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Ross, Missouri beat Nevada 83-70, go to 7-0

Saturday, 30 November 2013 00:18 Published in Sports

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Missouri may not be playing under the national radar for much longer.

Earnest Ross scored 28 points, Jabari Brown had 24 and the Tigers remained unbeaten with an 83-70 win over Nevada in the final round of the Las Vegas Invitational on Friday night.

Jordan Clarkson added 21 points for the Tigers (7-0), who converted 31 of 33 free throws.

"When you have those three guys playing the way they did tonight, we are going to be hard to beat," said coach Frank Haith, who returned from a five-game suspension to get wins on consecutive days at the tournament. "When you have three guys that are going to go and get you 25 points — that's a luxury."

Ross made 12 of 13 free throws and grabbed nine rebounds. Brown made four 3-pointers for Missouri, which finished 4-0 in the round-robin tournament and is likely to receive votes in this week's Associated Press poll.

Missouri will at least be tournament co-champion with No. 19 UCLA, which was 3-0 going into Friday's last game against Northwestern. The Tigers defeated Northwestern in third round on Thursday.

"We executed so well in the first half, we took good shots," Haith said. "We got to the free-throw line and we were moving the ball. In the second half, we took some quick shots. (Nevada) got into transition and they got a little rhythm and that's just the way college basketball is. Once (Nevada) cut the lead to five, we made big plays."

Haith's suspension stemmed from his tenure at Miami, where the NCAA ruled he didn't monitor assistant coaches' actions with a booster.

Deonte Burton led Nevada (3-5) with 20 points and three blocks. He was 8 of 10 from the free-throw line. Marqueze Coleman had 15 points for the Wolf Pack, which ended the tourney 1-3.

Nevada cut the Tigers' 21-point first-half lead to five with six minutes left in the game, but Missouri went on a 16-8 run to pull away.

"We just have to play harder, we just can't let up in the second half like we did," Clarkson said. "(In the second half) they were getting a lot of open shots, and once we started communicating, I felt like we shut them down."

Missouri finished at 47 percent from the field, while the Wolf Pack was at 35.

"When you miss shots, and get a team like that in transition, I think that's what built the lead," Nevada coach David Carter said. "I thought we were able to make some baskets, and crawl back into it."

The tournament's championship format was changed to round-robin this year to accommodate the Tigers and Bruins, who have a game scheduled for Dec. 7 at Missouri and didn't want to play twice this season.

Missouri came out aggressive early against the Wolf Pack, taking an 11-2 lead and going up by as many as 21 points late in the first half. Brown and Ross each had 16 points in the half. Missouri shot 52 percent from the field and made 13 of 14 free throws to lead 44-26 at the break.

Missouri hosts West Virginia on Thursday before UCLA comes to Columbia.

"I fully expect (Missouri) to be in the NCAA tournament," Coleman said. "We knew how fast and how strong they were. Their speed and height was tough. They got to us in the first half. In the second half, we made some adjustments and got the lead down to five, they hit a couple of baskets and took care of us."

Burns has hat trick in Sharks' 6-3 win over Blues

Saturday, 30 November 2013 00:17 Published in Sports

 

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Brent Burns got his first NHL hat trick and the Sharks ended a five-game home losing streak to St. Louis with a 6-3 victory over the Blues on Friday.

Joe Thornton, Tomas Hertl and Tommy Wingels also scored for the Sharks, who won their fourth straight and seven of eight.

Ian Cole scored his first goal in nearly two years as the Blues had their five-game winning streak halted. David Backes and Jaden Schwartz also scored for St. Louis.

Antti Niemi stopped 21 of 24 shots for his 14th win of the season. Brian Elliott took the loss, his first in eight games, after giving up four goals on 12 shots. He was lifted for Jaroslav Halak, who had 18 saves.

The Blues, who earned points in their previous nine games, were off to their best road start in franchise history, bringing a 7-2-1 mark into the game.

Burns scored 35 seconds into the game, taking a nice pass from Patrick Marleau and flipping the puck over Elliott's right shoulder. Logan Couture, who has not scored a goal in seven straight, started the sequence after intercepting a clearing pass.

Thornton scored a power-play goal at 3:01, the first allowed by the Blues in six games and just the second on the road. Couture took a shot that bounced off Elliott's pad and Joe Pavelski flipped it out to Thornton, who beat Elliott to the glove side.

Burns scored his second goal of the game at 9:14 of the first, set up with a pass from Thornton.

Wingels picked up a flubbed pass to Jay Bouwmeester and had a give-and-go with Couture to make it 4-0, getting a good rebound off Elliott's glove and into the net at 11:27.

