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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — For the first time in six years, the Missouri Tigers are left out of the NCAA tournament.
 
As expected, the Tigers failed to earn a spot in the field of 68 when the brackets were announced Sunday. Instead, Missouri (22-11) earned a No. 2 seed in the National Invitational Tournament and will play Southern Conference champion Davidson (20-12) at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Mizzou Arena. It is Missouri's first NIT appearance since 2005.
 
"We're excited about playing in the NIT, a tournament that has great tradition," Missouri coach Frank Haith told the Columbia Tribune (http://bit.ly/1fRCfU2 ). "Obviously, our goal is to play in the NCAA Tournament every year, but we do have an opportunity to compete for a championship. There's a lot of teams that have unlaced their shoes."
 
Missouri was ranked in the top 25 early this season, but a 9-9 record in the Southeastern Conference doomed the chance for an NCAA berth. Just three SEC teams made the tournament field.
 
Missouri teams haven't fared well in past NIT appearances — the Tigers are 1-7 all-time, the lone victory over Murray State in the first round of the 1996 tournament. Missouri suffered first-round losses to Alabama-Birmingham in 1998, Michigan in 2004 and DePaul in 2005.
 
Davidson coach Bob McKillop's program has won in Columbia before, beating the Tigers 84-81 in an upset on Nov. 19, 2004 — Missouri's first loss in the new arena. The Tigers also lost to Davidson in 2005 but beat the Wildcats in 2006.
 
Adding insult to injury this season: Nine of the Missouri's former Big 12 Conference foes made the NCAA tournament — seven teams still in the Big 12 plus Colorado and Nebraska.
 
As he sat down to watch the NCAA Tournament Selection Show, Haith wasn't sure how to feel about the Tigers' chances.
 
"I think we were right there on the bubble with a lot of teams," he said. "When I saw Tennessee become an 11 and then Kentucky was an 8/9, I just felt like they didn't have a lot of respect for our league. That's what I thought."
 
In fact, North Carolina State (21-13), the last team in the field, finished below Missouri in the RPI (Missouri was No. 49, the Wolfpack No. 55). Both teams were 9-9 in their leagues and Missouri beat North Carolina State on Dec. 28 in Raleigh, N.C. But North Carolina State had the nation's 33rd toughest schedule. Missouri's schedule ranked 68th.
 
Missouri also posted victories over then-No. 18 UCLA and Mid-American Conference champion Western Michigan as part of a 12-1 non-conference record that vaulted the Tigers as high as No. 21 in the national polls.
 
The SEC opener was an overtime loss at home to Georgia, and the Tigers never had a signature win. They needed to make a run in the SEC tournament but lost to No. 1 Florida in the quarterfinals.
Monday, 17 March 2014 22:24
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Four Missouri athletes were arrested Saturday night on suspicion of possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana during a traffic stop in Columbia.
 
Guards Wes Clark and Shane Rector of the basketball team and defensive backs Aarion Penton and Shaun Rupert from the football team were pulled over at 11:32 p.m. after Columbia police noticed an expired rear license plate tag on Rupert's car, police spokeswoman Latisha Stroer said Monday.
 
The officers approached the car and detected the smell of marijuana, prompting the discovery of a package of Swisher Sweets cigarillos containing a substance that tested positive for marijuana, Stroer said. The four athletes were each issued a court summons and released.
 
Columbia residents passed a referendum in 2004 that reduced penalties for the offense to no more than a court summons and a fine, if found guilty, of up to $250. The reductions do not apply to anyone found guilty of misdemeanor possession of marijuana on two or more occasions in the past five years.
 
The Columbia Daily Tribune first reported the arrests.
 
Basketball coach Frank Haith said Monday that Clark and Rector were suspended for the team's practice, but not necessarily for Tuesday's NIT opener against Davidson.
 
"I didn't know about it soon enough," Haith said, adding that the final decision would be made after gathering additional information.
 
Missouri missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years after finishing 22-11 and 9-9 in the Southeastern Conference.
 
