National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

US GM: No sight in right eye after hit by puck

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) David Poile may not see again out of his right eye after taking a puck to the face. That's not stopping the general manager of the U.S. hockey team and the Nashville Predators as he returns to work.

"I'm not trying to be a hero or anything else," Poile said Thursday. "This is not a good situation. It is difficult but I have to, and want to, move on. . There's different adjustments that (I'm) going to have to make, but there's lots of people that have lost an eye and they're operating very well and I have to be one of them."

Poile wore an eye patch as he spoke with reporters Thursday in his first public comments since being hit Feb. 6 during a pregame skate in Minnesota. The puck broke his nose in three places and cracked the orbital bone above and below his right eye. Poile said that required 40 stitches above the eye with stitches in the eye itself with three surgeries, the last Feb. 14 in Nashville.

The general manager also said he was on the bench when hit by the puck.

"I was clearly at the wrong place at the wrong time," Poile said. "I don't like going on the bench. I hardly ever go on the bench, and I sort of always stay down in the hallway just because of situations like that. As we say in hockey, it was a seeing-eye puck."

Poile plans to get glasses to provide protection for his right eye and said he didn't listen specifically to all the details of the injury. He joked that doctors even improved his nose in treating him.

"All I know is there's substantial damage such to the point that I don't have any sight today and ... they're holding out hope that maybe something will change as the eye heals," Poile said.

The injury prevented Poile from attending the Sochi Olympics, so he has been talking to assistant general manager Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma daily. Poile said 90 percent of the work as general manager was done before everyone headed to Sochi, so he finds himself now disappointed at not being in Russia as he serves as a long-distance cheerleader.

Poile said he couldn't be prouder of what has happened so far.

"Clearly, to this point USA is the best team," Poile said. "I mean all the things that we did to put the team to this point have come to fruition. I couldn't ask for a better scenario playing Canada tomorrow in the, I wish it was the gold medal game. It feels like it's the gold medal game, but you know from four years ago to get back to that same point I mean you ask, pray for those opportunities to be given second chances."

Poile was assistant general manager for the U.S. team that lost the gold medal to Canada in overtime in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

His travel also will be limited for the next few weeks. The Predators have a five-game home stand after the Olympic break ends, but Poile likely will miss their first road trip March 10 when they play at Ottawa, then Buffalo and Chicago.

The NHL trade deadline is March 5. Poile said Nashville's biggest move could be the return of goaltender Pekka Rinne. The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist returned to the ice Wednesday, though there's no timeline yet as Rinne returns from an infection in his hip that needed surgery and has sidelined him since late October.

"I can't think of anybody that's going to be able to add something better than that to their team," Poile said of Rinne.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

Hamlin, Kenseth win Daytona 500 qualifying races

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) It's been 21 years since Joe Gibbs Racing celebrated its only Daytona 500 victory.

Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth have the team in good position to end the drought.

The JGR drivers swept the Daytona 500 qualifying races Thursday night. For Kenseth, it was redemption after a pair of wrecks during Speedweeks. Hamlin's victory kept him undefeated on 2014.

Hamlin also won last Saturday's exhibition Sprint Unlimited, and he goes into Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 trying to become the first driver in history to sweep Speedweeks.

"Once that snowball starts to roll, it's hard to stop it, and right now we're just on a heck of a run," said Hamlin, who closed last year with a win in the season finale.

After going so many years without winning a second Daytona 500, team owner Joe Gibbs wasn't looking ahead. His only win was with Dale Jarrett in 1993.

"We've come with great cars over the years. It shows you what a tough race this is, the 500," he said. "This race is extremely, extremely hard to win. That probably says it the best. That says it the best, over 21 years, that's a bunch."

JGR had strong cars last season and seemed to be the team to beat during the race, but came up empty when Kenseth's engine failed while leading. Minutes later, teammate Kyle Busch's engine also failed. Toyota is still looking for its first win in the "Great American Race."

"The last Daytona was so far away, we've moved well beyond that," said Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson. "We're certainly not sweating the issues we had last year."

The qualifying races make for an emotional day as drivers race their way into the Daytona 500, while others are sent home from the biggest event of the NASCAR season.

Those left broken-hearted this year were Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, Ryan Truex, Eric McClure and Morgan Shepherd, who at 72 was trying to become the oldest driver in the field. Dave Blaney withdrew from the qualifying race after wrecking his only car in Wednesday's practice.

But it was euphoria for the small teams of Swan Racing, which got both Cole Whitt and Parker Kligerman in the race a day after both drivers wrecked in practice, and Hillman Racing, which will be in the Daytona 500 with Landon Cassill, who was hit by a car Saturday while riding his bike in Daytona.

"I've been stressed out about this since July," Cassill said. "I think I've played this race over in my head, what I think it could do, for months now. For a small team, this race kind of makes our whole season, just the prize money alone to start on Sunday gets us through the next six or seven weeks. It's just huge for us."

For Swan Racing, getting rookies Whitt and Kligerman into the field erased the nightmare of Wednesday.

Whitt wrecked moments into practice, and the team was forced to rebuild his car after Kligerman's was totaled when he went airborne. It was the first time Kligerman was ever upside down. Because Swan has only one backup, Kligerman got it, and the team went to work rebuilding Whitt's car.

Whitt raced his way in, but Kligerman faded in the first race and had to nervously watch the second race unfold to see if he earned a spot in the Daytona 500.

"I feel like in a lot of ways, you have the weight of an organization on your shoulders to get these two cars in the race," Kligerman said. "It's a growing organization, an organization that wants to be around for a long time to come."

But the second race ended in chaos, making everyone unsure of anything as defending Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas on the final lap to trigger a crash that caused Clint Bowyer's car to flip.

"I knew he was saving gas coming to the green. It's too bad to tear cars up like that," Bowyer said. "That was one of the wildest flips I've ever had. I think we would have been just fine if I hadn't hit the grass right here."

Johnson was apologetic.

"I feel terrible. To tear up that many race cars ... to see (Bowyer) flip ... certainly want to apologize to everyone," he said. "I tried to get up out of the way. So much energy in the pack that I knew I was going to get run over if I ran out because guys warned me about it - and it did."

The first race was uneventful as Kenseth led two times for 31 of the 60 laps. Harvick pulled out on the final lap to make his bid for the victory. Then Kasey Kahne pulled out of line to make it three-wide.

After the race, Harvick was informed while sitting in the Fox Sports 1 studio as an analyst for the second race that his Chevrolet, sponsored by Budweiser, had failed post-race inspection for the first Budweiser Duel.

"Yeah, well, well, that's no good," Harvick said.

North Carolina rallies to beat No. 5 Duke 74-66

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Marcus Paige scored all 13 of his points in the second half, including two big baskets in the final 2 1/2 minutes, to help North Carolina beat No. 5 Duke 74-66 on Thursday night in the rivalry's weather-delayed game.

Senior Leslie McDonald added a season-high 21 points for the Tar Heels (19-7, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who rallied from 11 down in the second half to snap a two-game home losing streak to the Blue Devils (21-6, 10-4).

