarthy challenged the call.

“Is Bryant going to the ground to make the catch?” Dean Blandino said on “PFT Live.” “It’s clear. He’s stumbling. . . . Then we have to look to see, does the ball touch the ground? Which it clearly did, and it came loose after it touched the ground. . . . The last part which was discussed is did he make a football move? . . . Looking at it, he didn’t.”

Bryant lunged toward the goal line as he hauled in the ball, but Blandino didn’t deem that to be a “football move.”

“There’s judgment involved in all of these plays,” Blandino said. “We felt it was indisputable that’s not what Bryant did. He was just trying to gain control of it.”

The play in the Cowboys-Lions game, the NFL admitted last week, merited at least a defensive holding call and there has been far more conversation about subjecting PI to replay than there has been over the Calvin Johnson rule and Blandino, “The Dan Patrick Show,” said extending replay would be discussed by members of the competition committee in the offseason.

►  Fox out as Broncos coach

Less than 24 hours after the Denver Broncos were surprisingly ousted from the postseason, the club and head coach John Fox have agreed to part ways.

Fox guided the Broncos to AFC West titles in every season during his four- year tenure and led them to a conference championship last season before losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

Denver went 12-4 this season and was a heavy favorite against the Indianapolis Colts in Sunday’s Divisional Round, but ultimately lost 24-13.

“John Fox and I met for more than an hour on Monday afternoon to discuss the 2014 season and our goals for the future,“ Broncos president of football operations John Elway said in a statement. “During our open and candid conversation, it became clear that it was best for both the Denver Broncos and Coach Fox to move on and make this change.

“While we have made significant progress under Coach Fox, there is still work to be done. I believe this change at the head coaching position will be in the best interest of our long-term goal, which from day one has been to win World Championships.“

Despite the absence of a Super Bowl title, Fox had a wildly successful run in Denver, which went 46-18 in his four years—the last three with Peyton Manning under center.

“It was an honor to coach the Denver Broncos, a first-class franchise with great fans and a winning tradition,“ said Fox in a statement. “I am thankful to John, (owner) Mr. (Pat) Bowlen and (team CEO) Joe Ellis for allowing me and my family to be part of this team and community.“

Manning, 38, was ambiguous in postgame interviews about his playing future, but the future Hall-of-Famer has two years remaining on his contract.

Fox, 59, previously spent nine seasons as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, leading them to an NFC title in 2003 and a 73-71 record. His contract was not renewed following the 2010 season, and he was quickly hired by the Broncos.

He was under contract for two more years in Denver at approximately $5 million to $6 million per year.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  The end of an era?

Since he was drafted first overall during the 1998 NFL Draft, Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning has been in the discussion as to who the best signal-caller is in the league.

There is no denying Manning’s greatness, but there is also no denying his decline in play over the past five weeks.

He has now completed three seasons with the Broncos, and any fantasy owner who has had the privilege to have Manning on their roster during that span has not been disappointed.

During the 2012 season, Manning finished with the sixth-most fantasy points (322) in the league (according to Yahoo).

He was even better the following season.

Not only did he lead all of fantasy football in 2013, with 420 points, he also had the best season of his career from a statistical standpoint (5,477 yards, 55 TD, 10 INT). The passing yards and touchdowns he accumulated last season were both NFL records.

Manning got off to a great start this season, and ultimately finished with extremely solid numbers. He was second in the league with 39 touchdown passes, while throwing for 4,727 yards and 15 interceptions. On top that, Manning managed to score the fourth-most fantasy points in 2014 (327.7).

So, when looking over his three seasons in Denver as a whole, it can be argued Manning is not on the decline. During the 2014 season he simply performed in an ungodly way, and went on to follow a “career year” with the second-best passing yard total of his career, along with his third-highest total of touchdown passes.

However, although Manning was able to put together a solid statistical campaign through 16 regular season games, it cannot go unnoticed as to what occurred over the past five weeks.

Reports have surfaced that Denver’s superstar had played with a torn right quad, since a victory against the San Diego Chargers on December 14.

Fantasy owners need to decide whether Manning’s injury was the main cause to his lack of numbers over the last four weeks of the regular season, combined with the Divisional Round of the postseason.

Even if he got hurt in the first half of Week 16 versus San Diego, Manning’s troubles began the week before.

In the 12 games before Week 14, Manning had thrown at least three touchdown passes and had at least a 100 passer rating in eight contests. Since Week 14 against the Buffalo Bills, his highest touchdown total was two, which was accomplished only once, and Manning was able to garner over a 100 passer rating just one time as well.

Despite playing at home, along with earning a first-round bye and some extra rest, Manning was unable to rebound from his poor late-season play this past Sunday.

He had his lowest completion percentage of the season (26-of-46, 56.5%) and threw for just 211 yards, one touchdown, and had a 75.5 passer rating in the loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

It is tough to say whether the quad injury was a major factor over the past five games. Manning practiced in full almost every day leading up to Denver’s playoff contest, and there were no signs that he was laboring on the field.

While it is a possibility Manning hangs them up, and does not come back for a 17th season, it seems more than likely we will see at least one more year.

Assuming he does come back, fantasy owners will have to think long and hard if these last five games were a fluke, or simply a sign of things to come for a quarterback who will turn 39-years-old in March.

One thing that those owners should keep in mind however, is that when it comes to fantasy football and Peyton Manning; never doubt one of the greatest of all-time.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Cristiano Ronaldo wins Ballon d’Or for second straight year and third time overall

Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo was announced as the winner of the Ballon d’Or, winning the FIFA player of the year award for the second straight year and third time overall.

Ronaldo edged Barcelona/Argentina forward Lionel Messi (a four-time winner) and Bayern Munich/Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who was looking to become the first goalkeeper to win the award since 1963. Players, coaches and reporters vote on the award.

The Gilmer Free Press

Germany midfielder Nadine Kessler was named world women’s player of the year, beating out Abby Wambach of the United States and Marta of Brazil.

NBC Sports has more on Ronaldo’s reaction:

                    “I see my son, my family, my mother,” he began in Portuguese. “I would like to thank all those who voted for me, my coach, my fellow players, the president of Real Madrid. It’s been an unforgettable year. To win this trophy, a trophy of this kind, is something unique and all I can say is I want to continue working as I have, so far, trying to go onto more titles for my mother, for my father who is up there looking down at me, for my son.

                    “I want to try to improve, to become better as each day goes by. I never thought that I would bring this trophy back home on three occasions. I want to become one of the greatest players of all time.”

                    He then howled at the end, which was nice, before his son snuck onto the stage to stand near his dad. Ronaldo handed the trophy to his son, who was a bit of a show stealer.

Ronaldo scored 61 goals in 60 games for Real Madrid and Portugal in 2014, including a record 17 as Real Madrid won its 10th Champions League title.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  West Virginia Boys Basketball AP Poll

(January 12)

The Associated Press high school boys basketball poll with first-place votes in parentheses and total points:

Class A
Team   Record   Pts   Prv
  1. Magnolia (4)  6-1   89   2
  2. Wheeling Central (4)  8-2   82   1
  3. Greater Beckley Christian (1)  6-1   79   3
  4. Gilmer County   6-0   65   4
  5. Notre Dame   7-3   46   9
  6. Charleston Catholic   6-2   39   6
  7. Bishop Donahue   7-1   38   10
  8. Tucker County   6-2   26   5
  9. Valley Fayette   5-1   23   8
  10. Williamstown   7-1   22   NR  
Others receiving votes: Tug Valley (1) 19, Saint Joseph Central 16, St. Marys 3, Cameron 3.

Class AA
Team   Record   Pts   Prv
  1. Poca (9)  8-0   99   1
  2. Bridgeport (1)  6-0   86   2
  3. Westside   7-1   73   4
  4. Fairmont Senior   10-0   72   3
  5. Mingo Central   8-2   52   7
  6. Robert C. Byrd   2-3   35   6
  7. Scott   5-3   33   5
  (tie)Ravenswood   7-1   33   8
  9. Lincoln   6-0   29   9
  10. PikeView   7-4   12   NR  
Others receiving votes: Grafton 9, East Fairmont 8, Sissonville 5, Wyoming East 3, Bluefield 1.

Class AAA
Team   Record   Pts   Prv
  1. South Charleston (8)  7-0   98   1
  2. Woodrow Wilson (2)  6-0   91   2
  3. Parkersburg South   7-0   74   4
  4. Huntington   7-1   68   3
  5. Morgantown   6-1   55   5
  6. Greenbrier East   7-1   36   8
  7. Capital   5-2   27   T10
  8. Preston   7-2   25   NR
  9. Jefferson   6-2   24   9
  10. Logan   5-1   13   NR  
Others receiving votes: Wheeling Park 12, Hedgesville 8, Parkersburg 6, Martinsburg 4, Hurricane 4, Musselman 3, George Washington 2.

►  West Virginia Girls Basketball AP Poll

(January 12)

The Associated Press high school girls basketball poll with first-place votes in parentheses and total points:

Class A
Team   Record   Pts   Prv
  1. Saint Joseph Central (8)  7-2   89   1
  2. Wheeling Central (1)  7-1   80   2
  3. Tucker County   7-1   64   3
  4. Williamstown   9-2   57   4
  5. Pocahontas County   9-2   55   5
  6. Clay-Battelle   7-2   46   6
  7. Gilmer County   5-4   28   8
  8. Notre Dame   8-3   23   9(tie)
  9. Charleston Catholic   2-7   15   7
  10. Meadow Bridge   8-2   11   NR
  (tie) St. Marys   5-6   11   NR  
Others receiving votes: Trinity 4, Parkersburg Catholic 4, Madonna 3, Midland Trail 2, Fayetteville 2, Union Grant 1.

Class AA
Team   Record   Pts   Prv
  1. North Marion (6)  8-0   86   2
  2. Fairmont Senior (3)  9-2   81   1
  3. Wyoming East   9-0   62   3
  4. Summers County   7-1   57   4
  5. Keyser   11-0   51   6
  6. Sissonville   8-1   50   5
  7. PikeView   7-1   29   7
  8. Clay County   8-2   24   9
  9. Bluefield   5-2   17   10
  10. Herbert Hoover   8-2   7   NR  
Others receiving votes: Westside 6, Robert C. Byrd 6, Lincoln 5, Bridgeport 5, Oak Glen 4, Nicholas County 2, Ravenswood 2, Mount View 1.

Class AAA
Team   Record   Pts   Prv
  1. Morgantown (9)  7-0   90   1
  2. South Charleston   9-0   76   2
  3. Parkersburg South   9-2   73   3
  4. Huntington   8-0   66   4
  5. Logan   9-2   48   6
  6. Spring Valley   6-2   41   7
  7. Greenbrier East   9-1   38   5
  8. St. Albans   5-3   17   9
  9. Hurricane   6-1   16   8
  10. Jefferson   6-1   15   10  
Others receiving votes: Parkersburg 6, Martinsburg 3, Buckhannon-Upshur 3, George Washington 3.

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Monday, January 12)

#9 Charleston Catholic 66     Braxton County 47

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Monday, January 12)

Bridgeport 56     Preston 34

Ravenswood 66     Wirt County 39

The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week

West Liberty’s Seger Bonifant has been named Mountain East Conference Player of the Week after leading the top-ranked Hilltoppers to a pair of conference wins.

Bonifant, who leads the nation in scoring with 27.1 points per game, averaged 28.5 in two games last week for WLU. He scored 34 points in a win over Shepherd that included 10-of-15 shooting from behind the three-point line. He followed that up with 23 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks in a win over West Virginia Wesleyan. The junior from Berlin, Ohio, went over the 1,000-point mark for his career against the Bobcats.

Other Top Performances

Jevonte Hughes (Charleston) averaged 15.5 points and had a double-double as the Golden Eagles picked up a pair of wins ...

Jamel Morris (Fairmont State) averaged 31.0 points in two games ...

Kyauta Taylor (Notre Dame) went for a career-high 35 points and averaged 29 points in two games ...

Mike Boyd (Concord) averaged 16.5 points and six assists in a 1-1 week for the Mountain Lions ...

Morgan McDonald (Shepherd) contributed an average of 15.5 points and eight rebounds as the Rams went 1-1 …

Tanner McGrew (West Virginia Wesleyan) averaged a double-double (18 points and 13.0 rebounds) in a pair of games.

2014-15 MEC Players of the Week
Week Player (Team)
November17 Seger Bonifant (WLU)
November 24 Donte Morales (GSC)
December 01 Mike Boyd (CU)
December 08 C.J. Hester (WLU)
December 15 Devin Hoehn (WLU)
December 22 Morgan McDonald (SU)
January 06 Sedric Nady (GSC)
January 12 Seger Bonifant (WLU)

►  MEC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week

West Liberty’s Kailee Howe has been named Mountain East Conference Player of the Week after helping the Hilltoppers surge to the top of the MEC standings last week.

Howe, a junior from Zanesville, Ohio, shot over 60% from the field and averaged a double-double (19 points and 11 assists) as WLU picked up wins against league-leading Shepherd and West Virginia Wesleyan. She had 30 points and seven assists as the Hilltoppers handed the Rams their first conference defeat of the season, 90-87. Howe was limited to eight points, but had 15 assists (one shy of her own conference record) for West Liberty in the win over the Bobcats.

Other Top Performances

Emily Lohr (Fairmont State) had 22 points in both of FSU’s win last week ...

Lohr is second in the country in three-point field goal percentage at 61.8 ...

Nichole Perry (UC) averaged 16 points and went over the 1,000-point mark for her career as the Golden Eagles went 2-0 ...

Mariah Callen (WJU) had 14 points and six assists in a 21-point win over Glenville State ...

Morgan Arden (Shepherd) averaged 18 points, four rebounds and three assists as the Rams remained tied with West Liberty for first in the MEC ...

Rachel Artrip (CU) averaged 14.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in two games ...

Adrian Cunningham (WVWC) contributed 12.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in a pair of contests. 

2014-15 MEC Players of the Week
Week Player (Team)
November17 Hallie Gunnoe (FSU)
November 24 Hailey Garrett (FSU)
December 01 Nichole Perry (UC)
December 08 Jacqueline Kestner (CU)
December 15 Cara Mason (SU)
December 22 Martha Nagbe (NDC)
January 06 Emily Lohr (FSU)
January 12 Kailee Howe (WLU)

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Monday, January 12)

Charleston 82, Notre Dame 66 |  Final Stats

The University of Charleston led wire-to-wire in an 82-66 win over Notre Dame at Murphy Gymnasium.

The Golden Eagles (11-4, 6-3) led by as many as 16 points in the first half, but saw their advantage trimmed to four points after back-to-back three-pointers by the Falcons. UC responded with an 11-2 run and kept its lead in double digits the rest of the way in the win. 

Chris Evans led UC with 18 points, and Jevonte Hughes turned in a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Aleksander Kesic and Tino DiTrapano each scored 12, and Cameron Dozier finished with 11. Charleston dominated the glass in the game, 45-30.

Lawrence DeArmond led all scorers with 22 points for NDC (8-7, 4-5). Jay Banyasz added 12 points for the Falcons.

#1 West Liberty 117, Glenville State 109   |  Final Stats

A 16-2 run late in the second half helped West Liberty claim a 117-109 win over Glenville State and take sole possession of first place in the Mountain East Conference.

Seger Bonifant tied a conference record with 44 points to lead the top-ranked Hilltoppers (14-0, 9-0). Devin Hoehn also had a big game with 34 points, including 9-of-14 from the three-point line, to go with eight rebounds. Indiana Faithfull scored 12 points and registered 12 assists, and C.J. Hester finished with 11 points. 

Donte Morales led Glenville State (12-3, 8-1) with 30 points, and was 8-of-10 from the three-point line. Reggie Williams came up with 26 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Both teams shot over 60 percent from the field, with WLU holding the slight edge at 62.9 percent (39-of-52) to 60.3 percent (38-of-63) for Glenville State. The game saw 39 three-pointers go down with WLU nailing 21 and GSC hitting 18. The teams combined for just 18 turnovers in the 40 minutes.

West Virginia Wesleyan 69, Wheeling Jesuit 47 | Final Stats

West Virginia Wesleyan stifled Wheeling Jesuit, 69-47, on Monday night at the Rockefeller Center.

The Bobcats (6-9, 4-5) were just 16-of-47 from the field (34 percent), but sank 31-of-33 attempts at the free throw line in the victory. WVWC also out-rebounded Wheeling Jesuit 45-26 in the game.

Tanner McGrew scored 14 points and pulled down a MEC record 25 rebounds in the victory. Taylor Price and Chris Dewberry each scored 13, and Garrett Grantham added 11. 

Eric Siefert led WJU (6-7, 2-6) with 11 points. Haywood Highsmith scored 10 points for the Cardinals.

Fairmont State vs. UVa-Wise | Final Stats

Fairmont State erased a two-point halftime deficit and pulled away for a 75-62 win over UVa-Wise at the Prior Center.

Jamel Morris continued his hot scoring with 27 points to lead Fairmont State (9-6, 6-3). Shammgod Wells was the only other Falcon to reach double figures with 11 points. FSU held a 44-34 advantage on the glass over the Cavs in the game.

Brian Sydnor had 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for UVa-Wise (1-13, 0-9). Philip Owens 13 points, Jordan Smith netted 12 and Brian Day finished with 11.

Concord 80, Shepherd 74 | Final Stats

Aaron Miller’s 35 points helped Concord to an 80-74 win over Shepherd on Monday at the Butcher Center.

With the win, CU improves to 9-5 overall and 5-4 in conference play. Shepherd slipped to 10-5 on the year and 5-4 in the MEC.

In addition to Miller’s 35, Jametrius Wade contributed a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Boyd scored 13 points and handed out seven assists.

Ryan McTavish led Shepherd with 17 points. Austin Cunningham had 15 points to go with nine assists, and Morgan McDonald had 15 points and seven rebounds.

►  MEC Women’s Basketball Game Results

(Monday, January 12)

Glenville State 70, West Liberty 67 | Final Stats

Paige Tuttle’s three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left lifted Glenville State to a 70-67 win over West Liberty.

Glenville State (5-7, 4-5) trailed by 12 with over seven minutes left in the first half, but closed on a 17-2 run to take a 34-31 lead at the break. The game remained close in the second half and saw three ties in the final 1:40, with the final tie being broken on Tuttle’s three.

Keyanna Tate led the Pioneers with 30 points and nine rebounds. Tuttle finished with 10.

West Liberty (10-5, 7-2) was paced by 26 points from Liz Flowers. Kailee Howe had 16 points and 10 assists and Jasmin Kiley added 10 points.

GSC shot just 32 percent from the field in the game, compared to 39 percent for WLU. The Pioneers controlled the glass, though, holding a 54-42 edge in that category. Glenville State went to the line 24 times making 17, while WLU was 8-of-14.

Notre Dame 57, Charleston 56 | Final Stats

An 8-2 run by Notre Dame with 2:07 left broke a 49-49 tie and propelled the Falcons to a 57-56 win over Charleston.

A three by Celine Mangan started the run and another three from Lauren Langenderfer capped it as NDC improved to 9-6 overall and 5-4 in the league. The loss snapped UC’s four-game winning streak and dropped the Golden Eagles to 11-4 overall and 6-3 in the MEC.

Martha Nagbe led Notre Dame with 17 points and eight rebounds. Kelsey Miller scored 15 and registered nine rebounds, and Langenderfer finished with 14.

LeAnne Ross was the only UC player to reach double figures with 13 points. Monet Saunders had 10 rebounds to go with seven points.

Wheeling Jesuit 77, West Virginia Wesleyan 50 | Final Stats

Wheeling Jesuit built a 20-point first half lead and cruised to a 77-50 win over West Virginia Wesleyan.

Kiley Frizell came off the bench and led all players with 21 points for the Cardinals (8-4, 5-3). Jaana Motton had 12 points and nine rebounds and Breanna Butler chipped in 11 points. Mariah Callen directed the offense with seven assists.

West Virginia Wesleyan (0-12, 0-9) got 16 points from Mari Stewart and 15 points from Adrian Cunningham in the loss. 

Fairmont State 69, UVa-Wise 56 | Final Stats

Fairmont State shot 50 percent from the field and moved into a tie for second place in the MEC with a 69-56 win over UVa-Wise at the Prior Center.

The Falcons (13-2, 7-2) held a 23-8 advantage in points off of turnovers as they picked up their seventh-straight win. Emily Lohr led the way with 21 points, while Hailey Garrett scored 16 and Emily Puskarich finished with 14.

UVa-Wise (5-10, 4-5) was led by Taylor Sandidge who had 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Kayla Carey scored 12 and Kehana Grayer added 11. 

Shepherd 64, Concord 59 | Final Stats

Shepherd scored the final seven points of the game as it defeated Concord, 64-59, at the Butcher Center.

The Rams (11-4, 8-1) forced 26 turnovers and committed just 12 of their own, and held a 26-8 advantage in points off of turnovers over Concord (3-9, 3-6). SU moved into sole possession of first place with the victory.

Cara Mason converted a three-point play to give the Rams a 60-59 lead with 1:07 left. She added two more free throws and Briana Vaden made two more to close out the Mountain Lions. CU missed its final four shots of the game.

Morgan Arden led a balanced SU attack with 14 points. Gabby Flinchum scored 13 and Liz Myers and Vaden each had 10.

Alley Odell led Concord with 16 points. Jacqueline Kestner had 16 points to go with a game-high 17 rebounds.

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Men’s Basketball Polls

(January 12)

Associated Press Top 25
1. Kentucky
2. Virginia
3. Gonzaga
4. Duke
5. Villanova
6. Louisville
7. Wisconsin
8. Utah
9. Kansas
10. Arizona
11. Iowa State
12. Notre Dame
13. Wichita State
14. Maryland
15. North Carolina
16. West Virginia
17. VCU
18. Oklahoma
19. Arkansas
20. Texas
21. Seton Hall
22. Baylor
23. Northern Iowa
24. Oklahoma State
25. Wyoming

Coaches Poll
1. Kentucky
2. Virginia
3. Gonzaga
4. Duke
5. Villanova
6. Wisconsin
7. Louisville
8. Utah
9. Arizona
10. Kansas
11. Maryland
12. Notre Dame
13. Iowa State
14. Wichita State
15. West Virginia
16. North Carolina
17. VCU
18. Oklahoma
19. Arkansas
20. Texas
21. Seton Hall
22. Northern Iowa
23. Baylor
24. Oklahoma State
25. Ohio State

Top 25 (and one)
1 Kentucky
2 Virginia
3 Gonzaga
4 Villanova
5 Duke
6 Louisville
7 Utah
8 Wisconsin
9 Kansas
10 Iowa State
11 Notre Dame
12 Maryland
13 Arizona
14 North Carolina
15 Wichita State
16 Baylor
17 VCU
18 Seton Hall
19 Arkansas
20 West Virginia
21 Oklahoma
22 Oklahoma State
23 Texas
24 Northern Iowa
25 Michigan State
26 Dayton

The Gilmer Free Press

►  A’s agree to terms with Chavez

The Oakland Athletics have agreed to terms with pitcher Jesse Chavez on a one-year contract for the 2015 season, avoiding arbitration.

Chavez went 8-8 with a 3.45 ERA in 32 games (21 starts) with the A’s last season. The right-hander was moved to the bullpen following Oakland’s acquisition of Jon Lester at the trade deadline.

The 31-year-old Chavez is 17-23 with a 4.70 ERA in 223 career games (23 starts) with Pittsburgh (2008-09), Atlanta (2010), Kansas City (2010-11), Toronto (2012) and Oakland (2012-14).

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Monday, January 12)

Final Score: Philadelphia 7, Tampa Bay 3

Jakub Voracek, Mark Streit and Brayden Schenn had power-play goals and the Philadelphia Flyers scored five times in the second period to snap a nearly two-year losing streak against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 7-3 win on Monday night. Chris VandeVelde, R.J. Umberger and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare also scored for the Flyers, who nabbed their first win over Tampa Bay since Feb. 5, 2013, snapping a six-game losing streak. With Steve Mason out for two weeks with a lower-body injury he suffered in Saturday’s loss to Boston, the Flyers turned to Rob Zepp, the 33- year-old who became the oldest NHL goaltender in 88 years to win his first career start last month. Zepp made 21 saves as the Flyers won for the third time in four games after a five-game losing streak. Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan had power-play goals and Brian Boyle also scored for the Eastern Conference-leading Lightning, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Final Score: Washington 2, Colorado 1

Braden Holtby stopped 31 shots to lead the Washington Capitals in a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday. Jay Beagle and Alex Ovechkin scored for the Capitals, who have won five of their last six. Alex Tanguay scored the only goal of the game for the Avalanche, who had a three-game winning streak stopped. Semyon Varlamov stopped 36 shots in defeat.

Final Score: Los Angeles 2, Toronto 0

Martin Jones stopped 19 shots for his third shutout of the season as the Los Angeles Kings nabbed a 2-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist while Marian Gaborik also scored for the Kings, who snapped a three-game slide. Jeff Carter assisted on both goals. Jonathan Bernier allowed just one goal on 19 shots in the defeat for the Maple Leafs, who have lost four of their last five.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  JR Motorsports enters Truck Series with driver Cole Custer

JR Motorsports announced on Monday that it will expand into the Camping World Truck Series, with driver Cole Custer competing in 10 races during the 2015 season.

JRM, which is co-owned by Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and Sprint Cup team owner Rick Hendrick, has two full-time teams competing in the Xfinity Series, with drivers Chase Elliott, the reigning series champion, and Regan Smith.

Custer, who is the son of Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president Joe Custer, will drive the No. 00 Chevrolet Silverado truck. His team will receive primary sponsorship from Haas Automation Inc. Joe Shear Jr. will serve as Custer’s crew chief. Shear guided his efforts in the series last year.

“This is a new and exciting venture for us,“ Earnhardt Miller said in a team statement. “We have come a long way since racing street stocks in 2002, and we are constantly evolving. Expanding into the Truck Series on a part-time basis is furthering our growth. Bringing in a talent like Cole and a great partner like Haas Automation is a great way to do that. I’m proud of the direction we’re heading.“

Custer, a Ladera Ranch, California native, became the youngest driver ever to win a NASCAR national touring series race by taking the checkered flag for a Truck Series event last September at New Hampshire. He made his first nine starts in the series this past season. Custer will turn 17 years old later this month.

“I’m so excited to get this season started,“ Custer said. “With all that JR Motorsports has accomplished over the past few years, we know we have everything needed to go win races and compete. I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity with a better organization. I really want to thank Haas Automation, along with Kelley and Dale Jr., for putting this deal together.“

Custer’s Truck Series schedule with JRM will include races at Martinsville (March 28 and October 31), Dover (May 29), Gateway (June 13), Iowa (June 19), Eldora (July 22), Bristol (August 19), Canada (August 30), New Hampshire (September 26) and Phoenix (November 13).

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Radwanska rolls; Wozniacki exits Sydney with wrist injury

Third-seeded former champion Agnieszka Radwanska moved on, while former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki retired from her first-round match Monday at the Sydney International tennis event because of a wrist injury.

The fourth-seeded Wozniacki dropped the opening set to Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-4, then called it quits with the second set even at 1-1. The U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki was coming off a loss to Venus Williams in Saturday’s ASB Classic final in Auckland.

Meanwhile, Radwanska rolled past France’s Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-2 and fifth- seeded German and last year’s Sydney runner-up, Angelique Kerber, overcame Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Day 2.

Sixth-seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova posted a 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 win over Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina and seventh-seeded Slovakian, 2103 Sydney runner-up and last year’s Aussie Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova defeated French qualifier Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-2.

Another qualifier, last year’s Sydney champion Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, knocked out eighth-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

Aussie Samantha Stosur, the 2005 runner-up at this hardcourt event, outlasted Czech Lucie Safarova 7-6 (7-3), 5-7, 6-3 in a match that exceeded three hours.

Also on Monday, Aussie wild card Jarmila Gajdosova beat German Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 7-6 (7-5); Chinese Peng Shuai came back to best Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 1-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4; rising Spaniard Garbine Muguruza erased former French Open runner-up Sara Errani 6-0, 7-5; Czech slugger Karolina Pliskova dismissed Slovenian qualifier Polona Hercog 6-4, 6-4; and Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro outlasted former Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4).

The second round will be staged Tuesday, including matches for top-seeded Simona Halep, No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova, Radwanska and Kerber. The French Open runner-up Halep, fresh off her season-opening title in China last week, will take on Pliskova, while the Wimbledon champion Kvitova will encounter Peng and Radwanska will face Muguruza.

This week’s winner will take home $124,000.

►  Johnson wins Auckland opener

Two-time NCAA singles champion Steve Johnson posted an opening-round win Monday at the Heineken Open tennis event, a final Australian Open tune-up.

The eighth-seeded American took care of Portuguese Joao Sousa 7-5, 6-4 on the hardcourts at ASB Tennis Centre.

Also on Day 1, German Jan-Lennard Struff overcame Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-3 and France’s Adrian Mannarino drilled Argentine Federico Delbonis 6-1, 6-1.

This week’s top seeds are Spaniard Tommy Robredo and Latvian Ernests Gulbis. Two-time winner John Isner, who is not defending his title this week, beat Taiwan’s Yen-Hsun Lu in last year’s Auckland finale.

The 2015 Auckland champ will pocket $84,500.

►  Mayer, Cuevas advance in Sydney

Seeded men Leonardo Mayer and Pablo Cuevas were among Monday’s opening-round winners at the Sydney International tennis event, a final Australian Open tune-up.

The fifth-seeded Argentine Mayer grounded German Benjamin Becker 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, while the sixth-seeded Cuevas, of Uruguay, handled Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 on the hardcourts at NSW Tennis Centre.

Another result saw Italian Simone Bolelli subdue Aussie wild card Marinko Matosevic 6-3, 6-2.

This week’s top seeds are Italian Fabio Fognini and Belgian David Goffin, who will meet Bolelli in the second round.

Juan Martin del Potro, unseeded this week, beat Aussie and 2013 titlist Bernard Tomic in last year’s final.

This week’s winner will claim $80,000.

►  Top-three seeds move on in Hobart

Top seeds Casey Dellacqua, Zarina Diyas and Camila Giorgi were among Monday’s opening-round victors at the Hobart International tennis tournament, a final Australian Open tune-up.

The top-seeded Aussie Dellacqua snuck past American Lauren Davis 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, while Kazakhstan’s Diyas doused Spanish lucky loser Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-3, 6-4 and the Italian Giorgi grounded Aussie wild card Storm Sanders 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) on the hardcourts at the Hobart International Tennis Centre.

In other action involving seeds, American qualifier Madison Brengle upset No. 7 German, 2012 champion and 2013 Hobart runner-up Mona Barthel 6-7 (6-8), 7-5, 7-6 (7-2), No. 8 American Alison Riske bested compatriot Christina McHale 6-4, retired, and No. 9 Italian Roberta Vinci edged out Aussie wild card Olivia Rogowska 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

Several other women reached the second round, including German Annika Beck, Brit Heather Watson, Serb Bojana Jovanovski, and Slovakian wild card Daniela Hantuchova.

The 2015 Hobart titlist will earn $43,000.

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

National Basketball Association
Minnesota at Indiana, 7:00 PM - FS-North, Indiana, DSS
Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - SportSouth, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
San Antonio at Washington, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest, CSN-DC, DSS
Cleveland at Phoenix, 9:00 PM - FS-Ohio, Arizona, DSS
Golden State at Utah, 9:00 PM - CSN-Bay, ROOT-Northwest, DSS
Dallas at Sacramento, 10:00 PM - FS-Southwest, CSN-California, DSS
Miami at LA Lakers, 10:30 PM - SunSports, Time Warner, DSS
National Hockey League
Minnesota at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, NBCSN
NY Islanders at NY Rangers, 7:00 PM - MSG+, MSG, DSS
Detroit at Buffalo, 7:00 PM - FS-Detroit, MSG-Buffalo, DSS
Tampa Bay at Boston, 7:00 PM - SunSports, NESN, DSS
Colorado at Carolina, 7:00 PM - Altitude, SportSouth, DSS
Edmonton at St. Louis, 8:00 PM - SNET-West, FS-Midwest, DSS
Vancouver at Nashville, 8:00 PM - SNET-Pacific, DSS
Florida at Winnipeg, 8:00 PM - FS-Florida, TSN3, DSS
Ottawa at Dallas, 8:30 PM - TSN5, FS-Southwest+, DSS
San Jose at Arizona, 9:00 PM - CSN-California, FS-Arizona+, DSS
College Basketball
Michigan at Ohio State, 7:00 PM - ESPN
Oklahoma State at Kansas, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Arkansas at Tennessee, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Butler at Seton Hall, 7:00 PM - FS1
Penn State at Indiana, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Virginia Tech at Louisville, 7:00 PM - RSN,
Oklahoma at West Virginia, 7:00 PM - ESPNews
USC Upstate at Lipscomb, 7:30 PM -
VCU at Rhode Island, 7:30 PM - CBSSN
Wake Forest at Syracuse, 8:00 PM - ACC Network,
Clemson at Virginia, 8:00 PM - ACC Network,
Missouri at Kentucky, 9:00 PM - ESPN
Miami-Florida at Duke, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
Alabama at South Carolina, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Georgetown at DePaul, 9:00 PM - FS1
Iowa at Minnesota, 9:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Miss State at Texas A&M, 9:00 PM - SEC Network
Connecticut at Tulsa, 9:30 PM - CBSSN
UNLV at Boise State, 11:00 PM - ESPN U
Women’s College Basketball
Longwood at Liberty, 7:00 PM -
Western Michigan at Buffalo, 7:00 PM -
Iowa State at Baylor, 7:30 PM - FS-Southwest
College Hockey
Providence at New Hampshire, 7:00 PM - FCS

Lady Pioneers Fall at Wheeling Jesuit

The Gilmer Free Press

The Glenville State Lady Pioneer basketball squad fell on the road at Wheeling Jesuit University on Saturday afternoon, 80-59.

The Cardinals would get off to a fast start as they would take an early eight point lead over Glenville State, 9-1, with under 15:42 to play till halftime.

Glenville State later fell behind even more as Wheeling Jesuit took a commanding lead, 26-11, with 7:09 left in the half. The Lady Pioneers would try and make a late run to end the half. However it would not look good for Glenville State as the Cardinals would take a 21 point lead into the break, 46-25.

In the second half of action Glenville State would cut the Cardinals lead to eight points, 56-48, with 9:31 left in the game but that’s as close as the Lady Pioneers would get as Wheeling Jesuit would hold on for the victory, 80-59.

Glenville State only shot 31% from the floor and even worse from behind the arc as they only shot 17% for the game.  Glenville State only scored six points off of turnovers while Wheeling Jesuit scored 15 points off of turnovers.

Keyanna Tate scored a game high 20 points to lead Glenville State while Paige Tuttle chipped in with 10 points. Tate and Tuttle were the only two Lady Pioneers to score in double figures. Briana Smythe scored nine points.

Briauna Nix grabbed a team high five rebounds for Glenville State.

Wheeling Jesuit had five players score in double figures with Breanna Butler leading the way with 19 points.

The Lady Pioneers (4-7, 3-5) return home on Monday, January 12, 2015 as they host West Liberty with tip-off set for 5:30 PM. Also Pioneer fans if you where a blue Glenville shirt admission into the game is only $1.00.

Official Basketball Box Score
Glenville State vs. Wheeling Jesuit Univ
01.05.2010 2:00 PM at Wheeling, WV - McDonough Center
VISITORS: Glenville State 4-7, 3-5 MEC

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Katrina Salins…... *  1-4    0-2    0-0    1  3  4   0   2  1  1  0  2  17
02 Paige Tuttle…..... *  3-8    2-4    2-2    1  0  1   2  10  1  1  0  1  17
04 Keyanna Tate…..... *  6-13   0-1    8-10   0  4  4   3  20  2  0  0  1  22
12 Kayla Tibbs…...... *  1-7    1-5    1-2    1  0  1   1   4  1  3  0  0  15
35 Julie Bishop…..... *  1-3    1-2    0-0    0  3  3   0   3  0  1  0  0  16
03 Tayana Stewart…...    1-1    0-0    0-0    0  2  2   1   2  0  0  1  1  11
10 Skyy Lewis….......    0-0    0-0    0-0    2  0  2   2   0  1  1  0  0   7
13 Chanice Lee…......    0-1    0-1    0-0    1  0  1   0   0  0  1  0  0   3
20 Briauna Nix…......    2-4    0-0    0-0    2  3  5   1   4  0  2  0  0  15
21 Kristin DesRocher…    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  2  2   0   0  0  1  0  0   9
22 Angenay Williams….    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0  0+
24 Madison Martin…...    0-6    0-5    1-2    2  0  2   1   1  0  1  0  1  21
25 Briana Smythe…....    3-5    0-0    3-4    1  1  2   3   9  2  2  0  0  13
32 Brittany Jackson….    0-8    0-2    0-0    1  0  1   3   0  1  4  0  0  23
34 La’Shaughn Jones….    2-3    0-0    0-0    1  3  4   4   4  0  1  0  0  11
   TEAM….............                         4  2  6             2
   Totals…...........   20-64   4-23  15-20  17 23 40  21  59  9 21  1  6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-32 31.3%   2nd Half: 10-32 31.3%   Game: 31.3%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-9  11.1%   2nd Half:  3-14 21.4%   Game: 17.4%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  4-7  57.1%   2nd Half: 11-13 84.6%   Game: 75.0%    1

HOME TEAM: Wheeling Jesuit Univ 7-4, 4-3 MEC

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Mariah Callen….... *  4-12   1-5    5-6    0  3  3   1  14  6  3  0  1  37
05 Jaila Bryant…..... *  6-12   0-0    4-6    0  5  5   4  16  4  6  1  4  31
10 Breanna Butler…... *  7-10   5-7    0-0    0  2  2   0  19  0  0  0  0  37
22 Taylor Lubinsky….. *  0-2    0-0    1-2    1  3  4   4   1  3  1  0  0  29
42 Jaana Motton…..... *  6-13   0-0    0-0    4  8 12   3  12  2  1  0  1  29
04 Cassi Stein…......    0-2    0-1    2-2    1  0  1   0   2  0  1  0  0   6
11 Chelsea Richardson..    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
23 Kiarra Kamarec…...    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  1   5
32 Kylie Frizell…....    6-7    1-1    2-2    0  5  5   1  15  3  2  0  1  20
33 Lydia Hyburg….....    0-1    0-0    1-2    0  0  0   2   1  0  2  1  1   5
   TEAM….............                         4  4  8             2
   Totals…...........   29-59   7-14  15-20  10 31 41  16  80 18 18  2  9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 18-37 48.6%   2nd Half: 11-22 50.0%   Game: 49.2%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  4-8  50.0%   2nd Half:  3-6  50.0%   Game: 50.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  6-8  75.0%   2nd Half:  9-12 75.0%   Game: 75.0%    2

Officials: Pam Miller, Todd Pressman, Nick Decesare

Technical fouls: Glenville State-None. Wheeling Jesuit Univ-None.

