ATLANTA—OK, if this was Football, it would be the opposite. but in Basketball,Rayvonte Rice scored 22 points Sunday, when he and Illinois shot at a torrid pace on the way to routing Auburn 81-62 in Philips Arena.This was considered a ”home” game for Auburn, which last year played Illinois in the United Center as a visiting team.The Illini (8-1) made a season-high 12 3-pointers on 23 attempts (52.2 percent) and shot 61.5 percent from the field (32 of 52). Illinois also held the SEC’s leading scorer, Auburn’s Chris Denson to eight points. He entered the game averaging 21.8, but made just three of seven shots Sunday.Tracy Abrams added a season-high 17 points for Illinois, and Jon Ekey poured in 14 while making 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.Auburn (4-3) was led by KT Harrell’s 23 points, and freshman Tahj Shamsid-Deen added 13 in a return to his hometown.Abrams was in the middle of just about everything that Illinois did on the way to a 41-17 halftime lead. He hit 3-of-5 3-pointers – including one at the buzzer – and scored 11 points while grabbing four rebounds with two assists and a pair of steals.The Illini defense was stifling as well, limiting the Tigers to just 26 percent shooting over the first 20 minutes. Auburn missed all four of its trey tries and Denson was held to four points.Illinois scored the final 11 points of the first half.The Illini’s previous high for 3-pointers made was 10, against Bradley, in an 81-55 win on Nov. 17.
INDIANAPOLIS—Michigan State shook up the BCS title chase again Saturday night.The No. 10 Spartans regained the lead on Game MVP Connor Cook’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Price with 11:41 left and upset No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 to take the Big Ten title and put Auburn back in the national title hunt.Ohio State (12-1) had the nation’s longest active winning streak end at 24 as coach Urban Meyer suffered his first loss since taking over in Columbus.It was a game that almost defied logic.The Spartans (12-1) led 17-0 after 21 minutes, then gave up the next 24 points before scoring the final 17.Michigan State sealed the victory, and its probable trip to the Rose Bowl, with Jeremy Langford’s late 26-yard TD run. The Spartans haven’t played in Pasadena since 1988.Cook received the Grange-Griffin Trophy as the MVP.
Brandon Jennings scored 33 points to lead the Detroit Pistons to a 92-75 win over the short-handed Bulls on Saturday night.Kyle Singler added 12 points for Detroit (10-10), and Andre Drummond had eight points and 14 rebounds.The Bulls (8-10) shot 33 percent from the floor while playing without leading scorer Luol Deng, who was sidelined by tightness in his left calf. He is averaging 26.2 points over his last six games.Detroit outscored the Bulls 24-9 in the third quarter.
EVANSTON—Drew Crawford scored 15 points and had 9 rebounds to lead Northwestern to a 51-35 victory over Western Michigan Saturday night.JerShon Cobb added 11 points and Alex Olah had 10 points for Northwestern (5-5), who snapped a three-game losing streak. The Wildcats scored the first six points and never trailed.Crawford hit a first three-pointer with 17:46 left to give Northwestern a 27-13 lead. The Wildcats extended their lead to 20 when Crawford hit another 3-pointer with 7:56 remaining. Crawford, who missed most of last season due to a shoulder injury, scored 11 of his 15 points after halftime.Shayne Whittington scored 12 points, and David Brown added 10 for Western Michigan (5-3). WMU dropped its 12th straight to Northwestern and haven’t beaten the Wildcats since 1955.Both teams struggled offensively. Western Michigan shot 24 percent from the field, and its 35 points is a season-low. Northwestern shot 33 percent. The teams were a combined 4 for 34 from 3-point range.The Cats led 24-12 at halftime after shooting 36 percent from the field compared to Western Michigan’s 24 percent. The Wildcats were 0 for 11 from beyond the arc while Western Michigan was 0 for 6. Cobb and Olah each had six points for Northwestern, which led by as much as 14. David Brown had six points for the Broncos.Western Michigan reached the 20-point mark with 10:01 left on Whittington’s layup to cut Northwestern’s lead to 38-20.The Broncos had been averaging 75.7 points per game and shooting 46 percent from the field.The Broncos also committed 15 turnovers.NU was coming off a 69-48 loss to North Carolina State on Wednesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Wildcats shot 25 percent and scored a season-low point total. Cobb shot 0-for-7 and left the game with leg cramps.