It was North Carolina's eighth straight win and by far its most impressive during the run that has helped the Tar Heels dig out from an 0-3 ACC start.

When it was over, UNC students and fans stormed to midcourt to celebrate a win that was came eight days later than they had hoped due to a winter storm that forced the game's postponement last week.

Two men sentenced in brutal attack on Giants fan

LOS ANGELES -- An angry judge lashed out Thursday as he sentenced two men who pleaded guilty in the savage beating of an avid San Francisco Giants fan at Dodger Stadium, calling them cowards and a nightmare for people who go to games.

Judge George Lomeli also called out defendant Louie Sanchez for smirking during the hearing on the 2011 beating that left 45-year-old victim Bryan Stow brain damaged and permanently disabled, requiring 24-hour-a-day care.

"You are the biggest nightmare for people who attend public events," Lomeli said as he faced Sanchez and co-defendant Marvin Norwood across a courtroom crowded with media and members of Stow's family who wept and denounced the two men.

Lomeli told them, "You not only ruined the life of Mr. Stow (but) his children, his family, his friends."

Sanchez, 31, acknowledging he kicked and punched Stow, pleaded guilty to one count of mayhem and was sentenced to eight years in prison with credit for 1,086 days.

Norwood pleaded guilty to one count of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and was sentenced to four years. His credit for time already in custody appeared to account for at least the majority of that term.

Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee said Norwood could be released immediately. However, they still face federal weapons possession charges that could send them to federal prison for another 10 years.

The men were sentenced after Stow's family addressed the court. His sisters wept.

David Stow, the victim's father, placed a Giants ball cap on a podium before he spoke.

"The years you spend in prison is what you cretins deserve," he said as Sanchez smirked at him.

The victim's sister, Bonnie Stow, described her brother's anguished life.

"We shower him, we dress him, we fix his meals," she said. "We make sure he gets his 13 medications throughout the day. He takes two different anti-seizure medications to prevent the seizures he endured for months after you brutally and cowardly attacked him."

The beating shocked sports fans everywhere and drew attention to the problem of fan violence at sports events.

Both teams issued brief statements after the sentencing.

"We are pleased that the culpable parties have finally accepted responsibility for their actions and have been sentenced for their crimes," the Dodgers said. The team did not comment further, citing a pending civil suit over the attack.

Giants' spokeswoman Shana Daum said, "We continue to support Bryan and his family and hope that this development will help the Stows as they move forward from this tragic event."

Stow, a paramedic from Santa Cruz, was nearly beaten to death in a parking lot after attending the 2011 opening day game between the fierce rivals The attack prompted public outrage and led to increased security at Dodgers' games. A civil suit by Stow is pending against the Dodgers organization and former owner Frank McCourt.

Outside court, Hanisee said prosecutors had obtained sentences close to the maximum possible if the defendants had been convicted at a trial. She said there were insufficient facts to justify a more severe charge of attempted murder.

Sanchez and Norwood were arrested after a lengthy manhunt and acknowledged their involvement during a series of secretly recorded jailhouse conversations.

Norwood was recorded telling his mother by phone that he was involved and saying, "I will certainly go down for it."

The words the two men spoke in a jail lockup, unaware they were being recorded, were played at a previous preliminary hearing as they were ordered to stand trial on charges of mayhem and assault and battery.

Sanchez acknowledged he attacked a Giants fan, and Norwood said he had no regrets about backing him up.

Witnesses testified about the parking lot confrontation, saying Stow was jumped from behind and his head crashed to the pavement. While he was on the ground, Sanchez kicked him in the head three times, they said.

Last spring, Stow returned home after two years in rehabilitation centers and hospitals.

James leads Heat past Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) LeBron James scored 33 points before leaving in the fourth quarter with a bloody nose and the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-81 on Thursday night.

James went down with 5:50 remaining after he was struck by Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka on a drive to the basket. James finished the dunk, but was bloodied and left the court with a towel over his face.

Dwyane Wade had 24 points and 10 assists and Chris Bosh added 24 points for Miami, which won its fourth straight and avenged an earlier loss to Oklahoma City.

Kevin Durant scored 28 points for Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook, who had missed the previous 27 games after having a surgery on his right knee, started and scored 16 points.

Oklahoma City lost at home for the first time since Jan. 5.

The Thunder overcame an early 18-point deficit on Jan. 29 to roll past the Heat 112-95 in Miami, and the home fans hoped for a regular-season sweep against the team that beat Oklahoma City in the 2012 NBA Finals.

The crowd erupted as Westbrook was introduced as a starter. His first minute of action was furious and had the crowd on its feet. His first basket was a two-handed, fast-break dunk 37 seconds into the game, and he got a steal 17 seconds later.

The excitement quickly evaporated. James scored 10 points in the first 3:11 on 5-for-5 shooting and Miami made 13 of its first 14 shots to take a 28-13 lead. James scored 16 points to help the Heat lead 34-17 at the end of the first quarter.

The Heat extended their lead to 19 points in the second quarter before the Thunder rallied behind Westbrook. He scored nine points in the final 1:55 of the first half, including a dunk in the closing seconds, to trim Miami's lead to 54-47 at the break.

Miami took control early in the third quarter. James scored six points during a 10-0 run that helped the Heat take a 64-49 lead. The Heat extended their lead to 75-53 on a 3-pointer by James with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.

Durant scored seven points in the final 2:46 of the quarter to trim Miami's edge to 76-65 heading into the fourth quarter.

Miami reasserted itself in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Bosh hit a 3-pointer to bump the Heat's lead back up to 19 with just under 10 minutes to go.

NOTES: Thunder G Reggie Jackson, who started while Westbrook was out, entered the game in the first quarter as a reserve. ... Durant scored just two points on 1-for-5 shooting in the first quarter. ... Miami shot 76 percent in the first quarter but made just 7 of 17 shots in the second and was outscored 30-20. ... Perkins left the game in the third quarter with a left groin strain and did not return.

Pacers trade Granger to 76ers for Turner

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indiana Pacers pulled off one more bold move before Thursday's trading deadline.

Less than three weeks after signing Andrew Bynum, Indiana sent Danny Granger and a 2015 second-round draft pick to Philadelphia in exchange for former first-round pick Evan Turner and forward Lavoy Allen.

The teams confirmed the deal late Thursday after the NBA's league office approved it. The draft pick originally belonged to Golden State.

Yahoo! Sports first reported the trade.

Indiana now adds two young forwards - players who could help them as they attempt to dethrone two-time defending NBA champion Miami and finally win their first NBA title. But they had to give up Granger, a fan favorite who was once considered the face of the franchise.

"We thank Danny for his 8 1/2 seasons with us and we appreciate everything he did for us in his time here," president of basketball operations Larry Bird said in a statement. "We felt we needed to make this trade to strengthen the core unit and our bench. In Evan and Lavoy, we think we got two really good players that can help us and we look forward to what they can bring."

