Rookie helps Heat's Big Three hold off huge Boston rally
LeBron James scored 26 points, rookie point guard Norris Cole came up with 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, and the Miami Heat nearly blew a 20-point lead before beating the Boston Celtics 115-107 on Tuesday night. Dwyane Wade finished with 24 points and eight assists for Miami, which got 18 from Chris Bosh and twice saw its lead cut to three in the final minutes. Cole delivered the answer both times with a pair of jump shots, and the Heat escaped. Ray Allen scored 28 points on 8-for-12 shooting for the Celtics, Rajon Rondo finished with 22 points and 12 assists, and Keyon Dooling scored 13 off the Boston bench. Through two games, Miami (2-0) has trailed only once — by two points, for all of 14 seconds.
■ Rookie Jon Leuer converted a three-point play with 1:17 left, helping the Bucks hold off the Timberwolves for a 98-95 victory in their home opener Tuesday night. Brandon Jennings scored 24 points, and Stephen Jackson added 16 for the Bucks, who were playing without forward Drew Gooden because of a suspension and several other key players because of injuries. Kevin Love had 31 points and 20 rebounds for the Timberwolves, whose late rally came up just short. Gooden missed the game for his flagrant foul in the season opener.
Schools say no to multi-year scholarships
For the second time in less than two weeks, schools are objecting to a reform measure sought by university presidents and endorsed by NCAA President Mark Emmert.
More than 75 schools are asking to override a plan approved in October to allow multi-year athletic scholarships rather than the one-year renewable awards schools currently provide. That's the minimum number of dissenters needed for reconsideration by the Division I Board of Directors when it meets next month in Indianapolis at the annual NCAA convention. The NCAA announced the change the Friday before Christmas.
On Dec. 15, the NCAA suspended plans to give athletes a $2,000 stipend for living costs not covered by scholarships after at least 125 schools objected. The higher number of protests allows the organization to immediately put the change on hold.
Both measures were pushed by Emmert and adopted as emergency legislation after a presidential summit in August.
"The NCAA and presidents step up with this legislation, and then the universities want to vote it down," said Christian Dennie, a former compliance officer at Missouri and Oklahoma who now practices sports law in Fort Worth, Texas, and writes an NCAA oversight blog. "They say, 'We don't have enough money,' and then the coach gets a $2 million raise"
The Division I Board of Directors now faces three options: scrap the two reform measures and operate under previous NCAA rules; modify the rule or create a new proposal that would go back to the schools for another 60-day comment period; or allow members to vote on the override, which needs a five-eighths majority of the roughly 350 Division I members to pass.
Notre Dame rolls over No. 22 Pitt
Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey called his team's victory over Pittsburgh on Tuesday night one of the most fun games he has coached since coming to South Bend. Alex Dragicevich hit four three-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points to lead the Fighting Irish to a 72-59 win over the No. 22 Panthers in the Big East opener for both teams.
"To see us play with that swagger in the second half," Brey said. "I guess I just wasn't sure this group was ready for that."
Jerian Grant added 15 points and nine assists, and Eric Atkins also scored 15 points for the Irish (9-5, 1-0), who trailed 26-25 at intermission but missed only seven shots in the final 20 minutes of play. Notre Dame was 18-for-25 from the field after the break, including 5-for-8 from three-point range. The defeat was Pitt's second straight after a 59-54 loss to Wagner at home on Friday, while Notre Dame extended its home winning streak to 28 games.
No. 11 Wisconsin 64, Nebraska 40: Ryan Evans scored a career-high 22 points, and the visiting Badgers defeated the injury-plagued Cornhuskers in Nebraska's inaugural Big Ten game Tuesday night. The Huskers closed within five points early in the second half, but Wisconsin went on a 27-5 run to put the game out of reach.
■ For a change, No. 2-ranked Ohio State is healthy. Jared Sullinger has either missed games or played while hurt for much of the past three weeks. But he is now ready to go as the Buckeyes prep for their Big Ten opener on Wednesday night against Northwestern. While most fans relaxed over the holidays, Sullinger worked on conditioning and getting back to playing shape. Coach Thad Matta said he'll have to be for the Buckeyes to handle the Wildcats (10-2), who have the top two scorers in the conference in John Shurna (19.4 ppg) and Drew Crawford (18.1). Ohio State (12-1), meanwhile, has won its last 33 in a row at home and is coming off a rigorous non-conference schedule that featured games against Florida, Duke and Kansas.
■ Rhode Island senior guard Jamal Wilson, the team's top scorer, has been suspended indefinitely for breaking unspecified team rules, Coach Jim Baron said Tuesday. The university said in a statement that Baron plans to re-evaluate Wilson's status on the team over the next week. Wilson is averaging 17.5 points through the first 10 games of the season.
SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Judge won't dismiss Big East's WVU suit
A Rhode Island judge has denied a request by West Virginia University to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Big East Conference over the school's bid to make a quick exit for the Big 12. Providence County Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein issued his decision on Tuesday. The conference's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an order that West Virginia stay in the conference for 27 months. West Virginia accepted an invitation from the Big 12 in October and hopes to join in time for the 2012 football season.
Patriots great and his wife die
Houston Antwine, one of the Patriots franchise's top defensive players in their early years, and his wife, Evelyn, have died, the team said Tuesday. Antwine, 72, died Monday in Memphis of heart failure, and his wife died Tuesday of lung cancer, the team said. A member of the Patriots' 50th Anniversary Team, Antwine played from 1961-71 with the franchise before spending the 1972 season with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 142 regular-season games for the Patriots, he had 39 sacks, leading the team in that category during the 1967, 1968 and 1969 seasons, although sacks were not an official statistic then.
"For those of us who grew up watching the Boston Patriots, this is a really sad day," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "In the 1960s, the defensive tackle tandem of 'Twine' and Jim Lee Hunt were as good as any in the league and helped propel the Patriots to the franchise's first division championship in 1963."
Antwine attended Southern Illinois, where he became a multi-sport athlete, a defensive tackle and an NAIA wrestling champion. In addition to making the Patriots 1960s All-Decade team, he was chosen to the all-time All-AFL team.
■ Johnny Wilson, a four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Detroit Red Wings, has died. He was 82. Toronto Maple Leafs Coach Ron Wilson announced his uncle's death Tuesday on Twitter. The coach called him a "warrior thru & thru, right to the end." There was no immediate word on cause of death. Johnny Wilson had 161 goals and 171 assists in 688 games. He won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955.
The last word
Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy was voted into his first Pro Bowl Tuesday, and he joked that the first person he called was Eagles President Joe Banner:
"I said, 'I need a new contract.' "