In a battle between former Conference rivals, Milton Doyle scored 18 points as Loyola held on for a 73-70 victory over UIC at Joe Gentile Arena Saturday.Christian Thomas contributed 14 points.UIC (3-6) led 39-37 at the half. A Thomas layup followed by a Doyle free throw, a dunk by Osborne and a White jumper put Loyola (4-5) out front 44-39 to start the second period.Pat Birt’s 3-pointer closed the gap to 52-51 with 11:33 remaining in the game. Loyola stretched the lead again to 72-67 with 21 seconds remaining. Kelsey Barlow made a layup and the following free throw to move within two 72-70.Loyola’s Thomas made a free throw to make it 73-70 with 10 seconds left. He missed his second, giving the Flames a chance. Barlow missed a 3-point shot. The Flames got the rebound but time ran out before they could get off another shot.Marc Brown led UIC with 18 points.
DETROIT—Matt Johnson was motivated by the hype surrounding Jordan Lynch and wanted to be the best quarterback in the Mid-American Conference title game.Johnson was without a doubt better than Lynch on Friday night.Johnson threw four of his career-high five touchdown passes in the first half to help Bowling Green rout No. 16 Northern Illinois 47-27 to win the MAC championship and knock the Huskies out of a spot in a marquee bowl.
“There was a lot of talk about Jordan Lynch being up for the Hesiman,” Johnson said. “It’s well-deserved, but I did take it a little personal.”
Johnson was 21 of 27 for a career-high 393 yards, connected with five teammates for scores and didn’t throw an interception. He broke a MAC championship record with the five TD passes.The Northern Illinois (12-1) loss improves the chances of Baylor or Oregon getting an at-large bid to a BCS bowl game.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” Lynch said.
Lynch ran for 126 yards and two TDs to break his own single-season record for yards rushing by a quarterback in major college football, but didn’t take advantage of an opportunity to impress Heisman Trophy voters.He was 21 of 40 for 219 yards with a TD and two interceptions, including one in the fourth quarter that set up Johnson’s fifth TD that put Bowling Green up 40-20.After Lynch threw an incomplete pass to turn the ball over on downs on the ensuing drive, he was taunted by Falcons fans: “No more Heisman! No more Heisman!”
The senior said it was “unacceptable,” to throw two interceptions.
“I expect a lot of myself and I didn’t live up to my expectations,” Lynch said.
The Falcons (10-3) won the MAC title for the first time since 1992 — months after Johnson was born — and just three years after a 2-10 record put coach Dave Clawson’s job in jeopardy.The turnaround and impressive win against the Lynch-led Huskies will likely lead to bigger schools trying to lure Clawson away, a topic he refused to address when asked if he would coach Bowling Green again to close out his fifth season.
“There’s no comment on that,” he said.
Bowling Green’s Travis Greene had 133 yards rushing to give him 1,555 this year, surpassing the school’s single-season record set by Fred Durig in 1951, and his a 16-yard TD made it 47-20.Alex Bayer had seven receptions for 124 yards and a TD that gave the Falcons a 31-13 lead at halftime. Ronnie Moore caught four passes for 145 yards and a TD — all in the first quarter.
“We came into this game truly believing we were the better team and that we were going to win,” Clawson said.
Lynch was held to just 35 yards rushing in the first half and when forced to pass, he was often off the mark as he completed just half of his attempts by halftime. He seemed to throw one pass too high, but Juwan Brescacin leaped to snag the football with his left hand in the end zone to tie the game midway through the first quarter.Tyler Tate’s 25-yard field goal with 6:49 left in the first half put Bowling Green ahead for good.Lynch ran for a TD to pull the Huskies within 11 points early in the third quarter, but they couldn’t get closer.In the third, Lynch surpassed his yards rushing total from last season — 1,815 — and will have 1,881 yards rushing going into a lackluster bowl game. He and the Huskies lost for the first time since Jan. 1, 2013, when Florida State dominated them in the Orange Bowl.Instead of going back to a BCS game and helping the MAC get a big check to split among its schools, NIU might end up coming back to Detroit in a few weeks for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.The Falcons, though, don’t mind that their victory cost the athletic department a lot of money.
Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri scored in the shootout to help the Anaheim Ducks beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Friday night, sending the defending Stanley Cup champions to their third consecutive loss.Bonino matched Jonathan Toews’ goal in the first round of the tiebreaker, and Palmieri beat Antti Raanta with a backhand after Jonas Hiller stopped Patrick Sharp at the other end.Hiller then made another save on Patrick Kane to give Anaheim the win after it lost its previous two games in a shootout.Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf scored in regulation for the Ducks, and Hiller finished with 23 saves.The three-game losing streak for the Blackhawks is their worst regular-season stretch since February 2012.Raanta had 24 stops in his first home game. It was the first NHL shootout for the rookie, who won each of his first two starts. He looked as if he could have stopped Bonino’s attempt in the tiebreaker, but it trickled under him for the score.Ben Smith and Kris Versteeg scored for the Hawks, wh0 trailed 1-0 and 2-1, but rallied each time.It’s the first three-game losing streak for the Blackhawks during the regular season since February 2012. They also lost three in a row against Detroit in the playoffs last year, but managed to advance in seven games on their way to the title.Getzlaf snapped a 1-1 tie at 10:05 of the second, using a screen by Perry to send a slap shot through Raanta’s legs. Getzlaf’s 15th goal came with Johnny Oduya in the penalty box for closing his hand on the puck.Anaheim remained in front until Bryan Allen was sent off for boarding Toews. The Blackhawks made the most of the power-play opportunity, with Versteeg beating Hiller into the upper right corner with 2:12 to go in the second.Versteeg’s second goal since he was reacquired in a trade with Florida on Nov. 14 stopped a streak of 26 consecutive kills for the Ducks.Each team had ample opportunities to move in front in the third, but Hiller and Raanta took turns turning away prime chances. Hiller denied a streaking Sharp right in front of the goal, and Raanta grabbed a slap shot by Matt Beleskey.Hiller also made a terrific kick save on Toews about 35 seconds into overtime, and the Ducks had a potential winning goal waved off for goalie interference.Perry put Anaheim in front with some tough work in front of the Hawk goal in the first period. The 2011 NHL MVP lost his stick for a brief moment, but picked it up in time to tip Getzlaf’s shot by Raanta right as he was hit by Oduya.It was Perry’s team-best 17th goal of the season. Getzlaf leads Anaheim with 19 assists and has at least one point in each of his past 12 games.It was the third consecutive game that the Hawks had surrendered the first goal, but Smith had a quick response for the Blackhawks.Kane nudged the puck back near the right faceoff circle, and then got out of the way as Smith charged in and beat Hiller for his fourth goal just 45 seconds after Perry’s score.
NOTES—Michal Handzus returned to the ice after missing two games with an illness. C Andrew Shaw could return as soon as Sunday against Florida, while LW Bryan Bickell is expected to begin skating again in the next week. … Getzlaf missed three games last month with an upper-body injury, so the NHL counts his point streak as 10 games. … The Ducks scratched Fs Tim Jackman and Patrick Maroon and defenseman Alex Grant. … The Blackhawks’ charity organization launched an online raffle for a chance to win a 2013 Stanley Cup championship ring. The raffle runs through March 21.