Attendance: 162

Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Glenville State…............   25   34  -   59
Wheeling Jesuit Univ….......   46   34  -   80

Pioneers Men’s Team Beats Wheeling Jesuit 64-63 Win Their 8th Straight Game‏

The Gilmer Free Press

The #23 Glenville State Pioneers defeated the Wheeling Jesuit University Cardinals on the road in a thriller by one point, 64-63, on Saturday afternoon.

In the first half of action the Pioneers would jump out to a six point lead, 13-7, over Wheeling Jesuit with 13:45 left till halftime. However the Cardinals would come right back a tie the game up at 15 all with under 11:30 left on the clock.

After that tie Wheeling Jesuit would make a run and take a four point halftime lead over the Pioneers, 30-26.

In the second half Wheeling Jesuit would add to their lead and extend it to 12 points, 45-33. But the Pioneers would come right back and make a run and retake a two point lead, 60-58, with 4:11 left to go in the game. Again Wheeling Jesuit would knot the game up at 60 all at the 3:00 minute mark.

But the Pioneers would go up by one, 64-63, as Reggie Williams hit a jumper at the 1:38 minute mark.

That shot by Reggie Williams would prove to be the game winner as the Pioneers would hold to the one point win, 64-63, over the Cardinals. The win is the Pioneers eight straight win in a row.

The Pioneers biggest lead of the game was six points while the Cardinals biggest lead was 12 points.

Both teams shot 48% from the floor but the Pioneers finished the game shooting 48% from behind the three-point line while Wheeling Jesuit only shot 39% from behind the three-point line.

The Pioneers had three players score in double figures with Reggie Williams scoring a game high 19 points. Williams also handed out four assists. Donte Morales scored 17 points while Sedric Nady chipped in with 11 points.

Brett Morris also had a good game for the Pioneers as he scored eight points and grabbed a team high seven rebounds.

Wheeling Jesuit was led by Justin Fritts as he scored 15 points while Kyle Ritz finished with a double-double as he scored 13 points and grabbed a game high 15 rebounds.

The #23 Pioneers (12-2, 8-0) will now host #1 West Liberty on Monday, January 12, 2015. Game time is set for 7:30 PM. All Pioneer fans wearing a Glenville blue shirt will be admitted into the game for only a $1.00.

Official Basketball Box Score
Glenville State vs Wheeling Jesuit University
01.10.2015 4:10 PM   at Wheeling, WV - McDonough Center
VISITORS: Glenville State 12-2, 8-0 MEC

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Sedric Nady…...... *  3-7    3-6    2-2    1  2  3   2  11  2  6  0  1  26
03 Donte Morales….... *  7-15   2-6    1-2    2  1  3   1  17  4  2  1  3  40
11 Reggie Williams….. *  7-13   5-6    0-0    1  0  1   1  19  4  4  0  1  36
12 Luke Campbell….... *  2-5    2-5    0-0    0  3  3   1   6  2  2  0  2  29
23 Brett Morris…..... *  4-6    0-1    0-0    4  3  7   3   8  1  2  3  2  35
00 Brien Winston…....    1-3    0-0    1-1    2  1  3   1   3  0  0  0  0  12
32 Juwan Wells…......    0-1    0-1    0-0    2  2  4   3   0  3  1  0  0  22
   TEAM….............                            3  3
   Totals…...........   24-50  12-25   4-5   12 15 27  12  64 16 17  4  9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-25 40.0%   2nd Half: 14-25 56.0%   Game: 48.0%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  5-13 38.5%   2nd Half:  7-12 58.3%   Game: 48.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  1-1  100 %   2nd Half:  3-4  75.0%   Game: 80.0%    0

HOME TEAM: Wheeling Jesuit University 6-6, 2-5 MEC

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Drake Goodard….... *  1-4    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   1   2  2  0  0  3  16
03 Tim Goff…......... *  4-5    3-3    0-0    2  2  4   1  11  1  0  1  0  31
22 Justin Fritts….... *  5-14   5-14   0-0    0  1  1   0  15  4  3  0  0  27
25 Kyle Ritz…........ *  5-7    0-0    3-5    8  7 15   1  13  2  3  0  1  30
31 Eric Siefert…..... *  3-9    0-4    0-0    1  0  1   2   6  6  4  0  1  33
05 Chris Cantine…....    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  0  0  1   8
12 Chase Lawson….....    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  1  0  0   6
20 Desi Wiseman….....    3-4    3-4    0-0    0  2  2   0   9  0  2  1  0  22
24 Haywood Highsmith…    0-1    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  1  2  0  0   7
34 Matt Stewart….....    3-4    0-0    1-2    1  0  1   3   7  1  2  1  2  20
   TEAM….............                         1  1  2             1
   Totals…...........   24-50  11-28   4-7   13 15 28   9  63 17 18  3  8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-23 47.8%   2nd Half: 13-27 48.1%   Game: 48.0%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  5-14 35.7%   2nd Half:  6-14 42.9%   Game: 39.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  3-4  75.0%   2nd Half:  1-3  33.3%   Game: 57.1%    1

Officials: Lawrence Truman, Mark Tortorella, Brian Reed

Technical fouls: Glenville State-None. Wheeling Jesuit University-None.

Attendance: 305

Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Glenville State…............   26   38  -   64
Wheeling Jesuit University….   30   33  -   63

Sports News   150112

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Gibson says 2015 defense can be ‘as good as anybody in the country’

With nine starters from the 2014 defense returning next season, West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson isn’t downplaying the expectations.

Add in Jared Barber, who missed this season while recovering from ACL surgery, and the Mountaineers return 10 defenders with significant starting experience. During a Thursday night studio visit with the MetroNews “Sportsline” crew, Gibson pumped up his projections for 2015. In fact, he pumped them way up:

“A lot of coaches kind of hide from what they’re really thinking, what the expectations are, and everybody puts out the same old line: ‘We’re going to be OK and we’re going to work,‘” Gibson said. “Well, if we’re not great on defense, I’m going to be very disappointed and it’s going to be a disappointing year for our fans and our team.

“I think we can be really good—as good as anybody in the country.”

With only the national championship remaining before statistical rankings are finalized, West Virginia sits ninth in the FBS in third-down defense (31.4%), 28th in pass-efficiency defense, 66th in total defense (399.4 yards per game) and 72nd in scoring defense (27.8 points per game).

While you can listen to Gibson’s hour-long “Sportsline” appearance above, below are a few excerpts:

Tall’s addition: Regarding Tuesday’s hiring of Bruce Tall as defensive line coach, Gibson said he was excited to reunite after their eight seasons together at West Virginia and Michigan.

“I just think he’s a great football coach, a great man, great father, great husband, and he’ll do great things with our kids,” Gibson said.

Bringing back Tall gives WVU yet another defensive assistant with experience in the 3-3-5.

“He understands the odd front, what we want and what we need,” Gibson said. “He’s been a coordinator in a 3-4 and a 3-3 front.”

Still intimately familiar with his home state of Ohio, Tall will be recruiting that area again. During his first stint at West Virginia from 2003-2007, Tall mined Ohio for standouts such as Julian Miller, Najee Goode and Ryan Stanchek.

“He recruited some really good guys when we were here before. So he’s going to go back into Ohio—Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus—kind of hit that area,” Gibson said. “And he’s from Cleveland, and Coach (Ron) Crook has that, so I’m sure Bruce will tag-team some guys in that area with him.”

On Joseph’s return: When junior safety Karl Joseph didn’t receive a first- or second-round draft grade from NFL evaluators, Gibson said the team’s top tackler made the wise decision to return for his senior season.

“He said, ‘I don’t like how it ended. I think we can be really good next year and I want to be a part of it.’ … It was a pretty easy conversation with is family,” Gibson said.

Joseph, having been thoroughly instructed by WVU’s compliance staff, also avoided any eligibility snarls.

“He did it all the right way —did not mess with agents, didn’t talk with anybody,” Gibson said.

Tonkery’s smarts: Pressed to name the smartest player he coached, Gibson cited Wes Tonkery, the fifth-year senior who recently completed his engineering degree.

After starting 12 games this season at outside linebacker, Tonkery began drawing some NFL attention. Yet when Gibson mentioned the possibility of pursuing a contract in an NFL camp, he said Tonkery told him:

“I’m taking a job. I’ve already accepted it. I’m starting right after the bowl game. I’m getting married, and I’m going to be in Bridgeport.”

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Ducks WR Carrington suspended for title game tonight

Oregon freshman wide receiver Darren Carrington has been suspended for Monday night’s College Football Playoff Championship Game against Ohio State due to a failed NCAA administered drug test, according to multiple reports.

Carrington, who tested positive for marijuana, did not make the trip to Dallas.

He caught seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns in Oregon’s 59-20 rout of Florida State in the Rose Bowl on January 01 and posted 37 receptions for 704 yards and four scores on the season.

The Ducks are already thin at receiver. Freshman wide receiver Devon Allen injured his knee on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl and tight end Pharaoh Brown has been sidelined for several games due to a leg injury. Allen tallied 41 catches for 684 yards and seven scores, while Brown recorded 25 receptions for 420 yards and found the end zone six times.

►  Helfrich: Carrington issue won’t be a distraction

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said Saturday the suspension of wide receiver Darren Carrington won’t be a distraction for the Ducks as they prepare for Monday’s College Football Playoff championship game.

Helfrich, speaking at media day on Saturday morning, wouldn’t divulge details of Carrington’s suspension, reportedly a penalty for failing an NCAA administered drug test. The freshman did not make the trip to Texas for the upcoming battle with Ohio State.

“It will not be a distraction,“ said Helfrich, who politely asked reporters to move on when pressed about the situation. “I’ll confirm it’s an NCAA policy that is in play here ... that’s all we’re going to talk about.“

Various media outlets on Friday night reported that Carrington tested positive for marijuana.

“Distractions are distractions if you let them be,“ Helfrich stated. “How you manage those things is what matters most and our guys have managed them very well.“

Carrington caught seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns in Oregon’s 59-20 rout of Florida State in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day and posted 37 receptions for 704 yards and four scores on the season.

“It’s tough for sure, he’s a great playmaker for us,“ said Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. “But we rotate so many guys. So for us it’s the next man up and we’ll be ready to go.“

The Ducks are already thin at receiver. Freshman wide receiver Devon Allen injured his knee on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl and tight end Pharaoh Brown has been sidelined for several games due to a leg injury.

“It’s just like any other position,“ said Helfrich about dealing with the loss of key players. “We’ve been tested in that realm, for whatever reason, and our guys have stepped up.“

Allen tallied 41 catches for 684 yards and seven scores, while Brown recorded 25 receptions for 420 yards and found the end zone six times.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Bills to hire Ryan as head coach

The Buffalo Bills are reportedly set to name Rex Ryan their new head coach.

According to several reports on Sunday, the Bills will soon name Ryan their new head coach as he will remain in the state of New York after being let go by the New York Jets in late December.

Buffalo had interviewed 12 candidates for the position that was made vacant after Doug Marrone opted out of his contract on December 31, and decided to go with Ryan, who was fired after guiding the Jets for six seasons.

Ryan parted ways with New York after the team posted a 4-12 mark, which included an eight-game losing streak, to finish last in the AFC East.

It was the worst record the team posted during Ryan’s tenure with the club, which missed the playoffs for a fourth straight year. He finished his tenure with a 46-50 mark.

Led by a strong defense, the Bills notched a 9-7 record in 2014, their first winning season since 2004. However, the team finished third in the AFC East and missed the playoffs for a 15th straight year.

The 50-year-old Marrone reportedly asked for a contract extension from the new ownership and when they declined, he chose to leave thanks to a three-day opt- out clause. He will still get paid the $4 million he was due from the Bills in 2015.

Marrone went 15-17 in his two seasons with Buffalo.

►  Extra Points: Belichick bashing is sour grapes

There is a reason that Bill Belichick is the best coach in professional football and everyone else is fighting for second place.

Baltimore’s John Harbaugh is among the scrum who can be considered for the runner-up spot but the chasm between those two positions only grew after the Ravens coach objected to what he called a “substitution trick” by New England in the third quarter of the Patriots’ eventual 35-31 divisional-playoff win.

The wrinkle was unveiled on the Pats’ second drive of the third quarter after rookie center Bryan Stork was forced to leave with a knee injury. New England kicked Ryan Wendell inside to the pivot and lined up just four natural offensive linemen, declaring a normally eligible receiver like blocking tight end Michael Hoomanawanui or running back Shane Vereen as ineligible, all in an effort to keep Baltimore off balance.

“There was a lot to the plays,“ Hoomanawanui said. “I have to report as ineligible. I can’t go down the field. I can only block. So as hard as it is for them to figure out, there’s a lot that goes into it on our side, too.

“You could see how frustrated they were on who to cover and this and that, so it turned out to be great plays for us.“

The strategy worked as Ravens defenders were often confused when trying to substitute and match up, causing Harbaugh to blow his stack and draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

“(The officials) didn’t understand what was going on,“ Harbaugh claimed. “We wanted an opportunity to be able to ID who the eligible players were. What (the Patriots) were doing was they announce the ineligible player and then Tom (Brady) would take them to the line right away and snap the ball before we had a chance to figure out who was lined up where. That was the deception part of it. It was clearly deception.“

Predictably Brady disagreed with Harbaugh’s description.

“Maybe those guys gotta study the rule book and figure it out,“ he said. “We obviously knew what we were doing and we made some pretty important plays. It was a real good weapon for us.“

Belichick also explained the tactic, which he used on three different occasions.

“It’s a play that we thought would work,“ the veteran coach said. “We ran it three times, a couple different looks. We had six eligible receivers on the field, but only five were eligible. The one who was ineligible reported that he was ineligible. No different than on the punt team or a situation like that.“

On the surface Harbaugh’s objections seem like sour grapes. After all, a big part of football in general is about deceiving your opposition whether it’s disguising a blitz or coming up with a trick play like Julian Edelman’s touchdown pass to Danny Amendola is this very game.

So if most of you missed the memo where deception in football was disallowed, you’re not alone and Harbaugh’s true complaint reveled itself later when he blurted out “(it’s a tactic) nobody has ever seen before.“

“The league will look at that type of thing, and I’m sure that they’ll make some adjustments and things like that,“ he continued.

Harbaugh has had plenty of success over the years, especially in the postseason. The arrogance to that, however, is the assumption that thinking what you did yesterday will be sufficient for everything that is thrown at you tomorrow.

Belichick was a power pitcher who pulled the string on Harbaugh on Saturday in Foxborough and the Ravens mentor froze in the batter’s box, unable to react.

You can blame the officials and even trot out Don Shula to call Belichick Beli-cheat again but all the Pats’ coach did was take advantage of an on-the- books rule that others have failed to utilize in the past.

So label the strategy as anything you want—deception, a loophole—but understand its real title is innovation.

And Harbaugh was under the learning tree on Saturday. Hopefully he figures that out.

►  Rodgers leads Packers into NFC title game

Aaron Rodgers was nearly perfect on two late scoring drives, leading the Green Bay Packers back to the NFC title game.

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys are headed home after a replay review near the end of the game stripped Dez Bryant of a catch near the end zone.

Rodgers was 11-of-14 for 173 yards on touchdown drives in the third and fourth quarter as the Packers scored 13 unanswered points for a 26-21 win over the Cowboys in an NFC divisional playoff game Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The Packers took their first lead since 7-0 on Rodgers’ frozen-rope pass that zipped through two defenders and into the arms of tight end Richard Rodgers for a 13-yard touchdown with 9:10 remaining.

Bryant went up for Romo’s deep pass at the other end of the field on 4th-and-2 and was ruled to have made a 31-yard catch down to the Green Bay 1 after snatching it out of the air above cornerback Sam Shields.

But officials ruled that Bryant, who was holding the ball in his left hand as it hit the field and popped up, didn’t complete the catch. The ruling came one week after a non-call helped the Cowboys beat Detroit in the divisional round.

The Packers (13-4) made it back to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since beating Chicago after the 2010 season on the way to their fourth Super Bowl title

They will play the reigning Super Bowl-champion Seahawks next Sunday in Seattle.

►  Colts stifle Manning, Broncos to reach AFC title game

Andrew Luck has dealt with the pressure of succeeding Peyton Manning for three years.

Now he knows what it feels like to beat the future Hall-of-Famer, as the Indianapolis Colts went into Denver on Sunday and shut down the Broncos’ vaunted offense in a 24-13 upset to reach the AFC title game.

“All three phases fed off each other and did a heck of a job,“ Luck said. “To come on the road and get a win like this is huge.“

Luck threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns and guided a game-sealing drive that took 8:14 off the clock in the fourth quarter to secure the franchise’s first trip to the conference championship round since 2009.

The Colts’ defense limited the Broncos to 288 yards—115 less than their season average—and added another blemish to Manning’s uneven postseason resume.

Manning fell to 11-13 in the playoffs with nine one-and-done exits and looked uncomfortable despite throwing a touchdown pass on Denver’s opening possession. He barely completed half of his attempts (26-of-46) and threw for just 211 yards.

After the game, the 38-year-old Manning did not make any guarantees on his future and took responsibility for his poor play.

“I didn’t play well enough. I give them a lot of credit, their defense played well,“ Manning said. “I thought I could have played better. I’m disappointed right now.“

The Broncos won all eight of their home games in the regular season by an average of nearly 15 points per game, but they will be spectators next Sunday watching Luck and the Colts take on the Patriots in Foxborough.

New England crushed the Colts 42-20 in Week 11 in Indianapolis and ousted them in last year’s divisional round by a similar 43-22 score. Luck is 0-3 in his career against the Patriots.

The reigning AFC champs trailed 14-10 at the break and went three-and-out on its first two possessions of the second half.

Luck sandwiched the fruitless drives with an 11-play, 72-yard scoring drive, twice completing passes on third down to move the chains, including a rainbow to tight end Coby Fleener between three defenders for a 32-yard gain on 3rd- and-16. Luck later moved up in the pocket and rifled a 15-yard strike to a well-covered Hakeem Nicks in the end zone for a 21-10 Colts lead.

It appeared Denver caught a break when Josh Cribbs was originally ruled to have muffed a punt, but replay reversed the call and determined he was down by contact before coughing it up.

The Colts wound up turning it over anyway, as Rahim Moore came down with an interception at the Denver 24-yard line. Cribbs’ near fumble would have set the Broncos up at the Indianapolis 30.

C.J. Anderson gave Denver a much-needed first down when he broke two tackles behind the scrimmage on a tough 4th-and-1 run on the final play of the third quarter. The Broncos, though, settled for a 41-yard Connor Barth field goal.

Three consecutive incompletions by Luck gave the ball right back to Denver with 13:21 remaining, but Vontae Davis broke up a third-down pass intended for Emmanuel Sanders to force a punt.

That’s when the Colts took to the ground, with Daniel Herron and Zurlon Tipton doing most of the work on a 13-play, 54-yard trek. Luck completed all three of his passes, and Adam Vinatieri connected from 30 yards out to make it a two- possession game with 4:06 on the clock.

Anderson was stopped inches short of the first down to force a turnover on downs with under three minutes to play, and the AFC South champs held on from there.

“It was a step that we needed to take,“ said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, whose team has advanced one round further each of the past three postseasons. “We still have a tomorrow.“

Manning threw a pair of perfectly thrown balls on Denver’s opening drive, first hitting Julius Thomas on an out-and-up for 32 yards, then finding Demaryius Thomas on a fade in the left corner of the end zone.

The rest of his first half, however, was filled with overthrows, several dropped passes and a costly turnover the Colts turned into seven points.

Manning was stripped-sacked near midfield by rookie Jonathan Newsome early in the second quarter, and Luck found Dwayne Allen in the end zone to put the Colts in front 14-7. The eight-play drive was kept alive when Broncos defensive back Aqib Talib was flagged for holding T.Y. Hilton in the end zone on a third-down incompletion.

Hilton’s 23-yard catch set up Herron’s 6-yard TD run earlier in the second.

The usually-reliable Vinatieri pushed a 44-yard field goal try wide right, and Denver got three points on the board via Barth’s 45-yard kick just before halftime. Davis nearly intercepted Manning in the end zone prior to Barth’s kick but only got one foot inbounds.

Game Notes

Nine of Manning’s postseason wins, including Super Bowl XLI, came with the Colts ... Herron totaled 95 yards from scrimmage ...Anderson gained 80 yards on 18 carries ... The Colts are 3-0 against Denver in the postseason, the first two wins coming with Manning under center.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NFL Play offs Game Results

(Sunday, January 11)

Final Score: Green Bay 26, Dallas 21

Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers into the NFC title game with two near-flawless drives. As for Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys? Their season is over after a replay reversal near the end of the game took away a Dez Bryant catch at the goal line. Rodgers completed 11 of 14 passes for 173 yards on two touchdown drives in the third and fourth quarter as Green Bay scored 13 unanswered points for a 26-21 win over the Cowboys in a divisional playoff game Sunday at Lambeau Field. Green Bay took its first lead since 7-0 when Rodgers zipped a pass through two defenders and hit tight end Richard Rodgers for a 13-yard touchdown with 9:10 remaining. On 4th-and-2, Bryant went up for Romo’s deep pass down the left sideline at the other end of the field and was ruled to have made a 31-yard catch at the Green Bay 1 after snatching the ball out of the air above cornerback Sam Shields. The Packers challenged the call and officials eventually said Bryant, who was cupping the ball against his left forearm as it hit the field and popped up, didn’t complete the catch. The Packers will play in the NFC championship game for the first time since beating Chicago after the 2010 season on the way to their fourth Super Bowl title. They will travel to Seattle to play the reigning Super Bowl-champion Seahawks next Sunday in a meeting of the top two seeds in the conference. Playing on an injured left calf, Rodgers passed for 316 yards and three scores and Eddie Lacy rushed 19 times for 101 yards for the NFC North champs. Romo threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns for the NFC East-champion Cowboys and NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray had 25 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Final Score: Indianapolis 24, Denver 13

Andrew Luck has dealt with the pressure of succeeding Peyton Manning for three years. Now he knows what it feels like to beat the future Hall-of-Famer, as the Indianapolis Colts went into Denver on Sunday and shut down the Broncos’ vaunted offense in a 24-13 upset to reach the AFC title game. Luck threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns and guided a game-sealing drive that took 8:14 off the clock in the fourth quarter to secure the franchise’s first trip to the conference championship round since 2009. The Colts’ defense limited the Broncos to 288 yards—115 less than their season average—and added another blemish to Manning’s uneven postseason resume. Manning fell to 11-13 in the playoffs with nine one-and- done exits and looked uncomfortable despite throwing a touchdown pass on Denver’s opening possession. He barely completed half of his attempts (26- of-46) and threw for just 211 yards.

(Saturday, January 10)

Final Score: New England 35, Baltimore 31

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh called Joe Flacco the NFL’s best quarterback last week. Tom Brady had something to say about that this week. Brady’s 367 yards and three touchdowns, the last a go-ahead 23-yard strike to Brandon LaFell with 5;13 remaining, rallied the New England Patriots to a 35-31 AFC Divisional Playoff victory over Harbaugh’s Ravens at Gillette Stadium. The fourth postseason meeting between the teams in six years was another classic, with the Patriots twice battling back from 14 points down—including a 28-14 deficit midway through the third quarter—and not taking their first lead until Brady’s final TD delivery of the day. New England also overcome a career postseason-best four touchdown throws from Flacco, though his second interception of the game virtually ended Baltimore’s own comeback hopes with 1:39 left to play. The top-seeded Patriots advanced to their fourth straight AFC Championship Game, where they’ll await the winner of Sunday’s Indianapolis-Denver clash.

Final Score: Seattle 31, Carolina 17

Kam Chancellor bobbed his head in celebration as he crossed the goal line on his game-clinching 90-yard interception return. The Seattle Seahawks’ resurgent defense has them thinking repeat. Another dominating second half performance has them one step closer. Russell Wilson tossed three touchdown passes and the Seahawks punched their ticket into the NFC Championship Game with a 31-17 NFC Divisional Playoff victory over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night. Seattle will play the winner of Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys in next Sunday’s conference title game at CenturyLink Field. Chancellor’s pick-six came with the Panthers marching down the field looking to cut a 24-10 deficit to a one-possession game. Faced with a 2nd- and-4 at the Seattle 13 with a little over six minutes left, Cam Newton was looking to hit Ed Dickson on the right side of the field near the numbers. The ball-hawking Chancellor read Newton’s eyes and cut in front of Dickson before strolling down the left sideline for the easy score. Chancellor had 10 tackles to go with that interception and showcased his athleticism by hurdling over the Carolina offensive line twice on a pair of Graham Gano field goal attempts at the end of the first half. Wilson, who was 8-of-8 on third down for 199 yards, finished 15-of-22 for 268 yards and added 22 yards on the ground. Jermaine Kearse caught three passes for 129 yards and a touchdown and Luke Willson had four receptions for 68 yards and a score for the Seahawks, who have won eight straight postseason games in Seattle.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  The forgotten man

Although Danny Amendola picked an excellent time to play his best game as a Patriot, only the biggest NFL fans likely remembered he was on the Patriots roster.

New England signed Amendola in the summer of 2013 to replace Wes Welker, who left for the Mile High City. Welker caught 672 passes in six seasons as Tom Brady’s slot receiver, and Amendola had the skill set to fill that void very nicely.

The move paid huge dividends, at first, as Amendola had 10 catches for 104 yards in his Patriots debut, but he couldn’t stay healthy in 2013. The New England receiver had just two 100-yard receiving games and two touchdowns the rest of the year.

Ultimately, Amendola was a huge fantasy disappointment with 54 catches, 633 yards and two touchdowns in 2013.

Going into this season, Amendola did not have anywhere close to the hype he had heading into 2013, and yet he was still a fantasy dud. His numbers were by far the worst of his career with 42 catches, 200 yards and one touchdown. So, it would only make sense for fantasy owners to forget about drafting Amendola in daily leagues for Division Weekend.

In typical unpredictable Bill Belichick fashion, however, the Patriots heavily featured Amendola in their game plan versus the Ravens, and he set a season-high with 81 receiving yards. Amendola also tied his touchdown mark from a season ago with two scores against Baltimore.

Owners might want to chalk up the performance to a fluke, and the way Belichick changes his game plan on a weekly basis, it may be difficult for owners to trust Amendola for daily leagues in Championship Week.

Sure, besides Brady and Rob Gronkowski, it is always hard to predict which Patriots will have the biggest role week-to-week, but it is unfair to call Amendola’s performance a complete fluke.

Against the Jets in Week 16, Amendola caught eight of 11 targets for 63 yards. Furthermore, he had four receptions and 24 yards on seven targets in a meaningless Week 17 versus the Bills. Despite not sounding like much, the 18 targets in the final two weeks were more targets Amendola had in the previous 14 games combined.

This seems to support the idea that, if healthy, the Patriots are going to use Amendola. He looked pretty healthy on Saturday.

With six more targets against the Ravens, Amendola has more targets in the last three games than he had the rest of the season. Over that three-game stretch, the 29-year-old receiver has 17 catches, 168 yards and two touchdowns.

Therefore, it would be wise for fantasy owners not to forget about Amendola on Championship Sunday.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  WVU women can’t hang on against No. 5 Baylor

West Virginia’s women led for nearly eight minutes during the second half, but No. 5 Baylor rallied for a 66-62 win despite a subpar performance from the Big 12’s leading scorer, Nina Davis.

While Davis scored a season-low 10 points on Saturday, less than half her 22.6 average, Khadijiah Cave stepped up with 20 points to lift the Lady Bears (14-1, 3-0 Big 12).

Bria Holmes made just 6-of-25 shots while scoring 17 for West Virginia (10-5, 0-3), while Lanay Montgomery produced 12 points and 17 rebounds.

“We played hard, we played aggressive, and we only gave up 10 offensive rebounds today, which is pretty good,” said Mountaineers coach Mike Carey. “The problem was that we gave up one or two at the end of the game.”

The lead swapped hands six times in the second half, with West Virginia enjoying a four-point edge with under eight minutes. But once Baylor’s Imani Wright connected on a 3-pointer that tied the game with 5:24 left, the favorites were on their way.

“When we play games like this, win over lose, it’s teaching them how to compete,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “We were fortunate to make plays in the end to win.”

Though Davis wasn’t up to her usual output, including an 0-for-5 first half, she scored two key baskets during the final 7 minutes.

“I just knew my team needed me,” Davis said. “At halftime my teammates and coaches boosted me, and told me to figure it out. I just have to contribute.”

The Lady Bears enjoyed a 31-5 cushion bench scoring. WVU also struggled with 4-of-11 foul shooting in the second half.

Carey saw West Virginia’s 16-game home win streak snapped: “I thought our girls battled. It’s just a little frustrating right now. We’re just not getting a stop when we need to.”

Linda Stepney added 10 points and dished out six assists for WVU, while Averee Fields pitched in 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals.

The Mountaineers host Texas Tech on Wednesday night.

►  Huggins unhappy with passing, rebounding after loss

Bob Huggins takes losses hard. Always has. And after a close one like Saturday’s 74-72 loss to No. 17 Iowa State, the West Virginia coach seemed distraught over too many squandered opportunities.

Huggins saw players open in the halfcourt offense who didn’t receive the ball (clearly wishing Devin Williams had gotten more than nine shots). He saw 50-50 bounces that became Iowa State rebounds (frustrated that the Cyclones won the battle of the glass despite their two best rebounders being saddled with foul trouble). He saw WVU’s perimeter shooting woes surface to the tune of 7-of-29 from 3-point range (with some of those long-range shots hoisted too early for his liking).

“Game slippage happens when you’re unprepared,” Huggins said.

►  Iowas State’s bench gives WVU a taste of its own medicine

With Iowa State’s starters in deep foul trouble, reserve forward Abdel Nader matched a season high with 19 points and the No. 17 Cyclones edged No. 14 West Virginia 74-72.

“We needed every one of those points,” said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team has won each of its first two Big 12 games by a basket. “Abdel was unbelievable out there tonight—not only hitting shots, getting to the free-throw line and getting to the basket, but also his poise against the press.”

Georges Niang, playing the final 11 minutes with four fouls, added 16 points for Iowa State (12-2, 2-0 Big 12), which suffered a season-worst 18 turnovers yet snapped the Mountaineers’ seven-game win streak.

Point guard Juwan Staten scored 23 and forward Devin Williams delivered a 14-point, 15-rebound double-double for West Virginia (14-2, 2-1). Though their trademark press created throwaways, the Mountaineers could not overcome 32% shooting, including a 7 of 29 night from 3-point range. They came in last in the Big 12 in 3-point percentage.

“We just didn’t pass the ball. We had guys open and we didn’t pass the ball,” Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said. “We had Velcro hands—everybody who caught it wanted to hold it, play with it, dribble it.”

West Virginia has grown accustomed to flexing its depth, but this time Iowa State enjoyed a 29-19 edge in bench scoring. Much of that came courtesy of Nader, the Northern Illinois transfer who hadn’t scored a point in his previous two outings.

Nader’s second double-digit scoring game of the season proved crucial after Iowa State’s Monte Morris and Dustin Hogue fouled out. Nader made all six of his free throws, including two with 14 seconds left for a 73-70 lead.

After West Virginia chose not to try a potential tying 3-pointer, Williams was fouled trying to stick back Staten’s miss with 6 seconds. Williams’ free throws trimmed the deficit to 73-72, but West Virginia couldn’t produce a steal on the inbounds pass and fouled Naz Long with 1.6 seconds left.

Long made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second, leaving West Virginia’s Nate Adrian to launch an off-target 60-foot heave as time elapsed.

“You have to win road games if you want to compete for league championships,” Hoiberg said. “But not many people are going to win in this building.”

Niang’s spinning left-handed bank shot put Iowa State up 69-65 with 1:03 left, but Staten converted a three-point play on the other end, fouling out the Cyclones point guard Morris in the process.

West Virginia missed a chance to pull even on Paige’s in-and-out 3-point try with 2:29 left, and the guard fouled out on the ensuing defensive possession.

What about Nader? WVU’s pregame storyline was how to stop Iowa State’s five starters who scored in double figures—not how to stop Nader, who had scored only 14 points in his last five games.

“This is obviously the best game he’s had of the season,” Staten said. “Nobody could have predicted that he would played that well. I think we did a pretty good job trying to contain the guys we wanted to contain. That just adds another guy to the list that we need to be more aware of.”

After losing by 25 in Morgantown last season, Nader said the Cyclones expected a strenuous game with any number of potential heroes.

“We’re talented,” he said. “We have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things.”

Rebounding edge to Cyclones: Though the Mountaineers collected 19 offensive rebounds, Iowa State won the boards overall, 40-38. That included seven rebounds each for Nader and fellow reserve Jameel McKay.

“To out-rebound them in their own building was huge,” Hoiberg said.

Beyond Williams, who matched his career best on the glass, no West Virginia player grabbed more than four rebounds.

“They got more 50-50 balls than we did,” said Williams. “Coach (Huggins) showed us stats that when they win the rebounding battle they’re like 9-0, and tonight they won it.”

Miles hurt: West Virginia’s Daxter Miles Jr. was helped to the locker room with an injured right leg at the 13:41 mark of the second half. The freshman fell after becoming tangled with teammate Devin Williams. He finished 1-of-5 with three points and a steal in 16 minutes.

Iowa State stats: Morris entered with a 4.8 assist-to-turnover ratio, which ranked No. 2 in the nation. He produced six assists and only one turnover in the win. …  McKay, playing in his fifth game since becoming eligible after a transfer from Marquette, blocked five shots. … Niang came in fighting a 6-of-25 shooting slump the past two games. He made 6-of-12 from the floor Saturday.

Huggins at 754: With a 754-304 coaching record, Huggins remained one win shy of matching Henry Iba for 13th on the NCAA career wins list.

Attendance: The game drew 12,076, West Virginia’s second-largest crowd through seven home games.

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Sunday, January 11)

Final Score: North Carolina State 87, (2) Duke 75

PNC Arena hasn’t been kind to Duke since 2010. The Blue Devils were 1-3 in their past four games at North Carolina State’s home court entering Sunday’s ACC clash, including two losses to the Wolfpack and an untimely defeat in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament against Mercer. Trevor Lacey scored 21 points and NC State upset No. 2 Duke 87-75, continuing its streak of strong play at home against the Blue Devils. Ralston Turner added 16 points on nine shots and BeeJay Anya gave 14 with four blocks off the bench for the Wolfpack (12-5, 3-1 ACC), who picked up a crucial win in their most grueling stretch of the season. They either play on the road or against a ranked team, or both, for six straight games. Duke won its first true road game of the season by 10 points against Wisconsin on December 3, but couldn’t duplicate that success in its second more than a month later. The Blue Devils (14-1, 2-1) got 23 points and 12 rebounds from Jahlil Okafor and 18 points from Quinn Cook in their first loss of the season.

Final Score: Rutgers 67, (4) Wisconsin 62

Myles Mack had 21 points, Kadeem Jack scored 20 and Rutgers shocked No. 4 Wisconsin 67-62 on Sunday. It was the first win over a top-five team in Rutgers history. The Scarlet Knights (10-7, 2-2 Big Ten) outscored the short-handed Badgers (15-2, 3-1) by a 44-27 margin in the second half for the program’s first win over a ranked team in more than two years. Wisconsin played without leading scorer Frank Kaminsky because of a concussion and finished the game without point guard Traevon Jackson, who appeared to suffer an injury when he landed on Mack’s foot while trying to block a 3-point shot in the second half. In their absence, Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker scored 15 points each to lead the Badgers and Bronson Keonig had 12.

Final Score: Oregon State 58, (7) Arizona 56

Langston Morris-Walker drove in for a layup with 26 seconds remaining to lift Oregon State to a 58-56 upset win over No. 7 Arizona on Sunday night. The Wildcats looked to force overtime, but T.J. McConnell missed a runner. Morris-Walker finished with 12 points and eight rebounds for the Beavers (11-4, 2-1 Pac-12), who posted their first win over a top-10 team since beating these same Wildcats—then ranked No. 3—in overtime on March 2, 2000. Gary Payton II scored 10 points with nine rebounds, helping Oregon State end a seven-game slide to Arizona and improve to 10-0 at home this season. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 14 points and McConnell added 13 with six assists for Arizona (14-2, 2-1).