What the rebuilding 76ers are getting is 30-year-old forward who missed all but five games last season with a knee injury and almost the first two months of this season with a strained left calf. Granger, who led Indiana in scoring for the five straight seasons before his knee injury, also has an expiring contract, and Philadelphia will get another pick in a draft many believe will be rife with talent.

The trade also could help teams on both ends of the NBA's spectrum.

Indiana has now picked up three former 76ers this month - Bynum, Turner and Allen - in an effort to add more scoring punch for their expected playoff showdown with Miami. The Pacers already have the best record in the East (41-13) and lead the Heat by two games in the chase for home-court advantage.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, went into Thursday with the second-worst record in the league at 15-40 and now appears poised to make a run at surpassing Milwaukee for the worst mark in the NBA.

In a flurry of moves, the 76ers picked up a handful of draft picks, a few veterans and lost two of their top four scorers.

Turner, a 6-foot-7 guard, was the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2010 after winning college basketball's player of the year award. He was averaging a team-high 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists and could become a free agent after this season. He has averaged of 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in 3 1/2 NBA seasons.

Granger was averaging 8.3 points since returning from a strained left calf in mid-December, but he has career averages of 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He played in the 2009 All-Star Game and was voted the league's Most Improved Player in 2008-09.

The 76ers also sent Spencer Hawes, their top rebounder, to Cleveland earlier in the day. He was averaging 13.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in the final year of his contract.

But Philadelphia certainly loaded up on second-round picks.

In addition to getting Indiana's choice, the 76ers also acquired two second-round picks, forward Earl Clark and center Henry Sims in the deal with Cleveland and added guard Eric Maynor from Washington in a three-way deal that netted a 2016 second-round pick from Denver and a 2015- second-round pick from New Orleans.

And the usually cost-conscious Pacers now look like they are loading up on big bodies for the playoffs.

They've added the 7-foot Bynum, a former All-Star who missed all of last season in Philly because of knee injuries. This season, he signed with Cleveland as a free agent before getting traded to Chicago and then released. Indiana signed Bynum on Feb. 1 and though he has not played, coach Frank Vogel said he didn't expect Bynum to play for a few weeks.

Allen, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward, was averaging 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds with Philadelphia.

To clear room on the roster, Indiana waived Orlando Johnson, a second-year guard they obtained in a draft night trade in 2012.

"Orlando is a great kid," said Bird. "We appreciate everything he's done for us and hope he has a long and successful career."

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AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia also contributed to this report.

Braves reach 7-year, $58 million deal with Simmons

ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Braves and shortstop Andrelton Simmons agreed on a $58 million, seven-year contract on Thursday, a record deal for the latest young star locked up by the NL East champions.

The deal, which runs through the 2020 season, is the largest ever awarded to a player subject to American draft rules with less than two years of service time. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo signed a $41 million, seven-year contract last May.

Simmons, 24, showed power potential in 2013, when he hit 17 home runs, but he earned the big contract with his defense. He won his first Gold Glove award in 2013, when he led the major leagues with 499 assists.

"We feel that Andrelton is one of the premier shortstops in the game today, and we are happy that we were able to agree on this multiyear contract," general manager Frank Wren said in a statement released by the team.

The Braves this month also reached multiyear agreements with first baseman Freddie Freeman, outfielder Jason Heyward, closer Craig Kimbrel and right-hander Julio Teheran, committing $280.7 million to the rising stars, including Simmons.

Simmons hit .248 and drove in 59 runs last season. He earned the new contract after playing in only 206 career games.

Simmons received a $1 million signing bonus and will earn $1 million this season. He will earn $3 million in 2015, $6 million in 2016, $8 million in 2017, $11 million in 2018, $13 million in 2019 and $15 million in 2020.

It has been a busy month for the Braves and Wren.

On Sunday, the team agreed to a $42 million, four-year contract with Kimbrel, 25, the All-Star closer. That came two days after the 23-year-old Teheran agreed to terms on a six-year, $32.4 million deal.

Earlier this month, the Braves announced multiyear deals with a pair of 24-year-old hitters - Freeman and Heyward.

Freeman, the All-Star first baseman, agreed to the biggest contract in Braves history - $135 million for eight years.

Of all the new deals, only Heyward's is for fewer than four years. Heyward, the outfielder who won his first Gold Glove in 2012, signed for two years and $13.3 million.

Even management has been included in the wave of new deals. Manager Fredi Gonzalez and Wren also have been given contract extensions.

Simmons ranks with Freeman, Kimbrel, Teheran, Heyward, Justin Upton, left-hander Mike Minor and others as the foundation for the Braves' future. Chipper Jones retired after the 2012 season, and Tim Hudson and catcher Brian McCann departed as free agents after last season, leaving the team that won 96 games last year with a young roster.

Simmons hit only .216 against left-handers last season, and he hit only .219 in 283 at-bats as a leadoff hitter. The team took off when Heyward was moved to the leadoff spot, and Simmons was more productive in other spots in the lineup.

US skater Wagner plans to compete in four years

SOCHI, Russia -- Ashley Wagner marvels at how far coach Rafael Arutyunyan has pushed her in the past month. She can only imagine what she might accomplish in four years.

The two-time U.S. figure skating champion plans to keep competing through the 2018 Olympics, when she would be 26. Wagner finished seventh at the Sochi Olympics after a nearly clean free skate Thursday, celebrating with a swinging fist pump.

"I think I'm starting to lay the groundwork for myself to be one of the top competitors over the next four years," Wagner said.

Her two teenage teammates, Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds, fell in their programs Thursday, but had encouraging performances in their Olympic debuts. For now, the state of American figure skating is such that auspicious showings have replaced winning medals. This was the first time the U.S. women failed to make the podium in back-to-back Winter Games.

The 18-year-old Gold was fourth, though more than 11 points out of the bronze medal position; Edmunds, 15, placed ninth in her first international competition at the senior level. Still, in a sport where the new gold medalist, Russia's Adelina Sotnikova, is 17, there are no guarantees that promising young skaters will mature into champions.

At the last Olympics in Vancouver, another American teen, Mirai Nagasu, took fourth. But Nagasu, only 16 at the time, has mostly struggled since, and she failed to make the team for Sochi.

It was Wagner who knocked her off the 2014 squad after Nagasu finished third at nationals last month. U.S. Figure Skating officials chose Wagner because of her strong performances over the previous year, even though she fell twice in her free skate in Boston to place fourth.

Wagner validated that decision in Sochi with solid short programs in the team event, helping the Americans win bronze, and the individual competition. She thought her scores could have been higher, but these games were about proving to herself she could hold up under pressure.

In the four weeks between nationals and the Olympics, she and Arutyunyan overhauled her free skate, and he pushed her past her previous limits in workouts. The two have been working together for just six months.

"I think I have come from a bawling, scared 22-year old girl to a tough, proud, happy woman coming home to the U.S. with a medal and three clean performances," Wagner said.

When she spent a restless night in Boston fearing she had blown her chance at the Olympics, Wagner promised herself she'd stick around for another four years if she narrowly missed out, just as she did in 2010. Telling that story after she was picked for the team, Wagner made it sound like a reluctant decision. But once she landed in Sochi, Wagner said Thursday, she realized she wanted to skate at the Pyeongchang Games.