Clark, a freshman from Detroit, has played in all 33 games this season as a backup point guard, averaging 20.4 minutes and 4.1 points. Rector, a freshman from New York, has averaged 4.3 minutes and 0.5 points.
 
With Tony Criswell suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules and Corey Haith out with an injury, Missouri's bench would shrink to forwards Danny Feldmann, Torren Jones and Keanau Post, leaving Jordan Clarkson with no backups at point guard.
 
"You want me to dress out?" Haith said, slightly exasperated. "Who else can I put in? That could be a problem. It is what it is."
 
Penton is currently atop the depth chart at cornerback after appearing in every game of Missouri's 12-2 season last fall as a freshman. He recorded 16 tackles and an interception while Rupert, a safety, redshirted in his first year with the team.
 
Both Penton and Rupert were suspended indefinitely after the athletics department learned of their arrests, spokesman Chad Moller said. Their long-term status with the team would be determined after an internal review.
Monday, 17 March 2014 22:20
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- David Backes scored twice, and Ryan Miller made 16 saves in another win as the St. Louis Blues beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 on Monday night.
 
The Blues are 7-0-1 since Miller was acquired by trade from Buffalo. St. Louis has won three straight and eight of nine.
 
Western Conference-leading St. Louis has an NHL-best 101 points. It is the sixth time in franchise history that the Blues have reached 100 points.
 
Backes has 23 goals this season. Brendan Morrow added a goal, and Jay Bouwmeester had two assists in the Blues' win.
 
Eric O'Dell had the lone goal for Winnipeg, and Al Montoya made 23 saves.
 
The Blues won despite the absence of players Vladimir Tarasenko and T.J. Oshie.
 
Tarasenko is expected to miss six weeks because of a hand injury sustained Saturday against Nashville. Oshie, whose first child was born earlier Monday, should be back for Wednesday's game at Chicago.
 
Backes broke a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal at 13:09 of the third period when he swatted in a rebound of Ian Cole's shot.
 
With 1:11 left, Backes was awarded a goal when he broke in on the Jets' empty net and was pulled down by Jacob Trouba.
 
After a listless first period, St. Louis took a 1-0 lead just 1:44 into the second. After Winnipeg's Devin Setoguchi failed to control a bouncing puck, Derek Roy took it and broke in on left wing. He centered a pass to Morrow on the right side for a shot into the open net.
 
The Jets took advantage during 4-on-4 play to tie it at 1:55 of the third. Evander Kane skated down left wing with O'Dell on a 2-on-1 break. Kane centered a pass to O'Dell, who faked a shot and then beat Miller with a backhand.
 
NOTES: St. Louis is 38-1-5 when scoring first and 30-0-4 when leading after two periods. ... Winnipeg is 8-13-5 against the Central Division. ... Blues coach Ken Hitchcock moved into sole possession of third place on the team's career win list with 119.
 
Monday, 17 March 2014 22:18
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Patrik Berglund scored twice to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators Saturday night.
 
Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen had the other goals for the Blues, who have won seven of their last eight. The game also marked the fifth and final game of the season series between the Central Division rivals, with the Blues winning all five matchups.
 
Ryan Miller made 30 saves to improve to 6-0-1 since the Blues acquired him in a trade with Buffalo on Feb. 28. Two of those victories came against the Predators.
 
St. Louis is 19-0-2 against the Central this season.
 
Eric Nystrom scored for Nashville, which saw its three-game winning streak come to an end. The Predators have lost their last five home games, all in regulation.
 
Berglund scored the game's first goal at 11:32 of the opening period. Nashville failed to clear the puck from inside its blue line, and Berglund grabbed it and skated to the top of the left faceoff circle, where he beat Pekka Rinne with a wrist shot.
 
Rinne started for the second game in as many nights, his first back-to-back set since returning to Nashville's lineup after missing 51 games with an infection in his right hip.
 
Berglund struck again at 2:02 of the second. He carried the puck into Nashville's zone on the right side and pulled up at the right faceoff dot, where he beat Rinne between the pads with a wrist shot.
 
