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NORTH CAROLINA BEATS NO. 1 MICHIGAN STATE 79-65

Thursday, 05 December 2013 07:54 Published in Sports

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- North Carolina flashed its potential again, earning another impressive victory after a second shaky setback.

J.P. Tokoto had 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds to help the Tar Heels beat No. 1 Michigan State 79-65 Wednesday night.

North Carolina (5-2) has been talented enough to knock off the top-ranked Spartans and then-No. 3 Louisville this season, but the Tar Heels have also lost to Belmont and UAB.

"I truly believe after the Louisville win, our mentality after that was, `Birmingham is just going to be an automatic win. Just because we're North Carolina,'" Tokoto said. "We can't have that mentality - and kind of learned that Sunday night.

"We came here, were ready to play, intensity level was up, and we got results."

The Spartans (7-1) lost to an unranked nonconference team at home for the first time in more than a decade. They looked nothing like the team that beat then-No. 1 Kentucky a few weeks ago or the program that has had so much success over nearly two decades under coach Tom Izzo.

"One of the more disappointing performances of my career here," Izzo said. "From the jump ball, they kind of took it to us."

The Tar Heels took control from the start, never trailed and used a 12-1 run to take a 65-52 lead with 6:02 left.

"Michigan State did not want it that much more than we did," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.

Izzo agreed.

"We looked soft," he lamented.

North Carolina outrebounded the Spartans by 11, leading to 19 second-chance points. The Tar Heels turned 14 of Michigan State's turnovers into 19 points and held the Spartans to 36 percent shooting.

"We're as happy as we can possibly be - 179 degrees away from where we were after the UAB game," Williams said.

Kennedy Meeks scored 15 points for North Carolina and Brice Johnson had 14 off the bench. Marcus Paige and Nate Britt added 13 apiece.

"You can't tell in college basketball what's going to happen," Williams said. "At one point, we had three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior on the court."

Gary Harris had 17 points and Keith Appling scored 13, but both Michigan State guards missed 10 of 15 shots. Adreian Payne had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Spartans, whose last loss at home against an unranked nonconference team was Toledo on Dec. 30, 2002.

The Tar Heels beat a No. 1 team for the first time since March 4, 2006, at Duke, and they have a nation-high 13 wins over top-ranked teams. They've won seven straight against the Spartans, including in the 2009 NCAA final.

Tokoto has taken advantage of an expanded role while P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald sit out because of NCAA eligibility concerns.

The 6-foot-5 Tokoto, who is from Wisconsin, made some friends and family members in the stands at the Breslin Center happy while green-and-white clad fans didn't have much to get excited about.

Tokoto blocked a shot early in the second half, got to a loose ball and threw it to Appling - while the Michigan State player was standing out of bounds - and made three straight shots later in the half to help the Tar Heels pull away.

"J.P. was really active," Williams said. "He did a lot of things. He's so athletic."

Michigan State pulled into a 32-all tie at halftime after an awful start, struggling to take care of the ball or make shots.

The Tar Heels scored the first six points of the game and led 16-4 while holding the Spartans to 1-of-7 shooting with four turnovers.

On the bench, North Carolina freshman Isaiah Hicks implored his teammates to keep playing and avoid looking at the scoreboard. The Tar Heels seemed to do that, building a 20-6 cushion midway through the first half as Michigan State missed nine of 11 shots and turned the ball over six times.

The Spartans got a scare later in the half when Appling landed hard on his right hip after defending a shot. He hobbled off the court, but was able to return to action before halftime.

Michigan State outscored the Tar Heels 13-2 over the last several minutes of the first half.

The Spartans, though, couldn't do enough to get ahead in the second half and they will likely fall in next week's poll after being No. 1 for a school-record three weeks this season.

"They came off a loss and they looked hungrier," Izzo said. "We came off all the hype and we looked not as hungry."

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: HTTP://TWITTER.COM/LARRYLAGE

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

WHITE HOUSE PUSHES FOR JOBLESS AID EXTENSION

Thursday, 05 December 2013 07:49 Published in National News

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is pushing to extend jobless benefits to long-term unemployed Americans.