Final Score: (15) Wichita State 67, Loyola-Chicago 53

Fred VanVleet had 14 points, 10 assists and six rebounds as No. 15 Wichita State defeated Loyola-Chicago 67-53 on Sunday. Tekele Cotton netted 16 points and Ron Baker added 15 for the Shockers (14-2, 4-0 MVC), who have won four straight games. Earl Peterson posted 13 points to lead Loyola-Chic

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Sunday, January 11)

Final Score: Atlanta 120, Washington 89

Balanced scoring and a dominant fourth quarter helped the NBA’s hottest team to another win on Sunday. Kyle Korver hit 5-for-7 from long distance and led eight Hawks in double figures with 19 points as the Atlanta Hawks toppled the Washington Wizards 120-89 for their eighth straight win. DeMarre Carroll gave 16 points with four steals, Al Horford netted 15 points and Jeff Teague had 11 with a game-high 10 assists for Atlanta, winners in 22 of 24 since a 7-6 start. Atlanta has a 3 1/2 game lead on Toronto and Chicago for best record in the East. It kicks off a stretch of four road games in five days in Philadelphia on Tuesday. John Wall paced the Wizards with 15 points and eight assists, but he committed eight of their 20 turnovers. Atlanta turned the ball over just nine times as a team.

Final Score: Miami 104, LA Clippers 90

Chris Bosh scored 34 points to lead the Miami Heat to a 104-90 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday and center Hassan Whiteside added career highs of 23 points and 16 rebounds. Dwyane Wade scored 17 with 10 assists for the Heat, who have won two of three on the heels of a four-game losing streak. Blake Griffin had 26 points and Chris Paul scored 23 with nine assists for the Clippers, who finished a 6-3 homestand.

Final Score: Memphis 122, Phoenix 110 (2-OT)

Zach Randolph had 27 points and 17 rebounds as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Phoenix Suns 122-110 in double overtime on Sunday. Mike Conley posted 25 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while Courtney Lee netted 18 points for Memphis, which blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, but outscored Phoenix 14-2 in the second overtime to snap a brief two-game skid. Marc Gasol supplied seven of his 12 points in the second extra session. Alex Len tallied 14 points and 13 boards, Isaiah Thomas poured in 20 points off the bench and Markieff Morris provided 17 points and six rebounds for the Suns, who have dropped two straight on the heels of a four-game winning streak.

Final Score: Sacramento 103, Cleveland 84

DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points and 13 rebounds as the Sacramento Kings routed the LeBron James-less Cleveland Cavaliers 103-84 on Sunday. Rudy Gay netted 23 points and Darren Collison added 16 points and six assists for the Sacramento, which has won three of its last five games. James missed his eighth straight game with a sore knee and Cleveland fell to 1-7 in that stretch. Kevin Love posted 25 points and 10 rebounds, Kyrie Irving supplied 21 points and seven assists and Timofey Mozgov provided 14 points and 12 boards for the Cavaliers, whose fifth consecutive loss dropped them to .500 (19-19) for the first time since November 26 when they were 7-7.

Final Score: Portland 106, LA Lakers 94

Damian Lillard had 34 points and seven assists as the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 106-94 on Sunday night. LaMarcus Aldridge posted 15 points and nine rebounds, while Wesley Matthews added 16 points and five helpers for Portland, which has won eight of its last nine games. Wesley Johnson netted 17 points to lead the Lakers, who were without Kobe Bryant due to rest. LA fell to 2-4 on the season without him in the lineup.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Hanley Ramirez could be in line for a big season

One of the biggest transactions this offseason was when the Boston Red Sox signed free agent shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

Now, it is looking likely that Ramirez will start the season in left field, but nevertheless, he should be able to produce some nice numbers in 2015.

Ramirez has battled through injuries over the past two seasons, and was limited to just 86 games in 2013 and 128 games during the 2014 season. While his overall numbers were still solid, they have the potential to be even better if Ramirez can stay on the field in 2015.

During 2013, Ramirez was very good in limited action, as he had a .345/.402/.638 line along with 20 homers, 57 RBI, and 105 hits. This past season, he had a .283/.369/.448 line with 13 home runs, 71 RBI, and 127 hits.

What makes those numbers so legitimate is the fact that Ramirez was playing the majority of his games in a stadium that really does not favor pitchers or hitters.

Dodger Stadium is ranked in the middle of the pack when it comes to determining how easy it is to pitch or hit in. According to Los Angeles’ home field was ranked the 17th easiest park for hitters to produce in (data from 2010-2013). For every 100 runs scored in the average MLB stadium, 91 runs were scored at Dodger Stadium, and for every 100 homers hit in the average park, 102 were blasted in Los Angeles.

Heading into 2015, and with Ramirez making his new home at Fenway Park, fantasy owners need to know that Boston’s home stadium is the 10th easiest park to hit in.

For every 100 runs scored in the average stadium, 115 come across the plate in Boston, and for every 100 homers in the average park, 95 are hit out at Fenway, proving it provides more for hitters than it does for pitchers.

Ramirez is now back with the team that originally drafted him, and at 31- years-old, he still has a lot of good baseball left in him. The last season he did not battle injuries was in 2012, when Ramirez played 157 games, and hit 24 homers with 92 RBI.

With Ramirez surrounded by players like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval, and Rusney Castillo, he should have a great opportunity to hit for average and produce some nice power numbers, especially with the short porch in left field.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Still one of the best

There have been quite a few disappointing fantasy goalies through the first half of the season, however, Carey Price is not one of them.

Price gave owners high expectations going into the season as the consensus No. 2 goalie. He has lived up to the hype with a 22-10-1 record, 2.20 GAA and .927 save percentage this season.

The three-time All-Star goalie ranks in the top six in all three of those categories.

Even more impressively, Price has gotten better as the season has gone. He started the season 7-1-1 and posted a .920 save percentage in October. Since the hot start, Price has gone on two different three-game losing streaks, but has still managed to win at least six games in both November and December.

And his save percentage has increased each month.

November saw just a slight incline in save percentage, up to .924, and in December, Price’s save percentage went up to .937. Price has also “carry-ed” his strong play in the new year.

In fact, Price has been playing his best hockey since December 9. Despite a 4-2 setback on Tuesday versus the Lightning, Price has won eight of his last 10 starts.

Before the four goals he allowed on Tuesday to the top scoring team in the league, Price had not allowed more than two scores in each of the last nine contests. Over that stretch, Price was 8-1-0 with a 1.33 GAA and a .953 save percentage.

And for those owners concerned Price might drop the next two and lose three games in a row again especially because another high-flying offense in the Penguins is coming to Montreal on Saturday, Price beat Pittsburgh last Saturday, 4-1.

Pekka Rinne may be the front-runner for the Vezina Trophy and Marc-Andre Fleury may be having a career-year, but Carey Price remains one of the best goalies an owner can have in fantasy hockey.

►  NHL Game Results

(Sunday, January 11)

Final Score: Florida 4, Edmonton 2

Tomas Kopecky and Sean Bergenheim scored in the third period, sending the Florida Panthers to a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night. Roberto Luongo made 31 saves for the Panthers, who have won a season-high three straight games and improved to 4-1-0 on their six-game road trip. Ben Scrivens stopped 23-of-27 shots for Edmonton, which was looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since November 7-9. The Oilers beat the visiting Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Friday.

Final Score: Chicago 4, Minnesota 1

Marian Hossa, Bryan Bickell and Brad Richards all posted a goal with an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks downed the reeling Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Sunday. Johnny Oduya also lit the lamp for Chicago, which has alternated wins and losses over the last seven games. Corey Crawford’s shutout bid was spoiled by Matt Cooke with 4:52 remaining in regulation, but the All-Star goaltender was otherwise stellar in a 36-save performance. Niklas Backstrom surrendered all four goals on 35 shots for Minnesota, which has fallen into last place in the Central Division with five straight losses.

Final Score: Anaheim 5, Winnipeg 4 (SO)

On a night the Anaheim Ducks retired Teemu Selanne’s No. 8 jersey, it was only fitting that a Finland native won the game. Sami Vatanen scored the decisive goal in the sixth round of the shootout as the Ducks rallied to beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-4 at Honda Center. Rickard Rakell had two goals and two assists for Anaheim, which killed a pair of 5-on-3 power plays before erasing a two-goal deficit in the third period. Frederik Andersen made 28 saves for the Ducks, who improved to 4-2-0 on their eight-game homestand. Mark Scheifele had a goal with one assist and Ondrej Pavelec stopped 39 shots for the Jets, who have lost three of four.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Federer notches 1,000th win in Brisbane final victory

Top-seeded Roger Federer recorded the 1,000th win of his ATP career in a victory over Milos Raonic in Sunday’s final at the season-opening Brisbane International.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion became just the third man in history to record 1,000 wins as he joined retired greats Jimmy Connors (1,253) and Ivan Lendl (1,071).

It wasn’t easy for Federer on Sunday, as he won the first set but then lost in a tiebreak to the third-seeded Raonic. In the third set, Federer broke Raonic’s serve to record the 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4 victory.

The 33-year-old Federer improved to 8-1 against the 24-year-old Canadian in winning his 83rd career ATP singles title.

Brisbane serves as a tune-up for the Australian Open, which will begin January 19 in Melbourne.

►  Wawrinka defeats Bedene for another Chennai crown

Stanislas Wawrinka defeated Aljaz Bedene on Sunday to claim a second consecutive Chennai Open title.

The top-seeded Wawrinka earned a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Slovenian qualifier Bedene, who was playing in his first ATP final, for the championship.

Wawrinka claimed his eight singles title, third at this event, and avenged a quarterfinals defeat at the hands of Bedene in this tournament two years ago.

The Swiss star used this tournament victory last year as a stepping stone to his first major title a few weeks later at the Australian Open. He also won the Chennai crown in 2011 and was the runner-up in 2010.

Chennai serves as a tune-up for the Aussie Open, which will begin January 19.

►  Aircel Chennai Open Men’s Tennis Update - January 11

Chennai, India

Total Prize Money: $458,000


Stan Wawrinka (1) def. Aljaz Bedene, 6-3, 6-4


Stan Wawrinka (1) def. David Goffin (4), 7-5, 6-3
Aljaz Bedene def. Roberto Bautista Agut (3), 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10-8)


Stan Wawrinka (1) def. Gilles Muller (8), 6-2, 7-6 (7-4)
Roberto Bautista Agut (3) def. Yen-Hsun Lu (6), 7-6 (9-7), 6-4
David Goffin (4) def. Andreas Haider-Maurer, 7-5, 6-2
Aljaz Bedene def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (5), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2


Stan Wawrinka (1) def. Borna Coric, 6-1, 6-4
Aljaz Bedene def. Feliciano Lopez (2), 6-4, 6-4
Roberto Bautista Agut (3) def. Peter Gojowczyk, 6-3, 6-2
David Goffin (4) def. Ricardas Berankis, 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (7-1)
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (5) def. Tatsuma Ito, 6-7 (1-7), 6-2, 6-0
Yen-Hsun Lu (6) def. Pablo Carreno Busta, 6-4, 6-4
Gilles Muller (8) def. Elias Ymer, 6-4, 6-3
Andreas Haider-Maurer def. Jiri Vesely, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-4


Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (5) def. Evgeny Donskoy, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 6-3
Yen-Hsun Lu (6) def. Somdev Devvarman, 6-3, 6-4
Andreas Haider-Maurer def. Marcel Granollers (7), 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 2-0, Retired
Gilles Muller (8) def. Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 6-7 (11-13), 6-1, 7-6 (7-3)
Ricardas Berankis def. Luca Vanni, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5
Jiri Vesely def. N Vijay Sundar Prashanth, 6-2, 6-1
Borna Coric def. Robin Haase, 6-2, 6-2
Elias Ymer def. Igor Sijsling, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
Pablo Carreno Busta def. Alejandro Gonzalez, 6-1, 6-3
Peter Gojowczyk def. Alejandro Falla, 6-0, 6-1
Tatsuma Ito def. Ramkumar Ramanathan, 6-3, 6-3
Aljaz Bedene def. Lukas Lacko, 7-6 (7-0), 6-3

►  Brisbane International Men’s Tennis Update - January 11

Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane, Australia
al Prize Money: $495,000


Roger Federer (1) def. Milos Raonic (3), 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4


Roger Federer (1) def. Grigor Dimitrov (4), 6-2, 6-2
Milos Raonic (3) def. Kei Nishikori (2), 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4)


Roger Federer (1) def. James Duckworth, 6-0, 6-1
Kei Nishikori (2) def. Bernard Tomic, 6-0, 6-4
Milos Raonic (3) def. Sam Groth, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 7-6 (7-2)
Grigor Dimitrov (4) def. Martin Klizan, 6-3, 6-4


Roger Federer (1) def. John Millman, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Kei Nishikori (2) def. Steve Johnson, 6-4, 7-5
Milos Raonic (3) def. Mikhail Kukushkin, 6-3, 6-4
Grigor Dimitrov (4) def. Jeremy Chardy, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10-8)
Martin Klizan def. Alexandr Dolgopolov (7), 1-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (9-7)
Sam Groth def. Lukasz Kubot, 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-3)
James Duckworth def. Jarkko Nieminen, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3
Bernard Tomic def. Thanasi Kokkinakis, 7-6 (7-2), 6-1


Lukasz Kubot def. Kevin Anderson (5), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
James Duckworth def. Gilles Simon (6), 6-2, 6-2
Alexandr Dolgopolov (7) def. Carlos Berlocq, 6-2, 6-3
Thanasi Kokkinakis def. Julien Benneteau (8), 6-4, 6-3
Bernard Tomic def. Sam Querrey, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5)
Steve Johnson def. Marinko Matosevic, 2-6, 7-6 (7-0), 7-5
Sam Groth def. Lleyton Hewitt, 6-3, 6-2
Mikhail Kukushkin def. Marius Copil, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Jeremy Chardy def. Andrey Golubev, 6-4, 6-4
Martin Klizan def. Jurgen Melzer, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (8-6), 6-1
John Millman def. Rhyne Williams, 6-3, 6-1
Jarkko Nieminen def. Denis Kudla, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4

►  Keys wins in rain-delayed start at Sydney

American Madison Keys grabbed a first- round victory on Sunday in a rainy start to the Apia International Sydney tournament.

Keys recorded a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Russian Daria Gavrilova notched a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Swiss Belinda Bencic.

Rain postponed the final two matches on Sunday in this warmup for the Australian Open.

►  Apia International Sydney Women’s Tennis Update - January 11

Sydney, Australia

Total Prize Money: $731,000


Daria Gavrilova def. Belinda Bencic, 6-3, 6-0
Madison Keys def. Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-4, 6-4

►  Apia International Sydney Men’s Tennis Update - January 12

Sydney, Australia

Total Prize Money: $495,000


Leonardo Mayer (5) def. Benjamin Becker, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2
Pablo Cuevas (6) def. Nicolas Almagro, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4
Simone Bolelli leads Marinko Matosevic, 4-2


Jeremy Chardy (7) vs. Sam Querrey
Sam Groth vs. Gilles Muller
Juan Martin del Potro vs. Sergiy Stakhovsky
Andreas Seppi vs. Vasek Pospisil
Nick Kyrgios vs. Jerzy Janowicz

►  Heineken Open Men’s Tennis Update - January 12

Auckland, New Zealand

Total Prize Money: $520,000


Steve Johnson (8) leads Joao Sousa, 7-5
Jan-Lennard Struff def. Dominic Thiem, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-3
Adrian Mannarino def. Federico Delbonis, 6-1, 6-1


Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (7) vs. Diego Schwartzman
Yen-Hsun Lu (9) vs. Juan Monaco
Borna Coric vs. Pablo Carreno Busta
Paolo Lorenzi vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

National Basketball Association
Detroit at Toronto, 7:30 PM - FS-Detroit, TSN2, DSS
Houston at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM - ROOT-Southwest, YES, DSS
New Orleans at Boston, 7:30 PM - CSN-New England, NBA TV, DSS
Orlando at Chicago, 8:00 PM - FS-Florida, CSN-Chicago, DSS
National Hockey League
Colorado at Washington, 7:00 PM - Altitude, CSN-DC, DSS
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - SunSports, CSN-Philadelphia, NHL Net, DSS
Toronto at Los Angeles, 10:30 PM - SNET-Ontario, FS-West, DSS
College Basketball
Coastal Carolina at Campbell, 8:00 PM - American Sports, MASN,
College Football
Oregon vs. Ohio State (FBS Championship), 8:30 PM - ESPN
International Soccer
Rayo Vallecano de Madrid vs. Cordoba CF, 3:00 PM - beIN Sport
PGA - Tournament of Champions, 4:00 PM - Golf Channel



National Basketball Association
Minnesota at Indiana, 7:00 PM - FS-North, Indiana, DSS
Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7:00 PM - SportSouth, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
San Antonio at Washington, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest, CSN-DC, DSS
Cleveland at Phoenix, 9:00 PM - FS-Ohio, Arizona, DSS
Golden State at Utah, 9:00 PM - CSN-Bay, ROOT-Northwest, DSS
Dallas at Sacramento, 10:00 PM - FS-Southwest, CSN-California, DSS
Miami at LA Lakers, 10:30 PM - SunSports, Time Warner, DSS
National Hockey League
Minnesota at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, NBCSN
NY Islanders at NY Rangers, 7:00 PM - MSG+, MSG, DSS
Detroit at Buffalo, 7:00 PM - FS-Detroit, MSG-Buffalo, DSS
Tampa Bay at Boston, 7:00 PM - SunSports, NESN, DSS
Colorado at Carolina, 7:00 PM - Altitude, SportSouth, DSS
Edmonton at St. Louis, 8:00 PM - SNET-West, FS-Midwest, DSS
Vancouver at Nashville, 8:00 PM - SNET-Pacific, DSS
Florida at Winnipeg, 8:00 PM - FS-Florida, TSN3, DSS
Ottawa at Dallas, 8:30 PM - TSN5, FS-Southwest+, DSS
San Jose at Arizona, 9:00 PM - CSN-California, FS-Arizona+, DSS
College Basketball
Michigan at Ohio State, 7:00 PM - ESPN
Oklahoma State at Kansas, 7:00 PM - ESPN 2
Arkansas at Tennessee, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Butler at Seton Hall, 7:00 PM - FS1
Penn State at Indiana, 7:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Virginia Tech at Louisville, 7:00 PM - RSN,
Oklahoma at West Virginia, 7:00 PM - ESPNews
USC Upstate at Lipscomb, 7:30 PM -
VCU at Rhode Island, 7:30 PM - CBSSN
Wake Forest at Syracuse, 8:00 PM - ACC Network,
Clemson at Virginia, 8:00 PM - ACC Network,
Missouri at Kentucky, 9:00 PM - ESPN
Miami-Florida at Duke, 9:00 PM - ESPN 2
Alabama at South Carolina, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Georgetown at DePaul, 9:00 PM - FS1
Iowa at Minnesota, 9:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Miss State at Texas A&M, 9:00 PM - SEC Network
Connecticut at Tulsa, 9:30 PM - CBSSN
UNLV at Boise State, 11:00 PM - ESPN U
Women’s College Basketball
Longwood at Liberty, 7:00 PM -
Western Michigan at Buffalo, 7:00 PM -
Iowa State at Baylor, 7:30 PM - FS-Southwest

Sports News   150111

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Helfrich: Carrington issue won’t be a distraction

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said Saturday the suspension of wide receiver Darren Carrington won’t be a distraction for the Ducks as they prepare for Monday’s College Football Playoff championship game.

Helfrich, speaking at media day on Saturday morning, wouldn’t divulge details of Carrington’s suspension, reportedly a penalty for failing an NCAA administered drug test. The freshman did not make the trip to Texas for the upcoming battle with Ohio State.

“It will not be a distraction,“ said Helfrich, who politely asked reporters to move on when pressed about the situation. “I’ll confirm it’s an NCAA policy that is in play here ... that’s all we’re going to talk about.“

Various media outlets on Friday night reported that Carrington tested positive for marijuana.

“Distractions are distractions if you let them be,“ Helfrich stated. “How you manage those things is what matters most and our guys have managed them very well.“

Carrington caught seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns in Oregon’s 59-20 rout of Florida State in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day and posted 37 receptions for 704 yards and four scores on the season.

“It’s tough for sure, he’s a great playmaker for us,“ said Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. “But we rotate so many guys. So for us it’s the next man up and we’ll be ready to go.“

The Ducks are already thin at receiver. Freshman wide receiver Devon Allen injured his knee on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl and tight end Pharaoh Brown has been sidelined for several games due to a leg injury.

“It’s just like any other position,“ said Helfrich about dealing with the loss of key players. “We’ve been tested in that realm, for whatever reason, and our guys have stepped up.“

Allen tallied 41 catches for 684 yards and seven scores, while Brown recorded 25 receptions for 420 yards and found the end zone six times.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Bengals sign Keo

The Cincinnati Bengals signed free agent safety Shiloh Keo to a reserve/future contract on Saturday.

A fifth-round draft pick of the Texans in 2011, he played in 42 games with 11 starts from 2011-13 and totaled 68 tackles and two interceptions for Houston.

Keo was on the Houston roster to start the 2014 season, but was released in early October after being inactive for every game.

►  NFL Divisional Playoffs Game Results

(Saturday, January 10)

Final Score: New England 35, Baltimore 31

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh called Joe Flacco the NFL’s best quarterback last week. Tom Brady had something to say about that this week. Brady’s 367 yards and three touchdowns, the last a go-ahead 23-yard strike to Brandon LaFell with 5;13 remaining, rallied the New England Patriots to a 35-31 AFC Divisional Playoff victory over Harbaugh’s Ravens at Gillette Stadium. The fourth postseason meeting between the teams in six years was another classic, with the Patriots twice battling back from 14 points down—including a 28-14 deficit midway through the third quarter—and not taking their first lead until Brady’s final TD delivery of the day. New England also overcome a career postseason-best four touchdown throws from Flacco, though his second interception of the game virtually ended Baltimore’s own comeback hopes with 1:39 left to play. The top-seeded Patriots advanced to their fourth straight AFC Championship Game, where they’ll await the winner of Sunday’s Indianapolis-Denver clash.

Final Score: Seattle 31, Carolina 17

Kam Chancellor bobbed his head in celebration as he crossed the goal line on his game-clinching 90-yard interception return. The Seattle Seahawks’ resurgent defense has them thinking repeat. Another dominating second half performance has them one step closer. Russell Wilson tossed three touchdown passes and the Seahawks punched their ticket into the NFC Championship Game with a 31-17 NFC Divisional Playoff victory over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night. Seattle will play the winner of Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys in next Sunday’s conference title game at CenturyLink Field. Chancellor’s pick-six came with the Panthers marching down the field looking to cut a 24-10 deficit to a one-possession game. Faced with a 2nd- and-4 at the Seattle 13 with a little over six minutes left, Cam Newton was looking to hit Ed Dickson on the right side of the field near the numbers. The ball-hawking Chancellor read Newton’s eyes and cut in front of Dickson before strolling down the left sideline for the easy score. Chancellor had 10 tackles to go with that interception and showcased his athleticism by hurdling over the Carolina offensive line twice on a pair of Graham Gano field goal attempts at the end of the first half. Wilson, who was 8-of-8 on third down for 199 yards, finished 15-of-22 for 268 yards and added 22 yards on the ground. Jermaine Kearse caught three passes for 129 yards and a touchdown and Luke Willson had four receptions for 68 yards and a score for the Seahawks, who have won eight straight postseason games in Seattle.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 10)

Ravenswood 64     Braxton County 52

Webster County 63     North Marion 58

#9 Notre Dame 80     #7 Saint Joseph Central 53

St. Marys 65     Trinity 55
Doddridge County 63     South Harrison 51

#2 Bridgeport 69     #6 Robert C. Byrd 56

PikeView 92     Nicholas County 76

Wood County Christian 48     Licking County Christian, Ohio 43

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 10)

Ravenswood 63     Braxton County 39

Wirt County 48     Tyler Consolidated 42

Doddridge County 59     Sherman 55

Wood County Christian 62     Licking County Christian, Ohio 31

St. Marys 73     Richwood 45

The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 10)

Glenville State 64, Wheeling Jesuit 63 | Final Stats

Glenville State held Wheeling Jesuit without any points in the final 2:41 and scored four of its own to secure a 63-62 win over the Cardinals at the McDonough Center.

The Pioneers (12-2, 8-0) trailed by as many as 12 in the second half and didn’t have a lead until Reggie Williams’ game-winning jumper with 1:38 to go. WJU had two turnovers on its final two possessions.

Williams finished with 19 points to lead GSC. Donte Morales added 17 and Sedric Nady contributed 11.

Wheeling Jesuit (6-6, 2-5) was led by 15 points from Justin Fritts. Kyle Ritz had 13 points to go with 15 rebounds and Drake Goodard had 11 points.

Shepherd 80, UVa-Wise 65 | Final Stats

Shepherd shot 55% from the field to lead the Rams to a 80-65 win over UVa-Wise at the Prior Center.

Morgan McDonald had 23 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Rams (10-4, 5-3). Austin Cunningham also notched 23 points, and also had five assists and four rebounds. A.J. Carr contributed 12 points in the winning effort.

Phillip Owens and Matt Day each scored 19 points to lead UVa-Wise (1-12, 0-8). 

Concord 94, Fairmont State 91 | Final Stats

Concord withstood a Fairmont State rally and downed the Falcons, 94-91, on Saturday at the Carter Center. The Mountain Lions saw a 19-point halftime lead trimmed to three twice in the final game’s final minute before holding on for the win.

The win improved Concord’s record to 8-5 overall and 4-4 in the MEC. Fairmont State falls to 8-6 overall and 5-3 in conference play after the loss.

Mike Boyd led the way for CU with 24 points and seven assists. Aaron Miller contributed 20 points, while Rob Reed scored 15 and Terry Hopewell added 11.

FSU’s Jamel Morris led all scorers with 29 points. Chase Morgan came off the bench to score 21 and Nick Harney had 19 points to go with four steals. Fairmont State helped get back into the game shooting 29-of-31 from the free throw line.  

#1 West Liberty 79, West Virginia Wesleyan 67 | Final Stats

Top-ranked West Liberty stretched its four-point halftime lead with a 21-9 run to start the second half as the Hilltoppers picked up a 79-67 win over West Virginia Wesleyan.

Seger Bonifant led West Liberty (13-0, 8-0) in scoring for the 11th time this season with 23 points, including 21 from behind the arc (6-of-7). Zac Grossenbacher came off the bench to add 17, and Devin Hoehn netted 12.

Tanner McGrew had 15 points to lead West Virginia Wesleyan (5-9, 3-5). Garrett Grantham had 14, Taylor Price scored 13 and Anthony Richards contributed 12 for the Bobcats.

Charleston 90, Urbana 71 | Final Stats

Charleston raced out to a 25-5 lead and never looked back as it handled Urbana, 90-71, on Saturday at Eddie King Gymnasium. UC shot 60% from the field in the game connecting on 31-of-52, while Urbana managed just 37% shooting in the game (25-of-67).

The win improved Charleston’s record to 10-4 overall and 5-3 in conference play. Urbana dropped to 4-10 overall and 1-7 in the MEC.

Jevonte Hughes led the Golden Eagles with 21 points to go with seven rebounds. Vincent Dillard added 13 and Chris Evans had 12.

Rodney Clark had 11 points and Christopher Cromity recorded 10 points for the Blue Knights.

Notre Dame 92, West Virginia State 83  | Final Stats

Notre Dame snapped a three-game losing streak with a 92-83 victory over West Virginia State at Murphy Gymnasium.

The Falcons (8-6, 4-4) trailed 74-73 with 4:23 to go, but went on an 11-0 run over the next three minutes to lift them to victory. 

Kyauta Taylor scored a season-high 35 points and Tyree Gaiter went for 28 to lead the NDC attack. Lawrence DeArmond added 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists for NDC.

Markee Mazyck led West Virginia State (2-13, 2-5) with 28 points and seven rebounds. Dominic Phllips scored 17 for the Yellow Jackets. 

►  MEC Women’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 10)

Notre Dame 71, West Virginia State 56 | Final Stats

Martha Nagbe and Kelsey Miller each scored 17 points to lead Notre Dame to a 71-56 win over West Virginia State at Murphy Gymnasium.

NDC (8-6, 4-4) dominated the glass out-rebounding the Yellow Jackets 41-20, including 19-5 on the offensive end. 

Alexus Hobbs led WVSU (4-8, 2-5) with 11 points and four rebounds.  

Shepherd 71, UVa-Wise 55 | Final Stats

Shepherd went on a 7-0 run to close the first half and never trailed in the second half as it posted a 71-55 victory over UVa-Wise at the Prior Center.

Shepherd (10-4, 7-1) shot 49% to the field and held the Cavs to 33% shooting. 

Cara Mason and Morgan Arden each scored 16 points to lead the Rams. Hailey Brown contributed 10 points. 

Kayla Carey and Taylor Sandidge paced UVa-Wise (5-9, 4-4) with 15 points apiece. Blair Harding finished with 10 points. 

Wheeling Jesuit 80, Glenville State 59 | Final Stats

Wheeling Jesuit led the entire way in an 80-59 romp over Glenville State at the McDonough Center.

Five players registered double figures for the Cardinals (7-4, 4-3) led by Breanna Butler’s season-high 19 points, which included 5-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. Jaila Bryant had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Kylie Frizell came off the bench to add 15. Mariah Callen scored 14 points and tallied six assists, and Jaana Motton had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Keyanna Tate led Glenville State (4-7, 3-5) with 20 points. Paige Tuttle contributed 10 points. The Pioneers were limited to just 31% shooting in the game.

Fairmont State 74, Concord 55 | Final Stats

An 9-0 run early in the first half helped Fairmont State break free from Concord on its way to a 74-55 win over Concord at Willie Akers Arena.

Emily Lohr scored over 20 points for the fourth time in six games with 22 against the Mountain Lions. Emily Puskarich added 21, and Hailey Garrett had 18 points and a season-high 16 rebounds to lead Fairmont State (12-2, 6-2).

Rachel Artrip had 16 points and six rebounds to lead Concord (3-8, 3-5). Melea Smith had 11 and Alley Odell finished with 10.

Charleston 84, Urbana 58 | Final Stats

Charleston shot a scorching 62% from the field as the Golden Eagles cruised to an 84-58 win over Urbana at Eddie King Gymnasium. The 62% shooting is the best by an MEC school this season. 

Nichole Perry led the way for UC (11-3, 6-2) with 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Kiara Johnson recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds and LeAnne Ross finished with 14 points.

Tori Purk paced Urbana (1-13, 1-7) with 17 points and six rebounds. Katy Barkley and Kate Francisco each recorded 12 points and Jeni Jordan had 11. 

West Liberty 88, West Virginia Wesleyan 66 | Final Stats

A 17-0 run in the first half propelled West Liberty to an 88-66 win over West Virginia Wesleyan at the ASRC.

Jenn Mohney came off the bench and helped the Hilltoppers (10-4, 7-1) to their fourth-straight win with 21 points. Jasmin Kiley scored 20 and Liz Flowers registered a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Kailee Howe added to her assist total with 15 more against the Bobcats.

West Virginia Wesleyan (0-11, 0-8) was led by Allie Browne who came off the bench to score 17 points. Adrian Cunningham scored 10 and Mari Stewart had nine points to go with 11 rebounds.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Iowa State holds off West Virginia in Top-25 battle

Abdel Nader finished with 19 points as No. 17 Iowa State held off 14th-ranked West Virginia 74-72 on Saturday.

Georges Niang finished with 16 points and five rebounds, Dustin Hogue netted 11 points and Jameel McKay chipped in with six points, seven rebounds and five blocks for the Cyclones (12-2, 2-0 Big 12), who have won nine of their last 10 games.

“I couldn’t be more proud of how our guys fought through adversity tonight,“ said Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg. “(Nader) was unbelievable tonight, not only hitting shots, he was getting to the free throw line and getting to the basket. I thought he showed good poise against the press. We needed every one of those points and he hit some big free throws down the stretch.“

Juwan Staten scored a game-high 23 points and Devin Williams supplied 14 points and 15 boards as the Mountaineers (14-2, 2-1) had their seven-game winning streak come to an end.

“We had guys open and we didn’t pass the ball,“ West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said. “We struggled to make shots at times. You have to pass the ball and have a defense to do that anyway.“

The Mountaineers pulled within three points as Connor Chase made a trey and after the two teams traded baskets, Staten’s 3-point play made it a 69-68 game with 55 seconds to play.

Gary Browne stole the ensuing inbounds pass and called a timeout. Jonathan Holton missed a layup and Bryce Dejean-Jones went down the court for a layup and a 71-68 lead with 29 seconds to go.

Staten missed both shots from the foul line, but Holton and Williams each made a pair around two from Nader for a 73-72 score with just six seconds remaining.

West Virginia quickly fouled to send Naz Long to the line. Long made his first shot, but missed his second. Nathan Adrian quickly pulled the ball down and heaved it from his side of half-court, but the ball fell short as time expired.

Iowa State led by eight points early on, but West Virginia used a 10-3 run to draw even heading into halftime. Browne and Staten each supplied triples and Staten’s pair of free throws with two seconds to play made it a 32-32 contest.

With the game tied less than three minutes into the second half, Monte Morris hit a trey to ignite a 7-0 burst that put the Cyclones back ahead 44-37.

After McKay threw down a slam for an eight-point Iowa State advantage, West Virginia began to dismantle the Cyclones’ lead. Jaysean Paige bookended a 10-2 run with triples that made it a 55-55 game with 7:37 to play.

Browne’s free throw gave the Mountaineers a 58-57 lead, but McKay went in on a layup and Nader hit two free throws to put the Cyclones back on top with under five minutes to play.

Staten cut the deficit to one point with a layup, but Nader drained a triple off a dish from Long and hit two free throws for a 66-60 score with 3:28 to play.

Game Notes

Iowa State has won six straight games against conference opponents ... The Cyclones lead the all-time series, 4-1 ... Iowa State is now 19-2 when Morris has at least five assists. He finished with six ... The Cyclones shot 50% from the field, while the Mountaineers were held to a paltry 32.4 shooting percentage.

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Saturday, January 10)

Final Score: (1) Kentucky 70, Texas A&M 64 (2-OT)

This time it took two overtimes for Kentucky to remain undefeated. The top-ranked Wildcats pulled out an overtime win Tuesday in their SEC opener against Ole Miss and on Saturday needed a second extra period in their first road conference game, escaping with a 70-64 triumph over Texas A&M. Devin Booker finished with 18 points for Kentucky (15-0, 2-0 SEC), which many thought might take advantage of a so-called weakened SEC to waltz into March with an unblemished record. The Wildcats blew through their non-conference schedule with 12 wins by double-digits before an eight-point victory at arch- rival Louisville to close out December. Then came a nine-day layoff and the tougher-than-expected 89-86 win over Ole Miss. Aaron Harrison scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Wildcats before fouling out in the second extra period on Saturday. Karl-Anthony Towns fouled out in the first extra session, finishing with nine points and nine rebounds. Dakari Johnson contributed eight points and nine boards in the victory. Danuel House scored a career-high 25 points and added nine rebounds for Texas A&M (9-5, 0-2), which was coming off a 65-44 drubbing on Tuesday at Alabama in its SEC opener. Kourtney Roberson added 11 points and eight boards in defeat.

Final Score: (3) Virginia 62, (13) Notre Dame 56

Justin Anderson made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:48 remaining, then added two free throws with 21.5 seconds left to lift the third-ranked Virginia Cavaliers over the 13th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 62-56, on Saturday. Anderson ended with 11 points for the Cavaliers (15-0, 3-0 ACC), who are off to their best start since the 1980-81 season when it began 23-0 behind the play of the legendary Ralph Sampson. Darion Atkins added 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for Virginia, which is one of just three unbeaten teams left in the country (Kentucky and Duke are the others). Malcolm Brogdon contributed 13 points. Pat Connaughton ended with 21 points and eight rebounds for the Irish (15-2, 3-1), who had an 11-game winning streak snapped. Demetrius Jackson and V.J. Beachem each scored 12 points. Notre Dame, which came in averaging 85.0 ppg, shot just 33.9% from the field and went 10-of-24 from beyond the arc.

Final Score: (18) North Carolina 72, (5) Louisville 71

Marcus Paige’s layup with 8.5 seconds left lifted the 18th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels over the fifth-ranked Louisville Cardinals, 72-71, on Saturday. Brice Johnson made a short jumper with 38.1 seconds remaining to give North Carolina a 70-69 edge, but Louisville’s Terry Rozier responded with a baseline jumper at the other end. Paige then drove to the hoop and made a layup high off the glass to put the Tar Heels back in front. Wayne Blackshear missed a 3-point attempt from the corner and Rozier’s put-back layup attempt was off the mark as time expired.

Final Score: (6) Gonzaga 79, Santa Clara 57

Przemek Karnowski scored 18 points to lead No. 6 Gonzaga to a wire-to-wire 79-57 win over Santa Clara on Saturday. Four Bulldogs (16-1, 5-0 WCC) joined Karnowski in double figures. Kyle Wiltjer added 16, Kevin Pangos chipped in 13, and Byron Wesley and Domantas Sabonis each had 11. Gonzaga used its superior size to dominate down low, owning a 41-26 rebounding edge and 44-14 advantage in points in the paint. The Broncos (7-10, 2-4) were led by Matt Hubbard with 15 points. Jared Brownridge contributed 14. Hubbard was 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.

Final Score: (8) Villanova 81, DePaul 64

Darrun Hilliard had 21 points and four steals and No. 8 Villanova dismantled DePaul 81-64, handing the Blue Demons their first conference loss of the season. Ryan Arcidiacono scored 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, in Villanova’s second straight convincing win following its first loss of the season, an overtime setback against Seton Hall on January 3. The Wildcats (15-1, 3-1 Big East) outscored St. John’s and DePaul by 35 points since losing to Seton Hall and have shot 23-for-52 from behind the arc during this two-game win streak. Tommy Hamilton IV and Darrick Wood posted 12 and 10 points, respectively, for DePaul (9-8, 3-1), which entered Saturday’s tilt as the only unbeaten team in the Big East.