ROSEMONT—Jahii Carson had 23 points and Jermaine Marshall added 18 points as Arizona State used a dominant second half to pull away for a 78-56 rout of DePaul on Friday night.Carson, a 5-10 guard, was 9-of-16 from the field and also had nine rebounds and five assists. Marshall was 7-of-12 from the field.Arizona State (8-2) had dropped two of its three previous games – losses to Creighton and Miami (Fla.) – after starting the season by winning six straight.The Sun Devils led by just three points at halftime (28-25) before taking control in the second half.Billy Garrett led DePaul with 14 points, but the Blue Demons struggled offensively throughout the game, going 19-of-65 for a season-low 29.2 percent.DePaul (4-4) was coming off its most impressive win of the season, a 93-81 victory over Oregon State last Sunday.DePaul was playing without point guard Brandon Young, who sat out because of an ankle injury. Young is the team’s assists leader and second-leading scorer (16.3 points) and the Blue Demons appeared unsettled without their leader early on.DePaul didn’t record its first field goal until nearly five minutes had expired when Garrett scored on a layup with 15:13 left in the first half.Arizona State, though, had its own offensive issues early. Although the Sun Devils led throughout the first half, they were never able to open a significant lead despite the fact DePaul made just 10 of 36 shots (27.8 percent), including 1-of-11 from three-point range.Cleveland Melvin, the Blue Demons’ leading scorer, was scoreless in the first half, missing all seven of his field-goal attempts.Still, Arizona State only led 28-25 at halftime.DePaul got off to another sluggish start in the second half, but this time the Sun Devils capitalized to take command. They scored the first four points of the half for a 34-25 advantage and a few minutes later stretched their advantage to double digits (45-34) for the first time on a basket by Shaquielle McKissic.Following a DePaul basket, the onslaught continued as ASU hit a three-pointer on its next three possessions – the first two by Marshall – to give it a 54-36 edge with 12:02 to play. The lead reached 20 points (56-36) on a basket by Eric Jacobsen on the next possession.The difference in the surge was shooting. The Sun Devils started knocking down shots with uncanny regularity, while the Blue Demons continued to struggle. With the score 61-41 with just under eight minutes left, ASU was 11-for-16 (68.8 percent) from the field in the second half (including 3-of-5 on three-pointers) and DePaul was 5-of-19 (26.3 percent).
The way everything was crumbling, the Bulls sure needed a reprieve. Knocking off the defending champions was a nice one. Carlos Boozer scored 27 points, and the Bulls pounded LeBron James and the Miami Heat 107-87 on Thursday night.Luol Deng had 20 points, Taj Gibson chipped in with 19, and Joakim Noah added 17 points and 15 rebounds as the Bulls had no trouble taking out the Southeast Division leaders. The Bulls took control early on and hung on down the stretch after watching a 25-point lead in the third quarter dwindle to 12 late in the game.It was an impressive showing by a team that had dropped six of seven and is once again trying to get by without the injured Derrick Rose.
“Our team needed it,” Noah said. “We went through a lot the past couple of weeks. It’s really hard to play without Derrick. I want to win with Derrick Rose.”
The Bulls shot 50 percent and were 10 for 19 on 3-pointers — four by Deng and three by Kirk Hinrich, who scored 13. They also outrebounded Miami 49-27. James scored 21 points for Miami, but the Heat shot a season low for the second straight game, converting 41.6 percent from the field after hitting 43.9 percent in Tuesday’s loss to Detroit.
“We can’t just brush this loss aside,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We have to really own it, to understand what happened. They just got whatever they wanted, right in the paint, at the rim and if they missed those, then they’re just beating us up at the glass.”
It didn’t help that Dwyane Wade stayed back at the hotel with an illness after sitting out the previous game because of knee soreness.Chris Andersen missed this one for personal reasons, but the Heat will get no sympathy from the Bulls. After all, they lost Rose to a torn meniscus in his right knee in a game at Portland on Nov. 22, and although the former MVP left the door slightly open for a playoff return earlier in the day, the team has ruled him out for the rest of the season.
“We really got snake-bitten,” Gibson said. “When that happened to Derrick, that was really like, `Wow.’ We’re a family in here. When that stuff kind of happens, it was just … tough. We were on the road, odds were against us.”
And as if that six-game trip wasn’t difficult enough, there was a triple-overtime loss to New Orleans on Monday in their first game back at the United Center.The Bulls did just fine on Thursday, although things got a little tight down the stretch. Miami cut it to 93-81 on Norris Cole’s runner with 5:38 remaining. But Gibson answered with a jumper and blocked a layup by Udonis Haslem.Deng made a 3 with just under four minutes left to make it 98-81, and the Bulls hung on from there.Before that, the only tension came early in the third quarter when Hinrich took a shot to the neck from Cole away from the ball. The result was an angry exchange, a flagrant foul one for Cole and a technical for Hinrich. The Bulls’ guard hit both free throws after James missed a foul shot, making it 67-45. Boozer led a scorching start by his team, scoring 19 points as the Bulls built a 58-44 halftime lead. But in the end, it was the Bulls’ rebounding and defense that had the Heat shaking their heads.