Of Thursday's three medalists, only Sotnikova is likely to still be competing in 2018.

"It's a changing of the guard now, and I want to be there," Wagner said.

Gold and Edmunds certainly plan to be there, too. Both fell on a triple flip Thursday, but looked poised in their performances in Sochi.

"I definitely have two Olympics in me," said Gold, the reigning U.S. champ.

At least she had the experience of competing at last year's world championships. Edmunds had never competed internationally above the junior level before Wednesday.

"The judges haven't really seen me skate for years like some of the other competitors," she said. "I knew that the only thing I could do is skate a great program and show them what I could do for future competitions to come."

SOCHI: Bowman wins halfpipe gold as Canadian skier is remembered

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Sarah Burke's parents looked up the hill and saw the halfpipe workers making one last trip down in the formation of a heart.

They looked the other direction and saw the scoreboard: Maddie Bowman of the United States won gold, Marie Martinod of France took silver and Ayana Onozuka of Japan took bronze.

All around them Thursday, Burke's parents saw their late daughter's dreams play out on a crisp, clear night in the mountains above Sochi -- a night her dad, Gord Burke, called "perfect." His daughter had succeeded not only in bringing women's halfpipe skiing to the Olympics, but also to the world.

"Far beyond what I thought it would be," said Gord Burke, who traveled to Russia from Toronto and spent the entire night smiling. "I never really imagined so much love for one person. So much passion and energy."

Burke was the Canadian freeskiing icon -- a four-time winner of the Winter X Games -- who fought hard, first to get women involved in her sport, then to take it to the highest level.

"If she wasn't skiing in the pipe, progressing the sport, she was talking to the right people and sending the right emails," said Burke's husband, Rory Bushfield. "Gracefully is how she did it."

The International Olympic Committee added halfpipe and slopestyle skiing to the program in 2011. Less than a year later, Burke died after suffering fatal injuries during a training run in the halfpipe. She was 29 and would have almost certainly been the favorite in this event had she been here.

This was still her night, and none of the 23 skiers who dropped into the pipe could argue with that.

Including the gold-medal winner, Bowman. The 20-year-old from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., felt like an outsider when she started in the sport and called meeting Burke "the coolest moment of my life."

"The first time she met Sarah, she was off by herself," said Bowman's mom, Susan. "Sarah saw that she was by herself and brought her over, introduced herself and brought her into the group. It was pretty amazing."

The silver medalist, Martinod, quit the sport seven years ago. She had a daughter, Melirose, and worked at a nightclub back home in France. One day about three years ago, Burke came knocking on her door, telling her she needed to un-retire, because the show was going to the Olympics and she wanted to make sure all the best women were there.

"I'm thinking of Sarah every day," said the 29-year-old Frenchwoman, who painted snowflakes on her fingernails to match the tattoo Burke had on her foot. "I think I didn't say goodbye to Sarah yet and I still have to do it, and now I feel I'm able to do it because I did what she asked me to do."

The bronze medalist, Onozuka, was an Alpine skier before Burke helped get her version of freestyle skiing into the Olympics. That opened up opportunities in Japan, which has won three medals in the halfpipe at the Sochi Games -- the other two came in men's snowboarding.

"I decided to take up a new profession," Onozuka said.

Burke's mom, Jan Phelan, wore a bright purple jacket over an aqua T-shirt that said "Dream Without Fear" -- a credo the family uses to promote the Sarah Burke Foundation, which funds winter sports athletes who need a boost.

For a while now, Bushfield, Phelan and Gord Burke have known this trip was coming. They didn't hesitate to make it.

"It was Sarah's dream to be here, so, we're here," Phelan said. "The halfpipe is opening for the women and I miss her like crazy. It really hasn't been too hard until right now. The moment."

Burke's father spent the contest shifting attention between the action in the halfpipe to the people who came to meet him and shake his hand. He shared stories, including a few about the early days, when his daughter would head to men-only contests and ask, politely, if she could sign up.

"They'd say, `We'd love to have you but we can't give you a girl's event if there are no girls," Burke said. "So, she'd ski against the guys. Then, she'd be out there encouraging her friends to get involved. She just had that dream that the girls could have fun out there, too."

They had fun Thursday night. Bowman was the star.

Her runs were technically precise and high flying. The winning score of 89 came thanks to one straight-air jump more than 10 feet above the halfpipe, followed by a pair of 900-degree spins, along with two 720-degree spins, one of which she landed backward.

But the most winning moment may have come a few minutes after her first run, when one of Bowman's main competitors, American Brita Sigourney, fell hard and scraped her face on the bottom of the pipe, leaving a nasty gash in her nose. Sigourney's coaches and medical staff rushed out to help her. Rushing up right behind them in her ski boots was the woman wearing bib No. 2 -- Bowman.

"I think all the girls came out here and showed the world who we are and what we do," she said. "I think everyone should be proud of that tonight."

Long after Bowman had sealed her win and the music and the fanfare had ebbed, Burke's parents lingered in the stands, going over the evening.

The consensus: A beautiful night.

"The spirit here was so good," Phelan said. "Sarah would've loved it."

SOCHI: Russian Sotnikova wins gold in women's figure skating

SOCHI, Russia -- Russia's cupboard was so bare of world-class female figure skaters that the sport's most dominant nation had to turn to the kids a few years ago.

Among those youngsters was Adelina Sotnikova, who won a national championship in 2009, when she was just 12.

She was too young to compete at the 2010 Olympics. When she finally got to the games this year, she was overshadowed by an even younger teammate. But on Thursday night, the 17-year-old Sotnikova looked comfortable and unburdened by the pressure of the host nation, becoming Russia's first gold medalist in women's Olympic figure skating.

In the signature moment of the games for Russians, Sotnikova defeated defending champion Yuna Kim of South Korea. Both women skated nearly flawless programs, but Sotnikova completed one more decisive triple jump.

"I first dreamed to be at the Olympics after the nationals in 2010," Sotnikova said. "And when I watched the games in Vancouver, I really wanted to qualify for the next games. I knew it won't be easy. There are so many new talented girls around."

Well, not really in Russia. Not until Sotnikova and 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia developed into junior world champions.

And while much-heralded Lipnitskaia was stumbling in Sochi, Sotnikova soared. When she won the free skate, she further confirmed Russian command of the sport.

"This is the happiest day in my life," Sotnikova said. "I simply stepped on the ice today and realized how much I like what I'm doing and skated really good."

The Russians have won three figure skating gold medals at these Olympics: women's, pairs and team.

Sotnikova did not skate in the team event, and that provided incentive for her in the individual competition.

"When I found out that I was not in the team, it was hurtful. I felt ugly inside," she said. "Maybe it is all for the best -- an advantage for me to make me so mad."

Sotnikova was considered a long shot against the likes of Kim, who announced her retirement after the free skate; Italy's Carolina Kostner, who took bronze; Japan's Mao Asada; and even Americans Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner.

