In Sports from United Press International

Jan. 2, 2003 at 12:17 AM
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Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas clinch top 10 spots

DALLAS, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Georgia, Oklahoma and Texas wrapped up spots in the season's final top 10 ranking with wins Wednesday in the Sugar, Rose and Cotton Bowls.

With the annual rush of New Year's Day activity having been completed, only two bowl games remain with Iowa and USC meeting Thursday night in the Orange Bowl and Miami playing Ohio State for the national championship Friday night in the Fiesta Bowl.

Wednesday's games saw traditional powers Notre Dame and Penn State return to the postseason spotlight only to come up short, Texas quarterback Chris Simms go out a winner and North Carolina State earn new respect.

In the first two BCS bowls of the season, No. 8 Oklahoma ground out a 34-14 victory in the Rose Bowl over Washington State and No. 4 Georgia disposed of Florida State in the Sugar Bowl, 26-13.

No. 9 Texas, with Simms playing the final game of an up-and-down career, rallied from a 10-point deficit to beat LSU in the Cotton Bowl, 35-20.

North Carolina State, meanwhile, overwhelmed Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl, 28-6; Auburn kept Penn State out of the end zone with a 13-9 win in the Capital One Bowl; and Michigan defeated Florida in the Outback Bowl, 38-30.

Oklahoma used a sudden burst late in the first half to take control against Washington State. The Cougars attempted a 51-yard field goal with 3:40 left in the first half that would have tied the game.

But when it missed, Oklahoma seized on the good field position and quarterback Nate Hybl's 12-yard touchdown pass to Antwone Savage gave the Sooners a 10-point lead. Oklahoma then scored again just 27 seconds later for a 17-0 halftime lead.

In the Sugar Bowl, a 71-yard interception return by Bruce Thornton with 6:24 left in the second period put Georgia in front for good. Billy Bennett kicked four field goals for the Bulldogs.

Although Simms was one of the keys in the Texas victory, it was Roy Williams who provided most of the heroics, piling up 142 receiving yards and scoring twice. One of the touchdowns came on an end around.

Criticized for his poor play in the key contests, Simms finally won in Dallas. He threw seven interceptions in back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and was picked off three times in the last season's setback to Colorado in the Big 12 Conference championship game.

Ronnie Brown rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries to boost 22nd-ranked Auburn past No. 10 Penn State.

In the Outback Bowl, Chris Perry rushed for four touchdowns and John Navarre passed for a career-high 319 yards to highlight Michigan's offensive surge against Florida.

Perry's third touchdown gave Michigan the lead for good at 28-23 with 7:48 left in the third quarter. After the Wolverines stopped the Gators three-and-out inside the five on the ensuing possession, Perry gave Michigan a 12-point advantage with a 13-yard run up the middle with 6:07 remaining in the period.

Phillip Rivers picked apart Notre Dame's secondary in the first half and No. 17 North Carolina State knocked Notre Dame quarterback Carlyle Holiday out of the game in the Gator Bowl.

Rivers completed 13 of 15 passes for 134 yards in the opening 30 minutes and directed three long scoring drives in the second quarter.

Parcells headed to Cowboys

IRVING, Texas, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The unlikely marriage of Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones appears to have become a reality.

ESPN reported Wednesday that Parcells has agreed to a four-year contract worth $17 million and officially will be introduced as the new coach of the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday.

Parcells, who has been out of coaching for the last three years, has met twice with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has indicated the team needs a change of philosophy to return to its former glory.

When he announced the firing of Coach Dave Campo earlier this week, Jones suggested he was ready to give the team's new coach full control in personnel matters.

Heat stays on hot streak

ATLANTA, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Despite losing Travis Best to a right ankle sprain just two minutes into the contest, the Miami Heat won their sixth game in seven outings Wednesday.

Miami produced its largest point total of the season with a 107-73 decision over the Atlanta Hawks.

