WOW. Four bowls, countless college basketball games, NHL and NBA action and much more gave us one heckuva day in the world of sports today. Let me take you through just SOME of what happened:
– Shin Soo Choo, one of the last big name free agents available, has reportedly signed a seven-year, $130 million deal with the Texas Rangers where he’ll join a potent lineup that includes Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar.
– “Coug-ing it”. It’s a thing. The Washington State University Cougars wrestled defeat from the jaws of victory as they lost 48-45 to the Colorado State Rams in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. The Cougars led by as many as 22 points with a 35-13 lead and 2:48 remaining in the second quarter. Connor Halliday, the WSU QB finished with 410 yards on 37/58 passing and SIX touchdowns. BUT, fumbles proved costly for the boys from Pullman who saw Tulane score 18 unanswered in the last 2:52 of the fourth quarter, making Halliday the first quarterback to throw six touchdowns in a bowl game AND LOSE. Colorado State finishes the season at 8-6 after winning their first postseason game since 2008.
– Tulane and Louisiana-Lafayette battled to the very end as the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl helped set the ball pretty high here early in the bowl season, but in the end a missed field goal off the foot of Cairo Santos means that ULL won 24-21. Nick Montana came out for Tulane, played very poorly, and before you know it the Ragin’ Cajuns were up 21-0. On come Devin Powell, freshman Tulane quarterback and wow. He was not perfect tonight, but he made some incredible passes and he was helped on offense by the appropriately-named running back Orleans Darkwa who ran for three touchdowns for the Green Wave.
– The No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes, who trailed 58-50 with just under one minute left, fights, scraps and claws their way back, taking advantage of numerous mistakes by the Fighting Irish to remain undefeated with a 64-61 win at the Garden.
– The Islanders blow yet another one, this time against the Ducks. New York led 3-1 heading into the third period, but a total of four goals – two of them off the stick of Ryan Getzlaf who assisted on one of the other two – led to a 5-3 win for Anaheim at Nassau Coliseum. The Ducks improve to 26-7-5, while the Islanders fall to 10-20-7.
– Tim Hardaway Jr., JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony play well for the Knicks, and yet the Knicks lose again, this time 95-87 to the Grizzlies. Melo played 42 minutes, shooting 11-22 from the field and adding 7 boards to his 30 points while off the bench, Tim Hardaway Jr combined to score 32 points on 13-25 from the field, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals. No other Knick posted double figures in the points column though and former Knick Zach Randolph put up 25 points and 15 rebounds to lead Memphis to the victory. Memphis is still four games below .500 at 11-15, while the Knicks fall to 8-18, 4-10 at home.
– The two Manchester teams both win handily as they continue their respective moves up the table. United saw goals off the feet of Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young before allowing one to Carlton Cole of West Ham in the 81st to see the game end 3-1. For City, their two goals – one in the 23rd by Yaya Toure and one in the 43rd by Vincent Kompany – were followed by two for Fulham (Kieran Richardson in the 50th and an own goal from Vincent Kompany in the 69th). City came out on top in the end after too more, one from Jesus Navas in the 78th and one from James Milner in the 83rd. Heading in to Sunday, Manchester City are in 2nd place, trailing Liverpool by one point and ahead of Arsenal only on goal differential. Manchester United have moved up to seventh, trailing Newcastle in sixth place by two points.
– Bayern Munich defeated Raja Casablanca to win the FIFA Club World Cup, 2-0 at the Stade De Marrakech in Marrakech, Morocco. Goals from Dante (7′) and Thiago Alcantara (22′) led Bayern to their first ever FIFA Club World Cup title.
– Oh, right. Luis Suarez scored again. Twice. Almost three times. Liverpool won, and maintained their spot on top of the Premier League. Ugh. I guess that’s important.
– The Charlotte Hornets revealed their “new” logo, and it’s very reminiscent of what they looked like in the Mugsy Bogues/Jamaal Magloire/Jamal Mashburn era.