But she won it all, giving Russia or the Soviet Union 27 Olympic gold medals in the sport. They own five men's golds, 13 in pairs, seven in ice dance, and took the first team event this year.

Sotnikova was watching the scores on a monitor in the media area when she realized she won. She ran waving her arms in the air before finding her coach for a warm hug. When she got onto the podium for the flower ceremony, to raucous chants of "Ro-ssi-ya," she jumped up and down like a teenager whose Olympic goal had come true.

"It's the Olympics. And it was a long way for me," she said. "To compete at the Olympic Games, I dreamed of any medal, but frankly speaking, I wanted a gold one."

Lipnitskaia was fifth.

"I wanted to skate my best today but it didn't work," she said. "I've lost control over my jumps- tiredness and emotions."

Asada was third in the free skate after finishing 16th in Wednesday's short program and wound up sixth.

Sotnikova trailed Kim by just .28 going into Thursday, and she overcame that by winning the free skate 149.95 to Kim's 144.19. The final totals were 224.59 for Sotnikova, 219.11 for Kim and 216.73 for Kostner.

Skating last, Kim needed a repeat of her Vancouver performance to hold onto the gold. She nailed six triple jumps, one less than Sotnikova, and Kim's artistry couldn't make up the difference.

"At that time I could die for gold in the Olympics," she said of 2010. "But that desire, that strong wish, was not as present. The motivation was a problem, I think."

Gold finished fourth, Wagner seventh and 15-year-old American Polina Edmunds ninth.

Wagner didn't complain about her score, but criticized a scoring system that invites skepticism. Nine judges score each skater, and the individual judges' scorecards are not released.

"People do not want to watch a sport where they see someone skate lights out and they can't depend on that person to be the one who pulls through," Wagner said. "We've all been on the receiving end of it, and we've all been on the side where you don't really get the benefit of the doubt. People need to be held accountable.

"They need to get rid of the anonymous judging."

Kostner, 27, skated to the sport's iconic musical piece "Bolero." From beginning to end, she owned the music -- and by the finish, she owned much of the crowd, too.

She patted her heart when she was done, and her 142.61 was a season's best.

"This medal is absolutely worth gold," said the first Italian to win an Olympic figure skating singles medal. "I will cherish it in my heart. It feels so great that patience and sacrifice and hard work and faith are paid at the end."

Sotnikova, whose interpretation marks surpassed Kostner's but not Kim's, skated a routine filled with action and pace, and she hit seven triple jumps. There wasn't much interaction with the music, but the energy sold the program.

That left only Kim with a shot at gold. She couldn't match the feat of Katarina Witt or Sonja Henie, who both won back-to-back Olympic titles.

To chants of "Jul-i-a, Jul-i-a," Lipnitskaia took the ice first in the last group, knowing her chances to win were ruined with a fall in the short program. Again she struggled in the second half of her routine, stepping out of one jump and falling on another. She showed little emotion when she finished, in direct contrast to when she helped Russia win the team gold.

With a slight frown, she left the ice, waved weakly to the crowd from the kiss-and-cry area, and wound up fifth, far below expectations.

But Sotnikova made up for it for Russia.

SOCHI: Canada women stun US women, take hockey gold

SOCHI, Russia -- The puck skittered the length of the ice on its way toward the empty Canadian net before clanging off the post and stopping in front of the crease.

It was -- for a few more seconds, at least -- still a one-goal game.

Then Marie-Philip Poulin scored with 54.6 seconds left in regulation, completing Canada's comeback from a two-goal deficit and sending the game into overtime. Once there, she added the gold medal-winning goal to beat the United States 3-2 -- the fourth consecutive Olympic women's hockey title for the sport's birthplace.

"I think it always gets better, for sure," Poulin, who also scored twice in the Vancouver final four years ago, said Thursday night with her second gold medal draped around her neck. "It's so hard to get here and to bring it back (home) is amazing."

Shannon Szabados made 27 saves for Canada, which has won 20 straight Olympic games since the Nagano final in 1998. That was the only gold medal for the United States, which lost in the Olympic final to Canada in all three tries since then and earned a bronze in 2006.

Meghan Duggan and Alex Carpenter scored for the Americans. Jesse Vetter made 28 saves, shutting the powerful Canadians down for 56 minutes, 34 seconds before Brianne Jenner knocked a seemingly harmless shot off a defender's knee and into the net.

With Szabados pulled for an extra skater, U.S. forward Kelli Stack sent a clearing shot down the ice, missing a potential game-clinching empty-net goal by inches.

Even after insisting her confidence never wavered, Canada defenseman Jocelyne Larocque's eyes grew wide when asked about the near clincher.

"I was freaked out at that point," she said. "It hit the post and I went, `You know, it happened for a reason. We're going to get that goal."

Stack said she could see the puck had the wrong angle, but she didn't worry because the U.S. still had a 2-1 lead with just over a minute to play.

About 30 seconds later, with the goalie still off, Poulin tied it and sent the game into overtime.

"It would have given us a bigger cushion," said Stack, who played at Boston College. "I've done that once before in college, and it's the worst feeling in the world."

After six tense minutes of the extra period, the U.S. picked up a power play when Catherine Ward was sent off for cross-checking. But five seconds later, Jocelyne Lamoureux was called for slashing for swiping at the Szabados' pads after a save.

And during a sloppy player change by the Americans, five-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser got free on a breakaway before Hilary Knight caught her from behind and she went sprawling.

It could have been called a penalty shot.

It could have been no call. (Knight denied making any contact at all. And, when asked about the officiating, U.S. coach Katey Stone issued only a terse, "No comment.")

But Knight was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking. With the 4-on-3 advantage, the Canadians worked the puck around and over to Poulin, who knocked it into the open net and set off the celebration on the bench and among the Maple Leaf-waving fans.

"Unfortunately, when you let other factors come in, it can bounce either way. That's what happened today," Knight said. "It's heartbreaking, and you go four years, and you think you've got the game in the bag, and something happens. It's unfortunate, but this group has represented our country at an outstanding level. So can't really be too heartbroken about it."

Switzerland beat Sweden earlier Thursday for the bronze medal at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, where the women moved after playing the preliminaries at the smaller Shayba Arena next door. Switzerland goalie Florence Schelling, who led the tournament with 253 saves in six games, was named Most Valuable Player.

The 10,639 fans at the final included the Canadian men's team that completed a sweep the hockey gold medals in Vancouver four years ago. The Canadian women also beat their southern neighbors three times in a pre-Olympic tour this fall before coach Dan Church quit unexpectedly in December and the Americans won four straight times heading into the Olympics.

Then, in a rare round-robin matchup between the sports' two top powers, the Canadians won 3-2. They extended their Olympic winning streak over the U.S. to four consecutive games.

"For us, it's just a great feeling," said coach Kevin Dineen, who replaced Church. "And for me, it's even more special because it's the first one."

Less than 24 hours before the Canadians and Americans were to meet in the same rink in the men's semifinals, fans wearing Maple Leaf sweaters and Stars and Stripe scarves tried to outshout each other -- with a healthy number of locals chanting "Ro-ssi-ya!" for their long-departed hockey teams.