Final Score: Oklahoma State 69, (10) Texas 58

Le’Bryan Nash and Phil Forte III carried Oklahoma State’s offense and the rest of the Cowboys complemented that with a lockdown defensive effort in their 69-58 win over No. 10 Texas on Saturday. Nash and Forte both scored 20 points for the Cowboys (12-3, 2-1 Big 12), who were coming off a hard-fought loss at Iowa State on Tuesday. They recovered by making nine 3-pointers and limiting Texas to 34.4% shooting. Anthony Hickey Jr. did his part with 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Myles Turner paced Texas (12-4, 1-2) with 18 points off the bench, while Demarcus Holland and Isaiah Taylor contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively. Jonathan Holmes missed all 10 of his shots and was held scoreless as the Longhorns dropped their second straight.

Final Score: (11) Maryland 69, Purdue 60

Balanced scoring and terrific free throw shooting helped No. 11 Maryland leave Mackey Arena with a 69-60 win over Purdue on Saturday. Jake Layman led four Terrapins in double figures with 14 points. Dez Wells added 13 points while Melo Trimble and Richaud Pack each scored 11. Maryland (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten), which lost to Illinois on Wednesday to absorb its first ever Big Ten loss, bounced back by hitting 27-of-31 from the stripe to pull off the important road win. Kendall Stephens paced the Boilermakers (10-7, 2-2) with 14 points, and Rapheal Davis gave 12 in their second straight loss.

Final Score: (12) Kansas 86, Texas Tech 54

Perry Ellis had 15 points and five rebounds to help give No. 12 Kansas an 86-54 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday. Kelly Oubre had 14 points, Cliff Alexander gave 12 points and five boards and Frank Mason had 10 points and five assists for the Jayhawks (13-2, 2-0 Big 12), who have won four straight. Justin Jamison had 12 points for the Red Raiders (10-6, 0-3), who have dropped their first three games to open conference play.

Final Score: (17) Iowa State 74, (14) West Virginia 72

Abdel Nader finished with 19 points as No. 17 Iowa State held off 14th-ranked West Virginia 74-72 on Saturday. Georges Niang finished with 16 points and five rebounds, Dustin Hogue netted 11 points and Jameel McKay chipped in with six points, seven rebounds and five blocks for the Cyclones (12-2, 2-0 Big 12), who have won nine of their last 10 games. Juwan Staten scored a game-high 23 points and Devin Williams supplied 14 points and 15 boards as the Mountaineers (14-2, 2-1) had their seven-game winning streak come to an end.

Final Score: Kansas State 66, (16) Oklahoma 63 (OT)

Marcus Foster hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 4.1 seconds left in overtime to lift Kansas State to a 66-63 win over No. 16 Oklahoma on Saturday night. Foster, who netted the final four points in regulation, including a game-tying jumper with nearly eight seconds left in the second half, got the ball at the top of the arc. He dribbled to his right and rose over Buddy Hield from the right wing for the go-ahead score. TaShawn Thomas was off the mark on a desperation triple at the other end.

Final Score: (19) Seton Hall 68, Creighton 67

Down by two with three seconds to play, Sterling Gibbs hit a contested 3-pointer to help No. 19 Seton Hall slip past Creighton, 68-67, on Saturday. Gibbs paced all scorers with 22 points for the Pirates (13-3, 3-1 Big East), who rebounded after suffering their first Big East loss of the season on Wednesday at Xavier. Khadeen Carrington chipped in 11 points for Seton Hall, and Brandon Mobley added nine points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. In his first career start, James Milliken scored 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting for the short-handed Bluejays (9-8, 0-4). Creighton’s top two scorers, Austin Chatman and Isaiah Zierden, combined to play just 19 minutes due to injuries. Will Artino contributed 14 points and 11 boards for the Bluejays.

Final Score: (20) VCU 89, Saint Joseph’s 74

Melvin Johnson and Treveon Graham led a torrid display from 3-point range that carried No. 20 VCU to an 89-74 victory over Saint Joseph’s in an Atlantic 10 clash. Johnson knocked down 6-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc in a 20-point performance, while Graham went 4- of-6 en route to 19 points to help the Rams avenge their loss to the Hawks in last year’s A-10 Championship Game. As a team VCU (13-3, 3-0 A-10) made good on 12-of-23 3-pointers to extend its current win streak to eight games. DeAndre Bembry finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for Saint Joseph’s (6-8, 0-3). Aaron Brown added 14 points and Isaiah Miles had 12 in the loss, the Hawks’ fourth straight.

Final Score: (21) Baylor 66, TCU 59 (OT)

It took an extra session, but No. 21 Baylor prevailed over TCU, 66-59, on Saturday. Defenses shined in this game with the teams combining to shoot 33.6% and make just 3-of-25 from behind the arc. Taurean Prince scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Bears (12-3, 1-2 Big 12), and Rico Gathers added 17 points and a career- high 18 boards. The Horned Frogs (13-3, 0-3) lost for the third straight game after finishing non-conference play undefeated. They have now lost 21 games in a row in Big 12 play. Kyan Anderson tallied 16 points for TCU, its only player to reach double figures.

Final Score: Indiana 69, (22) Ohio State 66

Yogi Ferrell made four free throws in the final minute to help Indiana earn a 69-66 victory over 22nd-ranked Ohio State on Saturday at Assembly Hall. Ohio State trailed the entire second half, but had possession down 65-62 after an Indiana shot-clock violation. Marc Loving air-balled a 3-point try and Sam Thompson corralled the rebound under the basket. He was fouled while making a layup with 32.1 seconds to play, but missed the free throw. Ferrell sank two from the line with 21.9 seconds left to extend the Indiana edge to three and D’Angelo Russell made two free throws with 8.7 seconds remaining to again pull Ohio State within a point. The Hoosiers got the ball in to Ferrell and the Big Ten’s best free throw shooter rattled two home for a three-point advantage before Russell’s long three drew iron as time expired. Ferrell, despite a 1-for-8 effort from the field, finished with 10 points for the Hoosiers (12-4, 2-1 Big Ten), who played their conference home opener after a win at Nebraska and a 20-point loss at Michigan State to open the Big Ten ledger. Freshman James Blackmon Jr. led Indiana with 18 points and Troy Williams contributed 15 with 12 rebounds. Shannon Scott scored 16 and Russell added 13 for the Buckeyes (13-4, 2-2), who had beaten Minnesota and Illinois after dropping their conference opener against Iowa. Thompson and Jae’Sean Tate each netted 12 points in defeat.

Final Score: (23) Arkansas 82, Vanderbilt 70

Bobby Portis had 32 points and 11 rebounds to guide No. 23 Arkansas to an 82-70 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday. Michael Qualls had 20 points and six rebounds and Jacorey Williams added 10 points for the Razorbacks (13-2, 2-0 SEC), who have won their past seven games. Damian Jones had 14 points and seven rebounds and Matthew Fisher-Davis added 14 points for the Commodores (11-4, 1-1), who had a four-game winning streak broken.

Final Score: Western Kentucky 72, (25) Old Dominion 65

George Fant picked up a game-best double-double of 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead Western Kentucky to a 72-65 win over No. 25 Old Dominion. Chris Harrison-Docks totaled 19 points and T.J. Price added 15 points for the Hilltoppers (10-5, 3-0 C-USA), winners of five in a row. Trey Freeman poured in 20 points for the Monarchs (13-2, 2-1), whose 10-game win streak came to a halt. Jonathan Arledge added nine and six boards for the visitors.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Saturday, January 10)

Final Score: Charlotte 110, New York 82

Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets keep on rolling, while the hapless New York Knicks continue to lose. Walker’s 28 points propelled the Hornets to their season-high fifth straight win, a 110-82 dismantling of the Knicks that extended New York’s franchise-record skid to 15 games. Walker needed just 28 minutes to record his game-best total, and the New York City native has helped offset an injury to Al Jefferson by averaging 30.2 points during the win streak. Bismack Biyombo delivered season highs of 14 points and 12 rebounds for Charlotte, which received 15 points from P.J. Hairston and 14 from Brian Roberts in the rout.

Final Score: LA Clippers 120, Dallas 100

Blake Griffin had 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 120-100 rout of the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday. Jamal Crawford added 19 points off the bench for the Clippers, who improved to 6-2 on a nine-game homestand. Matt Barnes scored 18 points, Chris Paul tallied 17 points and 13 assists and J.J. Redick contributed 16 points. Dirk Nowitzki ended with 25 points and six rebounds for the Mavericks, who have dropped two straight since a six-game winning streak. Monta Ellis added 23 points and six assists. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was ejected after getting two technical fouls in the third quarter. The game was officiated by two referees after 63-year-old Joe Crawford left in the second quarter with a right knee injury.

Final Score: Detroit 98, Brooklyn 93

Brandon Jennings and Greg Monroe posted double-doubles and the Detroit Pistons got back in the win column with a 98-93 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Jennings scored all 20 of his points in the second half and handed out 11 assists while Monroe finished with 16 points and a season-high 17 rebounds for Detroit, winners in eight of nine since waiving Josh Smith. The Pistons won seven straight before falling to the Eastern Conference-leading Hawks 106-103 on Friday. Joe Johnson led six Nets in double figures with 17 points, while Brook Lopez contributed 11 points and 15 rebounds off the bench. Brooklyn has lost five in a row.

Final Score: Philadelphia 93, Indiana 92

Michael Carter-Williams drove for the go-ahead basket with 9.9 seconds left in regulation and the Philadelphia 76ers won for the second time in as many nights with a 93-92 victory over the Indiana Pacers. Carter-Williams finished with 15 points, the biggest two coming in crunch time when the reigning Rookie of the Year drove past three defenders and scooped in the deciding layup over the imposing Roy Hibbert. David West missed a contested fadeaway jumper from the top of the key just before the buzzer to seal the Sixers’ fifth win in their last 11 games. They had won two of their first 25. Tony Wroten added 20 points off the bench, and he and Carter-Williams both totaled nine assists. Robert Covington chipped in 16 points. West netted a season-high 28 points with nine rebounds for the Pacers, who have alternated wins and losses over their last six.

Final Score: Toronto 109, Boston 96

James Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas each scored eight of their 15 points during the pivotal third quarter, and Toronto snapped its four-game skid by pulling away for a 109-96 victory over the Boston Celtics at Air Canada Centre. Kyle Lowry and Lou Williams had 19 points apiece, and Johnson pulled down 10 rebounds. Amir Johnson scored 15, and Patrick Patterson totaled 10 points and nine boards for the Atlantic Division leaders, who beat the Celtics for the fourth straight time. Kelly Olynyk, a Toronto native, had 23 points for Boston, which has dropped nine of its last 11 games.

Final Score: Chicago 95, Milwaukee 87

On a night the Bulls played without Derrick Rose, it was time for Pau Gasol to take charge. The veteran scored nearly half of Chicago’s points in a 95-87 victory over the Boston Celtics at United Center. Gasol dropped a career-high 46 points and pulled down 18 rebounds. He was truly the go-to player for the Bulls, who were without Rose due to left knee soreness. Kirk Hinrich had 16 points and Jimmy Butler contributed nine points, eight rebounds and a career-high 10 assists for the Bulls, who snapped a two-game skid. Brandon Knight scored 20 for Milwaukee, which had won its previous two games. Gasol’s previous career- best was 44 points on March 28, 2006 when he played for Memphis. He went 17-of-30 from the field and missed only one of his 13 free throws. Gasol had 40 points through three quarters, and the Bulls pulled away in the fourth.

Final Score: Houston 97, Utah 82

James Harden scored 30 points and the Houston Rockets forced 31 turnovers in a lopsided 97-82 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday. Donatas Motiejunas chipped in with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who cashed in with 38 points off turnovers and 28 fastbreak points. Trey Burke and Enes Kanter each scored 16 points to lead the Jazz, who were coming off a loss in Oklahoma City on Friday.

Final Score: San Antonio 108, Minnesota 93

Austin Daye posted 22 points in a rare spot start, helping the San Antonio Spurs take down the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-93 on Saturday. Daye shot 8-for-13 and pulled down a team- high 10 rebounds in his second start of the season to lead six Spurs in double figures. Patty Mills gave 19 points off the bench and Tim Duncan shot 5-for-6 for 13 points in limited minutes. Tony Parker and Cory Joseph netted 12 points apiece and Boris Diaw had 11 for San Antonio, which was without Kawhi Leonard (hand) for the 13th straight game. Manu Ginobili also sat out with a back injury after playing just 10 minutes in Friday’s win over Phoenix. The Spurs have won four of their last five games, but are just 8-8 without Leonard this season. Zach LaVine paced Minnesota with 19 points off the bench, while Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng finished with 18 apiece. The Wolves made all 26 of their free throws to set a franchise record for most makes without a miss from the line. Wiggins has scored in double figures in 10 straight, though the Timberwolves have lost 15 in a row since beating Portland on December 10.

Final Score: Portland 103, Orlando 92

LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and six rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Orlando Magic 103-92 on Saturday night. Wesley Matthews posted 18 points and eight rebounds and Damian Lillard added 16 points, five boards and five assists for the Blazers, who have won seven of their last eight games. Nik Vucevic tallied a career- high 34 points and 16 boards, while Victor Oladipo provided 18 points, eight rebounds and four helpers for Orlando, which has dropped six straight contests.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  A’s acquire Zobrist, Escobar from Rays

The Oakland Athletics acquired infielders Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar from the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher John Jaso, minor league infielder Daniel Robertson and minor league outfielder Boog Powell.

To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the A’s designated infielder Andy Parrino for assignment.

Zobrist, who made his MLB debut with the Rays in 2006, leaves Tampa Bay as the franchise’s all-time leader in doubles (229) and walks (542) and ranks second in games, runs (565), hits (1016) and triples (32).

The 33-year-old Zobrist batted .272 with 10 home runs and 52 RBI in 146 games last year. He started games at five different positions, including 74 at second base, 23 at shortstop, 17 in left field, 16 in right field and seven in center field.

Zobrist is a .264 career hitter with 114 home runs, 511 RBI and 102 stolen bases over 1,064 games.

Escobar hit .258 with seven home runs and 39 RBI in 137 games with Tampa Bay in 2014. His 476 at-bats were his fewest since his rookie season of 2007 (319).

The 32-year-old Escobar is a .276 career hitter with 69 home runs and 393 RBI in 1,074 games with Atlanta (2007-10), Toronto (2010-12) and Tampa Bay (2013-14). Since 2008, he’s started 950 games at shortstop, most in the majors.

Jaso batted .264 with nine home runs and 40 RBI in 99 games with Oakland in 2014. His season was cut short due to a concussion for the second consecutive year.

The 31-year-old Jaso returns to the Rays, who selected him in the 12th round of the 2003 draft. He has hit .259 with 32 homers and 182 RBI in 480 career games with Tampa Bay (2008, 10-11), Seattle (2012) and Oakland (2013-14).

Robertson is a .287 career hitter with 29 home runs and 136 RBI in 288 games over three seasons in the minors.

Powell has batted .317 with three home runs and 55 RBI in 177 career games in three minor league seasons.

►  Rays agree to 1-year deal with Asdrubal Cabrera

The Tampa Bay Rays finally put an end to lengthy speculation, officially announcing on Saturday the signing of infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to a one-year contract worth $7.5 million.

Cabrera split last season with Cleveland and Washington and hit a career-worst .241 with 14 home runs and 61 RBI. He also batted a paltry .229 after the July 31 trade to the Nats.

With Cabrera in the fold, the Rays have decided to move the versatile Ben Zobrist, who spent the majority of 2014 at second for the Rays.

A native of Venezuela, the 29-year-old Cabrera’s numbers have steadily declined from his 2011 campaign that saw him swat 25 home runs and drive in 92 runs. The two-time All-Star is a career .268 hitter with 87 home runs and 451 RBI over 963 games with the Indians and Nationals.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Lightning does strike twice

Science has proven the old saying that “lightning can’t strike the same place twice” as a myth. Actually storm chasers have captured photos of lightning striking the same pole as many as 50 times.

The Lightning’s Tyler Johnson supports this theory as he “struck” twice on Tuesday, scoring a pair of power-play goals in the victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Johnson and his linemates Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov have “struck” the same spot repeatedly this season, that spot being the stat sheet for fantasy owners.

With the pair of goals, Johnson moved ahead of names like Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Getzlaf for sole possession of third place in the points race. Johnson has 45 points through 41 games.

He has 11 points in the past seven games.

The only Tampa Bay player with more points over that stretch is Palat who has 13 points. Palat has nine goals and 23 assists this season. At this pace, the 23-year-old will eclipse his career-high 59 points from a season ago.

Since November 18, Kucherov actually has more points than any other Lightning player, recording 25 points in the last 23 games. To put that in perspective, Kucherov had just 18 points in 52 games in his entire 2013-2014 rookie season. Kucherov and Johnson are second in goals for Tampa Bay this season, tied with 17.

The three skaters, all under the age of 25, have obviously built great chemistry manning the second line together. They also play on the second power-play unit which was on full display Tuesday. Palat and Kucherov both assisted each of Johnson’s scores on the man advantage.

At such young ages and in the first full season playing together, the Lightning second line could strike even more for owners in the second half of the season.

Captain Steven Stamkos and the rest of the Lightning squad should have no problem seeing those guys score. Tampa Bay has won six of their last seven games behind 35 combined points from its second line.

That’s not even the most impressive stat from Johnson, Kucherov and Palat. They each ranked in the top four in plus/minus with Johnson and Kucherov leading the league at plus-26. Palat is fourth in the NHL with a plus-22 rating.

It will not be easy for fantasy owners to acquire any of the skaters on Tampa Bay’s second line, but if it’s possible, do not hesitate in adding them. Kucherov and Palat are available in at least 30% of Yahoo leagues. Johnson is a free agent in 13% of Yahoo leagues, which for his production, seems rather high.

►  NHL Game Results

(Saturday, January 10)

Final Score: Boston 3, Philadelphia 1

David Pastrnak scored the first two goals of his career to lead the Boston Bruins in a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Chris Kelly had the other goal and Tuukka Rask stopped 24 shots for the Bruins, who have won their past three. Claude Giroux scored the only goal of the game for the Flyers, who had won their previous two. Steve Mason started the game in net for Philadelphia, but left seven minutes into the first period with a right leg injury. He stopped all five shots he faced while Ray Emery allowed three goals on 13 shots in relief.

Final Score: Nashville 3, Minnesota 1

Pekka Rinne came up with 36 saves while Calle Jarnkrok and Colin Wilson scored in the third period and Nashville took out Minnesota by a 3-1 count at Xcel Energy Center. Mike Fisher added an early score for the Predators, who reclaimed the top spot in the Western Conference with 60 points, two ahead of idle Anaheim. Charlie Coyle potted the lone goal for the Wild, who have dropped four in a row and three straight on home ice. Niklas Backstrom made 24 stops in the loss.

Final Score: Colorado 4, Dallas 3

Matt Duchene picked up the deciding goal early in the third period and added an assist, as Colorado escaped with a 4-3 victory over Dallas at Pepsi Center. Erik Johnson, John Mitchell and Nathan MacKinnon lit the lamp in the second period for the Avalanche, who have won three in a row and seven of 10 overall. Semyon Varlamov snagged the win thanks to a 37-save performance. Brett Ritchie, Colton Sceviour and Ales Hemsky scored for the Stars, losers of four straight since winning four in a row. Kari Lehtonen stopped 26 shots in defeat.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 2, Montreal 1 (OT)

Sidney Crosby capped two shifts of pressure with the game-winner on a power play with 1:19 remaining in overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins claimed a 2-1 decision over the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Crosby had two separate chances to win it earlier as the clock ticked down to two minutes remaining in the extra session. Habs goaltender Carey Price flashed his right pad on the first chance and seconds later, Crosby actually beat Price through the pads from in close, but Montreal’s Alexei Emelin came to the rescue and swept the puck out of danger. The hosts were hit with a bench minor penalty with 1:51 left in OT, and Evgeni Malkin slipped a pass into the right circle for Crosby’s successful one-timer which ended the contest. Malkin provided the other tally for the Penguins, who snapped a two-game skid and remained a point behind the first- place Islanders in the Metropolitan Division. New York maintained the top spot with a 4-1 win in Columbus earlier in the evening.

Final Score: Washington 3, Detroit 1

The Washington Capitals got goals from Troy Brouwer, John Carlson and Joel Ward in a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Braden Holtby made 26 saves in his 18th consecutive start for the Capitals, who extended their point streak to seven games (5-0-2). Jonathan Ericsson scored the lone goal for the Red Wings, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Detroit lost goaltender Jimmy Howard to a groin injury just 1:53 into the game. With the Red Wings killing a penalty, Howard left the puck behind the net for his defense to play. Instead, Brouwer got the puck and quickly scored on a wraparound as Howard scrambled to get back into position. Howard hurt his groin while extending his left leg awkwardly trying to cover the post. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Prior to the game, Howard was named to the 2015 NHL All-Star game. Petr Mrazek stopped 12-of-14 shots in relief.

Final Score: NY Islanders 5, Columbus 2

Matt Martin, Anders Lee and Brian Strait all had second-period goals to lift the New York Islanders to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Strait added an assist on Kyle Okposo’s marker in the third period, with Nikolay Kulemin also lighting the lamp to help the Islanders improve to 4-2-0 on their current seven-game road trip. New York outshot the Blue Jackets by a 40-18 margin, with Chad Johnson needing to record just 16 saves to collect the victory. As a result, the Isles stayed a point up on Pittsburgh for first place in the Metropolitan Division, after the Pens nipped the Habs in OT. Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves in Columbus’ second 5-2 setback in as many nights, having fallen to Toronto by the same score on Friday. Jack Johnson and Nick Foligno each registered goals in defeat.

Final Score: Ottawa 5, Arizona 1

Craig Anderson made 31 saves, and the Ottawa Senators scored five unanswered goals to top the Arizona Coyotes, 5-1, on Saturday. After Mikkel Boedker put the Coyotes on top early in the game, Milan Michalek and Clarke MacArthur scored first-period goals to give the Senators the lead. Ottawa also got goals from Mike Hoffman, Cody Ceci and David Legwand to end its three-game losing streak. Mike Smith allowed all five Senators goals on 33 shots as the Coyotes lost for the second time in three games.

Final Score: St. Louis 5, Carolina 4 (SO)

T.J. Oshie scored the lone goal in the shootout to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 5-4 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Oshie, the Blues’ first shooter, patiently skated through the slot, got Cam Ward to bite on a fake and lifted a shot into the top of the net. Jake Allen made Oshie’s effort stand as he stopped all three shooters, including a slick glove save on Alexander Semin to end the game. Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund all scored in regulation for the Blues, who won their fourth straight game. Allen stopped 19-of-20 shots in relief of Brian Elliott, who allowed three goals on 10 shots during the first period. Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask each tallied a goal and an assist, while Eric Staal and Riley Nash also lit the lamp for the Hurricanes, who were coming off a 5-2 win over Buffalo on Thursday. Ward allowed four goals on 35 shots in defeat.

Final Score: Calgary 1, Vancouver 0

Joni Ortio’s first start of the season was a memorable one, as the 23-year-old netminder shut out the Vancouver Canucks and carried the Calgary Flames to a 1-0 victory—the club’s first over its Pacific Division rival in nearly two years. Ortio was recalled from Adirondack of the AHL on Friday and gave Jonas Hiller the night off. He was peppered with 36 shots and, with the help of the post on several occasions, denied every one of them. Mikael Backlund provided the game-winning goal on Calgary’s first shot. The Flames, who came in 0-3-0 in the new year, had dropped nine straight against the Canucks, their previous win coming on Mar. 3, 2013. Eddie Lack saved all but one of the 23 shots he faced in the loss.

Final Score: Winnipeg 5, Los Angeles 4 (SO)

Bryan Little had the lone shootout goal to boost the Winnipeg Jets to a wild 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. The Jets scored three goals on their first three shots of the night, all within the first 6:39 of the contest, but couldn’t sustain the lead, yet snapped a two-game skid. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made an incredible sprawling save, falling backward with his left hand stopping a shot from Mathieu Perreault in the second round of the shootout. In the fourth round, Little’s wrist shot found the right side of the net. Mike Richards missed the net on his attempt to extend the shootout. Little also scored in regulation, as did Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian and Perreault. Michael Hutchinson made 25 saves. Quick stopped 21 shots for the Kings, who got goals from Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford and Justin Williams. The Kings suffered their third straight loss.

Final Score: NY Rangers 3, San Jose 1

Chris Kreider tallied a goal and an assist as the New York Rangers capped a successful California road trip with a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash also lit the lamp, Derek Stepan supplied two assists and Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves for the Rangers, who started the trip out with a 4-1 win over Anaheim on Wednesday and topped the Kings 4-3 in a Stanley Cup rematch on Thursday. New York has won five straight games and 13 of its last 14 games. It is the team’s best 14-game stretch since January 7 to February 10, 1973 (14-0-1). Melker Karlsson supplied San Jose’s lone marker to extend his goal streak to five games and Antti Niemi allowed two goals on 31 shots in defeat.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Sharapova rallies past Ivanovic for Brisbane title

Maria Sharapova rallied for a three- set win over Ana Ivanovic on Saturday to capture the season-opening Brisbane International tennis tournament.

Sharapova blew an early lead in the first set and dropped the opener in a tiebreaker, but came back to earn a 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-3 victory in the final for her 34th career title.

The top-seeded Russian won four times in 2014, capturing her second French Open title along the way, and has now claimed at least one WTA crown every year since 2003. She will try for her sixth career Grand Slam championship when the Australian Open begins on January 19.

Sharapova’s only Aussie Open crown came back in 2008 when she beat Ivanovic in the final.

Ivanovic, who also won four times in 2014, split four meetings with Sharapova last year. Sharapova won a final in Stuttgart and a semifinal in Beijing, while Ivanovic prevailed in a semifinal at Cincinnati and a third-rounder in Rome.

Sharapova opened a quick 4-1 lead in the first set Saturday and had a pair of set points at 5-4. Ivanovic, though, battled back and won it in a tiebreaker after 62 minutes.

The second-seeded Serb failed to earn a break-point chance in the second set and was broken twice, allowing Sharapova to force a third. Another early break in the third gave Sharapova the edge and she did not yield the advantage.

“She got back the balls that I thought weren’t coming over the net,“ said Ivanovic. “That’s why she’s where she is, and that’s why she’s such a great champion.“

Sharapova improved to 10-4 lifetime against Ivanovic, including 3-0 in finals.

Ivanovic fell to 15-8 all-time in title matches, while Sharapova improved to 34-22.

►  Venus edges Wozniacki in Auckland final

American Venus Williams came back from a set down to beat Caroline Wozniacki in Saturday’s title match of the ASB Classic.

The third-seeded Williams defeated Wozniacki, the top seed, by a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 margin. Williams had never lost a set in five previous meetings with Wozniacki.

“In the first set she was serving so well,“ said Williams. “She had an amazing first serve percentage, all those amazing passing shots, even her mis-hits were too good. But I just tried to stay level-headed in the second set and focus on holding, and cut down on my unforced errors too, and it worked for me today.“

Williams was last year’s Auckland runner-up, dropping a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 decision to Ana Ivanovic. The 34-year-old Williams went 1-3 in finals last year. After the loss to Ivanovic in Auckland, she beat Alize Cornet in February for her lone title of the season in Dubai, then lost finals last summer in Montreal and Quebec City.

It was Williams’ 46th WTA title.

“It’s a wonderful way to start the year,“ Williams added. “Last year I started the year with the (Auckland) final and went to play a few more finals in the year and had a great year, so I’d like to take it that much further this year as well.“

Wozniacki reached three finals in 2014, winning in Istanbul last July for her lone title of the year. She then lost consecutive finals in September, first falling to Serena Williams in the U.S. Open before losing to Ivanovic in Tokyo two weeks later.

►  Halep wins Shenzhen Open title

Top-seeded Simona Halep captured the Shenzhen Open title with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky on Saturday.

The third-ranked Romanian won 82% of points on her first serve, broke Bacsinszky’s serve four times and didn’t face a break point in the 62-minute match.

“I felt really relaxed today,“ said Halep. “I’m happy I could play better day by day and match by match here. I’m looking forward to playing like today in the next tournament, maybe even better.“

Halep, last year’s French Open runner-up, won her ninth career title. She’ll try for her first Grand Slam championship when the Australian Open starts on January 19.

“I don’t want to put any pressure on myself for the Australian Open,“ Halep added. “I have to be focused there, and I hope to win many matches there, but it’ll be tough. I’ll just try to do everything I did here.“

The eighth-seeded Bacsinszky ousted two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to reach her third final and first since 2010.

►  Federer, Raonic to meet in Brisbane final

Top-seeded Roger Federer will play for the title at the season-opening Brisbane International after beating Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in Saturday’s semifinals.

Federer rolled to a 6-2, 6-2 win over the fourth-seeded Dimitrov in 53 minutes.

The Swiss star, who lost to Lleyton Hewitt in last year’s title match, will face third-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada in Sunday’s final.

Raonic knocked off Japan’s Kei Nishikori in 2 1/2 hours after all three of their sets were settled 7-4 in a tiebreaker.

Federer, 33, is chasing his 83rd career title after winning five times last season.

Raonic won the last two sets against the second-seeded Nishikori and will be trying to win his seventh career title. He is 6-7 in championship matches and 1-7 all-time against Federer.

Brisbane serves as a tune-up for the Australian Open, which will begin January 19 in Melbourne.

►  Ferrer tops Berdych for Doha title

David Ferrer opened his 2015 season with a title, beating Tomas Berdych in straight sets for the Qatar Open championship on Saturday.

The fourth-seeded Ferrer notched a 6-4, 7-5 victory to claim his 22nd career ATP World Tour crown. He has already matched his title total from last year, as the 32-year-old Spaniard was 1-3 in finals.

“I put in hard work this preseason,“ said Ferrer in an on-court interview after the match. “It’s special winning this tournament.“

Ferrer’s best previous finish in four tries at this event was a semifinal appearance in 2013. He lost in the second round last year.

Berdych fell to 10-15 lifetime in finals and was 2-3 last year in title matches, winning in Rotterdam and Stockholm. He was a first-round loser at this event last year in his first-ever appearance.

The third-seeded Czech had not dropped serve in winning each of his first four matches this week in straight sets, but Ferrer changed that in the first game with a break and opened a 4-1 lead en route to winning the first set.

Berdych was broken twice in the second set, the last time in the 11th game, and Ferrer held to finish the match.

Ferrer improved to 8-5 all-time against Berdych and snapped a two-match losing streak in the series. The two met in the Australian Open quarterfinals last year, with Berdych capturing a four-set victory.

The Australian Open is set to begin January 19 in Melbourne.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Schwartzel moves 5 clear at South African Open

Charl Schwartzel used a third-round, 6-under 66 on Saturday to grab a 5-shot lead heading into the final day of the South African Open Championship.

Looking to win this event for the first time in his career, Schwartzel has nine total victories on the European Tour, including a 2011 Masters title. The South African finished 54 holes at 13-under-par 203.

“I figure the golf course is probably one of those courses that that can happen,“ Schwartzel said about being so far ahead. “I’m flying the ball really well and I think that’s pretty key around here.“

Matthew Fitzpatrick and David Drysdale are the next closest competitors to Schwartzel. Fitzpatrick fired a 5-under 67, while Drysdale shot a 4-under 68 and the duo is tied for second at 8-under 208 at Glendower Golf Club.

Lee Slattery carded the lowest score of the week so far with a 7-under 65 and he is alone in fourth at 7-under 209. Second-round leader Andy Sullivan struggled on his way to a 2-over 74 on Saturday and he is tied for fifth at 6- under with seven others.

Following a 5-over 77 Friday, five-time champion Ernie Els rebounded with a 3- under 69 in the third round and he is tied for 20th at 3-under 213. Defending champion Morten Orum Madsen shot a 71 for the second consecutive day and he is tied for 36th at 1-under.

Schwartzel, beginning the day one shot behind the leader Sullivan, exploded out of the gate to seize control of the lead with four straight birdies from No. 1.

After a pair of pars, Schwartzel dropped his first shot with a bogey on seven, but he had a response right away with back-to-back gains on eight and nine.

Making the turn at 5-under for the day, Schwartzel made two more pars on 10 and 11 before play was halted due to inclement weather. Upon return, Schwartzel extended his lead to six shots by sneaking in a birdie chip from just off the green on No. 12

Schwartzel tripped to a bogey on the par-5 13th, but he had an answer once again with a birdie on 14. The 30-year-old coasted to the finish with four straight pars from 15, taking a 5-shot lead into Sunday.

“Got off to the best start you can possibly think of and then kept swinging the club well, hit some good shots,“ Schwartzel said. “I thought the greens slowed down quite a bit after waiting around for a while. The last few holes left quite a few putts short.“

The 20-year-old Fitzpatrick started off slow as he made the turn at 1-over following two birdies and three bogeys on the front nine, but a great finish has the youngster within striking distance.

Fitzpatrick made birdies on 10 and 12 before rolling in an eagle on the par-5 13th. Now at 3-under for the day, Fitzpatrick made two more gains on 15 and 17 to pull within five of the leader Schwartzel.

Drysdale also ended strong after a tough start. After making three birdies and two bogeys on the front nine, Drysdale made a mess of the par-4 10th and settled for double-bogey.

That was the last dropped shot Drysdale had as he ended with five birdies over his last seven holes from 12 to join Fitzpatrick at minus-8.

NOTES: Schwartzel’s last victory came at last season’s Alfred Dunhill Championship ... Schwartzel’s best finish at this event came back in 2005 when he tied for second behind winner Tim Clark ... South Africans have won this event 11 of the last 14 years ... Schwartzel has led nine times going into the final round on the European Tour and he has won five of those times ... The delay due to thunder and lightning in the area lasted 45 minutes.

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

National Football League - Playoffs
Dallas at Green Bay, 1:05 PM - FOX
Indianapolis at Denver, 4:40 PM - CBS
National Basketball Association
Washington at Atlanta, 3:00 PM - CSN-DC, SportSouth, DSS
Miami at LA Clippers, 3:30 PM - SunSports, FS-Prime Ticket, DSS
Phoenix at Memphis, 6:00 PM - FS-Arizona, SportSouth, DSS
Cleveland at Sacramento, 9:00 PM - FS-Ohio, CSN-California, DSS
Portland at LA Lakers, 9:30 PM - CSN-Northwest, Time Warner, DSS
National Hockey League
Florida at Edmonton, 7:00 PM - FS-Florida, CITY, DSS
Minnesota at Chicago, 8:00 PM - TVA, WGN, NBCSN
Winnipeg at Anaheim, 9:00 PM - TSN3, FS-Prime Ticket, DSS
College Basketball
Northwestern at Michigan State, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Duke at NC State, 1:30 PM - CBS
SMU at UCF, 2:00 PM - CBSSN
Illinois State at Missouri State, 3:00 PM -
St. Bonaventure at Richmond, 3:00 PM - CBS6.3
South Florida at Tulane, 3:00 PM -
Memphis at Houston, 4:00 PM - CBSSN
Wichita State at Loyola-Chicago, 5:00 PM - ESPN U
Murray State at Jacksonville State, 6:00 PM - CBSSN
Wisconsin at Rutgers, 6:00 PM - Big Ten Network
California at UCLA, 7:30 PM - FS1
Youngstown State at Green Bay, 8:00 PM -
Florida State at Syracuse, 8:00 PM - ESPN U
Illinois at Nebraska, 8:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Arizona at Oregon State, 10:00 PM - FS1
Stanford at USC, 10:00 PM - ESPN U
Women’s College Basketball
South Florida at Temple, 12:00 PM - CBSSN
Kentucky at South Carolina, 1:00 PM - ESPN 2,
LSU at Texas A&M, 1:00 PM - ESPN U,
Duke at Florida State, 1:00 PM - FSN,
Boston College at Notre Dame, 1:00 PM -
Georgia at Auburn, 2:00 PM - SEC Network
Ohio State at Michigan, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
USC at Utah, 2:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Kansas at Kansas State, 2:00 PM - FSN
Wisconsin at Indiana, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Purdue at Iowa, 2:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Connecticut at SMU, 3:00 PM - SNY,
Georgia Tech at North Carolina, 3:00 PM - RSN,
Maryland at Minnesota, 3:00 PM - ESPN 2
Michigan State at Northwestern, 3:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Alabama at Ole Miss, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Nebraska at Illinois, 3:00 PM - Big Ten Network+
Tennessee at Arkansas, 3:00 PM - ESPN U,
UCLA at Colorado, 3:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Miss State at Vanderbilt, 3:00 PM - SEC Network+
Fordham at St. Bonaventure, 4:00 PM - NBCSN
Florida at Missouri, 4:00 PM - SEC Network
Stanford at Washington State, 4:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Georgetown at Villanova, 5:00 PM - FS1
California at Washington, 6:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Oregon State at Oregon, 8:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Dallas at Monterrey, 6:00 PM -
International Soccer
FC Internazionale Milano vs. Genoa CFC, 6:25 AM - beIN Sport
Arsenal vs. Stoke City, 8:30 AM - NBCSN
AS Roma vs. SS Lazio, 8:55 AM - beIN Sport
FC Nantes vs. FC Metz, 10:55 AM - beIN Sport
Manchester United vs. Southampton, 11:00 AM - NBCSN
Granada CF vs. Real Sociedad, 12:55 PM - beIN Sport
FC Barcelona vs. Club Atletico de Madrid, 2:55 PM - beIN Sport
EUROPEAN - South African Open, 5:00 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Tournament of Champions, 2:30 PM - NBC
PGA - Tournament of Champions, 5:00 PM - Golf Channel
Brisbane, 4:00 AM - Tennis Channel

Sports News   150110

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Ricky Williams, Bosworth among college football HOF class

Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams of Texas and former Oklahoma standout linebacker Brian Bosworth highlight the 2015 class for induction to the College Football Hall of Fame.

