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March 15, 2021
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March 15, 2021
AP Sports



Update on the latest sports


Gonzaga is No. 1 overall
UNDATED (AP) – Gonzaga, Illinois, Baylor and Michigan are the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which begins first-round play on Friday.
The Bulldogs have claimed the No. 1 overall seed and will head the West Regional. The Zags are the only unbeaten team in men’s Division I hoops and are trying to become the first squad to run the table on its entire schedule since Indiana in 1976.
Iowa has the second seed in the West, followed by Kansas and Virginia. Gonzaga beat each of those teams by double-digits during the regular season, including a 23-point rout of the defending-champion Cavaliers.
Baylor tops the South bracket and heads into the tourney with just two losses, including a setback in the Big 12 semifinals. The Bears spent most of the season as the No. 2 team in The Associated Press poll.
Ohio State is No. 2 in the South, just ahead of Arkansas and Purdue.
Big Ten rivals Illinois and Michigan took the other top seeds after competing in what arguably was the best and deepest conference. The Illini head the Midwest Region after winning the conference tournament, part of an eight-game winning streak. The Wolverines are tops in the East Region and own just four losses, although two of those defeats have come in their last three games.
Houston earned the No. 2 seed in the Midwest and is followed by Big 12 standouts West Virginia and Oklahoma State. Alabama, Texas and Florida State round out the top four seeds in the East.
Kansas and Virginia made it into the bracket released by the NCAA selection committee after being hit with COVID-19 breakouts during their conference tournaments. Kansas coach Bill Self says three Jayhawks players will not travel with the team to Indianapolis for the NCAA Tournament because of COVID-19.
Louisville, Colorado State, St. Louis and Mississippi have been put on stand-by. They could find their way into the bracket if a team in the field notifies the NCAA by Tuesday night that it must withdraw because of health concerns.


No. 3 Illinois tops No. 9 Ohio State in OT for Big Ten title
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu (EYE’-oh doh-SOO’-moo) both scored 16 points, both grabbed nine rebounds and both made key plays in overtime to give No. 3 Illinois a 91-88 victory over No. 9 Ohio State for its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2005.
Cockburn made the go-ahead free throw with 1:39 to play, Dosunmu made a 15-footer with 50 seconds to go and the Illini sealed it at the free-throw line. Illinois has won seven straight overall, six in a row over top-10 foes and 14 of its last 15 overall to claim the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid.


No. 6 Alabama edges LSU to win SEC title
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Herbert Jones drove for a go-ahead layup with 19.5 seconds and No. 6 Alabama won the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the first time since 1991, holding off a late flurry to edge LSU 80-79.
Alabama, the reigning national champion in football, won its seventh tournament title overall, second in the SEC only to Kentucky’s 31. The Crimson Tide hadn’t even reached this game since 2002.
Alabama is 24-6. LSU missed a couple of chances in the final seconds and fell to 18-9.


No. 7 Houston takes AAC tourney with 91-54 win over Cincy
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – In the American Athletic Conference championship seventh-ranked Houston has its first conference tournament title since 2010 back when it was still in Conference USA. Quentin Grimes scored 21 points with five 3-pointers and Marcus Sasser had 16 points as the Cougars beat Cincinnati 91-54. The Cougars were already a lock for their 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance before leading the entire game.


St. Bonaventure wins A-10 tourney beating VCU for NCAA bid
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – Kyle Lofton scored 23 points and Osun Osunniyi scored 14 points with 12 rebounds and St. Bonaventure beat VCU 74-65 in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament to clinch an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bonnies’ Alejandro Vasquez buried a 3-pointer with 11:36 before halftime to break a tie at 12 and St. Bonaventure led the rest of the way.


Colgate wins Patriot League title, heads to NCAA Tournament
HAMILTON, N.Y. (AP) – Tucker Richardson scored 17 points and Jordan Burns and Jack Ferguson had 16 each to lead Colgate to a 85-72 win over Loyola of Maryland for the Patriot League tournament championship. Colgate advances to its fourth NCAA Tournament and will make its second straight appearance.
The top-seeded Raiders, in their fourth straight Patriot title game, led the entire way in extending their program-record win streak to 13.


Brees announces retirement at 42
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Saints record-setting quarterback Drew Brees has decided to retire after 20 NFL seasons, including his last 15 with New Orleans. It comes after Brees won nine of 12 regular-season starts while completing 70.5% of his passes in 2020.
He came back from multiple rib fractures and won a wild-card round playoff game before New Orleans’ season ended with a divisional-round playoff loss Tampa Bay.
Brees is the NFL’s all-time leader in yards passing with 80,358. His 571 career touchdown passes rank second behind Tom Brady’s 581.