The pro-Canada crowd grew louder after the first goal, but the second one quieted them until the flurry at the end of regulation.

The hard-hitting first period featured five penalties and no goals. It was still scoreless when Duggan took a drop pass from Lamoureux at the left circle and wristed the puck into the top corner of the net past a screened Szabados.

The U.S. scored on a power play early in the third when Tara Watchorn was sent off for the third time in the game and, with just seconds left in the tripping penalty, Hilary Knight threaded a pass through Canadian defenseman Laura Fortino's legs to Carpenter at the far side of the crease.

She deflected it past Szabados and off the post to make it 2-0.

Locker room culture in spotlight as combine begins

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) This could be as good a time as there has ever been for an openly gay player in the NFL. The league will be watching.

In the wake of the bullying scandal in Miami, executives from teams around the league who gathered for the annual scouting combine spoke Thursday about being on guard to ensure their locker rooms are respectful and tolerant - especially with Michael Sam, expected to soon become the first publicly revealed homosexual in the NFL.

Predictably, general managers and coaches said a culture of respect was already in place with their clubs before Richie Incognito, the Dolphins offensive lineman who led the extreme hazing detailed last week in an NFL-ordered report, became an infamous name. But while there haven't been many major signs of response to the scandal, some tangible signs of change have at least emerged.

Teams have begun to include language in coaches' contracts that forces assistants to act with more tolerance than some of the Dolphins staff did. The move is designed to limit a team's liability if another Miami-like situation were to emerge with another club.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman confirmed that change, first reported by ESPN.

"I think because it's so much in light right now, that you have to monitor the locker room," Spielman said. "It'll be interesting to see once we get down to the owners meetings in March. I'm sure that'll be a subject that'll be talked about."

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, drawing an overflow crowd of reporters in his first appearance since the report came out, forcefully reiterated his responsibility for all that happens to his team and promised a "better workplace."

"I have to do a better job. I'm going to look at every way - the way we educate, the way we communicate, the way we talk to one another," Philbin said. "I'm going to look at every avenue."

Reaction from the other 31 teams to the bullying report was far more muted, though other coaches - Dennis Allen of the Oakland Raiders among them - acknowledged the importance of keeping a better handle on locker room dynamics.

Everyone, though, must deal with the questions about Sam, the Missouri defensive end projected to be drafted in the middle rounds.

The NFL recently reminded teams of laws against asking draft prospects about their sexuality and the guidelines for interviewing players this week in Indianapolis. A year ago, three players complained they were asked inappropriate questions they believed were intended to seek details about their sexual orientation.

Talking about harmony is easy in the offseason, of course, but maintaining an atmosphere of respect and tolerance is another story once dozens of players are thrown together. With a 53-man roster, no coach can come close to hearing every word.

"It's hard. You try to set a good culture and a good environment in your building and hope for the best," Denver Broncos coach John Fox said.

Clearly, this issue will be scrutinized this year, with Sam entering the league, and the Dolphins trying to repair their image.

"What happened there has nothing to do with what we are doing in Tampa Bay," new Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said. "The locker room has been there all along. You have to have strong veteran leadership in the locker room. As the head football coach I have to have a pulse on what is going on in the locker room. Rely on a lot of people. Have a relationship were information comes to me.

"No, we are not going to change what we've done. Our program has always been about acceptance. Everybody feeling like they are part. Everybody feeling good about coming to work every day in an environment where they can do their best."

That is what this next class of rookies is counting on.

"In every locker room you go there's going to be conflict," Memphis punter Tom Hornsey said. "That's just the nature of the game. It's very competitive. It's got a lot of testosterone flowing through. ... But it's not a concern. I'm pretty laid back and just take it as it is."

So what's the secret, then, to making sure the boys-will-be-boys culture that still exists doesn't become the dominant vibe of the locker room?

Well, like with many issues, the Super Bowl champions are usually a good place to start.

"Everybody puts pressure on themselves, and we try to create a culture that's outgoing, fun, aggressive," Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said. "Life's too short to stress yourself out and stress other people out."

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Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Tight end evolution creating new look for NFL

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Eric Ebron exuded confidence from the moment he walked into Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday.

The top-rated tight end in this year's draft class quickly explained how he could catch passes over the middle, contend with bigger defenders and even improve his blocking.

Yes, Ebron promised to do anything that any NFL team asked - if the club is smart enough to draft him in May.

"If you need me, if you need a tight end, I'm here on the draft board," he said with a daring smile Thursday at the NFL's annual scouting combine.

At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, five pounds heavier than his college playing weight, Ebron typifies the modern day tight end.

They aren't just pass-catching or blocking specialists anymore.

Instead, teams are increasingly looking at multi-dimensional players who can really challenge defenses.

This rookie class is rife with possibilities.

In addition to the incredibly athletic Ebron, there's the bulky 6-foot-2, 262-pound Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who considers himself a playmaking receiver, and Trey Burton, who was recruited by Florida as a quarterback and wound up playing receiver and returning kicks before his college career ended.

After playing last season at 222, he still looks out of place with a handful of the other 22 tight ends in Indy tipping the scales at 260 or more.

As the position has evolved, though, guys such as Ebron and Seferian-Jenkins have become increasingly valuable commodities.

"It does put stress on your defense if you've got a guy who can in-line block and create bad matchups for your safeties and linebackers," said new Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith, who spent most of his career coaching as a defensive assistant. "I think it's safe to say they are getting bigger and bigger, and that's an area we're obviously looking at. It seems like every team is looking for that perfect tight end, and once you get one, it's pretty special."

For some teams, such as the Buccaneers, finding the right guy will be a priority over the next 2 1/2 months.

There are plenty of options to consider.

Some of this year's combine invitees have backgrounds playing basketball, running track or competing in other sports. Others have prominent bloodlines. Jake Murphy's father, Dale, is a former Major League All-Star, and his brother Shawn was once with the Denver Broncos.

Yet it's the uniquely talented Ebron, who currently is on top of the rankings.

"I'm very fast and very different," said Ebron, a projected first-round pick who compared himself to San Francisco's Vernon Davis. "I play the tight end position like no one else. I just do things that other tight ends don't do."

The transition of moving from bulky blocking tight ends to fleeter, more athletic guys can be traced to the late 1990s and early 2000s when former college basketball players Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates made it big. Since then, players such as Davis and Jimmy Graham, who are known for stretching the field, have become all the rage.

But now things seem to be shifting again.

Teams are now telling draft hopefuls that they want big, fast guys and it is making an impact on how these guys build their bodies.

Ebron says he feels stronger and more comfortable at 250 pounds.

He isn't alone. California moved Richard Rogers from tight end to slot receiver after he trimmed down from 275 pounds to 245, but the 6-foot-4, tight end weighed in this week at 257.

Based on Rogers' size and blocking background, it could give him one distinct advantage heading into draft weekend - teams already know what they're getting from Rogers as a receiver and a blocker.