“We’ve never been a great rebounding team but we’ve been able to overcome that,” James said. “Teams have done a much better job of rebounding against us. It could be an effort thing, it could be a lot of things but we just got to go out and just go get them.
I’m going to do a better job of that, get more rebounds. But it’s a group thing for a team. We don’t have a Kevin Love or Joakim Noah or Dwight Howard, those types of guys who can get you 15-plus, we have to do it as a collective group.”
NOTES—There was a moment of silence before the game to honor Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95. … This was the Bulls’ most lopsided win over the Heat since a 126-96 blowout at Miami on Jan. 16, 2008.
ST. PAUL—Last spring, the Blackhawks disposed of the Minnesota Wild in five games of the first-round playoff series on their way to the Stanley Cup championship.With the Blackhawks now a Central Division rival in the realigned NHL, the Wild have their hands full. But they’ve clearly closed the gap.Marco Scandella’s slap shot with 1:48 left, the defenseman’s first goal this season, lifted the Wild to a 4-3 victory against the Blackhawks on Thursday.
“Against a team like Chicago, coming back, it feels good,” Scandella said. “It’s a great feeling in the room right now. We battled all game. We stuck with it, which is the important thing.”
The Wild have won two of three meetings with the Blackhawks this season.
“Anytime you beat a team like that, it’s important. Everybody knows how good they are,” star Zach Parise said. “For us, it’s been a tough stretch for us where some games we haven’t played as well as we need to, but I thought we played a lot better tonight.”
Jonas Brodin scored on a power play with 5:39 remaining to tie the game for the Wild, who raised their home record to 12-3-2 and handed the Blackhawks their first loss in their past seven road games.With Charlie Coyle partially screening Corey Crawford at the edge of the crease, Brodin wound up and sent the puck ricocheting off Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya and past the goalie’s outstretched glove.Crawford made 19 saves.
“He’s got to be better,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
After nearly taking a 2-0 lead into the second intermission, the Wild suddenly trailed 3-2 after a forceful Blackhawks comeback. The first two of the Hawks four shots on goal in the third period got past Minnesota goalie Josh Harding, first by Brandon Saad and then by Marian Hossa.The Blackhawks had a season-low 19 shots.
“That’s a hungry team, and they play smart defensively. They’re tough to create offensive chances against,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said.
Harding stopped 16 shots and improved to 7-3 in his career against the Blackhawks, who entered the night with an NHL-high 44 points. He’s 12-1 at home this season.The Wild went six consecutive games without a first-period goal until Matt Cooke snapped a shot past Crawford. Parise’s score on a power play, the first by the Wild in seven games, in gave them a 2-0 lead they had until 16.6 seconds were left before the end of the second period.Joakim Nordstrom deflected the puck behind him through the slot, where Jeremy Morin arrived to reach forward and guide the puck in one motion past Harding, who was coming off a 2-0 shutout of Philadelphia on Monday night. Morin and Nordstrom were both recalled on Wednesday from Rockford of the AHL.Then only 43 seconds into the third period, Saad checked Ryan Suter off the puck, took control and snapped a shot into the top right corner of the net to tie the game.Less than 6 minutes later, Hossa got loose down low on a power play and sneaked a wrist shot over Harding’s shoulder for the lead.After their six-game winning streak on the road, the Blackhawks returned home on Tuesday and lost to Dallas 4-3 despite 50 shots on goal.This was quite the contrast in offensive opportunity.
“Six minutes to go with a one-goal lead, generally that’s our bread and butter. Tonight we didn’t get it done,” Quenneville said, adding: “We had the momentum, but it was one of those games where the momentum turned quickly in their favor. We’re still tied. Let’s get it to overtime and see what happens, but they got the break and we got nothing.”
The Blackhawks were lamenting those two penalties they failed to kill.
“Like the last game, we thought we had control and let it slip. It’s frustrating to give up points like we have the last couple games,” Toews said. “It’s pretty simple. We need to be better.”
NOTES—Morin and Nordstrom were brought up for depth at forward. Andrew Shaw missed his first game due to an upper-body injury suffered on Tuesday night, and Michael Handzus missed his second successive game because of an illness.