Missouri gets hot in NCAA Tournament
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., March 17 (UPI) --After an unexpected NCAA Tuornament result had been turned in Saturday, Ohio State Coach Jim O'Brien could only shake his head.
"It's hard for me to imagine that they came in sixth in their league," he said. "The Big 12 must be an unbelievable conference. They are a great team."
He was speaking of the Missouri Tigers, who early in the regular season were ranked in the top 10 and then fell on hard times as they trudged through the Big 12 schedule. After a bland regular season and a loss to Texas in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, Missouri was very much on the NCAA bubble.
But after receiving one of the last at-large spots in the tourney, Missouri has turned very nasty. After scoring the first dozen points and coasting past Miami in the opening round, the Tigers crushed Big Ten Conference tournament champ Ohio State Saturday, 83-67.
And just to back up what O'Brien said about the Big 12, the Kansas Jayhawks returned to form against the Stanford Cardinal Saturday. Kansas, the top seed in the Midwest, had a scare put into it by Holy Cross in the opening round. But the Jayhawks jumped to a 15-0 lead and smashed their way into the Sweet 16 with an 86-63 victory.
Missouri and Kansas City were joined in the various regional semifinals by the survivors of a series of close games -- Duke, Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon, Indiana and upstart Kent State.
Kent State advanced as a No. 10 seed with a 71-58 victory over second-seeded Alabama, 71-58.
The rest of the round of 16 will be determined today, with the matchup between Cincinnati and UCLA expected to be the highlight attraction.
The only regional semifinal matchup to already be determined is that between top-seeded Duke and No. 5 Indiana in the South, which will be played in Lexington, Ky. Duke advanced Saturday with an 84-77 win over Notre Dame in a toe-to-toe slugfest that was not decided until the final moments. And Indiana moved on by fighting off a North-Carolina Wilimington comeback, 76-67. Indiana saw a once-comfortable lead reduced to three in the final minutes.
Kent State also will be in the South Region semifinals, awaiting the winner of Sunday's California-Pittsburgh matchup.
Woods struggles, but keeps lead
ORLANDO, Fla., March 17 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods missed a chance to run away from the field at the Bay Hill Invitational Saturday and although he still had the lead, there were 14 players within three shots of him with one round to play.
Woods began the third round Saturday with a four-shot advantage and suffered through a series of poor tee shots as well as a balky putter to shoot a 2-over 74.
The star-laden group three shots out of the lead included Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal, Scott Hoch, Ernie Els and John Daly. Els is seeknig his third consecutive victory.
"Obviously, I didn't play too well today," Woods said. "It was pretty ugly. But I still have the lead, which is good."
Woods bogeyed the opening hole and then bogeyed three out of four beginning at the seventh.
McCarron, who began the day in second place, caught Woods by the eighth hole and they remained tied all the way to the 16th tee. But McCarron bogeyed both the 16th and 17th to slip back. Daly also had a brief share of the lead in an up-and-down round of 71.
Pistons take over division lead
MILWAUKEE, March 17 (UPI) -- Jerry Stackhouse scored 25 points and Jon Barry made several big baskets in the second half Saturday night as the Detroit Pistons took over the Central Division lead by rallying for a 102-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Both teams came in with 36-27 records, but the defending division champion Bucks held the tiebreaker edge over the upstart Pistons, winning the first two meetings. The game had plenty of playoff implications and a postseason atmosphere.
And it was the Pistons who played like the playoff-tested team. They erased a 65-56 deficit midway through the third quarter, forging a 74-74 tie entering the final period on Barry's three-pointer at the horn.
Detroit never trailed in the fourth quarter as Stackhouse made a pair of early three-pointers. Barry added two clutch baskets as the Pistons pulled away and improved to a league-best 18-0 when reaching triple figures.
Other NBA results: New York 105, Cleveland 95; Miami 101, Denver 76; Charlotte 87, Phoenix 76; San Antonio 111, Boston 104; Chicago 114, Houston 112 in double overtime; Portland 95, Washington 80; Dallas 117, Golden State 100; Seattle 95, Los Angeles Clippers 87.
Stars rally for 5-5 tie
TORONTO, March 17 (UPI) -- The Dallas Stars are one of only five NHL teams without a win when trailing after two periods. But they rallied twice in the third period Saturday night to pull out a 5-5 tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Morrow's second goal of the game forged a 4-4 deadlock at 4:56. Modano centered a bouncing puck to the top of the crease, from where Morrow whipped it between the pads of goaltender Corey Schwab.