Rookie Caron Butler contributed a season high-tying 25 points and four steals, Eddie Jones added 20 points and Vladimir Stepania 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Heat, who started the season 5-17.

Atlanta led after one quarter, 25-22, but Miami took the lead for good, 35-33, on a layup by Anthony Carter with 8:22 left in the second.

The Heat opened a 55-42 edge by halftime behind 15 points by Butler and 14 by Jones, and extended their advantage to 83-60 entering the final quarter.

In the only other NBA game on the New Year's Day schedule, New York whipped Toronto, 95-75.

Coyotes win in overtime

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Tony Amonte scored the game-winning goal 80 seconds into overtime Wednesday as the Phoenix rallied past Washington, 2-1.

The Coyotes won their third straight game.

Phoenix improved to 5-1-1-0 in its last seven games despite registering only 14 shots, including just six over the first two periods. Washington had an overwhelming advantage with 32 shots but had its five-game home winning streak snapped.

The Capitals, who had one more shot in the second period than the Coyotes had in the entire game, had a 1-0 lead after Sergei Gonchar's power-play goal with 10:21 remaining in the second.

But Ladislav Nagy tied the contest at the 7:11 mark of the third and Amonte took advantage of his second breakaway opportunity in overtime.

Amonte lost control of the puck during a breakaway less than a minute before he had a chance to redeem himself. Daniel Briere drew two defenders as he crossed the blue line and passed to Amonte, who skated inside the left circle and fired a wrist shot off Olaf Kolzig's glove and into the net.

Other NHL results: Florida 2, New Jersey 1; Colorado 7, Nashville 3.

Red Raiders blast Houston

LUBBOCK, Texas, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Kasib Powell scored 21 points and Pawel Storozynski added 14 Wednesday as No. 22 Texas Tech rolled past the cold-shooting Houston Cougars, 62-48.

The Red Raiders (9-1) allowed just 15 points in the first half, opening a 21-point lead at the intermission.

Texas Tech shot only 39 percent, but held the Cougars to under 28 percent. In the first half, Houston made just seven of 32 attempts.

Andre Emmett added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Texas Tech, which posted its fourth straight victory since its lone loss of the season against Wyoming.

Louis Truscott was the only player in double figures for Houston (2-7) with 11 points.

The Cougars, who suffered their third straight loss, made their first appearance at Texas Tech since Jan. 20, 1996, when the teams were rivals in the defunct Southwestern Conference.

Texas Tech was the only top 25 team in action New Year's Day.

Xavier star has surgery

CINCINNATI, Ohio, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Xavier senior guard Lionel Chalmers is expected to miss at least four weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured right foot.

Chalmers fractured the fifth metatarsal bone during the opening minutes of Tuesday night's victory over Creighton. He underwent surgery to have a screw inserted into the foot.

"We wanted to perform the surgery as soon as possible so Lionel could begin the rehabilitation process as soon as possible," said team physician Dr. Robert Burger, who performed the surgery. "The surgery went very well. He will wear a splint for a couple days and a protective boot for two to three weeks."

Chalmers is averaging 13.8 points and a team-leading 5.1 assists per game in 11 contests this season.

Americans win in Hopman Cup

PERTH, Australia, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- World No. 1 Serena Williams led the United States to a round-robin sweep of Spain Wednesday at the Hopman Cup.

Williams began the rout of defending champion Spain with a 6-3, 6-3, victory over Virginia Ruano Pascual. Although the match took just 60 minutes, the American felt she was far from her best.

James Blake clinched the Group A victory by routing Tommy Robredo, 6-3, 6-0, in 51 minutes. It was the first singles loss for Robredo in six outings after coming into this year's event with a 4-0 record in Spain's cup-winning performance last year.

Williams and Blake posted a 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Ruano Pascual and Robredo in the mixed doubles.

With two wins apiece, the United States and Australia have a good chance of meeting in the final.

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