Indiana eliminates Duke, Oklahoma rolls
SAN JOSE, Calif., March 22 (UPI) -- The Indiana Hoosiers eliminated a potential NCAA champion Thursday night and a team from America's heartland demonstrated it might be the one left standing when it is all over.
"The teams that do well in the NCAA Tournament are the ones who are good enough," Oklahoma Coach Kelvin Sampson said after a 40-minute slugfest with Arizona in San Jose. "We are good enough to beat people. We are good enough to win."
Oklahoma was one of four teams advancing to the tournament's regional finals Thursday night, joining three others that were not among those expected to still be playing at this advanced stage of the proceedings.
Indiana is one of those, moving into the final of the South Region by eliminating defending champion Duke, 74-73. The Hoosiers trailed by 17 in the first half and did not lead until the game's final minute, but held on at the end despite a bizarre finish in which Duke almost pulled out a victory.
In Saturday's regional final, Indiana will play Kent State, which went into overtime before disposing of Pittsburgh, 78-73. Kent State was deprived a chance to win in regulation by a very odd call from the officials, but six free throws over the final 41 seconds by Anthon Gates and Andrew Mitchell sealed the win.
In the West Region, 12th seeded Missouri became the highest seed ever to make it this far in the tournament by wearing down UCLA, 82-73. The Tigers, ranked as high as second early in the season, stormed back from an eight-point deficit.
And Oklahoma continued to impress by beating up Arizona, 88-67. The Sooners turned up the defensive pressure in the second half with a performance that would have been right at home on a football field.
Hollis Price kept Oklahoma in the game by scoring 22 points while hitting six three-pointers in the opening 20 minutes, Ebi Ere teamed with Daryan Selvy to ignite a 14-3 run early in the second half and Aaron McGhee scored seven straight Oklahoma points inside the seven-minute mark to crush Arizona's last hopes.
With Oklahoma and Missouri meeting in the West final, the Big 12 is certain to have at least one team in the Final Four. Both Kansas and Texas are still alive from that league and will play Friday night.
Mickelson shares Players lead
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, March 22 (UPI) -- Phil Mickelson, who came up short in another duel with Tiger Woods last weekend, shared the lead with Scott Hoch and Chris DiMarco today when action in the first round of the Players Championship was halted by darkness.
All three were still on the TPC-Sawgrass course when the suspension came shortly before 7 p.m. EST. A storm system blew through the area early in the day, causing a 2 ½-hour delay.
"I don't know if I've ever seen it rain here that hard that quick," said Rocco Mediate, who eventually shot a 1-under 71.
When play resumed, with water still standing in some of the bunkers, blustery winds made conditions difficult. But as the afternoon progressed, the winds calmed and the last few hours of daylight provided an almost perfect opportunity to make birdies.
Mickelson, who began play on the back nine, rolled in a six-foot birdie putt at the par-5 second hole just before the siren blew to end the day. That left him at 5-under with seven holes remaining.
Mickelson had the lead last week at Bay Hill the Bay Hill Invitational before suffering three straight bogeys.
DiMarco was 5-under with five holes left and Hoch was 5-under with six holes to go.
All of the players at 4-under were also on the course at the end of play. They included David Gossett, Steve Stricker, Jerry Kelly and 44-year-old Nick Faldo, a six-time major championship winner who has not claimed a PGA Tour event in five years.
Woods, who won his 30th tour title and first of the year at Bay Hill, played 14 holes Thursday and was even par with one birdie and one bogey. The bogey came at his final hole of the day, the fifth, when he drove deep into the rough and could only chip out.
Woods is trying to become the first player to win this championship two years in a row.
The difficult conditions in the middle of the afternoon caused the field to bunch into a huge pack. At one point there were 13 players tied for the lead at 3-under. Those who managed to complete play at 3-under 69 included Robert Allenby, Jeff Sluman, Mark Calcavecchia, Steve Lowery, Stuart Appleby and current PGA champion David Toms.
They had to fight through the worst of the weather with the winds making the 17th hole, in particular, difficult to handle. The famed hole with its island green cost Appleby a double bogey when he became one of the more than 30 players to hit their tee shot in the water.
Duncan carries Spurs past Stars
DALLAS, March 22 (UPI) -- Tim Duncan had 32 points and 14 rebounds and David Robinson added 22 and 12 Thursday night as the San Antonio Spurs extended their winning streak to a season-high 11 games with a 105-102 victory over the Mavericks.
Dallas posted a 16-point victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday and San Antonio defeated the two-time defending champions the following night, recording an 18-point triumph.
With both teams riding high after rare wins over the Lakers, it was a back-and-forth battle until the game was decided from the free-throw line in the final minutes.
