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Northern Iowa Tops Bradley; Kentucky Throttles Mizzou

Paul Jesperson hit 8 3-pointers and scored 28 points - both career highs - and Northern Iowa limited Bradley to just 18 second-half points as the Panthers took a 68-50 victory Wednesday night.
 

Jesperson and Matt Bohannon each knocked down a pair of 3-pointers as Northern Iowa took a 12-4 lead, but Bradley kept pace. Antoine Pittman hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 32-32 with 1:06 left in the first half. Jesperson hit a late 3 to give Northern Iowa a 35-32 halftime advantage.
 
Bradley took a 38-37 lead on Pittman's 3-pointer less than three minutes into the second half, but the Braves scored on just two Pittman 3-pointers over the next eight minutes.
 
Northern Iowa (11-11, 3-6 Missouri Valley) built a 54-44 advantage and Jesperson hit three straight 3s to make it 63-47.
 
Ronnie Suggs scored 15 and Pittman added 14 points for Bradley (3-19, 1-8).
 
>>Kentucky Throttles Mizzou
 
Tyler Ulis scored 20 points, Derek Willis added a career-best 18 and Kentucky used an early 20-0 run to blow past outmanned Missouri 88-54 on Wednesday night.
 

The Wildcats (16-4, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) had it easy in improving to 9-0 against Missouri and winning their third straight overall. Kentucky spotted the Tigers an opening layup by Wes Clark before the big spurt that quickly put the game out of reach, twice stretching its lead to at least 40 points in the second half.
 
Good shooting was the key again for Kentucky, which made 52 percent from the field after hitting 55 percent against Vanderbilt.
 
Willis was a big part of the Wildcats' accuracy, going 6 of 9 from the floor - including 4 for 5 on 3-pointers. He also grabbed 12 rebounds for his second double-double in four games, a major improvement after being on the periphery of Kentucky's rotation for much of his career.
 
Isaiah Briscoe had 15 points, Skal Labissiere 12 and Jamal Murray 11 to round out Kentucky's double-figure scorers.
 
Clark had 11 points for Missouri (8-12, 1-6 SEC), which sustained its second-biggest loss this season. Kevin Puryear and K.J. Walton each added 10.

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Bulls' Mirotic Has Appendix Removed, Expected Back After AS Break

The Chicago Bulls expect forward Nikola Mirotic to be sidelined until after the All-Star break following surgery Wednesday to remove his appendix.
 
The team says Mirotic was diagnosed with acute appendicitis and that the operation at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center "went as expected." Mirotic did not accompany the Bulls to Los Angeles, where they start a seven-game trip against the Lakers on Thursday night. He figures to miss at least eight games, with the All-Star break scheduled for Feb. 12-14.
 
The 6-foot-10 Mirotic has been inconsistent this season, averaging 10.6 points while shooting 38.6 percent. But he played well the past two games against Cleveland and Miami, averaging 16 points and shooting 11 of 20.
 
The Bulls (25-19) are fourth in the Eastern Conference.

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Former Giants Safety Sash Had Advanced Stages of CTE; Eli Says Super Bowl Likely Manning's Last Game

The family of former New York Giants safety Tyler Sash announced that representatives from Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation found Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in his brain and that the disease had advanced to a stage rarely seen in someone that age, per the New York Times. Sash was found dead in his home at the age of 27 on Sept. 8.
 
Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System and a professor of neurology and pathology at the Boston University School of Medicine who conducted the examination, said Tuesday that the severity of the C.T.E. in Sash's brain was about the same as the level found in the brain of the former N.F.L. star Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012 at age 43.
 
Doctors grade C.T.E. on a severity scale from 0 to 4; Sash was at Stage 2. McKee, comparing the results to other athletes who died at a similar age, said she had seen only one case, that of a 25-year-old former college player, with a similar amount of the disease.
 
Sash's brother, Josh, said that Tyler sustained at least five concussions throughout his 16 years of playing football: two in high school, one in college, and two with the Giants.
 