It was Berglund's third two-goal game of the season.
 
Tarasenko made it 3-0 at 7:21 of the second when he collected a rebound off of the end boards and beat Rinne to the far post to record his 21st goal of the season. He has points in five consecutive games.
 
Nystrom scored Nashville's lone goal at 16:50 of the third after he collected the puck following a goalmouth scramble. The goal was Nystrom's 13th of the season.
 
Steen scored his 30th at 8:05 of the third on a one-timer from the top of the right circle off of a pass from Jaden Schwartz. It is the first 30-goal campaign of Steen's career.
 
NOTES: Nashville LW Viktor Stalberg played in his 300th career regular season game. ... This is the first time the Blues have swept the season series with Nashville. ... Tarasenko had five points in five games played against the Predators this season.
Saturday, 15 March 2014 22:34
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- Joe Kelly pitched into the sixth inning and had three hits to help the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2 on Saturday.
 
Kelly went 5 1-3 innings, allowing four hits and a run. He became the first pitcher to have three hits in a spring training game since Chris Volstad did it for the Marlins in 2010.
 
Kelly singled three times, drove in two runs and scored twice.
 
The right-hander made 37 appearances for the Cardinals last season, including 15 starts, and went 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA. He pitched into the postseason and said he feels like a permanent part of the staff heading into the season.
 
"I went deep into the game," Kelly said. "I had some quick outs and that should always be a goal for me. I saw the whole lineup."
 
The Braves, still reeling from the possibility of beginning the season without ailing pitchers Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen, started non-roster invitee Gus Schlosser, who allowed three runs, two earned, and four hits in four innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.
 
Schlosser was expected to work out of the bullpen this season, but will likely stretch his arm out in Triple-A at the start of the year as an insurance policy for the starting rotation.
 
STARTING TIME
 
Cardinals: Kelly's outing was the longest by a St. Louis pitcher all spring. "That was a great performance," manager Mike Matheny said. "He was trying to be a one-man show today. He was still throwing up to 95-97 (mph) in the sixth and he was still going after the hitters. I liked what I saw."
 
Braves: Schlosser was his own worst enemy while allowing three runs in the third inning. He misplayed a grounder that led to the first run and put two runners in scoring position. "I felt good," Schlosser said. "I had one bad inning, but overall I did my job. I just tried to show what I can do if given the chance. I didn't feel out of my comfort zone at all." Schlosser has made 55 starts in his minor league career but hasn't pitched in Triple-A yet.
 
TRAINER'S ROOM
 
Braves: Medlen and Beachy are expected to get checked out Monday by Dr. James Andrews to see if they will need second Tommy John surgeries. ... SS Andrelton Simmons missed the game with a sore knee. He is day to day.
 
BATTING CHAMP FOR A DAY
 
Kelly said the Cardinals are stressing that their pitchers spend more time on hitting, and it paid off with his 3-for-3 day. "We were one of the worst-hitting teams in baseball last year when it came to pitchers," Kelly said. "We are trying to take shorter swings and just get the ball over the infield. It was pretty fun today. We're working on it because we were so close to being last in almost every category last year." Kelly has a career batting average of .152 in two seasons with St. Louis.
 
HELP WANTED
 
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he would be taking a long look at plenty of "insurance policies," including Schlosser, to pick up the slack for Atlanta's injured starting pitchers. In addition to Medlen and Beachy, Minor might miss the first couple weeks of the season. As for his rotation when the team goes north, Gonzalez said he has a lot of thinking to do. "I haven't decided whether to go with four starters at the start of the year or five," he said. "I just want to see what we have just in case."
Saturday, 15 March 2014 22:32
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rodger Saffold's bizarre free agent experience has ended right back where it started.
 
The St. Louis Rams announced on Thursday that they've re-signed Saffold. The former second-round pick started 44 games in four seasons with the Rams. But he agreed to a five-year, $42.5 million deal with the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday, only to have the deal voided when he failed a physical on Wednesday because of a previous shoulder injury.
 