The Mavericks rallied from a 12-point deficit in the third quarter and had the lead before Duncan sank one of two free throws to put the Spurs ahead for good, 95-94, with 1:44 left.
The Spurs hit just two baskets but sank 10 of 13 free throws in the last four minutes.
Other NBA results: Atlanta 118, New York 89; Minnesota 91, Memphis 89; Detroit 95, Phoenix 82; Utah 94, Washington 79; Sacramento 118; Denver 82; Los Angeles Clippers 116, Golden State 96.
Red Wings rally past Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 22 (UPI) -- Sergei Fedorov scored the tying goal with 4:47 left in the third period and got the game-winner 25 seconds into overtime Thursday night as the Detroit Red Wings rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The game was the first at Nationwide Arena since Brittanie Cecil, a 13-year-old fan, died after being struck by a deflected puck at Monday's 3-1 victory over Calgary. A moment of silence was held before this contest and fans were warned before each period about the dangers of pucks heading into the stands.
In addition, players on both the Blue Jackets and Red Wings wore Brittanie's initials inside a heart on the back of their helmets.
Fedorov forced overtime with his 26th goal, then got to a loose puck after Brendan Shanahan's shot failed to reach the net. The Russian Olympian swooped around the net, emerging at the right goalpost, and stuffed the puck between goaltender Marc Denis' pads for his sixth game-winner.
Other NHL results: Philadelphia 2, Anaheim 1; Carolina 3, Florida 2; New York Rangers 5, Ottawa 2; New York Islanders 3, Vancouver 2; Boston 2, Buffalo 1; Washington 4, Toronto 3; New Jersey 4, Nashville 3; San Jose 4, Calgary 1; Los Angeles 3, Colorado 1.
IOC strips medal from Baxter
LONDON, March 22 (UPI) -- Alain Baxter is no longer the first British skier to win an Olympic medal.
Baxter was stripped of his bronze medal in the slalom after testing positive for a banned stimulant at last month's Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the International Olympic Committee announced Thursday.
Baxter's bronze medal will go to Austria's Benjamin Raich, who also claimed bronze in the combined.
The 28-year-old Baxter, a Scot, tested positive for methamphetamine after the men's slalom on Feb. 23.
The IOC ordered Baxter to return the medal by March 31 and said it was up to the International Skiing Federation, the sport's world body, to consider further sanctions, including a possible two-year ban.
Baxter said the positive test resulted from the use of a Vicks inhaler he purchased at an American pharmacy to clear a head cold. The product sold in the United States contains a mild form of methamphetamine while the British version does not.
"I couldn' believe it," Baxter told PA Sport in London. "I had no idea that anything was in my system and the small amount they found couldn't have had any effect on my performance."
The IOC's strict rules specify that athletes are automatically disqualified if a prohibited substance is found in the body, whether it was taken intentionally or not.
Indictment alleges Michigan payoffs
DETROIT, March 22 (UPI) -- A banned University of Michigan booster reportedly paid former basketball players Chris Webber, Robert Traylor, Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock more than $600,000 during their high school and college careers.
According to federal court reports which were detailed in gambling charges made Thursday in U.S. District Court, Ed Martin gave the players gifts and loans.
The charges accuse Martin and his wife, Hilda, of running an illegal gambling business, conspiracy and money laundering. The Martins were arrested Thursday and taken to the federal courthouse in Detroit for booking.
According to the Ann Arbor News, the indictment claims the former players took cash while at Michigan and that the loans enabled Ed Martin to hide money earned from his gambling operations at Detroit-area auto plants.
The federal investigation is the first outside probe of allegations that have surrounded the school for six years. Michigan vice president and general counsel Marvin Krislov said the school has been cooperating with federal agencies.
"We have conducted multiple investigations, and those investigations have led to a number of corrective actions in order to strengthen our compliance and to ensure that our programs meet the highest standards of integrity," Krislov said.
Federal authorities found that the 68-year-old Ed Martin, a retired Ford autoworker, loaned money to the players with the expectations they would repay him when they turned pro, the newspaper report said.
The indictment also stated that Webber, one of the best players in the NBA, received about $280,000 from 1988-93, from his early high school days in Detroit through his sophomore year at Michigan.
Sullivan out with injured shoulder
CHICAGO, March 22 (UPI) -- The Chicago Blackhawks suffered a major blow in their bid for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, losing right wing Steve Sullivan to a separated shoulder.
Sullivan, the team's co-leader with a plus-24 rating, will be out indefinitely after colliding with Sergei Brylin in the second period of a 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils Wednesday night.
According to the team, Sullivan will be evaluated daily.
Having not made the playoffs since 1997, the Blackhawks need him back as soon as possible as they battle for the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Through Wednesday, they were fourth overall with 83 points, two more than Los Angeles and three ahead of Phoenix with 11 games left.
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