– The No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats held off a fierce Belmont team at home to win 93-80. Belmont maintained a lead until as late as 3:10 into the 2nd half, when they led 48-46. When the clocks hit zero, Kentucky had outscored Belmont 52-37 in the second half led by Julius Randle and Aaron Harrison who combined for 52 points, 21-30 from the free throw stripe and 16 rebounds on the game. The Belmont Bruins were led by Drew Windler and Craig Bradshaw who combined for 43 points and 7 of 13 from 3 point range. As a team however Belmont shot 11-30 from 3 point range, but did prove that they could be a thorn in the side of a number of teams the rest of the season.
– It took overtime, but the 14th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels took down Davidson 97-85 in a battle of North Carolina. UNC showed restraint by only attempting six three pointers (making three of them) and leaned heavily on J.P. Tokoto, James Michael McAdoo and Marcus Paige. The three starters combined for 58 points, 24 rebounds, 12 assists, 10 steals and five blocks. For the Wildcats, a star may have been born and his name is Brian Sullivan. A 5’11” sophomore out of Upper Arlington, OH who had averaged 12.5 ppg entering today put up 33 points on 11-21 from the field including 7-14 from 3-point range. Be sure to keep an eye on Sullivan, who looks to join the ranks of great scorers at Davidson.
– No. 22 UMass lost their first game of the season at Florida State, 60-55. The Seminoles improved to 8-3 on the season led 6’5″ sophomore guard Aaron Thomas who scored 18 points off the bench including 8-8 from the free throw line. UMass will look to bounce back next Saturday at home against 10-2 Providence.
– Illinois upset the 23rd ranked Missouri Tigers in an old fashioned rivalry in St. Louis. This was the Tigers’ first loss of the season, though they did have a stellar performance from 6’5″ junior guard Jordan Clarkson who scored 25 points on 8-13 from the field and 7-9 from the charity stripe, eight assists and six rebounds. Illinois’ five starters all played at least 29 minutes, with junior Tracy Abrams leading the way with 22 points and six rebounds. The Fighting Illini will play Illinois-Chicago at the United Center next Saturday at 2 PM ET, while Missouri will visit NC State at 8 PM ET next Saturday.
– No. 8 Villanova remained undefeated with their 88-67 win over Rider in Philadelphia. 6’5″ freshman guard Josh Hart led the way for the Wildcats with 19 points on 7-8 from the field and five rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. Villanova’s final non-conference game is a big one next Saturday as they take on the No. 2 Syracuse Orange at 2 PM ET in the Carrier Dome.
– It was close for quite awhile, but the St. John’s Red Storm improved to 8-3 with a great offensive performance leading to a 96-87 victory over Youngstown State at Carnesecca Arena in Queens. D’Angelo Harrison played great, scoring 29 points on 9-15 from the field including 5-6 from beyond the arc, four assists and six rebounds. Harrison’s first three pointer set a new program record for most 3-point field goals in a career. Also contributing big for the Johnnies were JaKarr Sampson and Sir’Dominic Pointer. Sampson finished with a double-double, 16 points and 13 rebounds, on 6-14 from the field and 4-7 from the free throw line. Pointer had a career high 16 points on 4-7 from the field and 7-9 from the charity stripe, adding four assists, three steals and two blocks. The Johnnies have one more tuneup before the conference schedule starts as they take on Columbia next Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
– Dwight Howard had a statistical explosion, going off for 35 points, 13-18 from the field, 9-14 from the free throw stripe, 19 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks in 40 minutes as the Rockets defeated the Pistons in Detroit, 114-97. Chandler Parsons also stepped up for the Rockets – who were without James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik – by playing 43 minutes and scoring 20 points on 9-15 from the field and adding seven rebounds. Both teams play next on Monday, as Detroit visits the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Houston Rockets visit the Dallas Mavericks