Sash's autopsy revealed that he had overdosed on a mixture of methadone and hydrocodone, two extremely powerful painkillers. He'd been battling extreme shoulder pain for quite some time, with the injury having played a role in the end of his career back in 2013. He was prescribed the hydrocodone for the pain while evaluating options for surgery on his shoulder, but his family said that it greatly affected his life and personality. His brother described him as not "quite the same person he used to be," while his mother said "he couldn't focus long enough to do a job."
 
>>Eli Says Super Bowl Likely Peyton's Last Game
 
Peyton Manning is busy preparing for Super Bowl 50, so it's going to be a hectic couple of weeks for his brother. Eli won't be busy preparing for another game until next fall, but he'll almost certainly be on hand for what might be Peyton's last game and should be able to give us all some insight into Peyton considering they are, after all, brothers. And that means it's open interview season for the Giants quarterback.
 
Eli's interviews began early, even before Super Bowl week. On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Eli revealed that he thinks this might be Peyton's final game, that the result of the game shouldn't impact Peyton's legacy, and that they do not brag to each other about accomplishments (yeah, right).
 
As for Peyton and if he'll retire after Feb. 7. When the Broncos beat the Patriots this past weekend, he told Bill Belichick on the field that this might be his "last rodeo." And that makes sense, given Manning's coming off his worst season as a pro and seems to have lost the ability to throw downfield darts.
 
Eli agrees: He thinks this will be it for Peyton but doesn't want this game to change Peyton's legacy.
 
Eli said, per NFL.com quote-"Honestly, I think there's maybe too much placed on rings and Super Bowl championships just because because it's not one player. The quarterback is not the sole reason that you win a championship, it's the team."

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Golden State Keeps Rolling

Klay Thompson scored a season-high 45 points, Steph Curry got going after halftime and so did the Golden State Warriors, who avenged one of their four losses this season by beating the Dallas Mavericks 127-107 on Wednesday night.
 
Curry hit three quick 3-pointers after intermission as Golden State overcame a sluggish first half, and he finished with 14 points on a night the Warriors' role players and bench provided a balanced effort.
 
Chandler Parsons scored 23 points for Dallas, which handed the Warriors their second loss of the season, 114-91 on Dec. 30 - but without Curry because of a lower left leg injury. It was Golden State's largest loss of the four.
 
After going 1 for 8 in the first half and missing his first four from long range, Curry connected for his first 3 early in the third and had his team rolling again right away.
 
The Warriors ran their regular-season winning streak at Oracle Arena to 40 games, including 22-0 this season.
 
Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki had the night off to rest following a 92-90 road win at the Lakers on Tuesday.
 
Kevon Looney made his NBA debut for Golden State, the 11th former UCLA player to wear a Golden State uniform. He had two points and two rebounds, scoring on his first attempt, was given the game ball afterward and asked by Green to make a speech. 

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Flyer Get By Capitals

The Philadelphia Flyers coughed up a two-goal lead, survived a second-period onslaught and beat the league-leading Washington Capitals 4-3 in overtime with a goal by Jakub Voracek that sends them into the All-Star break feeling better about themselves.
 
Philadelphia had lost three in a row, including two when allowing a goal in the final two minutes of regulation. A hooking penalty on Matt Read with 2:02 left put the pressure on, but the penalty kill got the job done against the Caps' No. 1-ranked power play.
 
Burakovsky's first two-goal game in almost a year and 28 saves from All-Star Braden Holtby allowed Washington to get a point to reach 74. That's four more than the Chicago Blackhawks for tops in the NHL despite playing six fewer games.
 
The Capitals announced after the game that captain Alex Ovechkin would miss this weekend's All-Star festivities because of a lingering lower-body injury.
 
Ovechkin thought rest would heal the problem but took responsibility that cleaning up his house after the snowstorm was his ''bad decision.''