Elsewhere in the NFL:
– Aaron Jones is staying with Packers on a 4-year, $48 million deal that includes a $13 million signing bonus, according to his agent. Jones rushed for 1,104 yards and nine touchdowns and also caught 47 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns last season. That came after a 2019 season in which he had 16 touchdown runs and three touchdown catches. Jones and Jim Brown are the only players in NFL history to rush for at least 3,000 yards and 35 touchdowns while averaging at least 5 yards per carry over their first four seasons.


– Benardrick McKinney was traded by the Houston Texans to the Miami Dolphins for Shaq Lawson in a swap of linebackers. McKinney played in only four games last year because of a shoulder injury.


– The Buffalo Bills have re-signed offensive lineman Jon Feliciano to a three-year contract. Feliciano’s return means the Bills will have all five starting offensive linemen back for a second consecutive year.

Gilgeous-Alexander scores 30 as Thunder top Grizzlies
UNDATED (AP) – The Golden State Warriors have ended their longest skid of the season by downing the NBA’s No. 1 team.
The Warriors had dropped four in a row before Draymond Green recorded his 26th career triple-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in a 131-119 downing of the Jazz. Stephen Curry had 32 points with six 3-pointers to go with nine assists.
Andrew Wiggins added 28 points as Golden State returned home for a rare Sunday matinee at Chase Center, where the Warriors had played just once over the previous 24 days.
Rudy Gobert had 24 points and a career-high 28 rebounds for Utah, which became the league’s last team to reach double-digit losses. The Jazz are 28-10 and two games ahead of Philadelphia for the overall lead. The 76ers are taking on the Spurs right now.


Checking out Sunday’s other NBA action:
– Playing in front of home fans for the first time in 368 days, the 76ers stayed atop the Eastern Conference with a 134-99 blowout over the Spurs. Tobias Harris dropped in 23 points and Seth Curry added 21 in the Sixers’ first game since losing Joel Embiid to a left knee injury. Ben Simmons returned from a two-game COVID absence and had 14 points with nine assists as Philadelphia moved a game ahead of the Nets in the conference standings.


– Jaylen Brown scored 24 points and Jayson Tatum added 23 as the Boston Celtics coasted to a 134-107 win over the Houston Rockets. It’s the fifth win in six games for the Celtics, who overwhelmed a team playing with only one of its regular starters in Victor Oladipo. The Rockets have lost 16 in a row, one off the team record set in 1968.


– Jimmy Butler scored 29 points and Tyler Herro added 22 off the bench as the Miami Heat rallied from a small fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Orlando Magic 102-97. The Heat won their fourth straight game and for the 10th time in 11 games. All-Star center Nikola Vucevic scored 17 of his 38 points in the third quarter for Orlando, which lost its eighth straight.


– Zion Williamson scored 27 points, Brandon Ingram added 23 and the New Orleans Pelicans took their second straight lopsided victory with a 135-115 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers. Lonzo Ball hit five 3s and finished with 20 points for New Orleans, which shot an NBA season-high 65.4% on 81 attempts. Kawhi Leonard scored 23 and Reggie Jackson 18 before both sat out the fourth quarter of the Clippers’ fourth loss in five games.


– Shai Gilgeous(shay GIHL’-juhs)-Alexander scored 30 points and Aleksej Pokusevski had a career-high 23, helping the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Memphis Grizzlies 128-122. Kenrich Williams added 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting for the Thunder, who trailed by as many as 12. Ja Morant had 22 points and seven assists for Memphis, which lost for the third time in four games.


– John Collins scored 22 points and Danilo Gallinari had 20 in the Hawks’ fifth consecutive win, 100-82 over the Cavaliers. The Hawks led only 69-66 before opening the final quarter with 12 consecutive points to stretch the advantage to 15 points. Collins set a season high with 13 rebounds and Trae Young scored 14 points.


– Anthony Edwards scored a career-high 34 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves held on to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 114-112. Ricky Rubio added 15 points, including eight free throws in the final seconds. Karl-Anthony Towns had 13 points as Minnesota started with just 10 players after rookie Jaden McDaniels was added to the health and safety protocols before the game.


– Rookie Patrick Williams had a career-best 23 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to an easy win over the Toronto Raptors, 118-95. Zach LaVine scored 15 to help the Bulls end a two-game slide. Coby White had 13 points and Wendell Carter Jr. added 12 points and 11 rebounds after the two were removed from the starting five for the first time this season.