The argument is that if benefits don't get renewed by the end of the month, more than a million people will lose the assistance -- which will slow economic growth.

The government released a report Thursday. It says Congress has renewed benefits when unemployment was lower than the current 7.3 percent. New jobless numbers are due out Friday.

Democrats want to keep a program giving federal jobless benefits to people after their 26 weeks of state benefits run out. The Congressional Budget Office says that would cost an estimated $25 billion -- but estimates say it would also stimulate the economy and create jobs.

FACE TRANSPLANTS THRIVING 2 YEARS AFTER OPERATIONS

Thursday, 05 December 2013 07:48 Published in Health & Fitness

CHICAGO (AP) -- The nation's first full face transplant patients are growing into their new appearances - literally.

Medical imaging shows new blood vessel networks have formed, connecting transplanted skin with the patients' facial tissue, a finding that may help improve future face transplant surgeries, doctors announced Wednesday.

Dallas Wiens, the first U.S. man to get a full face transplant, is a remarkable example of that success. The 28-year-old Fort Worth man attended Wednesday's annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America with his new wife and golden retriever guide dog. Despite still visible facial scars from the March 2011 surgery, he looks and sounds like a recovered man.

"My entire life is a miracle," Wiens said at a news conference.

His face was burned off in a 2008 painting accident at his church. He was on a cherry-picker lift when his head hit a high voltage wire.

After surgery, Wiens lived for two years with no facial features and just a two-inch slit for a mouth, until his transplant at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Imaging studies on Wiens and two other full face transplants done at Brigham in 2011 show that a network of new blood vessels had formed just a year after the operations. A fourth full face transplant was performed at Brigham earlier this year.

The same thing typically happens with other transplants and it helps ensure their success by boosting blood flow to the donor tissue. But Brigham doctors say this is the first time it has happened with full face transplants.

The finding could eventually shorten the operating time for future face transplants, Brigham radiologist Dr. Frank Rybicki said. The operations can take up to 30 hours and include attaching spaghetti-thin arteries in the patients' existing tissue to the donor face, but the findings suggest attaching only two facial or neck arteries instead of several is sufficient, he said.

Dr. Samir Mardini, a Mayo Clinic expert in reconstructive transplant surgery, said blood vessel reorganization occurs with other types of tissue transplants - doctors call it "neovascularization" and it helps ensure the tissue's survival by improving blood flow.

"It's interesting that they've shown it" with face transplants, but it's not a surprise, Mardini said.

Face transplants, using cadaver donors, are still experimental. Fewer than 30 have been done since the first in 2005, said Dr. Branko Bojovich, a surgeon involved in a 2012 face transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

He called the Boston team's findings "very reassuring" for surgeons and for future patients.

"We're assuming that these patients will hopefully go on to live productive and long lives," Bojovich said.

Wiens' life before the accident was troubled, and he says he misses nothing about it except possibly his eyesight.

"I've learned more about other people and myself, being blind," he said.

He met his wife, Jamie Nash, in a support group for burn patients, and they were married in March at the same church where Wiens' accident occurred. That was a symbolic choice, Wiens said.

"The most life-changing experience I had happened at that church. I felt like the beginning of my new life should happen there," he said.

Nash, 30, had suffered severe burns in a 2010 car crash in which she lost control of her car while texting.

The couple lives with his 6-year-old daughter and her two children. Nash helps him "see" and he helps her do things that are difficult because of her scarred, stiff arms.

Together, they work with a foundation Nash set up to advocate against texting and driving, visiting schools to bring the message to teens. Wiens says the work helps make his new life fulfilling.

"Our life is incredible," Nash said Wednesday. "We are so much in love."

Added Wiens, "There is life after tragedy."

---

Online:

Brigham and Women's Hospital: HTTP://BIT.LY/ISTRG0

---

Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner atHTTP://WWW.TWITTER.COM/LINDSEYTANNER

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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