Cole, who last scored on Dec. 8, 2011, against the Anaheim Ducks, a span of 43 games, rattled the puck off the right post and had it trickle into the net.

The scoring sequence began when Halak made a terrific save and got the puck out to a streaking Roman Polak.

Backes, who took a 10-minute misconduct late in the second period, made it 4-2 with a power-play goal at 2:02 of the third period, with Derek Roy giving him a backhand pass to set up the score.

Schwartz drilled the puck off Niemi's glove on a give-and-go with Vladimir Sobotka to bring the Blues within one midway at 11:19 of the final period.

Burns got the hat trick when he converted a power-play goal at 12:19. He sneaked it past Halak on the stick side.

Hertl added an empty-net goal in the final minute.

NOTES: Thornton has 17 points in his past 15 games. ... The Blues allowed a third-period goal for the first time in eight games. Their 14 third-period goals allowed is the third fewest. ... Roy has points in five of six games. ... The Sharks scored their first power-play goal since Nov. 15, a span of seven games. ... Couture has not scored a goal in a season-long seven games and has one goal in his past 11.

Missouri beats Northwestern 78-67

Friday, 29 November 2013 10:30 Published in Sports

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Missouri's biggest concern heading to the Las Vegas Invitational was how to establish a frontcourt presence.

Coach Frank Haith said he got what he was looking for Thursday night, particularly from Johnathan Williams and Ryan Rosburg, two of four Tigers to score in double figures in a 78-67 win over Northwestern in the tournament's opening round.

Jordan Clarkson scored 13 of his 21 points in the second half to lead Missouri, while Williams and Rosburg each had 14.

"We've relied on only (Clarkson and Jabari Brown) early this season, and we needed to get production out of our post guys," Haith said. "That was the first step toward that tonight, with Ryan and J3 (Williams) getting in double figures. Both those guys having the kind of night they had, I think that's important for us as we move forward."

The Tigers, who outscored Northwestern in the paint 40-14, scored the first 14 points of the second half to erase a five-point halftime deficit and take a 48-39 lead at the 15:10 mark and never looked back.

After Northwestern's second-half drought was ended by JerShon Cobb, who scored a game-high 22 points, the Tigers extended their lead to 13, when Brown hit a 3-pointer to give them a 54-41 advantage. The 6-foot-5 junior guard wasn't finished, as he scored five of his team's next 10 points and dished a nifty backward pass to Clarkson, who finished with a one-handed slam dunk that exemplified the Tigers' transition game.

"That's the way we play, we like to get up and down and play in transition," Clarkson said. "In the second half we tightened things up and pressured the ball. And that helped us get out into the transition game. We want to stamp our identity on the defensive end, playing hard. If we play hard on defense, we're going to get those easy shots, those easy dunks. And that's how we play, that's where we're most comfortable."

Said Haith: "I think that's when our team is at its best. That's one of our strengths. We play well in transition. But you ... gotta play defense in order for that to happen. I thought that keyed our ability to get transition buckets."

Missouri (6-0), which went from shooting 0-for-7 from the 3-point line in the first 20 minutes to shooting 4-of-7 in the second half, held Northwestern to just 36.4 percent shooting in the second half, compared with the Wildcats' 50 percent shooting from the field in the first half.

There were six ties and six lead changes in the first half, and the Wildcats connected on 6 of 13 jumpers from 3-point range. Cobb led the charge early, shooting 4 for 6 from the field (3-of-5 from 3-point range) en route to 16 points in the first half. After falling behind 19-13 midway through the first half, Northwestern went on a 26-15 run to take a 39-34 halftime lead.

But it was Missouri's defensive intensity in the second half that thwarted every effort by Northwestern, which missed its first six shots after halftime.

"The more stops we got, we were getting more confident," Haith said. "We had better movement in the second half. Once we were able to do that, we were able to attack, we had better ball movement from side to side, (and) I thought we did a great job of that.

"And we attacked in the paint. When teams sag like that, and we were still able to get those points in the paint, that's good and that's what we gotta do."

Tre Demps and Nathan Taphorn each scored 11 for Northwestern (4-3).

Missouri, which won by double digits for the fifth time this season, is now 13-4 on a neutral court under Haith. Since 2011, the Tigers are 17-1 in the month of November, and dating back to 2006 have won 44 of their 50 games in the month.

The Tigers, who played on Thanksgiving Day for the second consecutive year, face Nevada on Friday, while Northwestern (4-3) will play No. 19 UCLA.

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