A total of 15 players and two coaches were selected for enshrinement. Induction ceremonies are set for December 08 in New York City.

This year’s class also includes linebackers Trev Alberts of Nebraska, Zach Thomas of Texas Tech and Bob Breunig of Arizona State; receivers Wes Chandler of Florida and Thom Gatewood of Notre Dame; running backs Dick Jauron of Yale, Clinton Jones of Michigan State and Rob Lytle of Michigan; offensive linemen Lincoln Kennedy of Washington and Ruben Brown of Pittsburgh; defensive linemen Art Still of Kentucky and Sean Brewer of Millsaps; and quarterback Michael Payton of Marshall.

Coaches Bill Snyder of Kansas State and Jim Tressel of Ohio State and Youngstown State will also join the class.

“We are extremely proud to announce the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame Class,“ said Archie Manning, Chairman of the National Football Foundation and a 1989 College Football Hall of Famer from Ole Miss. “Each of these men has established himself among the absolute best to have ever played the game, and we look forward to immortalizing their incredible accomplishments.“

Williams won the Heisman Trophy in 1998 and finished his four-year career at Texas as the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher with 6,279 yards while setting 46 school records. He was a unanimous First-Team All-American in his final two years and was the first two-time recipient of the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back.

Bosworth spent three seasons at Oklahoma and led the Sooners to a trio of Big 8 titles with an appearance in the Orange Bowl each year, highlighted by a national championship in 1985. He was a consensus All-American in his final two years and is the only two-time recipient of the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker.

Alberts was the first Butkus Award winner at Nebraska in 1993 and led the Cornhuskers to at least a share of three conference titles. He is Nebraska’s all-time sacks leader.

Thomas was a two-time First-Team All-American and the Southwest Conference’s top defensive player in 1994 and ‘95 at Texas Tech.

Breunig was the Western Athletic Conference’s top defensive player twice during his career at Arizona State from 1972-74, helping the Sun Devils to a pair of WAC titles while finishing his career as the Sun Devils’ all-time leader in tackles.

Chandler led Florida in receiving for three straight seasons during his career from 1974-77 and was 10th in the Heisman voting as a senior, finishing as the highest-scoring non-kicker in Gators history.

Gatewood set nearly every receiving record at Notre Dame in an All-American career from 1969-71, leading the Irish in receiving during each of his three seasons. He was also the first African-American captain in Notre Dame history.

Jauron was the Ivy League’s Player of the Year in 1972 as a senior at Yale and led the Bulldogs in rushing each of his three seasons.

Jones led Michigan State to consecutive national championships in 1965 and ‘66 in his final two seasons with the Spartans, finishing sixth in the 1966 Heisman voting.

Lytle, who died in 2010 following a heart attack, was the Big Ten MVP as a senior in 1976 when he finished third in the Heisman balloting after rushing for a then-school record 1,469 yards. He finished with 3,317 yards and helped the Wolverines to a pair of conference titles.

Kennedy helped Washington a national championship as a junior in 1991 and was a unanimous First-Team All-American in 1992, helping the Huskies to three Pac-10 titles.

Brown was a three-time All-Big East selection and a First-Team All-American as a senior in 1994.

Still led Kentucky to its last 10-win season as a senior in 1977, when he was voted the SEC’s top defensive player.

Brewer was the only defensive lineman in Division III history to earn First- Team All-America honors three times during his career from 1989-92.

Payton was Marshall’s quarterback from 1989-92 when the Thundering Herd played in Division I-AA. He was selected as the Walter Payton Award winner as the division’s most outstanding player as a senior in ‘92 while helping Marshall to the Division I-AA national championship.

Snyder has turned a moribund Kansas State program into a national championship contender during his 23-year career from 1989-2005 and 2009-present. He led the Wildcats to a pair of Big 12 titles and 16 of the school’s 18 bowl appearances, including 11 straight from 1993-2003, and joins Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno and John Gagliardi as the only coaches to earn induction into the Hall of Fame while still actively leading a program.

Tressel won five national championships during his coaching tenure and is the only coach to win a title at both the Division I-A and Division I-AA levels. He guided Youngstown State to four I-AA championships during his tenure from 1986-2000 and guided Ohio State to the 2002 FBS title.

Among the notables not elected from the ballot of 87 players and 25 coaches were former Heisman Trophy winners Eric Crouch and Rashaan Salaam.

►  Cooper, Yeldon, Collins leaving Alabama for NFL

Alabama standouts Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon and Landon Collins have decided to enter the NFL Draft.

Alabama coach Nick Saban made the announcement Friday, calling it “business decisions,“ for the trio.

Cooper won the Bilietnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver in 2014, finishing the campaign with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards with 16 touchdowns.

“I want to thank Coach Saban and all of my teammates,“ said Cooper on Friday. “I want to thank everyone who has had an influence in my time at Alabama.“

Yeldon was the Crimson Tide’s second-leading rusher this past season with 979 yards, just 11 behind Derrick Henry, and added 11 touchdowns. He eclipsed 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, and finished his career with 3,355 yards and 37 touchdowns.

Collins tied for the team lead with three interceptions this past season and was a finalist for the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.

“My time has come for me to take the next step in my journey,“ said Collins.

Alabama finished 12-2 this season, falling to Ohio State on New Year’s Day in the College Football Playoff semifinals at the Sugar Bowl.

►  Mississippi State LB McKinney to enter NFL Draft

Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney has made the decision to forgo his senior season and declare for the 2015 NFL Draft.

McKinney, a top inside linebacker prospect, led the Bulldogs with 142 tackles over the past two seasons.

“I have decided to enter the NFL Draft and look forward to the next chapter,“ McKinney said in a press release. “It’s been a privilege to be a part of one of the best teams in school history. Mississippi State has developed me into the player I am today, and I will always be part of the Bulldog family.“

The first team All-American compiled 244 tackles, 7 1/2 sacks and six fumble recoveries in 39 games (36 starts) over the course of his collegiate career.

►  FSU’s Edwards, Darby to enter NFL draft

Florida State junior defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. and junior cornerback Ronald Darby have decided to give up their remaining collegiate eligibility and enter the 2015 NFL Draft.

Edwards, a native of Mississippi, picked up 44 tackles and three sacks this past season. He departs campus having racked up 89 tackles and eight sacks over 36 games (26 starts) for the Seminoles.

“Mario was a tremendous player and person here at FSU and I want to thank him for three great years here,“ FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Mario improved each year since he arrived on campus and I’m excited to see him continue that growth in the NFL. I’m excited for him and his family and I think he will have a great professional career.“

Darby, the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, recorded 79 tackles, 16 passes defensed and one forced fumble over 42 lifetime appearances (23 starts).

“Ronald was a big part of our success here and helped us reach the next level over the last three years,“ Fisher added. “I’m excited for Ronald and his family. He was a phenomenal player for us here at Florida State, and I think he has a chance to be a great pro.“

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Patriots extend Chung, Bolden

The New England Patriots have reportedly extended the contracts of safety Patrick Chung and running back Brandon Bolden. said the deal for Chung is for three seasons and worth $3.4 million in guarantees, while the pact for Bolden is for two years.

Chung spent his first four NFL seasons with New England before playing the 2013 campaign in Philadelphia. He returned to the Patriots in April with a one-year deal and this season posted 85 tackles with an interception in 16 games, all but one as a starter.

Bolden has played each of his three NFL seasons in New England, mostly on special teams. He ran for 89 yards with a touchdown in 2014.

►  Extra Points: Luck is ahead of a pretty impressive curve

As the 2012 NFL Draft approached plenty of observers called Andrew Luck the best pure quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning.

It was a nice little narrative because the Indianapolis Colts just happened to have the No. 1 overall selection for the first time since 1998 when they selected Manning with the top overall spot.

Over the ensuing 13 years in Indy, Manning amassed a gaudy 141-67 regular- season record as a starter, passing for 54,828 yards with 399 touchdowns and a 94.9 passer rating as well as guiding the Colts to the playoffs 11 times, including a victory in Super Bowl XLI.

A neck injury that ultimately required four different surgical procedures sidelined Manning for the entire 2011 season which is the major reason Indianapolis fell off the cliff and was in a position to bridge a generation of greatness at the game’s most important position with another one.

Manning was eventually released by the Colts in March of 2012 and the divorce was hardly acrimonious. He was attempting to recover from the four procedures on his neck, and Indianapolis was focused on its future and Luck.

“(Manning) said, ‘You’ve got to take Andrew (Luck),‘ (in the 2012 draft)“ Colts owner Jim Irsay recalled during an interview with USA TODAY Sports. “‘You have to you’re crazy if you don’t.‘“

The Colts did draft Luck with the No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford after moving on from Manning, who subsequently signed with the Denver Broncos.

Whether the still emerging Luck, and perhaps more importantly his teammates, have progressed enough to take down the veteran Manning and the supremely talented Broncos in the AFC’s divisional round of the playoffs will be answered on Sunday afternoon.

“It was my hope and dream that this sort of situation would occur,“ Irsay said of squaring off with the former face of his franchise. “I feel blessed that it has. I think it’s going to be a great game and having these two great quarterbacks go against each other at this point in their careers is really exciting.“

Luck is not only bigger and stronger than Manning ever was, he’s far more athletic with elite arm talent, a signal caller with the body of a tight end, the fastball of Roger Clemens, impressive 4.65 speed, and a high-football IQ.

Luck showed off all of his immense talents during a 36-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief in the Colts’ 26-10 wild-card win over the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend.

With the pocket collapsing the third-year star raced forward as Cincinnati’s best pass rusher, Carlos Dunlap, closed in. He shed that tackle easily with eyes firmly focused downfield as other defenders swarmed in before finally firing a perfectly placed pass to Moncrief over two defenders, all while falling down.

“(Luck) can make all the throws, and also he can make all the throws on the run,“ Broncos Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris said. “So that sets him apart from a lot of quarterbacks, and we know we’re going to have to cover a little bit longer.“

“I think he’s getting better and better,“ Denver star linebacker Von Miller added. “The concern with him is that he passes, runs, extends plays. He’s the heart of their offense. He’s the heart of their organization.“

Manning did so much for the Colts that it’s almost surreal to realize Luck is far ahead of the pace the future Hall of Famer set during his first three seasons in the Hoosier State.

Manning, a five-time NFL MVP, won 26 regular-season games during his first three NFL seasons with the Colts, throwing for 12,287 yards with two playoff starts, both losses. By comparison Luck has already won 33 in the regular season, tossed for 12,957 yards and won his second playoff game last week with the drubbing of the banged-up Bengals.

Manning didn’t get his second playoff victory until 2003, his sixth NFL campaign.

“What (Luck’s) accomplished may be better than any quarterback has ever accomplished early in a career,“ Broncos coach John Fox said. “He’s been as advertised.“

Manning hasn’t slowed down a bit in the Rockies, leading the Broncos to three straight AFC West crowns and a conference championship last season while earning his record fifth MVP award.

“To be honest, even since Day 1 here, it hasn’t been an issue,“ Luck said of the comparisons between he and Manning. “I never came in saying, ‘Oh, I have to replace a legend, one of the greatest of all-time.‘ Professional sports people, they come and they go. Someone’s going to replace me eventually, hopefully later rather than sooner.“

At this rate, it’s going to be a lot later because Luck has quickly developed into one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks and is already knocking on the door of the “elite club” headlined by talents like Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

Any he may kick in that door on Sunday in Manning-Luck III, the rubber match. Manning and Julius Thomas connected for three touchdowns during a 31-24 Broncos win during Kickoff Weekend this season, avenging a Week 7 39-33 loss to Luck and the Colts in 2013.

Manning has thrown for 655 yards with six touchdowns against his former team, while Luck has piled up 598 yards and five scoring tosses in the previous two meetings.

“It’s not the quarterback versus quarterback thing,“ Luck lamented. “We’re not on the field at the same time. I have a lot of respect for (Peyton), what he does, what he still does is amazing. He’s a stud. I’ll worry about the Denver defense, that’s what I worry about.“

Generally you want to be the guy who replaces the guy who replaced the legend.

For Luck, that’s something his eventual successor needs to think about.    ~~  John McMullen ~~

►  NFL investigating text messages sent to sideline during Browns games

It’s been a tough week for the Cleveland Browns, mostly because the team’s offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan quit. While many pointed the finger at rookie quarterback/veteran party boy Johnny Manziel for Shanahan’s early exit, it’s now coming to light that he may have left because a non-coaching Browns employee thought it proper to send text messages about play calls to the sideline during games.


Yes, that’s the sound of Browns fans everywhere slamming their heads into their computer screens.

The NFL opened an investigation into the allegations on Friday, ESPN reports, just days after first reported about the text controversy on Tuesday in a single line in a larger article about the troubles between the Browns coaching staff and the team’s front office.

“One source said some coaches became upset when a high-ranking personnel member texted from the press box to the sidelines about play calls,” according to the report.

The Gilmer Free Press

NFL spokesman Michael Signora, who confirmed the NFL would open an investigation into the matter, did not reveal from whom or to whom the messages were sent, nor did Signora elaborate on the content of the messages. He did underlined that texting to the sideline during games violates the NFL’s electronic devices rules.

Upon hearing the news, Browns supporters expressed extreme dismay.

“If (the texting allegations are) remotely true, that’s pretty shameful. How an organization even has an outlet for something like that undercuts the coaching staff big time. If I were Shanahan, I’d be upset, too. Simply can’t let some exec try to call plays,” Jeremy Fowler wrote on ESPN’s Browns blog on Friday.

Others spoke out on Twitter, including @CLEsportsTalk, the account of a popular Cleveland blog, which joked about what the messages might’ve said.

►  Jerry Jones says two seats are waiting for Chris Christie at Cowboys-Packers game

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is facing increasing pressure over the trips he’s taken to see his beloved Dallas Cowboys, but according to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Christie will be a welcome guest when Dallas visits the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the second round of the NFC playoffs.

“I’ve got him two seats,” Jones said in an interview broadcast Friday on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning.” (The interview was taped on Thursday afternoon.)

“He’s a friend. … He’s gonna be true blue. I admire that in him. I hope he just keeps coming to games for about the next three, stirring it up out here. … He’s our mojo.”

Jones said setting aside seats for political figures is nothing new for him. He said he’s done the same for Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton.

But neither Mandela or Clinton had a business relationship with Christie the way that Jones does. Christie controls the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey along with New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. In 2013, the Port Authority awarded a contract to Legends Hospitality, which is co-owned by the Cowboys, to operate the observation deck at the Port Authority’s One World Trade Center.

In the wake of Christie’s Jones-paid trip to see the Cowboys beat the Lions in Texas last weekend, two New Jersey state legislators said Thursday they would consider having a legislative panel look into the Port Authority deal. The same panel already is investigating Christie’s role in the 2013 shutdown of lanes heading to the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey.

Specifically, the panel will look at why Christie and Cuomo publicly lobbied the Port Authority’s board of commissioners to approve the deal with Legends in a news release issued a day ahead of the vote in March 2013.

“The question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Why did the governors need to publicly urge the commissioners to vote for this?” New Jersey state assemblyman John Wisniewski (D), co-chair of the panel investigating the GW Bridge scandal, told “If this was a fair and open process, why did they feel compelled to advocate for the commissioners to vote to approve the agreement with Legends?”

State Senator Loretta Weinberg (D), the other co-chair of the committee, told that she found Christie and Cuomo’s public support of the Legends bid “a little strange.”

The committee likely will probe exactly when Christie and Jones became close friends. According to, Christie and has aides have given differing accounts:

                A spokesman for Christie on Wednesday said the start of Jones and Christie’s friendship began in the summer of 2013 – a few months after the late spring approval of the Legends bid, although Christie last month publicly stated the two men had become friends “over the last five years.”

                  “The more I hear about questions like, ‘When did you become friends?’ and then you have the governor saying one thing and his staff another, it becomes eerily familiar to the questions of ‘When did you first hear about the lane closures?’,” Wisniewski said.

                Weinberg derided it as “worthy of ‘Saturday Night Live.’”

►  Rodgers probable to face Cowboys

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ injured calf isn’t serious enough to keep the former league MVP out of Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field.

The Packers officially designated Rodgers probable for Sunday’s clash, with head coach Mike McCarthy telling reporters following Friday’s practice that he does not expect Rodgers to have any limitations during the game.

“Aaron came through the practice, everything OK,“ McCarthy said. “He looks like he’s moving fine to me right now, so we’re not going to change any approach for how we want to attack the Dallas defense.“

Rodgers has been dealing with a strained left calf, which various outlets reported earlier in the week to be a slight muscle tear, since Green Bay’s Week 16 game against Tampa Bay. The All-Pro signal-caller then aggravated the injury during the Packers’ division-clinching win over Detroit in the final week of the regular season.

After Rodgers sat out Wednesday’s practice, McCarthy said he took about 50- to-60% of the reps during Thursday’s workout.

On the Cowboys’ side, middle linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Jeremy Mincey each received medical clearance on Friday from concussions each sustained in last week’s victory over Detroit in the Wild Card Round. Both starters are listed as questionable, however.

Also questionable is linebacker Anthony Hitchens, the player involved in the controversial pass interference call that was later waved off during the fourth quarter of Dallas’ comeback win over the Lions. The rookie has not practiced this week as he attempts to recover from an ankle sprain.

Offensive tackle Doug Free is expected to miss a fourth straight game for Dallas with an ankle injury.

►  Chargers ink WR Pettis

The San Diego Chargers signed wide receiver Austin Pettis on Friday.

Pettis was released by the St. Louis Rams in October after making 12 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown in five games last season.

The 26-year-old’s best season came in 2013 when he set career highs in catches (38), receiving yards (399) and touchdowns (four).

Over 47 career games across four seasons with the Rams, Pettis has caught 107 passes for 1,034 yards and nine scores.

►  Seahawks healthy entering playoff matchup with Panthers

The Seattle Seahawks are mostly healthy heading into Saturday night’s NFC Divisional Round matchup with the Carolina Panthers.

Seattle had eight of its 10 players on Friday’s final injury report listed as probable.

Center Max Unger is one of those eight players and will most likely return from a six-game absence due to ankle and knee injuries.

Running back Marshawn Lynch (back), cornerbacks Tharold Simon (shoulder) and Byron Maxwell (illness), defensive ends Demarcus Dobbs (ankle) and Michael Bennett (not injury related), wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (hamstring) and tight end Cooper Helfet (ribs) are also listed as probable.

Tight end Tony Moeaki was listed as questionable with a calf injury, while backup safety Jeron Johnson was ruled out after he suffered a dislocated elbow in Week 17.

►  Ravens’ Monroe questionable vs. Patriots

Baltimore Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe is questionable for Saturday’s AFC Divisional Playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Monroe (ankle) has missed the past two games, including last week’s playoff win over the Steelers. James Hurst has started the past two weeks with Monroe sidelined.

Backup defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (foot/ankle) is probable after full participation in practice this week.

►  Panthers WR Brown questionable vs. Seahawks

The Carolina Panthers have listed wide receiver Philly Brown as questionable for Saturday’s NFC Divisional Playoff game against Seattle.

Brown hurt his shoulder in last week’s Wild Card Round win over the Cardinals. He was limited in practice the past two days.

The Ohio State product caught 21 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season.

If Brown is unable to play, Carolina could use No. 3 quarterback Joe Webb as a receiver.

Safety Thomas DeCoud (hamstring), linebacker A.J. Klein (ankle) and cornerback Melvin White (ankle) are also questionable. The Panthers had already ruled out defensive tackle Star Lotulelei due to a broken foot he sustained in practice earlier in the week.

►  NFL Play offs Game Results

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Which Smith is better?

The only upset during Wild Card Weekend occurred last Saturday night, when the sixth-seeded Baltimore Ravens took down their division rival, the third-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers.

Quarterback Joe Flacco continued where he left off from two postseasons ago, throwing for 259 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. However, Flacco would not have the success he is having if it were not for the playmakers who catch his passes.

Torrey Smith and Steve Smith Sr. are Baltimore’s top receiving threats, and during the 2014 season both players performed for fantasy owners, in some capacity.

Yet, which Smith should owners consider rolling with for the Divisional Round against the New England Patriots?

Although he is technically the No. 2 wideout on the depth chart behind Torrey, Steve was the player who had better overall numbers during the regular season.

Through 16 games, Steve recorded 79 receptions for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns on 133 targets, while Torrey accumulated 49 catches for 767 yards and 11 scores on 93 targets.

Yes, Torrey found the end zone a bit more, but the disparity in the number of targets proves that Steve was Flacco’s go-to guy.

Both players have had postseason experience throughout their careers. Steve has played in 10 playoff games, and has averaged 5.6 receptions for 95.7 yards and scored a total of eight touchdowns during that span. Torrey has averaged 2.4 receptions for 50.3 yards over seven postseason contests and has totaled five scores.

Not only has he outperformed Torrey in both the 2014 regular season and through each of their postseason careers, but Steve was also more reliable during their first playoff game as teammates (Steve had five catches for 101 yards, Torrey had two catches for 28 yards and 1 TD).

Even though Torrey scored the only touchdown between the two, fantasy owners need to know it is clear that Steve was much more involved and made the most of his opportunities (Steve had seven targets, Torrey had six targets) in the game against the Steelers.

One of the bigger intangibles for Saturday’s contest against the Patriots, is which defensive back will lineup across from the “Smith brothers”? Steve will most likely draw All-Pro Darrelle Revis, which would allow Torrey to go up against cornerback Brandon Browner.

There is no denying the temptation to stay away from a player who will be shadowed by Revis, but Torrey’s postseason numbers simply make it difficult for owners to trust him.

Torrey has never had more than four receptions in a playoff game and during Baltimore’s Super Bowl run two seasons ago, he was clearly the second option behind receiver Anquan Boldin. (Torrey had 11 catches for 233 yards and 2 TD on 25 targets, Boldin had 22 catches for 380 yards and four TD on 36 targets).

It is not a ridiculous thought for owners to feel this could be the week Torrey has a monster playoff game, however, the numbers are just not there to support that.

Boldin became the top receiving threat during the Ravens’ run two years ago, and after what we have seen in 2014, Steve has become Flacco’s top option this season.

As a result, for owners who like to choose their players solely based on numbers; Steve is your guy this week versus New England.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Friday, January 09)

#6 Robert C. Byrd 63     Lewis County 34

#9 Notre Dame 62     #5 Tucker County 57

Buckhannon-Upshur 66     Liberty 43

Ritchie County 48     Wirt County 47

Williamstown 69     Parkersburg Catholic 40

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Friday, January 09)

Webster County 67     #9 Gilmer County 63 (OT)

Clay County 58     Roane County 32

#2 North Marion 87     Philip Barbour 46

Buckhannon-Upshur 65     Liberty 32

Lincoln 59     East Fairmont 39

Robert C. Byrd 61     Lewis County 53

#3 Tucker County 59     #9 Notre Dame 31

Parkersburg 62     St. Albans 50

Parkersburg South 80     John Marshall 34

St. Marys 70     Tyler Consolidated 54

The Gilmer Free Press

►  No. 14 West Virginia welcomes No. 17 Iowa State to the Coliseum for what could be a telling matchup

Daxter Miles Jr. has yet to face Kansas or Texas or Iowa State or Oklahoma, yet the West Virginia freshman watches TV games, and he doesn’t blink in response to an entirely premature and slightly unfair question of the moment:

Are the Mountaineers good enough to win the Big 12?

“I believe so. I think we might be the toughest team,” Miles said. “I don’t want to toot that horn yet, but I believe we can do it. We’ve got enough people and enough energy, so why not? Let’s try to win it all.”

Currently at work on their second seven-game winning streak of the season, the No. 14 Mountaineers (14-1, 2-0) opened conference play by handling their chores against TCU and Texas Tech. While road victories should never be viewed as assumptions, those games represented mere appetizers to the schedule meat that awaits.

For the next proving ground, here comes Saturday night’s showdown against No. 17 Iowa State— the highest-scoring and least turnover-prone team West Virginia’s press has encountered this season. Are the skilled Cyclones immune to the press because of their slick passing or have they simply not faced a defense so assailing as the one WVU throws out?

“I think people are afraid to press them because of their skill level,” said Bob Huggins, who is afraid not to press this season.

The 33rd-year head coach realized months ago—not long after Eron Harris and Terry Henderson sought transfers—that his roster wasn’t going to exploit anybody in the halfcourt, at least not consistently. And taking the “best-available” replacement players so late in the spring recruiting cycle wasn’t about picking athletes who fit his system, but rather, retrofitting a system around whatever athletes eventually landed in Morgantown.

So, essentially, “Press Virginia” was born because two sophomore gunners opted to be reborn elsewhere. (However, Huggins contended Friday that even had Harris and Henderson remained, the team’s focus would have shifted toward defense. “We were going to start guarding again—either that was going to happen or they weren’t going to play,” he said. “We decided we weren’t going to keep trying to outscore people.”)

Now, with 15 regular-season games elapsed and another 16 to go, the product of all that attrition/addition is astounding. No WVU team has won so many games so soon since Reagan’s first term, and what’s more, the trickle-down effect of deploying pressure defense has Huggins’ offense scoring at a clip of 78.8 points-per-game. Last year’s team, blessed with two of the Big 12’s best 3-point shooters, averaged 77.2.

As the season began, West Virginia knew about Juwan Staten, Devin Williams and Gary Browne, though it was hard to calculate the worth of the newcomers. At the season’s midpoint, the value is glaringly apparent.

Miles and ball-hawking defender Jevon Carter, true freshmen roommates, have delivered contributions more crucial and more immediate than their recruiting rankings suggested. Jonathan Holton has fronted the press with bounce and exuberance. Jaysean Paige, shooting 47 percent from 3-point range, could be in line for explosive performances once he learns to stay on the floor for more than 14 minutes. Elijah Macon, riddled by injuries and personal loss, has shown scarcely a fraction of his capabilities.

That collection didn’t resemble anyone’s idea of a Big 12 contender in October, but as January unfolds, it’s obvious our first inclination was wrong.

No. 14 WEST VIRGINIA (14-1, 2-0) vs. No. 17 IOWA STATE (11-2, 1-0)

Tipoff: 8 p.m. Eastern at the WVU Coliseum (ESPN2)

Scouting the Cyclones: Georges Niang (15.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists) is proof not all superstars can jump. The 6-foot-8 junior is savvy and skilled, though like the rest of the Cyclones, he has hit a slump the past two games, making only 6-of-25 from the floor. Iowa State split those games, losing 64-60 to lightly regarded South Carolina in Brooklyn and edging Oklahoma State 63-61 in Ames. … Transfers are always welcome at Iowa State and Bryce Dejean-Jones is spending his senior season there after stops at USC and UNLV. The 6-6 guard (13.4 points, 6.1 rebounds) is a matchup conundrum. … Point guard Monte Morris (10.1 points, 3.5 rebounds) owns a 4.8 assist-to-turnover ratio, which ranks No. 2 in the nation. Dustin Hogue (11.8 points) and guard Naz Long (12.8 points) round out the starting five.

Coaching the Cyclones: Fred Hoiberg, the unofficial “Mayor of Ames” only because he never officially sought office, owns a 101-49 mark in his fifth season. His last two teams might have been Final Four-bound if not for a bum call against Ohio State in 2013 and Niang’s untimely broken foot in 2014.

Mountaineer musings: Juwan Staten (16.1 points, 4.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds) matched his season-high with 37 minutes at Texas Tech. Amid the rigors of Big 12 action, will Huggins be unable to rest his point guard as much as he hoped? … With a 754-303 coaching record, Huggins needs one win to much Henry Iba for 13th on the career wins list. … Holton (10.4 points, 6.6 rebounds) and Devin Williams (10.6 points, 7.2 rebounds) are No. 2 and No. 5 in fouls committed among Big 12 players. … Gary Browne has strung together three double-digit scoring games for only the second time in his career. (The last streak was against Davidson, Oklahoma and VMI in November 2012.)

Pressing question: Will Iowa State—which ranks third nationally with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.62—become the first opponent to carve up “Press Virginia?” The Cyclones haven’t committed more than 15 turnovers in any game this season; the Mountaineers haven’t forced fewer than 18. How’s that for a gap of demarcation?

RPIs: West Virginia 10, Iowa State 36

Line: West Virginia favored by 5

Prediction: West Virginia 77-75

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Bucks add Kenyon Martin

The Milwaukee Bucks have signed veteran forward/center Kenyon Martin to a 10-day contract.

Martin was the first overall pick by the Nets in 2000 and played with current Bucks coach Jason Kidd from 2001-04 in New Jersey and again with the Knicks in 2012-13.

“Kenyon provides some needed depth to our front court and brings an additional veteran presence to help develop our young team,“ said Bucks general manager John Hammond in a statement Friday. “He has always been known for his tough- minded, physical approach to the game and we’re excited to welcome him to the Milwaukee Bucks.“

Martin last played for the Knicks in 2013-14, appearing in 32 games. He owns career averages of 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in 746 games with the Nets, Nuggets, Clippers and Knicks.

The Bucks opened a roster spot by waiving guard Nate Wolters, who averaged 2.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 11 games this season.

“We appreciate everything Nate gave to the Bucks both on and off the court,“ said Hammond. “We know we will see him again in the NBA and wish him well in the future.“

Wolters has averaged 6.4 points, 2.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 69 NBA games.

►  Nothin’ but Net: Pistons firing without Smith

Addition by subtraction is a time- honored theory in team improvement.

A team gets rid of someone who is either, hurting the team with his attitude, or is standing in the way of someone else, normally younger, and said team thrives.

That appears to be the case with the Detroit Pistons. They have gone 7-0 since the shocking release of Josh Smith, a player who has infuriated coaches in the past, but also a player with about $25 million left on his contract.

To take such a drastic step as to waive Smith showed how little the Pistons wanted him. He’s mercurial. Truthfully, very little is said about him negatively in terms of being a teammate, or a pain in the posterior.

Smith’s rap is bad because of his propensity to take too many 3-pointers. He’s a power forward who has played out of position, out of necessity, for both the Pistons and Atlanta Hawks. Smith is an elite athlete and has buckets of talent, but it’s never truly materialized.

And let’s be clear, seven consecutive wins since cutting Smith is a reflection on Smith. If the Pistons had won say four games in a row after cutting him, that’s not necessarily a true representation of Smith. We could attribute that to the newness of the situation.

But, seven? That’s two weeks of perfection. There has to be a reason.

“How this has all happened, I really don’t know,“ Stan Van Gundy told

Van Gundy is not only the coach of the Pistons, but also the president of basketball operations. It was his call to send Smith packing, although, in Tim McMahon’s piece on ESPN. com, the author clearly states Van Gundy had no problem with Smith off the court, nor his work ethic.

“What we anticipated was giving different guys opportunities, our young guys. Josh’s a 10-year vet in a tough situation at 5-23, and I wanted to give other people opportunities, which was probably going to cut his minutes and take the ball out of his hands some,“ Van Gundy told “I didn’t really think it was fair in that regard. It was easier to do it this way, plus in the future we also get a cap-space benefit, so it helps us for the future.“

Let’s put aside Smith, the personality, for a moment.

On the court, this monstrous trio of Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe was an interesting idea that never worked. Smith and Monroe were both power forwards and Smith had to play small forward. It turned out to be a horrible fit, like me and anything with horizontal stripes.

So, the easiest explanation is that re-inserting Monroe into the starting lineup, alongside Kyle Singler at the three spot, is a more natural fit all the way along. You can’t emphasize the importance of everyone playing their natural positions.

With Singler out there and Monroe on the block and playing like a legitimate force on the interior (15.4 ppg), it’s opened the floor for the Pistons. They are shooting 40.7% from 3-point range during their winning streak. Jodie Meeks’ return has helped, but his playing time has increased since Smith left.

Another factor in stretching the floor has been Jonas Jerebko. He’s averaged 20-plus minutes a game since Smith’s departure and is scoring a shade under 6.5 ppg. He is, however, 6-for-12 from beyond the arc.

The other revelation has been Brandon Jennings. He’s averaging 19.2 ppg during the win streak, which is a tremendous output.

As for Smith’s personality, or mere presence, hampering the team, the proof is somewhat in the math. They are 7-0 and their average margin of victory has been 15 points. The wins have come on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who still had LeBron James, albeit a hobbled one, in the lineup. They beat San Antonio on a last-second basket and Dallas in back-to-back nights on the road. That’s extremely impressive.

No one on the Pistons is saying anything about Smith, the person, or the teammate. But, it would be naive to ignore the on-court product without him. The Pistons sure seem crisper.

“Well, we’ve gotten better on both ends of the floor,“ Van Gundy said after the win over the Mavericks on Wednesday. “The ball is going in the basket that helps quite a bit when the ball goes in. It not only helps obviously for the reason that the ball goes in and you score a point, but I think it gets your energy up when things are going well. We’ve also defended a lot better.

“Also our group, I don’t know why, but started December 22 we had three days of practice and from then on it’s just been different. Guys have worked harder, they’ve been more attentive. A lot more together and again we don’t have guys that are getting concerned about who’s in the game or their playing time, or their shots, or anything else. They just want to win games.“

That’s not a shot at Smith. Van Gundy was commenting on the fact that, in those two wins in San Antonio and Dallas, different players were in the fourth-quarter lineup.

“You have guys, four guys that were in the game in a great win last night sitting on the bench on the sideline tonight and loving every minute of it,“ Van Gundy said. “You know Greg Monroe didn’t get in the game last night in the fourth quarter. Tonight Andre (Drummond) doesn’t get in, in the fourth quarter there at the end of the game. Brandon doesn’t get back in, KCP doesn’t get back in and guys are into the game.“

Morale is clearly high and confidence means everything. This group is extraordinarily positive and the scenes from the sidelines as Jerebko, Monroe, Caron Butler, Meeks and D.J. Augustin played the entire fourth quarter, and out-scored the Mavs by seven, tell a tale.

There’s a spring in the step of the Pistons right now. It’s not a coincidence it’s happened with Smith in a Houston Rockets’ uniform. It wasn’t a good fit. Now, Monroe and Drummond form the interior nucleus. Good 3-point shooters are taking 3-point shots. It’s all fitting.

Remember this, the Pistons are just 2 1/2 games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The playoffs are more than in reach, so while Smith may have been a decent guy, his good-bye has the Pistons firing.


- At its surface, two first-round picks for Timofey Mozgov seems like a lot. But, both picks weren’t originally Cleveland’s so maybe the Cavs feel like it’s house money. They desperately need a center. Mozgov may not be an athletic, ideal fit, but he’s better than nothing. That’s what you want from someone who goes for two first-rounders - he’s better than nothing.

- The East backcourt situation is tough for the All-Star game. John Wall and Dwyane Wade are going to start, which is not terrible. Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler are going. Two guards get selected as reserves, three frontcourt players, then two additional players at any position. Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks and Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets both deserve consideration and the backup frontcourt situation is ... shaky, so maybe one of the two has a chance.

- It’s no surprise the Memphis Grizzlies want Luol Deng or Jeff Green. Deng probably isn’t available, but Green is incredibly available. He has a player option for $9.4 million, which I’d imagine he’ll pick up for next season. What does Boston want? Do they make someone take Gerald Wallace and his $10 million contract for next season?

- With the Baseball Hall of Fame on people’s minds, the only interesting first-ballot candidate worth discussing this year is Dikembe Mutombo. Four Defensive Player of the Year awards, eight All-Stars, three times on the All- NBA team makes him a pretty strong choice. He’s curried enough good favor in his lifetime that voters probably put him in this year. No beef from me.

- Movie moment - “Back to the Future” is on people’s minds since 2015 was a year in the trilogy and we clearly aren’t flying to work via jet pack. But, what always cracked me up, and I love the original and hate the sequels, was how Marty had time to sing another song at the dance. To say his plan was predicated on timing was an understatement. His only chance at traveling TO THE FUTURE, mind you, was based on the exact timing of a lightning strike to a clock tower. Maybe he passes on the encore at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance to make sure everything is exactly where it needs to be for his intricate return home 30 years in the future.

- TV moment - I will miss “Parenthood.“ It’s a really great show. I hope they don’t kill Zeek.  ~~  Jim Brighters ~~

►  Derek Fisher’s unusual speech doesn’t work as Knicks fans wear bags over heads

Nothing has worked for Derek Fisher’s Knicks so far this season, so why not try reminding them that their opponents “put their shorts on the same way you put yours on”? That didn’t work, either, but at least it provided a few laughs.

New York’s game Thursday against the Rockets was nationally televised, for some reason, and TNT recorded Fisher giving his troops the kind of speech that usually doesn’t take place at the NBA level. Of course, the likes of Travis Wear, Langston Galloway and Cleanthony Early don’t usually receive major minutes at the NBA level, so these were unusual circumstances.

Here’s what Derek Fisher said to his Knicks players in one of the team’s early huddles vs. the Rockets tonight:

►  Celtics ship Wright to Suns

Brandan Wright is on the move again.

Just over three weeks after being acquired from the Dallas Mavericks in the Rajon Rondo trade, the seventh-year center was dealt by the Celtics to the Phoenix Suns just prior to the start of Boston’s game at Indiana on Friday.