The Rams pounced on the chance to bring Saffold back. He played in 12 of the team's 16 games last season, starting at right tackle, right guard and left tackle.
 
The Rams chose Saffold with the 33rd pick in 2010.
 
Saffold wanted to test the free agent market so he could get another chance to start at left tackle. He was moved to the right side after the Rams signed Jake Long to a two-year free agent deal last offseason.
 
In the team release announcing the signing, Saffold is termed an offensive lineman.
 
The Rams are potentially thin on the line after releasing guard Harvey Dahl, sidelined by a knee injury at the end of last season, and with guard Chris Williams a restricted free agent. Long underwent knee surgery in late January and might not be ready the start of the season.
Thursday, 13 March 2014 23:36
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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Lance Lynn rebounded from a bad outing to strike out his final eight batters and 10 overall in four innings Thursday during the St. Louis Cardinals' 11-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.
 
Lynn ended his stint by fanning Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson.
 
"Today was a good day," Lynn said. "The ball felt good coming out of my hand. I was able to make pitches today."
 
Lynn had allowed five runs in 1 1-3 innings of relief against Miami in his previous appearance. On Thursday he allowed only one hit and walked none. He got a strikeout on every type of pitch other than his curveball.
 
"Everything was in the strike zone, and it was down for the most part, so that's good," Lynn said.
 
Atlanta starter Freddy Garcia gave up four runs - three earned - and six hits in four innings.
 
Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina hit RBI doubles in the first, and Jhonny Peralta's two-out double drove in Holliday in the third. Xavier Scruggs hit a three-run double in a seven-run sixth.
 
STARTING TIME
 
Atlanta: Injuries are prompting manager Fredi Gonzalez to prepare for the possibility of entering the season with a four-man rotation. Originally signed as insurance, Garcia would be among those four.
 
"I think he's more valuable than just depth right now," Gonzalez said. "He's going to be in the rotation."
 
The Braves won't need a fifth starter until April 12. Gonzalez hopes that newly signed Ervin Santana would be ready to join the rotation by then.
 
St. Louis: The Cardinals said the Elias Sports Bureau determined Lynn is the only Cardinal to strike out 10 or more in spring training in last 20 years. As Lynn headed to the clubhouse, the dozen or so Cardinals in the bullpen jumped up to congratulate and hug him.
 
TRAINER'S ROOM
 
St. Louis pitcher Jaime Garcia (shoulder) returned from Birmingham, Ala., where he was receiving therapy. The Cardinals hoped Garcia would be the lone left-hander in their starting rotation but has not thrown a ball since experiencing soreness in his surgically-repaired shoulder during the second week of spring training. Cardinals manager Mike Mathney did not give a timetable for Garcia's activities.
 
Gonzalez said the Braves have been cautious with Ramiro Pena's surgically-repaired shoulder, but he has no concerns over whether Pena will fill Atlanta's utility role. "He's going to be our guy," Gonzalez said.
 
REPLAY REWIND
 
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny joked he heard from "everybody in the commissioner's office" about his comments regarding a close play at third on Tuesday that he felt should have been overturned by video review. Matheny said because the camera angles the replay official saw were different from the broadcast angles, he wanted to know whether what the team saw in the broadcast angles would have been clear and conclusive enough to overturn the call.
 
"I wanted `inconclusive' to kind of have some barriers," said Matheny, a proponent of replay review. "How much are they going to have to see?"
 
COMFORTABLE WITH GATTIS
 
Gattis caught back-to-back games for the first time this year and went 0 for 3 at the plate. Gonzalez said he is expecting Gattis to catch 110 games this season.
 
"He caught 40-some games and he did a nice job," Gonzalez said of 2013, when Gattis backed up Brian McCann. "I don't think he's a guy we are going to have to worry about behind the plate."
 
MOVING AROUND
 
Jason Heyward has yet to play center field this spring training, but Gonzalez didn't rule out the possibility of him playing there once the regular season starts. "That option is always there," Gonzalez said.
 