"I haven't done a lot of it (blocking) this past year but my first two years I was always in a three-point stance, or the majority of the time," he said. "So I am definitely comfortable with it."

Ebron, on the other hand, is trying to fill out the final piece of his resume.

He has already proven he can run and catch, and if he can show scouts he is capable of opening holes and sealing the edge, too, he knows teams will view him as the most skilled tight end in this class.

"It's become more demanding," Ebron said of the position. "There's become more of a need for talent, speed, and athleticism rather than big bulky just blocking tight ends. It's become a need of special people to play that position in order to create different mismatches and better offenses, so I feel like I fit right in."

GM King confirms Nets work out Jason Collins

NEW YORK (AP) Looking to add a big man, the Brooklyn Nets have worked out center Jason Collins, who would become the first openly gay active NBA player if signed.

General manager Billy King did not attend the workout in Los Angeles during the All-Star break that was reported by ESPN.com, but said Thursday on a conference call he was told Collins is "in shape."

Collins revealed at the end of last season he is gay. The 35-year-old Collins played in 38 games for Boston and Washington in 2012-13 and hasn't been particularly productive in recent years, but has a number of former teammates on the Nets, including coach Jason Kidd.

Michael Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year from Missouri, recently revealed he is gay and is taking part in this weekend's NFL draft combine.

The Nets have an opening for a big man after trading Reggie Evans along with Jason Terry to Sacramento on Wednesday for guard Marcus Thornton.

King said he and Kidd have a list of players they will consider, and Collins will be on it. He said the players considered will range from those who have been bought out by other NBA teams to those who have been playing in China or the NBA Development League.

Collins played with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce last season in Boston, and Nets guard Joe Johnson in Atlanta. The well-respected veteran attended the State of the Union address as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama.

King said the Nets wouldn't be concerned about any extra attention the signing of Collins would provide.

"We're going to bring in a basketball player," King said. "It's not about marketing or anything like that."

King said the Nets tried to find another deal for a big man before Thursday's deadline. If they do sign one, he said he wasn't sure if it would be for the rest of the season or on a 10-day contract, adding that would depend on the player.

NJ police: Ravens' Rice knocked out fiancee

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) A police complaint alleges Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked out his fiancee during an argument at an Atlantic City casino.

Police charged both Rice and Janay Palmer with simple assault in the incident Saturday at the Revel Casino.

A police complaint says Rice struck her with his hand, "rendering her unconscious." Palmer is also accused of striking Rice with her hand.

Palmer's attorney, Robert Gamburg, said Thursday he's certain neither person committed a crime. Rice's attorney, Michael Diamondstein, has said he hopes the case is shown to be a misunderstanding.

TMZ Sports released a video of what it says shows Rice dragging a seemingly motionless woman out of a Revel Casino elevator.

Diamondstein told The Press of Atlantic City "this is obviously edited video." Neither he nor Palmer's attorney would comment about the video to The Associated Press.

Thunder G Russell Westbrook to return vs. Heat

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook will play Thursday against the Miami Heat.

The team announced the decision a few hours before tipoff. Westbrook has missed 27 games since having a procedure on Dec. 27 to deal with swelling in his injured right knee - the third operation on the knee in nine months. Westbrook made it through a full practice Wednesday for the first time since his most recent surgery, and coach Scott Brooks said he looked good.

Westbrook, a three-time NBA All-Star, tore the lateral meniscus in the knee during the playoffs last April. He underwent an operation after that injury and had another procedure on Oct. 1 to remove a loose stitch.

Oklahoma City went 20-7 after Westbrook's latest setback.

No. 4 Arizona escapes with 67-63 win at Utah in OT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Gabe York and Nick Johnson each scored 15 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 13 and No. 4 Arizona escaped with a 67-63 overtime victory against Utah on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats (24-2, 11-2 Pac-12) beat Utah for the ninth straight time since a loss in the 1998 NCAA tournament. Arizona also held onto sole possession of first place in the Pac-12, one game ahead of UCLA.

Brandon Taylor had 13 points and Dallin Bachynski and Delon Wright each scored 12 for the Utes (17-9, 6-8), who lost at home for the second time this season.

The score was tied at 58 before Hollis-Jefferson made two baskets to give the Wildcats a four-point lead with 1:52 left in overtime. His second bucket came after Taylor, an 86 percent free throw shooter, missed three straight from the line to prevent Utah from taking the lead.

Wright made a pair of free throws to cut it to 62-60, but threw the ball away with 33.9 seconds left. Johnson and T.J. McConnell each made free throws to help secure the victory in the final seconds.

Utah lost despite outrebounding Arizona 37-31 and finishing with a 34-23 edge in points in the paint.

Arizona started strong, making its first four field goal attempts and taking a 9-8 lead.

Utah kept pace by hitting seven of its first 10 shots from the field. Princeton Onwas stole the ball from Hollis-Jefferson and dunked it on the other end to cap a 6-0 spurt.

Arizona went on a 14-0 run later in the half. York capped the surge by hitting a 3-pointer and then taking his own steal from Taylor in for a layup, giving the Wildcats a 25-16 lead.

Utah briefly trimmed the deficit to five after baskets from Taylor and Bachynski. Arizona quickly answered, pushing the lead to double digits with 3s from York and Hollis-Jefferson that made it 35-24.

The Utes cut it to single digits again when Onwas took another steal in for a dunk to make it 35-26. Arizona had a chance to take a 12-point lead into the locker room when Jordin Mayes nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the officials waved it off during halftime.

Utah cut the lead to 40-33 when Taylor stole the ball from Johnson and took it in for a layup. The Wildcats thwarted the rally for a time, going back up by 12 on McConnell's jumper.

But the Utes ripped off a 10-2 run to get back into the game. A pair of big baskets from freshman Ahmad Fields cut the deficit to 48-44. Arizona endured a short cold spell after a layup from McConnell made it 52-44 with 6:41 left, going 3:13 without a field goal.

Utah took advantage with an 11-2 run and went ahead 55-54 on a runner from Jordan Loveridge with 3:09 remaining.

Arizona regained a one-point lead on Johnson's jumper with 2:21 left. Utah tied it when Loveridge made one of two free throws with 28 seconds to go. McConnell had a chance to win it for the Wildcats in regulation, but missed a runner in the lane as time expired.

Boston College stuns No. 1 Syracuse 62-59 in OT

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Olivier Hanlan and Patrick Heckmann hit 3-pointers in overtime, Lonnie Jackson made four straight free throws in the final 26.2 seconds, and lowly Boston College stunned top-ranked Syracuse 62-59 on Wednesday night, ending the Orange's unbeaten season.

Boston College (7-19, 3-10 Atlantic Coast Conference), which had lost five straight, rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to pull off the improbable upset.

Syracuse (25-1, 12-1) travels to No. 5 Duke on Saturday night.

The loss leaves No. 3 Wichita State, which was playing at Loyola of Chicago on Wednesday, as the lone unbeaten in Division I.