The Suns will send a protected 2015 first-round pick they originally obtained from Minnesota as well as a trade exception to the Celtics.

According to Yahoo! Sports, the pick is protected if it falls between slots 1-12 in both the 2015 and 2016 drafts. Boston will receive two 2017 second- round choices in the event it doesn’t receive the pick in the next two years.

Wright saw action in just eight games with the Celtics after coming over in the December 18 trade involving Rondo, averaging 3.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and 10.8 minutes during his brief tenure with the team.

The well-traveled 27-year-old put together a strong 2013-14 season as a key reserve for Dallas, with Wright posting career bests of 9.1 points and 4.2 rebounds over 58 games and shooting 67.7% from the field.

Over 320 career NBA games, Wright owns averages of 7.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and a 60.9% field goal percentage.

The rebuilding Celtics may not be done dealing, as Yahoo! Sports also reported that the team has a tentative agreement in place with Memphis to send leading scorer Jeff Green to the Grizzlies for veteran forward Tayshaun Prince and another protected first-round pick. According to the report, the Celtics and Grizzlies are awaiting authorization from a third unidentified team to complete that trade.

Green was not spotted on the floor during Boston’s pregame warmups for Friday’s matchup with the Pacers.

►  NBA Game Results

(Friday, January 09)

Final Score: Indiana 107, Boston 103 (OT)

David West hit two free throws with 31.2 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Indiana Pacers to a 107-103 win over a Boston Celtics team that continued shuffling its roster on Friday. The Celtics played without leading scorer Jeff Green amid reports that the forward will be traded to Memphis in exchange for veteran Tayshaun Prince and a future first-round draft pick. Boston did deal Brandan Wright just prior to tip-off, sending the reserve center to Phoenix for a protected 2015 first- round choice. Despite their absences, the Celtics fought back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime on Avery Bradley’s triple with 4.3 seconds to go in regulation. Roy Hibbert shook off a sprained ankle to lead the Pacers with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while C.J. Miles tallied 17 points off the bench and C.J. Watson finished with 15 along with eight boards. Bradley scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, but his efforts weren’t enough to prevent Boston’s eighth loss in 10 games.

Final Score: Philadelphia 90, Brooklyn 88

Nerlens Noel’s slam with 3.2 seconds left lifted the Philadelphia 76ers over the Brooklyn Nets, 90-88, on Friday night. Noel ended with 12 points for the Sixers, who ended the game on a 10-2 run. Robert Covington added 20 points, seven rebounds and six steals. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had 16 points and three steals in his return to the lineup for Philadelphia, which had lost it previous five trips to the Barclays Center. Mbah a Moute missed the past two games with turf toe. Brook Lopez tallied 18 points, six rebounds and two blocks for the Nets, who have lost four in a row. Mason Plumlee donated 15 points and 15 boards, Jarrett Jack had 14 points and 10 assists and Joe Johnson contributed 13 points.

Final Score: Atlanta 106, Detroit 103

Al Horford collected 19 points and 16 rebounds and the Atlanta Hawks held off a furious rally to beat the Detroit Pistons 106-103 on Friday night in a game between two of the NBA’s hottest teams. Sitting on a seven-game winning streak since releasing Josh Smith last month, the Pistons trailed by as much as 23 points but had a chance to tie the score at the buzzer after an out-of-bounds call went their way following a replay review. But Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s off-balance 3- pointer from the right wing was short, ending the winning streak. Paul Millsap added 17 points for the Eastern Conference-leading Hawks, who extended their winning streak to seven games, improving to 21-2 since late November. They have won eight in a row and 12 of their last 13 on the road. Caldwell-Pope fired up 23 shots, including 16 3-pointers, and led Detroit with 20 points. The Pistons set a franchise record by attempting 43 3-pointers, making just 13 of them. Caldwell-Pope missed all seven of his 3-point attempts over the first three quarters, then made four to lead a Pistons rally in the fourth. It came just three days after Detroit erased an 18-point deficit to beat San Antonio on Brandon Jennings’ last-second shot Tuesday.

Final Score: New Orleans 106, Memphis 95

Jrue Holiday had 23 points and eight assists as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 106-95 on Friday night. Tyreke Evans posted 21 points and 10 rebounds, Anthony Davis supplied 20 points, nine boards and three blocks and Ryan Anderson added 20 points and six rebounds for the Pelicans, who had dropped three of their last four games coming in. Mike Conley tallied 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds for Memphis, which has dropped three of its last four contests. Marc Gasol netted 19 points and Zach Randolph provided 11 points and 11 boards in his return from a nine-game absence Randolph had been out with a sore right knee and the Grizzlies went just 4-5 without him in the lineup.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 99, Utah 94

Kevin Durant scored 10 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter as the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied for a 99-94 victory over the Utah Jazz. Six of Durant’s total came during a pivotal 10-1 run that turned a six-point deficit into a 94-91 lead with two minutes remaining, helping the Thunder bounce back from consecutive lopsided road defeats to Golden State and Sacramento. Russell Westbrook came up big for Oklahoma City as well, racking up 25 points and 12 assists, while newly acquired Dion Waiters put up 15 points off the bench in his second game with the Thunder. Utah, fresh off a 20-point triumph at Eastern Conference power Chicago on Wednesday, received 27 points from Gordon Hayward and 22 from Derrick Favors. Trey Burke added 20 points in the loss, with Favors finishing with 11 rebounds.

Final Score: Washington 102, Chicago 86

Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 13 rebounds in the Washington Wizards’ 102-86 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. Bradley Beal added 17 points for the Wizards, who have won three in a row. John Wall tallied 16 points and 12 assists, Nene contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds and Rasual Butler donated 13 points. Derrick Rose finished with 19 points for the Bulls, who have dropped two straight since a three-game winning streak. Aaron Brooks had 16 points and Pau Gasol added 12 points and 13 boards.

Final Score: Milwaukee 98, Minnesota 84

Brandon Knight had 14 points and four assists as the Milwaukee Bucks cruised past the Minnesota Timberwolves 98-84 on Friday night. O.J. Mayo and John Henson each netted 12 points off the bench, while Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 10 points and seven rebounds apiece for the Bucks, who have won five of their last seven games. Andrew Wiggins posted 20 points, seven boards and five helpers to lead Minnesota, which has dropped 14 consecutive games.

Final Score: San Antonio 100, Phoenix 95

Patty Mills scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter as the San Antonio Spurs got a late spark from their bench to beat the Phoenix Suns 100-95 on Friday night. Mills and the Spurs reserves scored 30 of the team’s 41 points in the fourth quarter, leading them back from 10 points down over the final 12 minutes to cap what was a roller coaster game. Earlier, the Spurs led by 11 in the first quarter and by as much as 14 points in the second. The Suns used a big run spanning halftime to take a 12-point lead in the third quarter. Danny Green had 20 points to lead the Spurs and Tim Duncan scored 12, but only four after the first quarter. Cory Joseph added 11 off the bench, including nine in the fourth, and Tiago Splitter had a game-high 14 rebounds in the win. Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker scored 19 points apiece to lead the Suns, who had a four-game winning streak snapped. It was only their third loss in the last 13 games. Goran Dragic added 17 points, Gerald Green scored 16 off the bench and Alex Len had 12 rebounds. The Suns acquired center Brandan Wright from Boston on Friday in exchange for a protected 2015 first-round draft pick. Wright appeared in just eight games for the Celtics after being acquired from Dallas in the Rajon Rondo deal last month.

Final Score: Denver 118, Sacramento 108

Ty Lawson scored 14 of his 22 points during a dominant third quarter, leading the Denver Nuggets to a 118-108 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. Arron Afflalo added 22 points for the Nuggets, who have won four in a row. Jusuf Nurkic and J.J. Hickson each had 16 points, with Nurkic also pulling down eight boards and blocking three shots. Denver outscored Sacramento by a 36-15 margin in the third. DeMarcus Cousins ended with 32 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and three steals for the Kings, who got 22 points from Rudy Gay. Darren Collison contributed 15 points and seven assists.

Final Score: Golden State 112, Cleveland 94

Stephen Curry had 23 points and 10 assists as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-94 on Friday night. Klay Thompson netted 24 points, while Draymond Green added 10 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for the Warriors, who have won six straight games. Andrew Bogut posted four points, five boards and three assists in just under 20 minutes off the bench in his second game back from a knee injury. Kyrie Irving tallied 23 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, Kevin Love supplied 17 points and 14 boards and J.R. Smith scored a game-high 27 points for Cleveland, which has dropped seven of its last eight games. Six of those defeats have come without LeBron James, who was held out of the lineup for a seventh straight game due to knee soreness.

Final Score: LA Lakers 101, Orlando 84

Jeremy Lin scored 18 points and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Orlando Magic without Kobe Bryant, pulling away for a 101-84 win on Friday night. Rookie Tarik Black got 10 of his career-high 14 points in the fourth quarter, when Los Angeles out-scored Orlando 28-17 while stretching a six-point lead to as high as 19 down the stretch. The Lakers out-rebounded the Magic 60-36, with Carlos Boozer collecting 14 boards and 12 points and Ed David getting 10 and 10. Ryan Kelly added 13 points and Jordan Hill scored 11 with nine rebounds. Bryant rested for the second time in three games. He sat out Monday’s loss to Portland, the second game of a back-to-back, then had a season-low four points on 2-of-12 shooting in a loss to the Clippers on Wednesday. The Lakers snapped their two-game losing streak without him, winning for the fourth time in their last 13 games. Victor Oladipo had 17 points and Tobias Harris scored 15 for the Magic, who have lost five in a row. Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the loss and Luke Ridnour scored 12.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  The All-Improved Team

The NBA is the only sport, out of the four major ones, that has a “Most Improved Player of the Year Award.“

As a result, with teams nearing the 40-game mark, I decided to take a look at which players have drastically improved since last season.

This “All-Improved Team” consists of players, one at each position, just as the league presents it’s “All-NBA Team.“

Jeff Teague, PG, Atlanta

Atlanta Hawks’ point guard Jeff Teague has improved every season over his six- year career. After solid averages of 16.5 points per game, 6.7 assists per game, and 1.1 steals per game, along with a field-goal percentage of 44 percent and a free-throw percentage of 85 percent during the 2013-2014 season, Teague has been even better this season (17.7 ppg, 7.0 apg, 1.8 spg, 49 percent FG, 87 percent FT).

According to Yahoo, Teague finished last season as the 54th-ranked fantasy player, and came into the 2014-2015 season as the 57th overall player.

He is currently performing as the 14th-ranked guy.

Not only has he helped catapult the Hawks into first place in the Eastern Conference, but Teague has also returned great value to fantasy owners. He should be looking at his first All-Star appearance, but more importantly should continue his career-season for owners.

Jimmy Butler, SG, Chicago

One of the leading candidates for the “NBA Most Improved Player of the Year Award” has to be Chicago Bulls’ shooting guard Jimmy Butler. He has eligibility at both the shooting guard and small forward positions, but fits the mold of the No. 2 guard, for this specific team.

Heading into this season, Butler was viewed as a player who is a lockdown defender, and could potentially average 15 ppg.

Well, he has indeed become a dynamic defender, but Butler has also found a way to become a “go-to” offensive guy for fantasy owners.

He currently has career-high averages in a number of major categories (21.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 0.7 bpg, 1.0 three-pointers per game, 48 percent FG, 83 percent FT), and after shooting just 28 percent from downtown last season, Butler has improved to 35 percent in 2014-2015.

Butler finished the 2013-2014 season as the 77th-ranked player, and after entering this season as the 72nd fantasy player, owners are enjoying a player who is producing at No. 6 in all of fantasy basketball.

There really is not much more an owner can ask for.

Danny Green, SF, San Antonio

One guy who seems to get overlooked from the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs is small forward Danny Green.

In no way will his numbers overwhelm you (12.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.4 3- pointers per game, 1.4 spg, 1.2 bpg, 44 percent FG, 81 percent FT), but the fact that he is such a versatile player, makes Green a solid fantasy option.

Green undoubtedly belongs on this list, as he finished last season as the 92nd-ranked player and came into 2014-2015 ranked 100th overall.

Since he essentially helps owners out in every fantasy category, Green has found himself inside the top-25 of the fantasy player rankings.

Draymond Green, PF, Golden State

Like Butler, Golden State Warriors’ power forward Draymond Green is definitely a candidate for the “NBA Most Improved Player of the Year Award,“ and like the other Green on this team, he is also versatile.

Golden State’s starting power forward has come out of nowhere this season, and is currently a top-20 option. This comes as a rather big shock, because Green ended last season as the 99th-ranked fantasy player, and entered this season ranked 105th overall.

However, there is no denying the improvement he has shown.

With the exception of free-throw percentage (71 percent), Green is averaging career-highs in every major fantasy category (11.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.5 3-pointers per game, 1.5 spg, 1.5 bpg, 44 percent FG), proving how much of an impact he is providing.

Green’s strong play has really hampered the value of teammate David Lee, who is now healthy (hamstring injury), yet still cannot crack the Warriors’ starting lineup. Lee is currently the 125th-ranked player, but came into the season ranked 56th overall.

Hopefully owners did not waste a fifth-rounder on Lee, and instead waited until the 10th or 11th round for Green.

Gorgui Dieng, C, Minnesota

When looking at the list of centers, and potential candidates to fill this spot on the “All-Improved Team,“ my initial thought was to go with Dallas Mavericks big man Tyson Chandler.

However, after some thought, I felt Chandler simply did not fit the makeup of this squad. Although he has improved a ton from a dreadful 2013-2014 season with the New York Knicks (155th-ranked player last season, and is currently the 22nd overall player), the other players on this team are in the midst of career-years. Chandler on the other hand, has had a number of solid seasons throughout his 13-year career.

So, the guy I decided to go with is Minnesota Timberwolves’ center Gorgui Dieng.

The biggest reason Dieng makes this team comes as a result of Minnesota’s big man Nikola Pekovic being limited to just nine games with an ankle injury.

Dieng, who is in just his second season, has filled in admirably.

He is easily averaging career-highs in each major fantasy category (9.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.6 bpg, 1.0 spg, 50 percent FG, 78 percent FT), but more importantly, Dieng is currently ranked as the 45th overall fantasy option (115th-ranked player coming into the season).

While it is nice to see him being recognized for his superb play, owners cannot expect Dieng’s numbers to stay this high. Pekovic has been cleared for contact, and could be back in a couple of weeks, which will likely send Dieng back to a reserve role.

Owners should act now on Dieng, and attempt to sell high. He has clearly improved since last season, and definitely will hold nice value until Pekovic’s return. It is important to play those cards correctly.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  White Sox finalize deal with Bonifacio

The Chicago White Sox have officially announced that the club has agreed to terms with utilityman Emilio Bonifacio on a one-year, $4 million contract that includes a team option for the 2016 season. reported Monday that the versatile Bonifacio was set to sign with Chicago. The eight-year major league veteran will earn $3 million this coming season, with the White Sox holding a $4 million option with a $1 million buyout for 2016.

Bonifacio began last season with the crosstown rival Cubs before being traded to Atlanta on July 31. The 29-year-old switch-hitter batted .259 with three home runs, 24 RBI and 26 stolen bases over a combined 110 games in 2014.

“Emilio brings an excellent mix of versatility, speed and experience to our club which will provide (manager) Robin (Ventura) with additional flexibility with the roster this year,“ said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn. “We expect Emilio’s ability to switch hit, help at multiple positions and steal a base to be very beneficial to us.“

Bonifacio started games at six different positions this past season, seeing time at all three outfield spots as well as second base, shortstop and third base. He owns a .262 career average with 164 steals over 722 MLB games.

Outfielder Jordan Danks was designated for assignment to create a space for Bonifacio on Chicago’s 40-man roster.

Danks, the younger brother of White Sox pitcher John Danks, hit just .227 with eight homers, 26 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 180 games with Chicago over the past three seasons. The 28-year-old batted .222 with two homers and 10 RBI in 51 contests in 2014.

►  Nats’ Werth to have shoulder surgery

Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth will undergo surgery Friday to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder, according to the Washington Post.

Werth is expected to be sidelined between 2-to-3 months, putting his availability for the start of the 2015 season in question. The Nationals have yet to confirm that the veteran slugger is headed for the procedure.

The 35-year-old initially hurt his shoulder while making a catch against the Philadelphia Phillies in early August. Werth missed a week with the injury, but batted .339 over the final 35 games of the regular season after returning to the lineup.

In 147 overall regular season games in 2014, Werth hit .292 with 16 home runs and 82 RBI to help Washington win a National League-best 96 games.

Werth, entering the fifth season of a seven-year, $126 million contract he signed with Washington in December of 2010, has had an eventful offseason. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, 170 of which were suspended, after being found guilty last month of reckless driving in Fairfax County, Virginia during the summer.

►  Cubs agree to terms with OF Denorfia

The Chicago Cubs have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with outfielder Chris Denorfia on Friday.

Denorfia, 34, split 121 games between the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners last season, compiling a .230 batting average with three home runs and 21 RBI.

Although his numbers were down last season, the nine-year veteran owns a career .272 batting average with 38 homers and 178 RBI over 705 career games with Cincinnati, Oakland, San Diego and Seattle.

To make room for Denorfia on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated pitcher Mike Kickham for assignment.

►  Orioles bring back Delmon Young

Outfielder Delmon Young has returned to the Baltimore Orioles on a one-year contract, the team officially announced Friday. reported the deal to be worth a guaranteed $2.25 million and could earn Young up to $3 million with incentives.

Signed to a minor league contract by Baltimore last January, Young hit a solid .302 with seven home runs and 30 RBI in just 242 at-bats in 2014. The former No. 1 overall pick also led the majors with a .500 average (10-for-20) as a pinch hitter during the regular season, then delivered a go-ahead three-run double off the bench in the eighth inning that keyed the Orioles’ Game 2 win over Detroit in the American League Division Series.

Young may be in line for an increased role this season with Baltimore losing AL home run champion Nelson Cruz and outfielder Nick Markakis in free agency.

Catcher Ryan Lavarnway was designated for assignment to make room for Young on the 40-man roster.

Lavarnway, who played in 97 games for Boston from 2011-14, has been with three different organizations since being DFA’d by the Red Sox in late November. The Orioles claimed the 27-year-old off waivers from the Chicago Cubs, who previously claimed Lavarnway from the Los Angeles Dodgers, on December 23.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Laviolette, Sutter to coach NHL All-Star game

Peter Laviolette of the Nashville Predators and Darryl Sutter of the Los Angeles Kings were named the head coaches for the upcoming 2015 NHL All-Star Game in Columbus.

The coaching selections were determined by the team with the highest points percentage in the NHL through January 10 and the team that hoisted the Stanley Cup the prior season.

Laviolette, who also coached at the 2011 All-Star game in Raleigh, has guided the Predators to a 27-9-4 record (.725) and a top spot that will stay intact through Saturday’s games.

Sutter will be making his first All-Star appearance after his Stanley Cup champion Kings defeated the New York Rangers in five games last June.

The 2015 All-Star festivities will take place at Nationwide Arena on January 24-25.

►  NHL Game Results

(Friday, January 09)

Final Score: NY Islanders 3, New Jersey 2 (OT)

John Tavares tied the game late in the third period and won it in overtime with an impressive sequence, powering the New York Islanders to a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday. Tavares lifted the stick of Devils defenseman Adam Larsson below the goal line to acquire the puck, moved in on net and finished the play with a wrister past the blocker of Keith Kinkaid for the win. Tavares also assisted on a goal by Josh Bailey and Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves in his sixth straight start for the Islanders, who ended a two-game skid. Travis Zajac and Scott Gomez lit the lamp for the Devils, who earned a point after being held to just 14 shots in Thursday’s 3-0 loss at Boston. Kinkaid turned aside 28 shots in defeat.

Final Score: Toronto 5, Columbus 2

James van Riemsdyk had two goals with one assist to help the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night. Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak and Daniel Winnik each registered a goal and one assist for the Maple Leafs, who got 18 saves from Jonathan Bernier. Toronto snapped a three-game skid and posted its first win under interim head coach Peter Horachek. Ryan Johansen extended his goal streak to a career-high five games, supplying both tallies in only Columbus’ fourth loss since the start of December (12-3-1). Sergei Bobrovsky gave up four goals on 31 shots hours after signing a four-year contract extension with the Blue Jackets.

Final Score: Tampa Bay 2, Buffalo 1

Steven Stamkos scored the game-winning goal late in the third period to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. Valtteri Filppula also scored and Ben Bishop made 20 saves for the Lightning, who have won seven of their last eight games. Cody McCormick provided a short-handed goal and Michal Neuvirth kept the Sabres in the game by stopping 45 shots in the team’s seventh straight loss.

Final Score: Florida 6, Calgary 5

Tomas Fleischmann scored with 3:09 remaining in the third period to lift the Florida Panthers to a 6-5 win over the Calgary Flames on Friday night. Fleischmann backhanded in a rebound from the slot 45 seconds after the Flames had tied it on Matt Stajan’s second goal of the game. Brad Boyes, who had a goal and an assist for Florida, was called for slashing with 2:25 left. The Flames pulled Jonas Hiller during the subsequent power play for a 6-on-4 advantage and Brian Campbell, who gave the Panthers a 5-4 lead at 9:29 of the third, bailed out goaltender Al Montoya. The puck sat in the crease, but the veteran defenseman alertly pinned it against Montoya to trigger a whistle. Jonathan Huberdeau, Jimmy Hayes and Sean Bergenheim also scored as Florida improved to 3-1-0 on its six-game road trip. TJ Brodie also had two goals for Calgary, which concluded a six-game homestand with a third straight loss.

Final Score: Edmonton 5, Chicago 2

Derek Roy finished with a goal and two assists, helping the Edmonton Oilers defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Friday night. Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov both had one goal and an assist for the Oilers, who got 19 saves from Ben Scrivens. Edmonton has gone 3-1-2 over its last six games and beat a Central Division opponent for the first time this season (1-4-5). Brandon Saad scored both goals for Chicago, which posted a 7-1 win over the Oilers in its last trip to Rexall Place on Nov. 22. Antti Raanta stopped 17 shots in the loss.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Federer charges into Brisbane semis

Top-seeded Roger Federer was an easy quarterfinal winner Friday at the season-opening Brisbane International tennis event.

Federer and his other fellow top-four seeds all secured berths in the final four this weekend.

The 2014 Brisbane runner-up Federer whipped Aussie wild card James Duckworth 6-0, 6-1 in a laughable 40 minutes on the hardcourts at Queensland Tennis Centre.

“I had a great start to the match. Calmed the nerves,“ Federer said. “It was a bit tense yesterday. Today, I was serving well, returning well, playing aggressive.“

Federer, who lost to Aussie favorite Lleyton Hewitt in last year’s all-former- No. 1 Brisbane final, will meet “Baby Fed,“ fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, on Saturday. The 2013 Brisbane runner-up Dimitrov eased past Slovak Martin Klizan 6-3, 6-4.

“I’m always excited when I get to play a match like that against a player like that,“ said Dimitrov, who has lost both of his previous matches against the 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer. “I have quite a bit of experience behind me now. I’ve learned from each match that I’ve played against him. I like my odds.“

The other semifinal will pit second-seeded U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori against third-seeded Canadian slugger Milos Raonic. The Japanese star Nishikori rolled past Aussie Bernard Tomic 6-0, 6-4, while Raonic outgunned Aussie Sam Groth 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 7-6 (7-2) in a 37-ace affair, including 22 from the loser.

Brisbane serves as a tune-up for the Australian Open, which will begin January 19 in Melbourne.

►  Sharapova, Ivanovic to clash in Brisbane final

Former world No. 1s Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic will do battle in Saturday’s final at the season- opening $1 million Brisbane International tennis event.

The final berths were secured when the top-seeded Sharapova defeated rising Ukrainian Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-3 and the second-seeded Ivanovic held off game American Varvara Lepchenko 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 at this Australian Open tune-up on the hardcourts at Queensland Tennis Centre.

Sharapova dropped just nine games in her three matches to get to the final and was ruthless against Svitolina, the 2010 junior French Open titlist.

“I expected her to play well. I think I did a lot of things good to try to take away her game,“ Sharapova said.

“In the end, it became a little bit more difficult. She became more free, went for her shots a little bit, a few unforced errors from my end, but overall I’m happy I stuck with it and finished the last point.“

When the reigning French Open champion Sharapova and Ivanovic meet on Saturday, it will mark their 14th encounter on the WTA, with the Russian leading the lifetime series 9-4. They split four meetings last season.

Sharapova is 33-22 in her career finals, including a perfect 4-0 mark last year.

Her fellow 27-year-old Ivanovic is 15-7 in her career title tilts, including 4-2 last year.

Sharapova beat Ivanovic in the 2008 Aussie Open final.

►  Wozniacki, Venus to meet in Auckland final

Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams were semifinal winners Friday and will meet for the title at the ASB Classic.

Wozniacki, the top seed in this season-opening event, was a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 winner over fourth-seeded Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the first match of the day.

The third-seeded Williams then made quick work of Lauren Davis, topping her fellow American in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3.

Williams was last year’s Auckland runner-up, dropping a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 decision to Ana Ivanovic.

Wozniacki was down a set and a break on Friday before storming back to win. The Dane reached three finals in 2014, winning in Istanbul last July for her lone title of the year. She then lost consecutive finals in September, first falling to Serena Williams in the U.S. Open before losing to Ivanovic in Tokyo two weeks later.

Venus Williams was 1-3 in finals last year. After the loss to Ivanovic in Auckland, she beat Alize Cornet in February for her lone title of the season in Dubai, then lost finals last summer in Montreal and Quebec City.

Wozniacki will be trying for her 23rd career title, while Williams will be gunning for her 46th.

Williams has never lost a set to Wozniacki in five previous meetings, capturing a 6-3, 6-2 triumph in their last matchup last February in the Dubai semifinals.

►  Wawrinka reaches SFs in India

Top-seeded and defending champion Stan Wawrinka continued his winning ways in Chennai on Friday.

The reigning Chennai Open and Australian Open champ got past eighth-seeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) on the hardcourts at SDAT Tennis Stadium.

The two-time Chennai titlist Wawrinka, who also titled here in 2011 and was the runner-up in 2010, beat Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin in last year’s finale in India.

His semifinal opponent on Saturday will be fourth-seeded rising Belgian David Goffin, who doused Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

The other semi will pit third-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut against upstart Slovenian Aljaz Bedene. The 2013 Chennai runner-up Bautista Agut edged out sixth-seeded Taiwanese Yen-Hsun Lu 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, while the qualifier Bedene bounced fifth-seeded Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in come- from-behind fashion, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Chennai serves as a tune-up for the Aussie Open, which will begin January 19.

►  Berdych, Ferrer reach Doha final

Former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych and former French Open finalist David Ferrer will be the combatants in Saturday’s championship match at the season-opening $1.22 million Qatar Open tennis event.

The third-seeded Czech Berdych cruised past unseeded Italian Andreas Seppi 6-2, 6-3, while the fourth-seeded Spaniard Ferrer edged out seventh-seeded 6- foot-10 Croat Ivo Karlovic in a three-tiebreak affair, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4), on the hardcourts at Khalifa International Tennis Complex.

Berdych improved to 7-2 lifetime against Seppi, including wins in six straight, while Ferrer is now 4-1 all-time against Karlovic, who stunned world No. 1 star Novak Djokovic on Thursday. Karlovic clubbed 30 aces past Ferrer in a match where there were no breaks of serve.

Berdych and Ferrer will meet for a 13th time at the ATP level, with the Spaniard holding a 7-5 lifetime advantage. The big Czech, however, has won their last two meetings.

The 29-year-old Berdych is 10-14 in his career finals, including a 2-3 mark last year, while the 32-year-old Ferrer will appear in his 47th career final, seeking a 22nd title. The gritty Spaniard was 1-3 in his 2014 finals.

Doha serves as a tune-up for the Australian Open.

►  Halep, Bacsinszky advance to Shenzhen final

Top-seeded Simona Halep of Romania easily won her semifinal match Friday at the season-opening Shenzhen Open, but won’t face second-seeded Petra Kvitova in the expected final after Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky pulled off an upset of the Wimbledon champion.

Halep quickly dispatched Chinese crowd favorite Zheng Saisai in a 6-2, 6-3 rout, but Bacsinszky denied the blockbuster final with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Kvitova.

The eighth-seeded Bacsinszky was broken just once during Friday’s match and broke Kvitova three times to reach her third career final. The 25-year-old last played for a title in 2010, losing to Julia Goerges in Bad Gastein, and earned her lone tournament crown a year earlier in Luxembourg with a victory over Sabine Lisicki.

Halep, meanwhile, had no trouble on Friday and will play in her 15th career final. She is 8-6 all-time in title matches, including 1-3 last year. After a victory over Angelique Kerber in the Doha final in February, Halep lost title matches to Maria Sharapova at both Madrid and the French Open before also losing to Serena Williams at the season-ending WTA Finals.

Bacsinszky lost to Halep in their only previous meeting, dropping a 6-1, 6-3 decision five years ago in a lower-tier event in Belgium.

Shenzhen serves as a tune-up for the Australian Open. The first Grand Slam of the season will begin January 19 in Melbourne.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Woods to begin year at Phoenix Open

Tiger Woods announced on Twitter on Friday that he will begin his 2015 season at the Waste Management Phoenix Open followed by the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines the week after.

“Starting my year off at Phoenix & Torrey back-to-back weeks. I’m ready to go. Should be a lot of fun,“ Woods said on his Twitter account Friday.

Woods has made three career appearances at the Phoenix Open, with his last one coming all the way back in 2001. This year’s Phoenix Open will begin January 29, with the Farmers Insurance Open being played the following week from February 5-8.

“It will be great to return to Phoenix,“ Woods said on his website. “The crowds are amazing and always enthusiastic, and the 16th hole is pretty unique in golf. Torrey is a very important place to me. My pop took me there when I was younger, and I have a lot of special memories of watching the tour play there when I was growing up.“

Woods has never won the Phoenix Open in three starts, but he has had plenty of success at Torrey Pines. Back when the event was named the Buick Invitational, Woods won six times, including a stretch of four straight victories from 2005-08. After the event’s name changed to the Farmers Insurance Open in 2010, Woods added one more win in 2013.

Woods made his return to competition in early December at the Hero World Challenge, an unofficial event that he also hosts, where the 39-year-old finished tied for last in an 18-player field.

Prior to the Hero World Challenge, Woods had not played since missing the cut at the PGA Championship. Woods was limited to just eight events during the 2013-14 season as he was dealing with a number of back issues.

►  Sullivan takes outright lead at South African Open

Andy Sullivan carded a second-round, 2-under 70 on Friday and he will take a 1-shot lead into the weekend at the South African Open Championship.

Sullivan, who finished the first round tied atop the leaderboard with Jbe Kruger, finished 36 holes at 8-under-par 136. The Englishman has never won on the European Tour.

“When I get in these positions I find myself enjoying it more,“ Sullivan said. “It’s where you want to be, you practice to be in these situations and I am playing with the guys I always wanted to as a kid. It’s fantastic.“

South African Charl Schwartzel fired a 3-under 69 at Glendower Golf Club, which was good enough to put him alone in second place at 7-under 137.

Also playing on their home soil, JJ Senekal (67) and Colin Nel (70) are tied for third at 6-under 138 with Lasse Jensen (71).

Kruger struggled on day two, finishing with an 8-over 80, dropping him all the way into a tie for 58th at 2-over 146, just putting him above the cut line.

Five-time champion Ernie Els began the day tied for second and just one shot back, but he also ran into trouble and shot a 5-over 77. The 45-year-old South African is tied for 36th at even-par 144.

Starting on the back nine, Sullivan picked up where he left off on Thursday, starting with a par on 10 before pouring in back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12. Following four straight pars from No. 13, Sullivan drained his third gain on 17 and made the turn with a par on 18.

Much like the first round, Sullivan struggled a bit on the first nine at Glendower Golf Club on Friday. After making four more pars from No. 1, Sullivan bogeyed two of his next three holes on five and seven. He finished strong, however, with a birdie on eight and a par on nine to grab the outright lead.

“I thought it was going to be a really good knock on the front line, but a few little errant drives meant the rough got its payback on me today,“ said Sullivan. “But anything in red figures is good so I am really happy with the position I am in.“

Schwartzel had a very up-and-down day, but a strong finish propelled him into second place. Also beginning on the back nine, Schwartzel made a pair of bogeys on 10 and 11, but he got back to even par with back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15.

A bogey on 18 had Schwartzel making the turn at 1-over. Following a trio of pars from one, Schwartzel briefly got back to even par with a gain on four, but another bogey on five dropped him back another shot.

Then came the strong finish. After making his fourth birdie on No. 7, Schwartzel rolled in an eagle on No. 8 before making a birdie at the last to complete a 3-under 69.

NOTES: Sullivan had five top-10 finishes last season. His best finish was a runner-up at the Trophee Hassan II ... Schwartzel has nine career wins on the European Tour, including a victory at last season’s Alfred Dunhill Championship ... Schwartzel also claimed the 2011 Masters title ... Defending champion Morten Orum Madsen (71) finished 36 holes tied for 34th at even-par 144 ... With the cut falling at 2-over 146, 66 players advanced to play the weekend.