PROSPECT WATCH
 
With outfield prospect Oscar Taveras sidelined by ankle and hamstring issues, Stephen Piscotty is making the most of his playing time.
 
The Cardinals' outfielder was hitting .389 entering Thursday's game and made a sliding catch on a Gattis line drive in right field to end the first inning
 
"He's squaring the ball up and doing a nice job in the outfield, too," Matheny said.
 
After the game, Taveras was optioned to Triple-A Memphis.
Thursday, 13 March 2014 23:33
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Alex Pietrangelo started a four-goal third period and Jaden Schwartz scored twice to help the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues beat the Edmonton Oilers 6-2 on Thursday night.
 
St. Louis has won six of seven overall and eight of nine against Edmonton.
 
The Oilers lost for the second time in five games.
 
Pietrangelo, Schwartz and T.J. Oshie scored in 7:14 span at the outset of the third period to break a 2-2 tie, and Schwartz added his second goal of the period at 12:56.
 
Ryan Miller made 23 saves to improve to 5-0-1 since joining the Blues in a trade with Buffalo on Feb. 28. He's 7-0 against Edmonton
 
Vladimir Sobotka and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for St. Louis, which outscored the Oilers 17-4 in winning all three games in the season series.
 
Sobotka, who returned to the lineup after missing 12 games with a knee injury, and Oshie each had two assists. Miller has stopped 134 of 145 shots in six games with St. Louis and has yet to lose in regulation.
 
David Perron and Mark Fraser scored for Edmonton. Perron spent six seasons in St. Louis and leads the Oilers with 25 goals.
 
Pietrangelo scored 42 seconds into the third period on a shot from the low slot. Sobotka set up the play by stealing the puck in the corner.
 
Schwartz added his 20th goal less than 4 minutes later, and Oshie converted on a 5-on-3 power play.
 
Fraser tied it at 2 late in the second period with a shot from close range.
 
Tarasenko gave the Blues a 2-1 lead with a shot from the slot off a pass from Oshie.
 
Notes: St. Louis D Barret Jackman left the game briefly late in the second period after colliding with Jesse Joensuu. Jackman returned for the third period. ...The Oilers have used six goalies this season. ... Ten of the Blues' last 13 games have been decided by one goal. ... Edmonton C Sam Gagner had a five-game points streak snapped. ... The Oilers are 7-2-3 in their last 12 games, their best stretch since going 8-3 at the start of the 2011-12 season. ... Oshie's two assists give him a career-high 36 this season.
 
Thursday, 13 March 2014 23:32
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 ATLANTA (AP) - Jabari Brown scored 26 points, Earnest Ross added 24 and Missouri barely kept alive its hopes of an NCAA bid, beating Texas A&M 91-83 in double overtime in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday.
 
The Tigers (22-10) squandered a nine-point lead in the second half, and Texas A&M (17-15) forced another extra period when little-used senior Blake McDonald made a steal under the basket and flipped to Alex Caruso for the tying layup with 8 seconds remaining.
 
Missouri twice failed to get off a shot with chances to win the game in the closing seconds. It didn't matter. The Tigers finally wore down the Aggies, who had lost at Missouri 57-56 just eight days earlier.
 
Caruso led Texas A&M with 28 points, hitting 5 of 9 from 3-point range.
Thursday, 13 March 2014 15:14
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   JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - The St. Louis Cardinals are going to replay school.
   Manager Mike Matheny believes a contested play late in the Cardinals' 9-8 loss to the Mets would have been overturned had the new review process used the same video feed the team saw so he's planning on discussing the call with officials in the commissioner's office.
   Matheny says he wants to get an idea of how the system will work under the established guidelines.
   During the regular season, rulings under new expanded replay system will be made in New York. This spring, the league gas been testing it by using video trucks parked outside ballparks. Fewer television angles are being used for exhibition games.
   Umpires in Jupiter needed about two minutes to uphold a call on a play at third base.
 
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 03:46
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