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  |   Dec. 24, 2012 at 5:02 PM
Texas Tech suspends 3 for bowl game

HOUSTON, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Starting cornerback Cornelius Douglas and two other Texas Tech players Monday were suspended from the upcoming Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

Texas Tech spokesman Blayne Beal told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Douglas, defensive tackle Leon Mackey and linebacker Chris Payne would be absent when the Red Raiders play Minnesota in Friday's bowl game.

Acting head Coach Chris Thomsen said two of the players were suspended for missing practices without notifying coaches in advance while the third was sanctioned for reasons he wasn't allowed to specify due to privacy laws.

The newspaper said Mackey is a backup defensive tackle, while Payne has played almost exclusively on special teams.

The announcement came as the Red Raiders (7-5) were beginning practice sessions in Houston for the contest against the Golden Gophers (6-6) to be played at Reliant Stadium.


Texans' Foster: 'Normal' after scare

HOUSTON, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Houston Texans running back Arian Foster said Monday he's fine after having to leave this weekend's game with an irregular heartbeat.

Foster -- the Texans' leading rusher -- was pulled from Sunday's 23-6 loss to Minnesota with the irregular heartbeat, which Coach Gary Kubiak said had subsided by the game's end.

News of the episode prompted fearful fan speculation about Foster's health, but the star running back took to his Twitter account Monday to reassure fans he was healthy.

"I appreciate all the concern and support. I am doing well. Saw a cardiologist today and everything is back to normal," he wrote.

The message came after he issued a statement following Sunday's game indicating the irregular heartbeat was "a very minor situation."

"The tests on Arian look to be positive," Kubiak told the Houston Chronicle Monday. "We expect him to be back" for the AFC South champions' final game of the regular season against Indianapolis.


Pagano returns to Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Indianapolis Colts first-year Coach Chuck Pagano, on leave because of cancer, returned to Colts' headquarters Monday.

Pagano, 52, in September was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia and took an indefinite leave of absence from coaching. In early November, doctors said the cancer was in remission and last week Pagano was cleared to return to coaching duties.

"I'm ready to go," Pagano said Monday. "Dr. (Larry) Cripe told me, 'Be prudent, be smart how you attack this thing.' ... I still have a strict regimen to stick to. There's a plan for the next few years and the years after that. ... I feel great. My weight's back. My energy's back."

The Colts were 1-2 when Pagano left the team and have posted a 9-3 record with Bruce Arians as interim coach. Indianapolis (10-5) has qualified for the AFC playoffs.

Arians was with Pagano for Monday's news conference.

"I asked him if he would ... take over the reins and what a masterful, masterful job you did Bruce," Pagano said. "You carried the torch and all you went out and did was win ballgames, you got our 10th win yesterday and you got us into the playoffs and you did it with dignity and you did it with class."

Pagano is expected to be on the sidelines Sunday when the Colts play the Houston Texans at home in the final regular-season game.


Duke, Michigan lead coaches' poll

MCLEAN, Va., Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Duke remains just short of being a unanimous choice as No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches' basketball poll with Michigan in a solid No. 2 position.

Duke (11-0) is atop of the poll for a second week. The Blue Devils are first on 30 of the 31 ballots and second on the other. Michigan (12-0) receives the other first place vote and 30 second-place mentions.

They are among four teams -- No. 19 Michigan State and No. 23 Kentucky being the others -- that have unchanged positions from a week ago. Losses by Syracuse (down four spots to seventh) and Illinois (down five to 15th) caused the bulk of the shifts in poll standings.

Louisville (11-1) and Arizona (11-0) are tied for third, while Indiana (11-1) improves to No. 5.

Kansas (10-1) moves to the sixth spot ahead of Syracuse (10-1) with Cincinnati (12-0) and Missouri (10-1) both up three rungs to eighth and ninth, respectively. Ohio State (9-2) slips from No. 7 to 10th.

Florida (8-2), ninth a week ago, comes in 11th while No. 12 Creighton (11-1) and 13th-ranked Gonzaga (11-1) are both up one place. Minnesota (12-1) moves up two to 14th ahead of Illinois (12-1).

San Diego State (11-1) slips a spot to 16th while Nevada-Las Vegas (11-1) is up one to 17th and Georgetown (10-1) moves up three places to 18th. Michigan State (11-2) is again 19th and Notre Dame (12-1) is 20th after a week at 22nd.

Butler (9-2) has the biggest positive move, going to 21st after entering the poll at 25th a week ago. Oklahoma State (10-1) is 22nd with Kentucky (8-3) in at No. 23. No. 24 Pittsburgh (12-1) and 25th-ranked North Carolina State (9-2) were unranked a week ago.

New Mexico and North Carolina drop out of the Top 25 this week.

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