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

National Football League - Playoffs
Baltimore at New England, 4:35 PM - NBC
Carolina at Seattle, 8:15 PM - FOX
National Basketball Association
Charlotte at New York, 1:00 PM - SportSouth, MSG, DSS
Dallas at LA Clippers, 3:30 PM - FS-Southwest, Prime Ticket, DSS
Indiana at Philadelphia, 7:30 PM - FS-Indiana, CSN-Philadelphia, DSS
Brooklyn at Detroit, 7:30 PM - YES, FS-Detroit+, DSS
Boston at Toronto, 7:30 PM - CSN-New England, SNET-360, DSS
Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:00 PM - FS-Wisconsin, WGN, DSS
Utah at Houston, 8:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, Southwest, DSS
San Antonio at Minnesota, 8:00 PM - FS-Southwest, North, DSS
Orlando at Portland, 10:00 PM - FS-Florida, CSN-Northwest, DSS
National Hockey League
Boston at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM - NESN, CSN-Philadelphia, NHL Network, DSS
Nashville at Minnesota, 2:00 PM - FS-Tennessee, North, DSS
Dallas at Colorado, 3:00 PM - FS-Southwest+, Altitude, DSS
Pittsburgh at Montreal, 7:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, TVA, NHL Network, CBC, DSS
Detroit at Washington, 7:00 PM - FS-Detroit, CSN-DC, DSS
Ottawa at Arizona, 7:00 PM - FS-Arizona, DSS
NY Islanders at Columbus, 7:00 PM - MSG+, FS-Ohio, DSS
Carolina at St. Louis, 8:00 PM - FS-Carolina, Midwest, DSS
Calgary at Vancouver, 10:00 PM - CBC, DSS
Winnipeg at Los Angeles, 10:00 PM - SNET, FS-West, DSS
NY Rangers at San Jose, 10:00 PM - MSG, CSN-California, DSS
College Basketball
Cincinnati at Connecticut, 11:00 AM - ESPN 2
Ohio State at Indiana, 12:00 PM - ESPN
Georgia Tech at Wake Forest, 12:00 PM - ACC Network,
Navy at Army, 12:00 PM - CBSSN
Georgetown at Providence, 12:00 PM - FS1
Clemson at Pittsburgh, 12:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh, NW, YES,, STO
George Washington at La Salle, 12:30 PM - NBCSN
Lafayette at Boston Univ, 1:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Rhode Island at Duquesne, 1:00 PM -  MASN, American Sports, CSN-Chicago, Bay
Denver at IUPUI, 1:00 PM - RTV6, HTSN,
Minnesota at Michigan, 1:00 PM - ESPN U
Kentucky at Texas A&M, 1:00 PM - CBS
Stony Brook at Vermont, 2:00 PM -
Kennesaw State at USC Upstate, 2:00 PM -
Louisville at North Carolina, 2:00 PM - ESPN
Colorado State at Air Force, 2:00 PM - ROOT-Rocky Mountain, Northwest
Loyola-Maryland at Lehigh, 2:00 PM - Patriot League Network
Saint Josephs at VA Commonwealth, 2:00 PM - CBSSN
Northeastern at Towson, 2:00 PM - CSN-Mid-Atlantic, NE, BALT, TCN
Alabama at Tennessee, 2:00 PM - SEC Network
Seton Hall at Creighton, 2:15 PM - FS1
Maryland at Purdue, 2:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Portland State at North Dakota, 3:00 PM - MidcoSportsNet, FCS-Pacific
Tulsa at Temple, 3:00 PM - ESPNews
Washington St at Washington, 3:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
North Texas at Rice, 3:00 PM - American Sports Network, ROOT-Southwest
Texas Tech at Kansas, 3:00 PM - ESPN U
North Florida at Jacksonville, 3:00 PM -
Oakland at Detroit, 3:00 PM -
Northern Iowa at Drake, 4:00 PM - MVC-TV,, CSN-Chicago, FS-Midwest
Long Island at Wagner, 4:00 PM -
Citadel at Mercer, 4:00 PM -
Baylor at TCU, 4:00 PM - ESPN 2
San Francisco at Portland, 4:00 PM - Time Warner, ROOT-Northwest, RM, CSN-Bay
Presbyterian at Radford, 4:00 PM - RUTV, Big South Network
Boston College at Miami-Florida, 4:00 PM - NESN, YES,, SportsTime OH
Indiana State at Southern Ill, 4:00 PM -
DePaul at Villanova, 4:00 PM - CBSSN
Southern Utah at Northern Arizona, 4:00 PM - FS-Arizona
Xavier at Butler, 4:30 PM - FS1
UNC Greensboro at Western Carolina, 4:30 PM - WMYA, MY40,
Colgate at American Univ, 4:30 PM - CSN+
Vanderbilt at Arkansas, 4:30 PM - SEC Network
Arizona State at Oregon, 5:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
South Carolina at Ole Miss, 5:00 PM - FS-Florida, SportSouth
Texas at Oklahoma State, 5:00 PM - ESPN U
Penn at Princeton, 5:00 PM - Ivy League Digital Network
Old Dominion at Western Ky, 5:30 PM - MASN2, American Sports Network, CSN-Bay
South Dakota St at Nebraska Omaha, 5:30 PM - MidcoSportsNet,
Virginia at Notre Dame, 6:00 PM - ESPN 2
Boise State at Wyoming, 6:00 PM - CBSSN
Delaware at Coll of Charleston, 6:00 PM - WCIV, MyTV
Fresno State at Nevada, 6:00 PM - Mountain West Network
Pepperdine at San Diego, 6:00 PM - Time Warner, ROOT-Northwest, RM, CSN-Bay
Miss State at Florida, 7:00 PM - SunSports, SportsTime Ohio, FS-San Diego, PT
Dayton at Fordham, 7:00 PM - Atlantic 10 Network
Missouri at Auburn, 7:00 PM - SEC Network
Kansas State at Oklahoma, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Coastal Carolina at Liberty, 7:00 PM - MASN,
Winthrop at Gardner-Webb, 7:00 PM -
Harvard at Dartmouth, 7:00 PM - Ivy League Digital Network
Stetson at Fla Gulf Coast, 7:00 PM -
South Dakota at IUPU-Ft Wayne, 7:00 PM - PBS39
Northern Ky at Lipscomb, 7:30 PM -
Santa Clara at Gonzaga, 8:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, Rocky Mountain
Iowa State at West Virginia, 8:00 PM - ESPN 2
Hofstra at Elon, 8:00 PM - SNY, American Sports Network
Kent State at Northern Ill, 8:00 PM -
Cleveland State at Valparaiso, 8:05 PM -
UMKC at New Mexico State, 9:00 PM -
Loyola Marymount at BYU, 9:00 PM - BYUtv
New Mexico at Utah State, 9:00 PM -
Georgia at LSU, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
San Jose St at UNLV, 10:00 PM - Mountain West Network
St Marys-CA at Pacific, 11:00 PM - CSN-California, Bay
Long Beach State at UC Davis, 11:00 PM - ESPN U
CS-Northridge at Hawaii, 11:59 PM - OCSports
Women’s College Basketball
Milwaukee at Oakland, 11:30 AM -
Texas at Iowa State, 12:00 PM - FS-Florida, Ohio, Detroit, MSG+, SportSouth
Rutgers at Penn State, 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
Long Island at Wagner, 1:00 PM -
North Florida at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM -
Northern Ill at Central Michigan, 1:00 PM -
Mercer at Western Carolina, 2:00 PM -
Marist at Monmouth, 2:00 PM -
Detroit at Wright State, 2:00 PM -
Youngstown State at Green Bay, 2:00 PM -
Penn at Princeton, 2:00 PM - Ivy League Digital Network
Ill-Chicago at Valparaiso, 2:30 PM -
Baylor at West Virginia, 3:00 PM - ROOT-Pittsburgh
Stetson at Florida Gulf Coast, 4:00 PM -
Charleston Southern at Gardner-Webb, 4:30 PM -
Kennesaw State at USC Upstate, 4:30 PM -
Northern Kentucky at Lipscomb, 5:00 PM -
Oklahoma State at TCU, 7:00 PM - FS-Southwest+, South, West
College Football
North Dakota State vs. Illinois State (FCS Championship), 1:05 PM - ESPN 2
Medal of Honor Bowl, 2:30 PM - NBCSN
College Hockey
Ohio State at Penn State, 3:00 PM - American Sports Network
Minnesota at Michigan, 4:00 PM - FS-Detroit, North+
Western Michigan at Notre Dame, 6:00 PM - NBCSN
Northeastern at Boston College, 7:00 PM - NESN
Minnesota-Duluth at North Dakota, 8:00 PM - CBSSN
Yale vs. Harvard, 8:15 PM - NBCSN, TSN2
Westchester at Canton, 7:00 PM - MSG2
International Soccer
Ipswich Town FC vs. Derby County FC, 7:10 AM - beIN Sport
Sunderland vs. Liverpool, 7:40 AM - NBCSN
Real Madrid CF vs. RCD Espanyol, 9:55 AM - beIN Sport
Chelsea vs. Newcastle United, 10:00 AM - NBCSN
Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham, 12:30 PM - NBC
Torino FC vs. AC Milan, 2:40 PM - beIN Sport
EUROPEAN - South African Open, 5:30 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Tournament of Champions, 1:00 PM - Golf Channel
Brisbane, 4:00 AM - Tennis Channel

Pioneers Win Seventh Straight as They Down Urbana 89-78‏

The Gilmer Free Press

The Glenville State Pioneer men’s basketball team would cruise to an 11 point victory, 89-78, over Urbana despite trailing at halftime.

In the first half of action Glenville State and Urbana would go up and down but Urbana would take a three point lead into the break, 40-37.

In the second half the Pioneers would get going as they would erase the three-point halftime deficit and turn it into a 10 point Pioneer lead with only 9:30 left to play in the game.

After that turnaround the Pioneers would cruise to the 89-78 victory.

Glenville State shot 50% from the floor and 43% from behind the arc while Urbana only shot 35% from the floor and 29%t from behind the arc.

All five starters for the Pioneers scored in double figures with Donte Morales leading the way with 19 points. Luke Campbell scored a career high 15 points and grabbed five rebounds while Sedric Nady chipped in with 14 points.

Brett Morris scored 13 points and had a team high six rebounds while Reggie Williams scored 12 for the Pioneers.

Urbana was led by Mike Newton as he scored a game high 22 points.

The Pioneers (11-2, 7-0) have won seven straight games now and return to the court this Saturday, January 10, 2015 when they travel to Wheeling Jesuit University. Game time is set for 4:00 PM.

Official Basketball Box Score
Urbana vs. Glenville State
01.08.2015     7:30 PM    at Waco Center
VISITORS: Urbana 4-9 (1-6)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
12 Mike Newton…...... *  7-11   3-5    5-6    0  2  2   2  22  3  2  0  4  34
13 Myles Busby…...... *  1-4    0-1    1-4    1  3  4   3   3  0  1  0  1  16
22 Carlas Jackson…... *  2-12   0-3    2-2    1  3  4   2   6  1  1  0  0  22
31 Rodney Clark Jr….. *  1-7    1-5    2-2    0  1  1   4   5  0  0  0  0  16
33 Matt Csuhran…..... *  2-9    2-7    4-4    2  4  6   1  10  0  1  0  0  25
01 Ognjen Rebic….....    3-6    0-0    1-2    3  3  6   1   7  0  1  0  0  11
02 Ben Merritt…......    0-5    0-0    2-2    3  2  5   3   2  1  1  0  0  17
03 Christopher Cromity.    4-9    2-5    0-0    1  5  6   2  10  2  1  0  1  32
10 John Summers….....    4-8    0-1    1-2    5  4  9   1   9  1  1  2  0  20
24 Doug Hilson…......    2-2    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   0   4  0  1  0  0   7
   TEAM….............                         3  3  6
   Totals…...........   26-73   8-27  18-24  20 30 50  19  78  8 10  2  6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-36 41.7%   2nd Half: 11-37 29.7%   Game: 35.6%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  6-15 40.0%   2nd Half:  2-12 16.7%   Game: 29.6%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  4-4  100 %   2nd Half: 14-20 70.0%   Game: 75.0%    5


HOME TEAM: Glenville State 11-2 (7-0)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Sedric Nady…...... *  5-12   4-10   0-0    0  4  4   1  14  3  2  0  3  34
03 Donte Morales….... *  7-10   3-4    2-3    1  2  3   3  19  1  1  0  1  27
11 Reggie Williams….. *  4-12   2-5    2-4    0  3  3   1  12  5  1  0  2  32
12 Luke Campbell….... *  3-9    3-8    6-6    1  4  5   2  15  1  1  0  0  33
23 Brett Morris…..... *  5-9    1-1    2-4    2  4  6   4  13  1  2  3  2  29
00 Brien Winston…....    4-4    0-0    0-0    0  3  3   3   8  3  0  1  1  21
22 Hunter Given….....    0-0    0-0    0-2    0  1  1   0   0  0  1  0  0   2
32 Juwan Wells…......    3-4    0-1    2-2    0  3  3   4   8  2  1  1  0  13
33 Alonzo Molina…....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  0   4
34 Kalleone Moret…...    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   2   0  0  0  0  0   3
50 ED Newell…........    0-2    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  1  0  0   2
   TEAM….............                         1  4  5
   Totals…...........   31-62  13-30  14-21   5 28 33  22  89 16 10  5  9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-35 42.9%   2nd Half: 16-27 59.3%   Game: 50.0%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  4-15 26.7%   2nd Half:  9-15 60.0%   Game: 43.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  3-6  50.0%   2nd Half: 11-15 73.3%   Game: 66.7%    3


Technical fouls: Urbana-None. Glenville State-None.

Attendance: 272

Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Urbana….....................   40   38  -   78
Glenville State…............   37   52  -   89

Lady Pioneers Beat Urbana 97-64‏

The Gilmer Free Press

Keyanna Tate scored a game high 20 points as the Lady Pioneers ended a two game losing streak as they defeated the Urbana Blue Knight at home on Thursday night, 97-64.

Urbana would take an early 14-13 lead with about 17:00 minutes left in the first half but Glenville State would catch fire and would cruise to an eight point halftime lead, 38-30.

In the second half it would be all Lady Pioneers as they would build a commanding 27 point lead, 73-46, with under 10:00 minutes to play. Glenville State would go on to claim a 33 point victory 97-64.

The Lady Pioneers out-rebounded Urbana 55 to 40 and Glenville State’s defense caused 21 turnovers.

GSC’s senior forward Keyanna Tate led all scorers with 20 points and nine rebounds. Paige Tuttle scored 15 points and dished out a game high five assists. Also for the Lady Pioneers Kayla Tibbs scored 14 points while Juile Bishop scored a career high 14 points.

Urbana was led by Jeni Jordan as she scored 15 points and had five rebounds.

Glenville State (4-6, 3-4) returns to action this Saturday, January 10, 2015 when they travel to Wheeling Jesuit University. Tip-off is set for 2:00 PM.

Official Basketball Box Score
Urbana vs. Glenville State
01.08.2015   5:30 PM   at Waco Center
VISITORS: Urbana 1-12 (1-6)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
15 Kennedy Boggs….... *  2-9    0-2    0-0    0  4  4   1   4  4  6  0  1  30
20 Katy Barkley…..... *  5-8    1-3    1-1    1  6  7   2  12  2  1  0  0  37
23 Kate Francisco…... *  5-10   0-1    0-0    0  5  5   3  10  0  7  2  0  30
25 Jeni Jordan…...... *  4-13   1-1    6-7    3  4  7   3  15  2  3  0  1  30
34 Tori Purk…........ *  2-7    0-0    6-6    4  4  8   2  10  0  1  0  1  33
03 Elizabeth Catoe…..    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  1  0   0
04 Brittany Atkinson…    0-1    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  1  0  0  19
10 Megan Hatfield…...    4-10   0-4    2-2    1  0  1   0  10  0  1  0  0  16
33 Jillian Conneely….    1-1    0-0    1-2    1  1  2   0   3  0  0  0  0   5
   TEAM….............                         2  4  6             1
   Totals…...........   23-59   2-11  16-18  12 28 40  11  64  8 21  3  3 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-31 38.7%   2nd Half: 11-28 39.3%   Game: 39.0%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-3  33.3%   2nd Half:  1-8  12.5%   Game: 18.2%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  5-6  83.3%   2nd Half: 11-12 91.7%   Game: 88.9%    0

HOME TEAM: Glenville State 4-6 (3-4)

                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
02 Paige Tuttle…..... *  5-9    3-7    2-2    0  2  2   0  15  5  0  0  2  16
04 Keyanna Tate…..... *  8-15   0-1    4-4    6  3  9   2  20  2  1  1  0  18
12 Kayla Tibbs…...... *  5-10   4-7    0-0    1  1  2   1  14  0  2  0  1  18
20 Briauna Nix…...... *  1-1    0-0    0-0    3  5  8   1   2  1  1  0  1  16
32 Brittany Jackson…. *  1-4    1-4    0-0    1  1  2   4   3  2  1  0  1   9
01 Katrina Salins…...    3-5    2-4    0-0    3  2  5   0   8  3  0  0  3  18
03 Tayana Stewart…...    1-5    0-1    0-0    2  0  2   0   2  3  0  0  0  12
10 Skyy Lewis….......    1-1    0-0    1-2    0  1  1   1   3  0  0  0  0  13
13 Chanice Lee…......    0-4    0-1    1-2    0  0  0   0   1  1  1  0  0   9
21 Kristin DesRocher…    2-5    2-4    0-0    0  2  2   1   6  2  1  0  0  13
24 Madison Martin…...    1-8    1-7    0-0    1  1  2   1   3  1  0  0  0  16
25 Briana Smythe…....    1-7    0-0    2-2    4  3  7   2   4  0  0  0  1  14
34 La’Shaughn Jones….    1-2    0-0    0-0    3  3  6   4   2  0  0  0  1  11
35 Julie Bishop….....    5-14   4-12   0-0    2  0  2   2  14  0  1  0  1  17
   TEAM….............                         3  2  5
   Totals…...........   35-90  17-48  10-12  29 26 55  19  97 20  8  1 11 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-43 27.9%   2nd Half: 23-47 48.9%   Game: 38.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  8-27 29.6%   2nd Half:  9-21 42.9%   Game: 35.4%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  6-8  75.0%   2nd Half:  4-4  100 %   Game: 83.3%    0

Technical fouls: Urbana-None. Glenville State-None.

Attendance: 261

Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Urbana….....................   30   34  -   64
Glenville State…............   38   59  -   97

Sports News   150109

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Contract details emerge for WVU’s 3 assistants and newcomer Bruce Tall

Incoming West Virginia defensive line coach Bruce Tall signed a two-year deal worth $250,000 annually and three other assistants received extensions.

Running backs coach JaJuan Seider received a $75,000 raise and cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell a $50,000 bump, increasing their annual salaries to $275,000. Receivers coach Lonnie Galloway, who some believe remains a candidate for a promotion to offensive coordinator, was renewed for two years at his current $300,000.

MetroNews received the contract details Wednesday through a Freedom of Information Act request. A request for Joe DeForest’s possible new deal included only the current contract that expires January 30. He was being paid $500,000 under that agreement, an amount tied to his original post of defensive coordinator. That salary is expected to drop if DeForest is retained.

The incentives for Tall, Seider, Galloway and Mitchell are identical:

12 wins: $15,000

11 wins: $10,000

10 wins:  $7,500

9 wins: $5,000

Big 12 championship: $7,500

Non-playoff bowl appearance: $10,000

College Football Playoff appearance: $15,000

CFP semifinal victory: $5,000

National title appearance: $20,000

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Why isn’t anyone talking about the college football national title game?

The first-ever college football playoff title game is four days away, so everyone should be talking about it, right? Well, no.

Take a look at screengrabs of the front pages of some major national sports Web sites, taken Thursday morning.

Here’s ESPN. There’s one story on the front, and you have to click on a tiny picture of Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio with the headline “Spartans’ Take” to find it. Michigan State played both Oregon and Ohio State this season. But hey, when else do you get a chance to blow out a story on the Detroit Pistons in January?

Here’s Lookit all these college football players! And … it’s a package about the NFL draft, which is months from now.

Yahoo Sports will have some white-hot college football championship game takes, right? //scans page. “Watch: Puppies pick Ducks to win title on Fallon” WE’RE MAKING PROGRESS.

Of a limited though far-reaching sample, only SBNation has the national title game front and center.

Yes, this is a limited sample size, and the the importance of Web-site front pages has lessened in the age of Google searches and Twitter. And I realize that last weekend’s semifinal games drew the largest television audiences in cable television history. But I think it’s illustrative of a larger point: Namely, that with the introduction of the four-team playoff, all the attention has been shifted to the semifinals, especially now that they’ll be broadcast on a holiday.

The championship game, at least this year, is hardly making a dent in the discussion, not with the NFL playoffs going strong, Jameis Winston declaring for the draft and his accuser suing Florida State (oh, if only the seminoles had beaten Oregon), sports fans having their annual “Hey, college basketball is in full swing!” realization and ESPN’s Stuart Scott sadly passing away. All of this is sucking the air out of the room.

This will change by the weekend, obviously. Most non-entrenched reporters will be arriving in Texas on Friday, and media day is Saturday. But it just seems so odd that the buzz about the playoff — which was so passionately clamored-for — has died now the bracket has been reduced to two.

►  Ducks and Bucks collide for national title

The Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes are the two teams left standing and will face off against one another in the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship game at AT&T Stadium on Monday, January 12.

Mark Helfrich’s Ducks earned their way into the playoff, by going 12-1 during the season, including routing Arizona in the Pac-12 title game. The team than steam-rolled defending national champion Florida State in the Rose Bowl (59-20) to post its 13th victory and a spot in the national title game. The 59 points set a new Rose Bowl record.

Star offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu put the Rose Bowl win in perspective after the game.

“It’s a huge deal to win the Rose Bowl—but it’s a playoff semifinal now. We’re not done yet, and we’ve got one more to go.“

Oregon is attempting to win its first-ever national title. The Ducks had a chance in the 2011 season to pick up that elusive championship, but lost to Auburn, 22-19 in the BCS Title Game. Overall, OU is 13-15 in bowl history and now 4-2 in BCS/CFB bowl games.

Urban Meyer has done it again, as he has brought Ohio State to the pinnacle of the college football world, after leading Florida to a couple of national titles a few years ago.

This one has to be sweeter though, as the Buckeyes battled adversity all season long with the loss of key personnel, but still found their way to the CFP by winning the Big Ten title in emphatic fashion with a 59-0 blanking of Wisconsin, setting up a showdown with top-ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Ohio State fell behind early, but rallied and earned its 13th win of the season with a 42-35 defeat of the Crimson Tide.

Ohio State’s postseason resume is a bit longer than Oregon’s. The Buckeyes own seven national championships (four AP national titles), have 44 bowl appearances and five BCS bowl wins (most in the nation). The Buckeyes are playing in their fourth national title game in the last 13 years (2002, 2006, 2007).

This marks the ninth all-time meeting between these two programs. It has been all Ohio State, which has won all eight previous matchups, the last of which was the 2010 Rose Bowl, a 26-17 victory for Ohio State.

Oddly enough, the Oregon and Ohio State participated in the first-ever NCAA basketball championship in 1939 in Evanston, Ill. Oregon won that matchup, 46-33.

Anyone that considers Oregon a finesse team, need only look at last week’s matchup with Florida State to change their mind. The Ducks punched the Seminoles in the mouth on both sides of the football en route to the lopsided victory, ending FSU’s 29-game win streak. A lot of that had to do with the pace in which Oregon runs its offense.

No one in the nation does it better than quarterback Marcus Mariota, who brought the Heisman Trophy to Eugene, the first in school history.

Oregon’s star quarterback is the architect of an offense that averages 47.2 ppg on 552.9 yards of offense per outing. The Ducks have the ability to move the chains both on the ground (241.9 ypg) and through the air (311.0 ypg), but the key is the team’s star under center.

Meyer is certainly impressed with Mariota as the complete package.

“I’ve been around him when he first when he was a young player, I went out and visited and I remember them telling me about him. I think Chip (Kelly) recruited him when he was was it which high school was it, Puna? St. Louis, yeah, the other great one. Was a backup for a while and just a great kid. I think that’s so good for college football to see a guy like that go out and win it. Great, great player. Great, great person, great leader, you can tell. Plays his best when it’s hard.“

The 6-4 Mariota has been remarkable in his time in Eugene and this, his junior year, has been nothing short of amazing. Mariota enters this contest, having completed 68.6% of his passes, for 4,121 yards, with 40 TDs against just three interceptions (one of which came against FSU). Perhaps the nation’s top dual threat, Mariota also found the time to rush for 731 yards and 15 more scores. If it isn’t Mariota running with the football, it is likely either freshman Royce Freeman (1,343 yards, 18 TDs) or sophomore Thomas Tyner (511 yards, 5 TDs) getting the ball. Tyner is coming off a season-high 124 yards and two TDs against Florida State.

Converted tailback Byron Marshall (66 receptions, 834 yards, five TDs) has settled in as Mariota’s favorite target downfield. However, the team did lose a key contributor in the passing game with last week’s injury to Devon Allen (41 receptions, 684 yards, 7 TDs) on the opening kickoff. With Allen expected to miss this game (knee), Marshall will need to step up even more, along with Dwayne Stanford (39 receptions, 578 yards, 6 TDs) and Darren Carrington (37 receptions, 704 yards, 4 TDs), who

The offensive eruption against the Seminoles had a lot to do with the defensive effort by Oregon. A close game (25-20) turned into a rout, thanks to five total FSU turnovers, four in the third-quarter, all of which the Ducks cashed in for touchdowns.

Defensive backs coach John Neal summed up that third quarter.

“That was almost freaky,“ Neal said. “There was a point where they’re moving the ball as easy as they want. But the study of the game still goes back to, from a defensive point of view, takeaways. If you win the takeaway battle, you win games.“

That has really been the way Oregon has played defensively all season long. The Ducks don’t completely shut teams down, as evidenced by the 421.9 yards yielded per contest. However, this is an opportunistic bunch, with 36 sacks and a whopping 30 forced turnovers to date.

Safety Erick Dargan is the defensive leader on the field now that star cornerback Imo Ekpre-Olomu is out due to injury. Really, Dargan has performed at a high level all season long. The 5-11, 210-pound senior posted eight tackles, a forced fumble and an interception in the Rose Bowl and currently leads the team in tackles (90) and interceptions (7).

Senior linebacker Tony Washington was named the Rose Bowl Defensive MVP after returning a fumble 58 yards for a TD to really end Florida State’s hopes of a comeback. Washington (53 tackles, 11.0 TFL. 6.0 sacks) teams with junior linebacker Christian French (24 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks) to put pressure on opposing QBs.

It was quite the 2014 season in Columbus. The Buckeyes were dealt a harsh blow when their Heisman candidate quarterback Braxton Miller was injured before the season started. The team had to go to “Plan B” which was J.T. Barrett and despite an ugly loss early on at home to Virginia Tech, Barrett and the rest of the team rallied, as the young signal caller was phenomenal in his own right, and actually picked up some Heisman chatter along the way, by throwing for 2,834 yards and 34 TDs, while rushing for 938 yards and 11 more scores.

However, Barrett went down near the end of the season with his own injury, setting the stage for sophomore Cardale Jones to step in. All Jones has done is lead the Buckeyes to huge wins over Wisconsin and Alabama of late in his only career starts. Against Alabama, Jones passed for 243 yards and one TD, and led the team back from a 21-6 deficit to earn the victory.

The running game is still the preferred mode of travel for Ohio State, which averages 262.2 yards per game on the ground. Tailback Ezekiel Elliott has been a revelation in OSU’s backfield. The 6-0, 225-pound sophomore has amassed 1,632 yards and 14 TDs on the season. He comes into this game red-hot, having rushed for a Sugar Bowl-record 230 yards and two TDs against Alabama, including an 85-yard scamper in the fourth quarter to keep Alabama at arm’s length.

The Buckeyes are as balanced as they come, as the passing game generates well over 200 yards per game. The team has a deep pool of quality pass catchers, headlined by Michael Thomas (50 receptions, 746 yards, 9 TDs), Jalin Marshall (33 receptions, 447 yards, 6 TDs) and speedster Devin Smith (32 receptions, 886 yards, 12 TDs).

The Buckeyes have gotten the job done on the defensive side of the ball as well this season. Ohio State is limiting foes to just 333.6 yards per game (17th nationally), while amassing 43 sacks and forcing 32 turnovers, including 24 interceptions (second-most in school history).

Junior linebacker Joshua Perry leads the team in tackles with 118. However, playmakers can be found at every level of the OSU defense.

The secondary is headlined by a pair of ball hawks in sophomore safety Vonn Bell (86 tackles, 6 INTs) and senior cornerback Doran Grant (58 tackles, 5 INTs).

The defensive line is highlighted by All-American sophomore Joey Bosa at end and senior Michael Bennett in the middle. Bosa was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Of his 53 total tackles, 20 have come behind the line of scrimmage, including 13.5 sacks. He has also forced a team-high four fumbles. Bennett penetrates from the inside with 40 tackles, 14.0 TFL and 7.0 sacks to his credit.

►  Don’t expect a shootout in National Championship game

Two of the highest scoring teams in FBS play meet in the first College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Oregon is second averaging 47 points per game while Ohio State is fifth at 45 ppg.

Given the fact both teams have lit up the scoreboard this season, one would assume the final score in the title game will reach epic numbers. Even the posted total is high at 75 points.

Playing into that method of thinking, it is easy to roll with the over, especially since Ohio State has gone under the number just once since its opening game against Navy and that came in the snow against Minnesota.

However, try not to get suckered into wagering on the over so quickly. Remember, only three of the Buckeyes’ posted totals this season were higher than 60 points, which is over two touchdowns less than the number for this matchup.

Ohio State is averaging 43 points per game in its last five contests with the Buckeyes scoring over 42 points just once. Most folks would say the semifinal game against Alabama was a high-scoring affair but 42 and 35 comes to 77, which is only two points higher than the posted total of 75 for this game.

It is true Oregon is more explosive offensively than the Crimson Tide but not by much. The Ducks are averaging about 70 more yards per game - akin to about one touchdown drive per contest. Furthermore, the Ducks don’t turn the ball over like Alabama does, which means their defense will not allow easy points for the opposition.

Oregon is No. 1 in FBS play with just 10 turnovers, two less than the next closest set of teams. Don’t forget, over one quarter of the 77 points scored in the Ohio State-Alabama game were off turnovers while almost half of the 79 total points in the Oregon-Florida State contest came off turnovers.

Oregon has topped the 100-point mark in its last two games combined, while reaching the 40-point mark in nine straight contests. Still, the Ducks have been known to score far fewer points in bowl games than they have during the regular season.

During the regular season, the Ducks averaged 36, 47, 46, 50, 46 and 47 points per game, respectively, since 2009. Their bowl totals since 2009 have been 17, 19, 45, 35, 30 and 59, respectively. The one outlier from the second set is the 59 points in this year’s game versus Florida State, a game Oregon scored just 18 first-half points, with five of the six second-half touchdowns coming off turnovers.

Offense is not the only area where these two teams excel. Ohio State is 26th nationally in scoring defense while Oregon is 27th. Ohio State’s defense allowed just 21 points (not counting points off turnovers) to Alabama and held Wisconsin scoreless in the previous game.

Oregon has held its opponents to 20 points or less in four consecutive contests and six of the last eight. Oregon’s offensive postseason woes have been well documented but the defense usually comes to play. Over the last three years, the Ducks have allowed fewer points in the bowl game than their defensive point per game average during the regular season.

This championship game certainly won’t be a defensive struggle but it also won’t be an offensive shootout. Look for both teams to score in the 30s meaning the final tally will be somewhere in the 60s to low 70s.

Take under 75 points (a one-star play for those keeping track).


This year’s final regular season record was 104-87-6 (54%). The five- star selections finished at 10-8. The three-star plays went 22-14-2. The two- star choices wound up at 33-30 and the one-star plays finished 39-35-4.

The bowl record was hideous with just seven wins in 20 games. However, the lone five-star play (Wisconsin plus the points versus Auburn) won outright. In addition, all three headline games (Wisconsin, Penn State and Air Force) proved victorious. Overall, the headline games went 12-6 this season for a 67% winning percentage.


1) Oregon, 112; 2) TCU, 108.5; 3-T) Ohio State and Michigan State, 104; 5) Alabama, 103; 6) Georgia, 102.5; 7-T) Georgia Tech and Baylor, 98.5; 9-T) Arkansas and Ole Miss, 97.5; 11-T) Mississippi State and Stanford, 97

(The Dirty Dozen is not a reflection of a given team’s won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)

►  College football parity?

Two worthy candidates will vie for the first-ever CFP National Championship and the funny thing is that neither is from the SEC.

The Southeastern Conference held the rest of the college football world at bay over the last decade or so, as a member of the conference had played in every BCS National Title game since 2007 and won seven championships in a row prior to Florida State’s victory over Auburn last year.

With a new system in place in 2014, the times are changing. Not only is there no SEC member playing in the final game next week in Arlington, but the conference as a whole took it on the chin in the postseason.

Alabama won the conference crown and did represent the SEC in the College Football Playoff, but faltered against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl (42-35). That was the marquee matchup for the conference but not the only disappointment, especially in the vaunted SEC West.

The powerhouse division went just 2-5 in the bowl season this year, with losses by Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. It was an embarrasing overall performance by a division that had as many as four teams with realistic shots at staking claims to spots in the first-ever playoff system at some point this year.

So, did we witness the demise of the SEC, or are we privy to the start of a college football revival across the country. I am leaning towards the latter.

The much maligned Big Ten took some harsh criticism as the weakest among the Power Five conferences this season. Well, outside of Michigan’s total collapse, the Big Ten has re-establushed itself as a powerful entity going forward. Ohio State, under Urban Meyer, has been consistently spectacular and this season is no different. The Buckeyes, who play the Oregon Ducks for the national title, have been so successful, that their Heisman candidate quarterback (Braxton Miller) may be looking for somewhere else to play now that OSU’s quarterback depth has proved to be second to none.

Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska failed to win the conference title this season, but all three are powerhouses in their own right and will be for years to come.

Penn State has now had its bowl sanctions lifted and celebrated with a thrilling victory over Boston College in the Pinestripe Bowl. With a star QB under center (Christian Hackenberg) much more is expected of the Nittany Lions in 2015. Even Michigan’s collapse has brought about a change in Ann Arbor, as Jim Harbaugh has been brought in from the NFL to lead the Wolverines into a new era.

The Big Ten is not the only conference to step up in 2014. It just so happens that the Pac-12’s star is on the rise as well. The other conference represented in next week’s championship game, the Pac-12 had a revival of sorts in 2014. Oregon is clearly the cream of the conference crop and proved that by winning back-to-back lopsided decisions over Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game (51-13) and Florida State in the Rose Bowl (59-20).

With the reigning Heisman winner under center in Marcus Mariota, Oregon is favored next week against Ohio State to capture its first national title.

It didn’t come as easy as it has looked over the last couple of games, as the Pac-12 competition was tight. The Ducks were able to avenge their only loss of the season in the Pac-12 championship, but don’t forget that the Arizona Wildcats went into Eugene early on and took out Oregon on its own field (31-24).

Stanford took a step back and had a down year for sure, but Arizona State, UCLA, Utah and USC all had strong seasons as well, capped off by bowl victories.

Add the Big 12 to the mix. It wasn’t the usual teams like Oklahoma or Texas making their presence felt, but rather, Baylor and TCU that made things extremely difficult on the CFP selection committee down the stretch. In fact, there were plenty of naysayers around the country when the four spots were decided and neither the Horned Frogs nor the Bears were invited to the party.

One thing is for sure—the Big 12 is on the upswing heading into 2015

It remains to be seen if the NCAA finally got it right with the long sought-after playoff in college football. It’s hard to argue its merits after year one, though.

In the world of college football, this year’s changes have opened the door to possibilities beyond just the SEC.

In that case, change is definitely a good thing.    ~~  Scott Haynes ~~

The Gilmer Free Press

►  New Redskins GM Scot McCloughan brings new level of talent acquisition to franchise

Back when Scot McCloughan was an NFL scout, tasked with ferreting out football talent in a region of the country much like scent hounds track prey, what impressed his boss was the joy he took in the pursuit and the conviction he felt about the players he discovered.

Andrew Brandt, a former vice president of the Green Bay Packers, took a special interest in McCloughan from that point on, struck by an enthusiasm and geniality that set him apart from the rest. And he followed McCloughan’s ascent after he moved on and up through the ranks of National Football League executives, helping construct Super Bowl contending rosters at San Francisco and Seattle.

“He’s a gem in terms of finding talent,” Brandt said of McCloughan, a former scout who honed his skills at Green Bay in the late 1990s. “That’s the name of the game.”

Now 43, McCloughan is expected to be introduced this week as Washington’s general manager, accorded full responsibility for selecting the team’s players going forward.

The hiring of McCloughan, who has been hailed as a football savant for his success in divining professional potential among college prospects, will bring to the job a level of professionalism and expertise in the front office that Washington has lacked the past 15 years, nearly the full tenure of Daniel Snyder’s ownership.

It also will usher in a fundamental shift in front-office philosophy, with McCloughan hailing from a Packers management tree that believes in identifying and developing young players rather than cherry-picking established veterans on the free agent market.

As McCoughan told the Boston Globe in 2008: Free agent splashes “can look good on paper because it’s a quick fix and fans can say, ‘They’re trying to get better.’ But you can’t lose sight of the bigger picture.”

Brandt, now an NFL business analyst for ESPN, explains that bigger picture.

“Our philosophy in Green Bay was always the same: Draft and develop,” Brandt said. “Build through the draft. Trust your coaches to play young players. Avoid and eschew quick fixes. Work toward long-term success, which is the ultimate goal. I think that is what he’s going to bring to Washington.”

Long-term success has become the stuff of nostalgia for the Redskins, who have finished last in the NFC East six out of the last seven years.

Four days after the team’s final indignity under first-year Coach Jay Gruden, a 44-17 loss December 28 to the Dallas Cowboys that dropped its record to 4-12, the Redskins fired longtime defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. That afternoon, Redskins President and general manager Bruce Allen stood at a podium at the team’s headquarters in Ashburn and insisted he was capable of continuing in both roles.

The hiring of McCloughan relieves Allen of his title as general manager and all responsibility for acquiring players.

In McCloughan, Washington gets a former NFL scout, as well as the son of a veteran NFL scout, with a keen appreciation of football’s nuances in his blood. He’s a former general manager of the 49ers and former senior personnel executive for the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks.

“He has a good eye for talent,” said former San Francisco coach Mike Nolan, who hired McCloughan as the 49ers’ personnel director for both the college and pro ranks. “That’s critical. The most important job of a general manager is to be able to choose players.”

Among the standouts McCloughan is credited with signing are San Francisco running back Frank Gore, tight end Vernon Davis and linebacker Patrick Willis — all recipients of Pro Bowl honors during NFL careers that have spanned 10, nine and eight years, respectively.

At Seattle, McCloughan was the driving force behind drafting Russell Wilson, convinced the undersize quarterback had big-game potential few others saw. Wilson went on to lead Seattle to last season’s Super Bowl championship.

Former Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson, now an analyst with the NFL Network, told his hometown radio station, Richmond’s Fox Sports 910, that McCloughan also has a knack for assembling locker rooms of quality, committed players.

“He’s not just looking for your attributes on the field,” Robinson said Wednesday. “He’s looking for how can I infuse you into this locker room to make this . . . a place where it’s conducive to winning.”

McCloughan joins the Redskins’ front office after spending the past nine months running a scouting service based in his remote Washington state home. The Redskins were among the NFL teams that paid him a reported $75,000 to evaluate players they were considering signing.

Running his own scouting service had been an idea he had toyed with in the past.

McCloughan had learned football talent evaluation, more art than science, from his father, Kent, who spent more than 30 years as a scout with the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders. Baseball was the son’s forte as an athlete, and Scot McCloughan spent three seasons in the minor leagues’ Class A after being picked by Toronto in the 10th round of the 1992 major league draft. He went to work as an NFL scout in Green Bay in 1995.

But after resigning from his second stint with the Seahawks two weeks before the 2014 NFL draft, McCloughan realized the scouting service also was his best career option.

Affable and admired in NFL circles, McCloughan spoke frankly about his periodic bouts of alcohol abuse in interviews last fall with Seth Wickersham, a writer with ESPN The Magazine. Wickersham’s profile, published last month, portrays a man who had managed to keep his longtime love of beer, shared by many scouts and coaches in the league, from interfering with his work until his marriage faltered.

McCloughan revealed in the article that he got treatment at the Betty Ford Center, which helped for a time. But after divorce proceedings were initiated, he substituted vodka for beer and ended up resigning as San Francisco’s general manager in 2010 to address what was identified as a private matter.

He was not out of work long — a tribute, friends and associates say, to the loyalty he engenders among co-workers and employers and his sought-after expertise in identifying talent.

Nolan, the former San Francisco coach who had hired him as vice president of football operations in 2005, is a case in point. After three seasons, the team’s owner stripped Nolan of his additional duties as general manager and assigned them to McCloughan. Roughly six months later, Nolan was fired, while McCloughan was retained.

Currently defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, Nolan doesn’t hesitate to enumerate McCloughan’s strengths, calling him “a good fit” for the Redskins.

“The number one thing someone needs to do is have the ability to pick players. Some [NFL team] buildings don’t have anyone who can do that, and Scot’s ability sets him above all the others,” said Nolan, who served as Washington’s defensive coordinator from 1997 to 1999. “Scot is a good person. He’s not an undermining kind of guy. He’s a good person, and I’m pulling for him.”

During the interview process with Washington, the Redskins had a chance to ask McCloughan about his personal demons, according to someone familiar with the process. McCloughan, in turn, had a chance to ask the Redskins about their history of front-office turnover. Washington got its man, and McCloughan came away with a four-year contract.  ~~  Liz Clarke ~~

►  Peyton Manning to blame for Broncos recent red-zone issues

The Denver Broncos take on the Indianapolis Colts in what will certainly be billed as two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks squaring off for the right to advance to the AFC title game. However, Peyton Manning appears to have been taken off his red-zone game ever since the win against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12.