The Eagles came to town with heavy hearts and a good dose of determination. Longtime basketball media contact and sports information assistant Dick Kelley died last week after a two-year battle with ALS. His funeral was Tuesday and the Eagles, who often visited his apartment, were wearing "DK" patches on their uniforms.

The Eagles, whose only conference wins this season were over Virginia Tech, beat a No. 1-ranked team for the third time and first since the 2008-09 season.

Syracuse, which had won its last two games by a combined three points, shot a season-low 32.2 percent from the field including going 2 of 12 from 3-point range.

Tied at 50 after two halves played at Boston College's deliberate pace, Hanlan and Heckmann hit from long range to give BC a 56-52 lead with 2:56 left, but Tyler Ennis's driving layup knotted the score at 56 with 2:09 to play.

A free throw by Ennis gave the Orange a one-point lead, but Heckmann's backdoor layup put the Eagles back in front with 43.5 seconds left.

After a timeout, Ennis threw a pass toward C.J. Fair in the right corner that sailed out of bounds. After the officials initially ruled it was Syracuse's ball a video review with 32.5 seconds left re-affirmed the call. It didn't matter when Fair missed a drive and Jackson sealed the victory with his clutch free throws.

Hanlan finished with 20 points and Jackson had 10. Ryan Anderson had nine points and 14 rebounds, but the Eagles won it by going 11 of 22 from behind the arc.

Fair finished with 20 points on 7-of-23 shooting and had 11 rebounds. Ennis had 14 points and six assists and Jerami Grant finished with 11 points.

Syracuse beat won 58-56 at Pittsburgh a week ago and 56-55 over North Carolina State in the Carrier Dome on Saturday night - as the Orange had walked a tightrope much of the season.

Economist: College game like NFL - but for no pay

CHICAGO (AP) Major colleges run their football teams just like those in the NFL, relying on players to generate millions of dollars in revenue, an economist testified Wednesday before a federal agency that will decide whether Northwestern football players may form the first union for college athletes in U.S. history.

"The difference would be ... the NFL pays their players," Southern Utah University sports economist David Berri told the National Labor Relations Board on the second day of a hearing in Chicago that could stretch into Friday. That colleges don't pay their football players, he said, likely boosts their programs' profitability further.

The NLRB is considering whether Wildcats' football players can be categorized under U.S. law as employees, which would give them rights to unionize. The university, the Big Ten Conference and NCAA have all maintained college players are student-athletes, not employees.

Attorneys for Northwestern began presenting their case opposing unionization, endeavoring to show that the newly formed College Athletes Players Association would provide little tangible benefit to the Northwestern players.

Asked whether one of CAPA's stated goals - to improve football-player graduation rates - made any sense for Northwestern, the university's associate athletic director, Brian Baptiste, noted the school's rate was already No. 1 in the nation - at 97 percent.

"I guess you can increase 97 percent," he said wryly.

Union supporters say they would be able to force schools to better protect football players from head injuries. Baptiste suggested that only the NCAA, with oversight power across the country, was in position to address that.

"That has to be done on a national level," he said. "Northwestern wouldn't have control over that."

Supporters argue a union would provide athletes a vehicle to lobby for greater financial security. They contend scholarships sometimes don't even cover livings expenses for a full year.

Baptiste said NCAA rules tie Northwestern's hands, and they would bar it from assenting to demands from an on-campus football union, including calls to increase the value of scholarships. He said the NCAA caps scholarship amounts.

Berri, the economist, was called to testify on behalf of the proposed union, which is pushing the unionization bid with support from the United Steelworkers. He sought to illustrate how the relationship between Northwestern and its football players was one of employer to employees.

Profit numbers attest to the program being a commercial enterprise, he told the hearing,

Northwestern's football program reported a total profit of $76 million from 2003 to 2012, with revenues of $235 million and costs of $159 million, Berri testified. The numbers were adjusted for inflation for the private school.

Berri conceded he didn't know that maintenance of the Wildcats' stadium was not included in the expense numbers. And he said he also did not know if football profits made up for losses in other, less popular school sports.

Schools with revenue-generating football teams were in the business of entertainment, Berri said. Asked who provided those services, he responded, "Players are the ones you are watching."

Northwestern attorney Alex Barbour pressed Berri about whether he was trying to say the school exploits its football players.

"There is an economic definition of the word `exploitation,"' he responded. "A worker is exploited ... if their economic value is greater than their wages. ... By that definition, they are exploited."

Barbour had said during his opening statement that allowing a college athletes' union to collectively bargain would be "a Rube Goldberg contraption that would not work in the real world" and would fundamentally change college sports.

Berri, though, pointed to the NFL and its embrace of a union, saying unionization in its case "did not cause the professional sport to collapse."

Whether the economist should have been allowed to testify was a point of contention in the morning, with Barbour complaining that Berri's analysis was irrelevant to the central question: Are college football players employees?

But after allowing the sides to debate the issue, the hearing officer overseeing the case, Joyce Hofstra, agreed to let Berri speak, saying the hearing was "novel" and she would err on the side of admitting evidence.

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Follow Michael Tarm at https://twitter.com/mtarm

Reds, Homer Bailey agree on $105M, 6-year deal

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) Starter Homer Bailey agreed to a $105 million, six-year contract on Wednesday that avoids arbitration and will help the Cincinnati Reds with their cash flow by deferring some of the salary for short periods.

The deal includes a $25 million mutual option for 2020 with a $5 million buyout.

Bailey was the final major league player left in arbitration this year and reached the agreement a day before his scheduled hearing in Florida. He made $5.35 million last season and had asked for $11.6 million in arbitration. The Reds had offered $8.7 million, their biggest gap among their players in arbitration.

The 27-year-old Texan was coming off a season that included his second no-hitter.

Bailey gets salaries of $9 million this year, $10 million in 2015, $18 million in 2016, $19 million in 2017, $21 million in 2018 and $23 million in 2019. In an unusual twist, much of the annual salary will be deferred until the November after each season.

Bailey will be paid in-season amounts of $3 million this year, $4 million next year, $11 million in 2016, $12 million in 2017, $14 million in 2018 and $15 million in 2019.

If he is traded, his new team would have to pay all of the salary amounts during the season. Also, the $5 million buyout would be paid when either side decides not to exercise the option rather than having it deferred until November 2020.

The Reds planned to discuss the deal on Thursday. Bailey declined to comment on the agreement after a workout on Wednesday.

Teams won two of three cases that went to hearings, with the Indians beating pitchers Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin and pitcher Andrew Cashner winning his case with San Diego. Owners have a 293-215 margin since arbitration began in 1974.

Bailey went a career-best 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA in 2012, completing his breakthrough season by throwing a no-hitter in Pittsburgh on Sept 28. He followed that with the 16th no-hitter in franchise history last June, a 3-0 win over San Francisco at Great American Ball Park.

Bailey went 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA last year, leaving him in line for a big salary increase in arbitration or a long-term deal. The Reds' rotation includes five players under the age of 30 - Johnny Cueto (28), Mat Latos (26), Bailey (27), Mike Leake (26) and left-hander Tony Cingrani (24).

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AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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