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Michigan To Hire AD With Harbaugh Ties

Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett led the Wolverines out of a rocky period for its football program with the hiring of Jim Harbaugh, but his plan was always to remain in the office only until a new full-time athletic director was chosen.
 
According to the Detroit Free Press and longtime scribe Mark Blaudschun, now of AJerseyGuy.com, that person will be UConn athletic director Warde Manuel. "Contract details are still being finalized," according to the Free Press, but an announcement could come as soon as this week.
 
Manuel, 47, is a former Michigan football player who was teammates with Harbaugh on the Wolverines in 1986. He also spent time in the school's athletic department as an administrator and has been the athletic director at UConn since 2012.

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Rickie Fowler Wants To Be World No. 1

It's been a great week for Rickie Fowler. He won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship over Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, took home over $500,000 in prize money (and probably more in appearance fees) and rose to No. 4 in the world and No. 2 in our golf power rankings.
 
Fowler said after his win he wants more.
 
“I've got my eye on No. 1, that would be the ultimate goal, but I'm up against some pretty tough competition,” Fowler told The Guardian. 
 
Fowler made it pretty clear that he's never been this far along in a season this early even though he finished in the top five in all four majors two years ago. What could this season bring?
 
As for that No. 1 dream. Good luck. He's still closer to being passed by world No. 16 Brooks Koepka than he is to passing world No. 1 Jordan Spieth. It's going to take a monster year from Fowler to even pass No. 3 McIlroy, much less Jason Day and Spieth in the top two spots. Is he capable? Absolutely. 

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Illini Use Big Surge In Overtime to Beat Minnesota Saturday

Malcolm Hill had 28 points and 10 rebounds to lead a late surge by Illinois to beat Minnesota 76-71 in overtime on Saturday night, ending an eight-game losing streak on the road for the Fighting Illini.

 

Maverick Morgan added 14 points, Kendrick Nunn scored 13 points and Michael Finke grabbed 16 rebounds for the Illini (10-10, 2-5 Big Ten), who used a 16-0 run that started with 2:03 left in regulation to take over the game.

 

Joey King had 20 points and Nate Mason added 19 points for the Golden Gophers (6-14, 0-8), who lost their ninth straight game. They tied a program record with 36 attempts from 3-point range, making 11.

 

Jordan Murphy, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds, made a layup with 4:03 left to give the Gophers a 59-55 lead.

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Illinois State Tops Northern Iowa Saturday

MiKyle McIntosh scored 18 points, Paris Lee had 16 and Illinois State pulled away early in the second half for a 76-67 victory over Northern Iowa on Saturday.

 

Justin McCloud added 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range for the Redbirds (11-10, 5-3 Missouri Valley), who have won consecutive games since snapping a three-game skid.

 

Wes Washpun scored 23 points and had six assists to lead Northern Iowa (10-11, 2-6), which has lost four straight. Paul Jesperson had 15 points, and Matt Bohannon 13 points and five assists.

 

Washpun scored five points to open the second half and pull the Panthers to a 43-all tie. McIntosh and Lee made back-to-back 3s, sparking a 17-6 surge and the Redbirds led 60-49 with eight minutes left. Illinois State had a double-digit lead until Bohannon made a 3-pointer to end it.

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Crawford, Blackhawks Blank Red Hot Blues

Corey Crawford stopped 25 shots for his league-leading seventh shutout, rookie Artemi Panarin and Andrew Shaw scored and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 2-0 on Sunday night to end a two-game losing streak.

 

Crawford wasn't consistently tested while earning his 19th career shutout. The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks rebounded from listless road losses at Tampa Bay and Florida that followed a franchise-record 12-game winning streak.

 

St. Louis's Brian Elliott made 23 saves in his eighth straight start since taking over for Jake Allen, who suffered a lower-body injury on Jan. 8. Elliott is 5-2-2 since entering in the second period of that game against the Ducks.

 

The Blues lost their second straight since ending a three-game winning streak and are 5-2-1 in their past eight. They lost Friday night 2-1 in a shootout in Colorado.

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