Peyton Manning in the red zone: Weeks 1-12: 78% completion (1st), 97 Total QBR (1st) Weeks 13-17: 39% completion (30th); 18 Total QBR (22nd)

That downturn has dropped the Broncos from having the second-highest red zone efficiency in Weeks 1-12 (74%) to 24th over the season’s final five weeks (44%). And the answer to why lies somewhere in the passes from Manning to Demaryius Thomas.

Thomas was targeted 23 times in the red zone over Weeks 1 to 12 and caught 17 of those passes. Six of them for touchdowns.

But from Week 13 to 17, he made just one catch 16 targets.

So who is at fault? Manning is. Of the 15 passes that weren’t caught:

  •  Ten were either poor throws, forced into double coverage or out of bounds
  •  Two were well defended one-on-one
  •  One was a bad throw
  •  One was intercepted
  •  One was dropped

Having a healthy Julius Thomas, one of the Broncos best scoring threats when healthy, would certainly help.

            Over the first eight games, the Broncos scored 31 touchdowns compared to just 24 touchdowns over the final eight games. Of those scores, only 25.8% of them came on third or fourth down in the first half, but 42.3% of them came on late downs in the second half of the season.

            Not only did the Broncos not score as many touchdowns, but they also needed to execute on the later downs to do it. A key stop here and there can swing a game, and it was easier to stop the Broncos in the second half despite similar total point outputs.

              Of Thomas’ 12 touchdowns, 10 came in the first half and all 12 before he hurt his ankle against the St. Louis Rams in Week 11. Thomas had 54 targets before he was injured and just eight since. Thomas turned his eight targets into three receptions for 63 yards, so he’s still proving capable of making big plays even while hurt.

“We’ve tried to find different ways to win football games, and hopefully that prepares us well when we get into these playoff games and anything can go on,” Manning said. “You never know what it’s going to be, and [I] think we’ve proven we can win games different ways. Hopefully that serves us well potentially on Sunday.”

One of those ways will have to be to find another red-zone target that isn’t Demaryius Thomas.

►  Panthers lose Lotulelei to broken foot

Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei will miss Saturday’s NFC playoff game against Seattle because of a broken bone in his foot.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday that Lotulelei was hurt during practice Tuesday when he stepped on another player’s foot. He underwent surgery Wednesday morning.

Lotulelei, in his second NFL season, notched 25 tackles and two sacks in 14 regular-season games.

►  Bears CB Jennings arrested

Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings was arrested Wednesday by the Gwinnett County police in Georgia on charges of speeding, reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.

“We are aware of the reports regarding Tim Jennings’ arrest. We are currently gathering information to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the situation,“ the Bears said in a statement.

According to Gwinnett County Detention Center records, Jennings was released at 3:41 PM ET and the three charges held a bond total of $2,711.

The 31-year-old Jennings, who played collegiately at Georgia, had a disappointing 2014 season in which he went without an interception. He registered 50 tackles in 16 starts with seven pass breakups and one forced fumble.

►  Former Cowboys DL Pugh dies

Jethro Pugh, a defensive lineman on two Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl champion teams in the 1970s, died Wednesday at the age of 70.

The Cowboys released a statement confirming Pugh’s passing, which the team said was from natural causes.

Pugh spent his entire 14-year NFL career with Dallas after joining the Cowboys as an 11th-round draft choice in 1965. The North Carolina native played in 183 regular-season games and recorded 95 1/2 sacks, the sixth-highest total in franchise history.

“This is a sad day for Cowboys fans, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Jethro’s family,“ Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. “He was loved and appreciated by his teammates and Cowboys fans for decades, and his spirit will be felt when our team travels to Green Bay this weekend.“

Pugh was a part of the Cowboys’ first two Super Bowl victories (VI, XII) as well as five NFC championships, playing in a total of 23 postseason games during his tenure with the organization.

►  Falcons adjust front office

A week after firing coach Mike Smith, the Atlanta Falcons announced more changes.

Atlanta’s general manager Thomas Dimitroff, reportedly on the hot seat after the team failed to make the postseason in consecutive years, will remain on the job, managing the salary cap, player affairs, equipment, sports medicine and performance, and video activities.

Assistant general manager Scott Pioli, who was hired last February, will now be in charge of pro and college scouting, including the NFL draft. Pioli will still report to Dimitroff.

“After reviewing all of our options—internally and externally—I have no reservations that this is the best approach to setting up our player personnel groups for future success,“ said Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank. “It maximizes the talents of Scott, allows for more time and focus on all areas of our football operations groups managed by Thomas, and is in line with other player personnel groups in the league.

“While this decision was not tied to the head coach search currently underway, we also believe that independent thinking and collaboration will contribute to taking us to the next level in our league. Therefore, our new head coach and Thomas will report separately to me.“

Dimitroff was hired prior to the 2008 season along with the now-departed Smith. In his tenure, the Falcons drafted players including quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones and safety William Moore. Atlanta has reached the playoffs four times under Dimitroff.

►  NFL Play offs Game Results

The Gilmer Free Press

►  So much talent but only pick one

There is a smorgasbord of talent available for fantasy owners this weekend.

With the return from their first-round bye, the four best teams in the NFL Seattle, Green Bay, New England and Denver will see action Saturday and Sunday and they bring with them the talents that won them the elite top-two spots in their conferences.

The situation is particularly difficult for fantasy owners at quarterback. All eight quarterbacks on display this weekend are extremely talented and capable of posting a big fantasy total.

We will analyze this decision based on three criteria; past playoff performance, expected weather and the defense on the other side of the ball.

Who to choose? Who to choose?

The obvious choice would seem to be between the two signal-callers who scored the most points in fantasy football this season (Aaron Rodgers edged out Andrew Luck for the top spot 342-336). But with Rodgers limping and Luck’s mediocre career record on the road in two playoff games, fantasy owners may want to continue looking at all the other options.

Below is an analysis of all eight quarterbacks.

Aaron Rodgers - Rodgers has actually been a better playoff road warrior than at Lambeau Field. On the “frozen tundra” he’s won one of three games while averaging just 238 ypg in the air. That’s in stark contrast to his 2014 regular season record at home where he threw for 291.8 ypg and 25 touchdowns without an interception in eight Green Bay victories.

The game-time weather will certainly be very cold, as one would expect from Green Bay in January, but at least it appears it will be dry and without much wind. And the Dallas defense is very “giving” having yielded 4,031 passing yards during the regular season (26th best). That’s good news because fantasy owners already have enough to be concerned about in Rodgers’ leg. He’s certainly a possible option.

Andrew Luck - Luck is a career 58.6% passer, but in two road playoff games he is a 50.5% passer with a 2:5 TD-to-interception ratio. The weather in Denver appears to be the best of any of the four venues (44 degrees, no precipitation, negligible wind). The real problem with choosing Luck is the fierce pass rush he’ll face led by DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller and the high quality secondary with Aqib Talib and Chris Harris at the corners. So keep searching.

Peyton Manning - It’s a tough thing to say - don’t pick Manning, but that’s what you are about to hear. Manning hasn’t been the same guy that we saw break records in 2013. For one thing, the offensive line hasn’t been as secure and Manning has felt opposing pass rush pressure. And while Emmanuel Sanders has successfully replaced Eric Decker, Wes Welker has not played well and Julius Thomas (ankle) has spent the second half of the season as a shell of himself. The Broncos have been featuring the running game down the stretch and for those reasons we will say - “don’t pick Manning this weekend.“

Tony Romo - Romo has probably been the hottest quarterback over the past month. He has played five playoff games, and while last weekend’s performance was the best of his career, from a fantasy standpoint it still wasn’t great. Romo has yet to pass for more than 293 yards in any playoff game and averages 225 ypg and 1.2 TD passes. That just won’t get it done.

Tom Brady - The Patriots’ signal-caller is a career 18-8 including 12-3 at home with 27 TDs, 14 INTs and averaging 246 ypg. Unfortunately, two of those three home playoff losses were to the Ravens, including last season. The weather in Gillette Stadium on Saturday is expected to be a Green Bay-like 15 degrees, but at least it won’t be windy. Keep Brady in the running.

Cam Newton - The 25-year-old has only played two NFL playoff games and has yet to post anything exciting in either one. He won last weekend, but didn’t even reach the 200-yard passing mark. And he’ll face the best pass defense in the league in the Seahawks. Scratch Newton.

Russell Wilson - Wilson is a career 4-1 with six touchdown passes against just one interception, averaging 219.2 ypg in the air in the postseason. He’s also a running threat averaging another 33 yards on the ground and scoring once. Those rushing yards are the equivalent to more than 75 yards passing. But his playoff numbers are skewed by a 385-yard game against Atlanta in 2013. The weather in Seattle is expected to be nice, 47 degrees and overcast, so should not be a factor. The Panthers’ defense has played well this season despite all the changes to their lineup, but Wilson is still an option.

Joe Flacco - Flacco is a career 10-4 in the playoffs and a stunning 8-4 on the road in the postseason. He’s thrown 21 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. In his early years, Flacco was used as a “game manager,“ but that hasn’t been the case over his past two playoff seasons. In his last five playoff starts, Flacco is averaging 279.8 ypg with 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Bingo!

The weather in New England won’t exactly be like a day on the beach in Maui, but it shouldn’t prevent Flacco from continuing to produce. The numbers don’t lie and our surprise fantasy selection at quarterback for this weekend is the Baltimore Ravens signal-caller.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  Area High Schools Boys Basketball Game Results

(Thursday, January 08)

Braxton County 69     Clay County 66

Calhoun County 60     Roane County 51

Parkersburg 58     St. Albans 55

Wood County Christian 81     Grace Christian 64

Postponements and Cancellations:

Gilmer County vs. Doddridge County

Lewis County vs. Robert C. Byrd

Grafton vs. Bridgeport

Liberty (Harrison) vs. Buckhannon-Upshur

Lincoln vs. East Fairmont

North Marion vs. Philip Barbour

Parkersburg Catholic vs. Tyler Consolidated

Parkersburg South vs. Morgantown

Tygarts Valley vs. South Harrison

►  Area High Schools Girls Basketball Game Results

(Thursday, January 08)

#4 Williamstown 50     Ritchie County 40

Belpre, Ohio 80     Wood County Christian 56

The Gilmer Free Press

►  MEC Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Thursday, January 08)

#1 West Liberty 102, Shepherd 83 | Final Stats

Seger Bonifant, the nation’s leading scorer, added 34 more to lead top-ranked West Liberty to a 102-83 win over Shepherd.

The win improved West Liberty’s record to 12-0 overall and 7-0 in the MEC. Shepherd fell to 9-4 overall and 4-3 in conference play.

Bonifant hit 10 three-pointers in the game and added seven rebounds. Devin Hoehn scored 14 and dished out seven assists, and Zac Grossenbacher had 10 points and eight rebounds. West Liberty shot 55% from the field and had assists on 23 of its 36 baskets.

Shepherd was paced by 20 points from Steffen Davis and Skyler Roman added 16.

Fairmont State 75, Wheeling Jesuit 69 | Final Stats

Fairmont State trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half, but rallied to pick up a 75-69 win over Wheeling Jesuit. 

Trailing 43-34 at halftime, Fairmont State started the second half on a 17-3 run over the first six minutes. Jamel Morris keyed the run with 12 of FSU’s 17 points during that span. 

Morris finished with 33 points on 11-of-22 shooting, including 6-of-10 from behind the arc, to lead Fairmont State (8-5, 5-2). Nick Harney added 19 points and nine rebounds. 

Justin Fritts scored 17 points and had four assists for the Cardinals (6-5, 2-4). Eric Siefert had 14 points and nine rebounds. The Cardinals were plagued by 20 turnovers in the game. 

Charleston 70, Concord 65 | Final Stats

Charleston withstood a late Concord rally and hung on to defeat the Mountain Lions, 70-65.

UC’s lead swelled to 10 with just over four minutes to play, but Concord came up with the next nine points to make it a 66-65 game with 1:03 left. Concord got the miss it was looking for, but Tino DiTrapano pulled down the offensive rebound and was then sent to the line where he made both free throws. CU turned the ball over on its next possession and Chris Evans sealed the game with two more free throws.

Aleksander Kesic led Charleston (9-4, 4-3) with 18 points, including 5-of-9 shooting from behind the arc. Cameron Dozier scored 14, Evans finished with 12 and Jevonte Hughes had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Golden Eagles finished with 13 three-pointers in the game.

Concord (7-5, 3-4) was led by 15 points and eight rebounds from B.J. Hamlet. Rob Reed added 12 for the Mountain Lions. 

Glenville State 89, Urbana 78 | Final Stats

Glenville State erased a halftime deficit by shooting 60% form the field in the second half to pick up its seventh-straight win, 89-78, over Urbana.

The Pioneers (11-2, 7-0) trailed 40-37 at the break, but went on a 17-6 run in the first 6:30 of the second half to seize control of the game. GSC finished the game shooting 50% from the field. Urbana out-rebounded GSC 50-33 and had a 23-7 edge in second chance points, but shot 36% from the field.

All five starters reached double figures for Glenville State led by 19 from Donte Morales. Luke Campbell had 15, Sedric Nady had 14, Brett Morris finished with 13 and Reggie Williams netted 12. 

Mike Newton led Urbana (4-9, 1-6) with 22 points. Matt Csuhran and Christopher Cromity each scored 10.

West Virginia State 90, UVa-Wise 77 | Final Stats

West Virginia State snapped a seven-game losing streak by handling UVa-Wise, 90-77.

WVSU (2-12, 2-4) got 21 points and 12 rebounds from Damion Harris and 20 points from Markee Mazyck. Dominic Phillips came off the bench to add 11. The Yellow Jackets dominated the glass, 49-34.

Philip Owens II scored a game-high 33 points for UVa-Wise (1-11, 0-7). Oliver Thompson scored 18 and Brian Sydnor contributed 11 points and nine rebounds. 

West Virginia Wesleyan 80, Notre Dame College 64 | Final Stats

West Virginia Wesleyan picked up its second-straight win after stifling Notre Dame, 80-64.

West Virginia Wesleyan improved to 5-8 overall and 3-4 in conference play. Notre Dame slipped to 7-6 overall and 3-4 in the MEC.

Tanner McGrew had his league-best sixth double-double of the year in the victory.

►  MEC Women’s Basketball Game Results

(Thursday, January 08)

West Liberty 90, Shepherd 87 | Final Stats

West Liberty forged into a tie atop the Mountain East Conference standings with a 90-87 win over Shepherd. 

West Liberty and Shepherd now have identical 9-4 records and are both 6-1 in conference play.

Kailee Howe led the way for the ‘Toppers with 30 points to go with seven assists and four rebounds. Her jumper with :43 left gave WLU the lead for good. Liz Flowers scored 18 points and Kierra Simpson had 16 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out. 

Morgan Arden came off the bench to lead the Rams with 20 points. Liz Myers had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Rachel Johnson and Gabby Flinchum each had 13. 

Shepherd had the edge in field goal percentage, 49-43, but West Liberty compensated by making 15-of-21 free throws compared to just 8-of-15 for the Rams.

Fairmont State 87, Wheeling Jesuit 79 | Final Stats

Fairmont State used a 14-4 run over three minutes late in the second half to pull away from Wheeling Jesuit, 87-79.

The Falcons (11-2, 5-2) were led by 22 points apiece from Emily Lohr and Emily Puskarich. Hallie Gunnoe scored 18 and Hailey Garrett had 14 points and nine rebounds. The Falcons were 26-of-29 from the free throw line in the victory. 

Jaila Bryant and Taylor Lubinsky each scored 17 for the Cardinal (6-4, 3-3). Mariah Callen came off the bench and added 16.

Charleston 61, Concord 46 | Final Stats

Charleston’s Nichole Perry scored her 1,000th career point as the Golden Eagles cruised to a 61-46 win over Concord.

Perry finished with 10 points for UC (10-3, 5-2). Monet Saunders led the squad with 14 points and Marissa Koob had 11. Kiara Johnson pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds.

Rachel Artrip led Concord (3-7, 3-4) with 13 points. Jacqueline Kestner added 10 points. 

Glenville State 97, Urbana 64 | Final Stats

Glenville State snapped a two-game losing streak with a 97-64 home victory over Urbana. 

The Pioneers (4-6, 3-4) had four players in double figures led by 20 points from Keyanna Tate. Paige Tuttle had 15, while Julie Bishop and Kayla Tibbs added 14. The Pioneers forced 21 turnovers and drained 17 three-pointers in the game.

Jeni Jordan led Urbana (1-12, 1-6) with 15 points and seven rebounds. Katy Barkley had 12 and Kate Francisco, Tori Purk and Megan Hatfield each scored 10.

UVa-Wise 71, West Virginia State 58 | Final Stats

UVa-Wise broke a 44-44 tie with 10:56 left by scoring 22 of the game’s next 30 points and closing out West Virginia State, 71-58.

The Cavs (5-8, 4-3) started in a 9-0 hole, but roared back and took a 10-point halftime lead, 35-25. The game stayed close in the second half until the Cavs hit four three-pointers to key the critical 22-8 run. 

Kayla Carey led the way for UVa-Wise with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Blair Harding added 11 points, and Katie Jo Dockery and Megan Smith contributed 10. 

West Virginia State (4-7, 2-4) was paced by Trina Current’s 13 points. Deyahnna Styles had 12 points to go with six rebounds and five assists. Alexus Hobbs contributed 11 and Shealyn Shafer netted 10.  

Notre Dame 73 West Virginia Wesleyan 56 | Final Stats

Notre Dame shot 50% from the field to snap a four-game conference losing streak with a 73-56 triumph over West Virginia Wesleyan. 

Kelsey Miller and Jessica Garcia led NDC (7-6, 3-4) with 13 points apiece. Lauren Langenderfer contributed 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds in the victory. 

Mari Stewart led all players with 16 points for the Bobcats (0-10, 0-6). Adrian Cunningham scored 15 points and Alexa Mortenson had 11

The Gilmer Free Press

►  No. 3 Texas too much for West Virginia women

After facing the depth of No. 3 Texas first-hand, West Virginia coach Mike Carey was reminded of the team he had last year. The one that earned a share of the Big 12 championship.

This season, it could be the Longhorns’ turn.

Nneka Enemkpali had 11 points and 12 rebounds as Texas stayed unbeaten with a 61-55 win at the Erwin Center on Wednesday night.

The Mountaineers (10-4, 0-2 Big 12), who trailed by 14 in the first half, climbed within four with 7:09 left in the game as Bria Holmes hit a jumper for two of her game-high 22 points. However, back-to-back layups stretched the lead to eight for Texas (13-0, 2-0 Big 12).

“That’s the defending Big 12 champion over there. We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” said Texas coach Karen Aston.

Neither team did much from deep: West Virginia made just 3-of-19 from 3-point range and Texas only 2-of-9.

The Longhorns led 38-33 in rebounding, including a 24-9 edge in the first half.

“We lost five seniors. The same team is not walking through the locker room,” said West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. “Texas has the numbers I could play last year, 10 or 11. This year I can play about six.

“We got tired. We don’t have substitutions. It’s going to be the same thing all year.”

Point guard Linda Stepney was held to one point on 0-of-5 shooting for West Virginia, which finished the game 34.5% from the field. Texas made 46.2%.

Averee Fields scored 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting while freshman Teana Muldrow added 10 points.

The Mountaineers slipped to 0-3 in Austin.

“I thought both teams played extremely hard,” said Carey. “Both teams battled. I told the team after the game, that even after 10 wins, we’ve played with more emotion than we have played with all year. That was good to see.”

With her bucket at the 14:50 mark in the second half, Holmes became the 31st WVU player to reach 1,000 points.

“I feel like my team never gave up and we fought all the way to the end,” she said.

Carey described Holmes as “a great player.” “We knew she was going to be a 1,000/2,000-point scorer coming in here because that’s the type of player she was coming out of high school. I am proud of her.”

WVU hosts No. 5 Baylor on Saturday at 3 PM.

<The Gilmer Free Press

►  Top-25 College Men’s Basketball Game Results

(Thursday, January 08)

Final Score: (6) Gonzaga 88, San Francisco 57

Kevin Pangos had 17 points and five assists and No. 6 Gonzaga cruised to an 88-57 win over San Francisco on Thursday night. Przemek Karnowski netted 16 points and Kyle Wiltjer added 15 points and five rebounds for the Bulldogs (15-1, 4-0 WCC), who have won eight straight games since their lone loss at Arizona on December 6. Kruize Pinkins led the Dons (7-10, 1-4) with 20 points.

Final Score: (7) Arizona 80, Oregon 62

T.J. McConnell came out uncharacteristically aggressive and it paid off, as the redshirt senior scored 21 points to lead No. 7 Arizona in a 80-62 win over Oregon. McConnell, who transferred from Duquesne after two seasons with the Dukes, had never scored more than 19 points in an Arizona uniform. All five starters reached double figures for the Wildcats (14-1, Pac-12), who snapped Oregon’s six-game win streak with a result that was never really in doubt. Stanley Johnson had 14 points and seven rebounds, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson gave 13 with nine boards and Kaleb Tarczewski posted his first double-double of the season after totaling 11 points and 10 rebounds. Joseph Young scored 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting to lead Oregon (11-4, 1-1).

Final Score: (25) Old Dominion 72, Marshall 51

Jonathan Arledge had 13 points to help 25th-ranked Old Dominion extend its best-ever start as a Division I program with an easy 72-51 victory over Marshall in a Conference USA clash. Trey Freeman and Jordan Baker chipped in 11 points each in the Monarchs’ 10th straight win. Freeman added eight rebounds for ODU (13-1, 2-0 C-USA), playing for the first time in school history as a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Marshall (4-11, 0-2), which had dropped 11 of 12 since a 3-0 start, was paced by Austin Loop’s 15 points. Ryan Taylor and Jay Johnson each finished with 13 for the Thundering Herd, but Taylor was charged with eight of Marshall’s 22 turnovers.

►  No. 25 Old Dominion vs. Marshall

The 25th-ranked Old Dominion Monarchs moved into the nation’s top 25 for the first time in program history, and will do everything they can to remain there as they face the Marshall Thundering Herd in a Conference USA matchup at Cam Henderson Center.

Old Dominion enters this game with a 12-1 record on the season, and is searching for its 10th consecutive victory. The only loss the Monarchs suffered was back in November to Illinois State, 64-45. ODU took down Charlotte, 61-54, on Sunday before earning its spot in the Top-25.

Marshall, on the other hand, is off to a rough start to the 2014-15 season. The Herd have dropped four consecutive games, and have lost 10 of their last 11 altogether. Marshall is coming off an 81-62 demolition at the hands of Western Kentucky, which dropped the team to 4-10 on the season and 0-1 in conference play.

Old Dominion and Marshall, two relatively new conference rivals, have met 10 times on the floor before in their series history. The Monarchs own a 6-4 all- time mark over the Herd, which includes a season sweep by ODU in 2013-14.

A strong first half lifted Old Dominion to a 29-18 lead over Charlotte at halftime, which provided the Monarchs with enough of a cushion to simply coast the rest of the way through the contest. ODU connected on 50% of its first-half shots, and ended the game shooting 42.9% from the floor. Trey Freeman netted 14 points to pace Old Dominion, adding in six assists with five turnovers. Richard Ross scored 12 points with six rebounds, and Aaron Bacote added 10 points. Jonathan Arledge chipped in with nine points and seven boards for ODU.

Old Dominion isn’t the most explosive team offensively, as the Monarchs enter Thursday’s matchup scoring 66.3 ppg on the season, connecting on 42.3% of its field goal tries from the floor. It’s a middle-of-the-road scoring average in terms of Conference USA rankings, but the team’s scoring defense (55.1 ppg allowed) is by far the best in the conference this season. Freeman is the only Monarchs player to average a double-digit scoring total coming into Thursday, with 16.4 ppg and a team-best 45 assists. ODU is 2-0 on the road so far, and is 2-1 in neutral-site games.

Once again, it was just not Marshall’s night, this time versus Western Kentucky. The Thundering Herd connected on a mere 33.3% shooting from the field (25.8% in the second half), and shot 5-of-23 from beyond the 3-point arc as the Hilltoppers ran to an 81-62 victory. Ryan Taylor once again led Marshall in scoring, netting 15 points with six rebounds (10 of his points came from the free-throw line). Aleksa Nikolic and Austin Loop each had 10 points, while Nikolic grabbed a team-high eight boards in the defeat.

Marshall’s offense hasn’t been all that bad in 2014-15, although the Thundering Herd are tied for last in the Conference USA standings in field goal percentage (38.7% from the floor). The Herd are averaging a pedestrian 67.4 ppg this season. It’s the scoring defense that hasn’t been able to keep up (70.9 ppg allowed to opponents). Taylor owns team leads in scoring (14.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg), and is second in passing (42 assists). Loop is the only other active Marshall player with a double-digit scoring average (10.3 ppg). The Herd could really use Shawn Smith back, who has been out for awhile with a shoulder injury.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NBA Game Results

(Thursday, January 08)

Final Score: Charlotte 103, Toronto 95

Gerald Henderson netted 20 of his 31 points in the second half, Kemba Walker added 29 and the Charlotte Hornets defeated the Toronto Raptors 103-95 on Thursday night. Marvin Williams posted 13 points and nine rebounds, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist provided 10 points and 12 boards for the Hornets, who have won four straight games. Kyle Lowry recorded 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists to lead Toronto, which has dropped four straight on the heels of an 8-1 stretch.

Final Score: Houston 120, New York 96

Another home game at Madison Square Garden, another embarrassing loss for the Knicks. James Harden totaled 25 points and nine assists and the Houston Rockets routed New York, 120-96, on Thursday. All five starters reached double figures for Houston, which has dominated the Knicks in recent years. The Rockets have won 11 straight against New York and are 19-1 in the last 20 meetings. Dwight Howard posted his fourth straight double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. Trevor Ariza scored 18 points, Donatas Motiejunas had 17 with seven rebounds and four steals and Patrick Beverley added 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. Travis Wear scored 21 points and Langston Galloway, in his first home game since being signed to a 10-day contract from New York’s D-League affiliate, netted 19. Cleanthony Early gave 16 points. New York’s starters did not attempt a free throw, and none of the five reached double digits. The Knicks extended the worst home losing streak in franchise history to 11 games.

Final Score: Portland 99, Miami 83

LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 12 rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Miami Heat 99-83 on Thursday night. Wesley Matthews netted 18 points and Damian Lillard added 16 for the Blazers, who have won six of their last seven games. Dwyane Wade tallied 23 points and seven rebounds, while Chris Bosh provided 18 points, five boards and five assists for Miami, which has dropped five of its last six contests.

The Gilmer Free Press

►  NHL Game Results

(Thursday, January 08)

Final Score: Boston 3, New Jersey 0

Milan Lucic potted a pair of goals in support of a lightly tested Niklas Svedberg in the Boston Bruins’ 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Boston’s second win in as many nights came even easier than the final score indicated, as the Bruins put up 43 shots to New Jersey’s 14 to make Svedberg’s second career shutout a relatively stress-free one. Carl Soderberg added a goal to help Boston record a point for a seventh consecutive home game (4-0-3). After putting up nine goals in back-to-back wins over Philadelphia and Buffalo coming in, the Devils generated little offense on this night. Cory Schneider managed to keep New Jersey in it most of the way by stopping an outstanding 40-of-42 attempts.

Final Score: Philadelphia 3, Washington 2 (OT)

Jakub Voracek’s game-winning goal occurred on the power play just 1:28 into overtime, as Philadelphia claimed a 3-2 victory over Washington on Thursday. Matt Niskanen was sent off for hooking 71 seconds into the extra session and it didn’t take long for the hosts to capitalize. Claude Giroux drew the primary assist, as he held the puck in the left circle until Voracek moved into position and uncorked a shot which was slowed by the stick of Caps forward Nicklas Backstrom before sliding underneath Braden Holtby. Sean Couturier and R.J. Umberger also tallied for the Flyers, who have won the first two in a four-game homestand. Matt Read and Nick Schultz each had a pair of assists to aid Steve Mason’s 26-save effort. Mason won back-to-back starts for the first time since early November. Alex Ovechkin and Karl Alzner scored for the Capitals, who were coming off a 6-2 win in Toronto on Wednesday. Holtby ended up with 30 saves in defeat.

Final Score: Carolina 5, Buffalo 2

After having scored more than two goals only once in their last 18 games, the Carolina Hurricanes scored three in less than 1 1/2 minutes en route to a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Jiri Tlusty put Carolina up 2-1 on a 5-on-3 marker at the 13:50 mark of the second period. Less than a minute later, Eric Staal was credited with a wrap- around goal, and Victor Rask followed that up with a goal on a deflection 26 seconds later. Jeff Skinner and Riley Nash also scored for the Hurricanes, while Ryan Murphy and Justin Faulk each had two assists. Cam Ward stopped 18-of-20 shots to help Carolina win its third straight home game. Both Sabres goals were scored by Philip Varone, who entered the contest with one goal in 10 NHL games. Chris Stewart assisted on both tallies. Jhonas Enroth allowed all five Hurricanes goals on 31 shots as Buffalo fell for the 10th time in its last 11 games.

Final Score: St. Louis 7, San Jose 2

Brian Elliott stopped 24 shots and seven different St. Louis players recorded a goal in the Blues’ 7-2 rout of the San Jose Sharks at Scottrade Center. Alex Steen, Jay Bouwmeester, Paul Stastny, Jori Lehtera, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and David Backes all lit the lamp for the Blues, who have won three in a row and tied a season high for offensive output set in an identical 7-2 victory at San Jose five days ago. Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson scored for the Sharks, who have dropped five of their last eight contests. Antti Niemi was pulled after giving up five goals on 21 shots in 33-plus minutes. Alex Stalock finished up and yielded the other two St. Louis scores.

Final Score: Nashville 3, Dallas 2 (OT)

Shea Weber had two goals, including the game winner 17 seconds into overtime, as the Nashville Predators topped the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Thursday. After Nashville forced a turnover in the offensive zone, Weber’s shot from the right circle bounced off the shoulder of Kari Lehtonen and fluttered over the goal line to end the game. Mikka Salomaki scored in his first NHL game, Roman Josi supplied two assists and Pekka Rinne made 18 saves for the Predators, who moved into a tie with the idle Anaheim Ducks for league’s top spot with 58 points. Jason Spezza and Trevor Daley for the Stars, who have lost three straight games. Lehtonen allowed all three goals on 21 shots in defeat.

Final Score: Chicago 4, Minnesota 2

Under siege for much of the last two periods, Corey Crawford made 42 saves to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. Minnesota outshot Chicago 37-10 after the first period, but Crawford was up to the task by stopping 35 of them to help the Blackhawks win for the second time in three games. Chicago got a pair of goals from Bryan Bickell in the third period to pull away. Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane also scored for the Blackhawks. Jason Zucker and Jason Pominville scored the Minnesota goals, with Niklas Backstrom making 16 saves on 16 shots. Minnesota was without forward Zach Parise due to the death of his father, J.P., on Wednesday. The elder Parise was a long-time NHL player himself and played nine seasons for the Minnesota North Stars.

Final Score: Colorado 5, Ottawa 2

Jarome Iginla led a Colorado scoring blitz with a pair of goals as the surging Avalanche delivered a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators at Pepsi Center. Iginla’s big night was aided by markers from Brad Stuart, Erik Johnson and Daniel Briere, as well as another tremendous performance from Semyon Varlamov, in Colorado’s fourth win in five games. Coming off a spectacular 54-save effort in Tuesday’s shutout of Chicago, Varlamov was busy again in turning aside 36-of-38 Ottawa shots. Craig Anderson didn’t come close to matching Varlamov’s level of play, allowing three goals on just nine chances before being pulled for Robin Lehner just past the midway mark of the second period. Mark Stone and Bobby Ryan had the Ottawa goals in the Senators’ third straight loss.

Final Score: Arizona 4, Winnipeg 1

Mikkel Boedker’s three-point night lifted the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. Boedker finished with two goals and an assist, Shane Doan tallied a goal and two helpers and Oliver Ekman-Larsson also lit the lamp for the Coyotes, who bounced back from a 6-0 loss to the Blues on Tuesday. Mike Smith was stellar in between the pipes, stopping 34-of-35 shots to earn just his second win since December 1. Mathieu Perreault supplied Winnipeg’s lone goal and Ondrej Pavelec gave up all four goals on 30 shots.

Final Score: Florida 3, Vancouver 1

Roberto Luongo was victorious in his return to Vancouver as he turned aside 32 shots to help the Florida Panthers to a 3-1 victory over the Canucks on Thursday. The veteran netminder, who set franchise records with 252 wins and 38 shutouts over eight seasons with the Canucks, tied Sabres great Dominik Hasek for 11th on the NHL’s all-time win list with 389. Jonathan Huberdeau posted two goals and an assist and Aleksander Barkov scored for the Panthers, who rebounded from a 4-3 loss to Washington on Sunday. Daniel Sedin lit the lamp and Ryan Miller allowed all three goals on 30 shots for the Canucks, who won their previous two games.

Final Score: NY Rangers 4, Los Angeles 3

Cam Talbot made 28 saves and the surging New York Rangers went into Staples Center and beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. The Kings led 2-0 early on a pair of first-period goals, but New York scored four straight to claim control. Justin Williams’ second goal of the game with 4:03 remaining made it a one-goal game and LA went on a power play following Rick Nash’s tripping penalty with 36 seconds left, but Talbot turned aside the only shot he saw before the final horn sounded. Dan Boyle, Kevin Klein, Lee Stempniak and Martin St. Louis lit the lamp for New York, winners in four straight and 12 of its last 13 games. The Kings, meanwhile, are trending the opposite direction having lost four of five. Williams scored twice and Tanner Pearson found the back of the net while Jonathan Quick was responsible for all four goals on 26 shots.

The Gilmer Free Press

ABC - American Broadcasting Company
CBS - Columbia Broadcast System
FOX - Fox Entertainment Group
NBC - National Broadcasting Company
JIP - Joined in Progress
TSN - Sports Network (Canada)
SNET/SN - Rogers SportsNet (Canada)
RDS - Reseau des sports
MSG - Madison Square Garden Network
TNT - Turner Network Television
TBS - Turner Broadcasting System
SNY - SportsNet New York
CBSSN - CBS - College Sports Network
CSN - Comcast SportsNet
TCN - The Comcast Network
NBCSN - NBC Sports Network
NESN - New England Sports Network
MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
ROOT - Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Northwest, Rocky Mountain)
CST - Cox Sports Television
FCS - FOX College Sports
FS - FOX Sports Regional
RSN - Regional Sports Networks
CPTV - Connecticut Public Broadcasting
TVG - Horse Racing Channel
FS1 - FOX Sports 1
TWC - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel
* - If Necessary

National Basketball Association
Boston at Indiana, 7:00 PM - CSN-New England, FS-Indiana, DSS
Philadelphia at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM - CSN-Philadelphia, YES, DSS
Atlanta at Detroit, 7:30 PM - SportSouth, FS-Detroit, DSS
Memphis at New Orleans, 8:00 PM - SportSouth, FS-New Orleans, DSS
Chicago at Washington, 8:00 PM - CSN-DC, ESPN
Utah at Oklahoma City, 8:00 PM - ROOT-Northwest, FS-Oklahoma, DSS
Minnesota at Milwaukee, 8:30 PM - FS-North, Wisconsin, DSS
Phoenix at San Antonio, 8:30 PM - FS-Arizona, Southwest, DSS
Denver at Sacramento, 10:00 PM - Altitude, CSN-California, DSS
Orlando at LA Lakers, 10:30 PM - FS-Florida, Time Warner, DSS
Cleveland at Golden State, 10:30 PM - FS-Ohio, CSN-Bay, ESPN
National Hockey League
NY Islanders at New Jersey, 7:00 PM - MSG+, MSG, DSS
Columbus at Toronto, 7:30 PM - FS-Ohio, TSN4, DSS
Buffalo at Tampa Bay, 7:30 PM - MSG-Buffalo, SunSports, DSS
Florida at Calgary, 9:00 PM - FS-Florida, SNET-1, DSS
Chicago at Edmonton, 9:30 PM - CSN-Chicago, SNET-West, DSS
College Basketball
Quinnipiac at Monmouth, 7:00 PM -
Akron at Toledo, 7:00 PM - ESPN U
Green Bay at Milwaukee, 9:00 PM - ESPN U
Women’s College Basketball
Xavier at Seton Hall, 7:00 PM - Pirate Sports Network
DePaul at Marquette, 7:00 PM - Big East Digital Network
Butler at St. John’s, 8:00 PM - FS1
California at Washington State, 8:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
UCLA at Utah, 8:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Oregon at Oregon State, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
Stanford at Washington, 10:00 PM - Pac-12 Network
College Hockey
Minnesota at Michigan, 6:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Ohio State at Penn State, 7:00 PM - American Sports Network
Dartmouth at New Hampshire, 7:30 PM - NBCSN
Notre Dame at Western Michigan, 7:30 PM - CBSSN
Miami-Ohio at St. Cloud State, 8:30 PM - FSN
International Soccer
Montpellier vs. Olympique de Marseille, 2:25 PM - beIN Sport
EUROPEAN - South African Open, 7:30 AM - Golf Channel
PGA - Tournament of Champions, 4:30 PM - Golf Channel
Brisbane, 5:30 AM - Tennis Channel
Qatar Open, 7:30 AM - beIN Sport
Qatar Open, 11:00 AM - beIN Sport

Click Below for More Sports...

Page 394 of 406 pages « First  <  392 393 394 395 396 >  Last »

The Gilmer Free Press

Copyright MMVIII-MMXVIII The Gilmer Free Press. All Rights Reserved