Pelicans say some players, staff received COVID-19 vaccine
UNDATED (AP) – Some players and other members of the New Orleans Pelicans organization have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccinations, following changes in the eligibility standards for Louisiana residents.
The Pelicans said the vaccines were administered Saturday making them the first NBA team to acknowledge a widescale receipt of the vaccine by members of a club.
State officials in Louisiana expanded the list of those who may receive the vaccine last week “to include people who have health conditions that may result in a higher risk of disease” and are over the age of 18. Among the higher risk groups: those with a body mass index of 25 or more, which would technically classify them as overweight. Many of the Pelicans’ players fall into that category, despite being NBA players and elite athletes.


Canes beat Wings to move ahead of Bolts, Cats
UNDATED (AP) – The Carolina Hurricanes are the new leader in the NHL’s Central Division, one point ahead of The Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.
Dougie Hamilton and Nino Niederreiter provided the Carolina goals and Alex Nedeljkovic made 25 saves in the Hurricanes’ eighth win in a row, a 2-1 victory over the Red Wings. Hamilton opened the scoring with 4:47 left in the second period and Niederreiter gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead early in the third.
Anthony Mantha scored his eighth goal of the season for Detroit with just 9.4 seconds left in regulation, spoiling Nedeljkovic’s bid for his second career shutout.
Carolina improved to 20-6-1.


Elsewhere on NHL ice:
– The Islanders ran their winning streak to nine games by getting shootout goals from Anthony Beauvillier and Oliver Wahlstrom in a 3-2 verdict over the Devils. Brock Nelson scored for New York with less than two seconds left in the opening period after Kieffer Bellows notched his third goal in two games. The Isles were able to celebrate a win after P.K. Subban’s overtime goal was nullified by an offsides call on a replay challenge.


– Andre Burakovsky and Nazem Kadri each had a goal and an assist and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1. Nathan MacKinnon and Joonas Donskoi also scored for the Avalanche, who swept the two-game series with Los Angeles and allowed fewer than 30 shots on goal for the 16th straight game, extending a franchise record. Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves and nearly had another shutout before Kurtis MacDermid ended the bid early in the third period.


– The Wild put together a three-goal third period to beat the Coyotes, 4-1. Nick Bonino snapped a 1-1 deadlock about six minutes into the third period, just over five minutes before Kevin Fiala added a power-play goal. Joel Eriksson Ek iced it with an empty-netter as Minnesota picked up its fourth straight win and improved to 11-2-1 in its last 14 games.


– Alexander Radulov returned from a 15-game absence and tallied in the third round of the shootout to lift the Dallas Stars over the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1. Jake Oettinger made 29 saves and improved to 3-0-1 against the Blue Jackets this season. Joe Pavelski scored Dallas’ lone goal in regulation at 14:28 of the first period, his fourth against Columbus this season.


– Drake Batherson scored twice in 53 seconds in the second period of the Ottawa Senators’ 4-3 victory over the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs. Brady Tkachuk and Ryan Dzingel also scored for Ottawa, and Joey Daccord made 33 saves for his first NHL victory. The North Division-leading Leafs have dropped two straight and five of six to drop out of the top overall spot in the NHL standings.


Yanks manager Boone feels ‘awesome’ after getting pacemaker
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is into his second full week on the bench after having a pacemaker inserted and says he’s feeling “awesome.”
The 48-year-old Boone had the procedure done at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, on March 3 and was back on the job after missing just three games.


Thomas outlasts Westwood to win Players Championship
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Justin Thomas found the right time for a near-perfect performance to put a rough start to the year behind him, rallying from three shots behind with bold play to close with a 4-under 68 and win The Players Championship.
Thomas becomes only the fourth player to win a major, The Players Championship, the FedEx Cup and a World Golf Championship, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
He called it as good as he has ever played tee-to-green, and he needed it to outlast Lee Westwood, a hard-luck runner-up for the second straight week. Westwood birdied the final hole for a 72 to finish one shot behind at 13 under.
Bryson DeChambeau and Brian Harman tied for third at minus-12.


Truex breaks ice for 2021
AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Martin Truex Jr. pulled away in the final laps at Phoenix Raceway for his first NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season and 28th overall.
Truex beat the four championship finalists from last year. He had failed to advance into the season-ending finale for the first time in four years and could only watch as Chase Elliott beat runner-up Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski for the title at the desert oval.


Clijsters withdraws from Miami and Charleston tournaments
MIAMI (AP) – Four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters (KLY’-sturz) has withdrawn from upcoming tournaments in Miami and Charleston, a setback in her comeback following right knee surgery and a bout with COVID-19.
Clijsters says she plans to undergo three to six weeks of pain management treatment and then make decisions regarding her schedule.



AP-WF-03-15-21 1229GMT