Gary Roberts put Toronto back on top with a power-play goal at 7:36, but Morrow screened Schwab, giving him little chance to stop Hatcher's drive from the right point on the power play with 8:53 left in regulation.
The Maple Leafs dominated overtime, but Ed Belfour denied Mats Sundin on a partial breakaway in the opening minute and Roberts put a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle off the right post with 3:13 remaining.
Other NHL results: Colorado 2, Philadelphia 1; Boston 2, Detroit 1; New Jersey 3, New York Rangers 1; Los Angeles 4, Pittsburgh 3; Montreal 3, Carolina 2; Columbus 3, Calgary 1; Ottawa 4, New York Islanders 3; Vancouver 4, Atlanta 2; Edmonton 4, Washington 1
Hingis beat in final
INDIAN WELLS, Calif., March 17 (UPI) -- A new power player introduced herself on the women's tennis scene Saturday when Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia breezed past second-seeded Martina Hingis, 6-3, 6-4, to capture her first career WTA Tour title at the Pacific Life Open.
The 18-year-old and 18th-seeded Hantuchova earned the $332,000 top prize, became the lowest seed to win a Tier I event (post-1980).
Earlier Saturday, top seed Lleyton Hewitt cruised past No. 10 Pete Sampras, 6-2, 6-4, to advance to the men's final.
Hewitt will take on No. 9 Tim Henman of Britain in today's final. Henman converted all four break-point chances in his 6-3, 6-3 victory over wild-card Todd Martin.
Hantuchova overpowered Hingis with her groundstrokes, firing 30 winners. She sailed to a 6-2, 4-1 lead before the magnitude of the moment seemed to get the teen-ager.
A five-time Grand Slam winner, Hingis twice broke Hantuchova's serve to reel off three of the next four games and move within a game of knotting the second set.
But the Bratislava resident collected herself long enough to serve out the match. As if to underscore the power she used to dictate the match against the former world No. 1, Hantuchova picked out the right corner on match point with a potent two-handed backhand, then raised her arms in triumph.
Hardaway suspended two games
NEW YORK, March 17 (UPI) -- Tim Hardaway's television tossing tantrum will cost him two games.
The Denver Nuggets guard was ejected midway through the third quarter of Friday night's 124-102 loss in Orlando and, as he was headed to the locker room, opted to fling a television monitor 30 feet onto the court.
Less than 24 hours later, the league suspended Hardaway for two games and fined him $10,000.
Orlando's Darrell Armstrong, who earlier had been assessed a double technical with Hardaway for trash-talking, returned the monitor to its place on press row.
After the game, Hardaway and Armstrong both signed the screen of the TV, which will be auctioned off to benefit the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation.
Harlan's Holiday wins Florida Derby
HALLANDALE, Fla., March 17 (UPI) -- Harlan's Holiday blew past a spent Booklet just shy of the three-quarters pole Saturday and ran away to a 3 1/2-length victory in Saturday's 51st running of the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
Booklet was looking for an unprecedented triple, having held off Harlan's Holiday in both the Holy Bull Stakes and Fountain of Youth Stakes at this track. Both those races, however, were 1 1/16 miles and ended with Harlan's Holiday closing strongly.
This one was 1 1/8 miles and the extra length clearly benefited Harlan's Holiday. Ridden by Edgar Prado, the favorite kept the early leaders in his sights before making his move on the far turn and running away from the field in the stretch.
A winner of four races as a 2-year-old, Harlan's Holiday won for the first time as a 3-year-old. He finished in 1:48 4/5 and returned $5.40, $3.40 and $2.80. Blue Burner paid $6.40 and $4.60 and Peekskill showed for $18.20.
Jeff Burton wins Busch race
DARLINGTON, S.C., March 17 (UPI) -- Pole sitter Jeff Burton was barely threatened Saturday en route to victory at the NASCAR Busch Grand National series darlingtonraceway.com 200 at Darlington Raceway.
Burton dominated the 147-lap race leading from start to finish in a Ford Taurus and captured his second Busch race victory of the year and 17th of his career. He won two weeks ago at Las Vegas in similar fashion.
Burton's only threat came from Roush Racing teammate Greg Biffle, who was behind throughout the race but closed in late when Randy LaJoie hit the wall with 18 laps to run.