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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A recent decline in Missouri's casino revenues is raising questions among lawmakers about the extent to which the state can continue to rely on gambling to fund key programs.

Attendance at Missouri's 13 casinos is down almost 9 percent from last year.

Missouri relies on two sources of casino revenues. A portion of a per-patron fee is used to pay for the operations of the Missouri Veterans Commission, which oversees seven nursing homes. A state tax on casino revenues helps fund public schools.

The House has approved an additional $22 million for public schools because of the funding shortfall and lawmakers are considering a temporary funding boost to help the veterans' homes.

State officials are citing this winter's cold weather among the causes for the revenue decline.

Sunday, 09 March 2014 10:02
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Antonio Barton scored 16 points and Jarnell Stokes had a double-double Saturday as Tennessee trounced Missouri 72-45 to win its fourth straight game and boost its NCAA tournament hopes.
 
Tennessee (20-11, 11-7 SEC) hasn't trailed at any point during its winning streak. Its last three games have been decided by an average margin of 31 points.
 
Barton shot 4 of 7 from 3-point range against Missouri and has now gone 13 of 22 from behind the arc over his last three games. Stokes had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan McRae added 11 points.
 
Jordan Clarkson had 13 points for Missouri (21-10, 9-9).
 
Both Tennessee and Missouri are perceived to be on the NCAA tournament bubble, raising the stakes in this regular-season finale for both teams. Missouri had beaten Tennessee 75-70 on Feb. 15 in Columbia, but Saturday's rematch bore no resemblance to that game.
 
The Tigers shot 56.5 percent in their victory over Tennessee last month. Missouri shot 32 percent (15 of 47) overall and was 2 of 17 from 3-point range Saturday while recording its lowest point total of the season.
 
Missouri's Jabari Brown, who entered the day leading the SEC with 20.1 points per game, shot 1 of 10 and was held to eight points. His only basket came with 1:19 left in the game. Brown scored 24 points against Tennessee last month.
 
Tennessee grabbed a 37-19 halftime lead by crushing Missouri on the boards and from 3-point range.
 
At the start of the day, Tennessee was second in the SEC and Missouri third in rebound margin. But their matchup Saturday turned into a mismatch. In the first half, Stokes nearly outrebounded Missouri by himself. Stokes had 11 boards in the first half to give Tennessee a 23-12 rebounding edge. Tennessee ended up outrebounding Missouri 45-28.
 
Tennessee also shot 6 of 16 from 3-point range in the first half while Missouri was just 1 of 6. Tennessee got some long-range contributions from unlikely sources. Armani Moore, who entered the day 8 of 32 from 3-point range in his college career, made both his first-half attempts from behind the arc. The Vols cooled off from long range in the second half — going 1 of 8 — but the game already was pretty much out of reach by then.
 
While Tennessee was on fire early, Missouri had nearly had as many first-half turnovers (six) as baskets (seven).
 
Missouri briefly threatened to make a game of it early in the second half.
 
McRae picked up his third foul on a Ryan Rosburg three-point play that cut Tennessee's lead to 39-25 with 17:25 left. With McRae on the bench in foul trouble and plenty of time remaining, Missouri had a chance to rally.
 
Tennessee instead responded with a 10-0 run to put the game away. The Vols' lead never dipped below 22 points the rest of the way as they delighted the partisan crowd with five second-half dunks, including a reverse jam from McRae that resulted in a three-point play with 3:58 remaining.
Saturday, 08 March 2014 17:41
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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Trevor Rosenthal had a pain-free spring training debut and Michael Wacha pitched three effective innings for the St. Louis Cardinals in a 4-4 tie with a Washington Nationals split squad that was called after 10 innings Saturday.
 
Groin pain prompted the Cardinals to sideline Rosenthal for a few days this spring, but that wasn't a problem Saturday. The hard-throwing closer said he's nearly in regular-season form following his first Grapefruit League appearance.
 
Wacha worked two perfect innings before allowing a run on two hits and a walk in the third.
 
Destin Hood's three-run homer gave the Nationals a 4-1 lead in the eighth. St. Louis tied it with three in the bottom half, including Greg Garcia's two-run single.
Saturday, 08 March 2014 17:39
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DENVER (AP) -- Ryan Miller stopped 26 shots, and David Backes broke up a scoreless game in the second period, helping the St. Louis Blues beat the surging Colorado Avalanche 2-1 Saturday in a Central Division showdown.
 
Patrik Berglund added a pivotal insurance goal early in the third period as the Blues won their fourth straight.
 
Colorado finally solved Miller midway through the final period when P.A. Parenteau lifted a shot over him while he was trying for his first shutout in nearly two years. Miller is 4-0 since being acquired from Buffalo.
 
Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon had his point streak snapped at 13 games. It is the NHL's longest streak by an 18-year-old player.
 
Miller withstood a furious rally by the Avalanche in the final two minutes after they pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov.
 
The division-leading Blues are five points ahead of Colorado.
 
St. Louis also improved to a league-best 17-0-1 in division games. The Blues have outscored the Avs 13-5 in taking all three games in the season series. The teams will meet again on April 5 in St. Louis.
 
This was a frustrating afternoon for the Avalanche as their four-game winning streak was halted. Early on, they couldn't sneak anything past Miller, even hitting the post twice. They also lost one of their top offensive players when Paul Stastny went out with a back injury after his opening shift.
 
Berglund gave St. Louis a 2-0 cushion at 3:53 of the final period when he gobbled up the puck down low, spun and lined it over the glove of Varlamov.
 
Moments later, Parenteau beat Miller after receiving a pass from Matt Duchene.
 
With 6:05 remaining, Gabriel Landeskog had a chance to tie it after getting loose in front, but Miller rose up to stop it.
 
St. Louis made it 1-0 at 7:03 of the second period on a play set up by a long pass from defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who has thrived against his former team since he was traded three years ago.
 
Deep in his own end, Shattenkirk sent a pass to T.J. Oshie, who, as he was falling down, slid the puck to Backes. From there, Backes guided the puck past Varlamov's left skate.
 
Shattenkirk has four goals and five assists in 12 games against Colorado.
 
Both teams had a failed power play in the first period and eight shots. Miller had the save of the period when he stopped a point-blank shot from Parenteau with his left shoulder.
 
At one point, Colorado's Patrick Bordeleau made his way back to the bench following a big hit, and was pushed by Barret Jackman, then by Ryan Reaves and finally by Maxim Lapierre in a comical scene.
 
NOTES: Blues coach Ken Hitchcock tied Ron Wilson for seventh place on the NHL career wins list with 648. ... Miller has stopped 84 of 90 shots since his arrival in St. Louis. ... Colorado had 13 of its 27 shots in the final period.
Saturday, 08 March 2014 17:38
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