Undefeated Bat Cats host NCAA champ Gamecocks
One game from matching the longest winning streak in school history, the Kentucky baseball team will face its toughest test yet: two-time defending NCAA champion South Carolina.
The Wildcats (18-0), the only undefeated Division I team in the nation, will play the Gamecocks (15-1) in a three-game series at Cliff Hagan Stadium beginning Friday night. UK has gone 19-0 twice before, in 2007 and 2008.
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Kentucky is batting .343 with 19 homers. It has a 3.00 ERA with 178 strikeouts in 162 innings.
Mississippi State's Stansbury retires
Mississippi State men's basketball coach Rick Stansbury announced Thursday that he is retiring after 14 seasons. A red-eyed Stansbury said at a news conference on campus he "thought long and hard about this, but it's time to start a new chapter and step away from coaching." Stansbury, a Kentucky native, led the Bulldogs to a 293-166 record, including 11 postseason appearances — but last went to the NCAA Tournament in 2009. "A lot of coaches can stay at one spot too long," said Stansbury, 52. "I don't want to be one of those coaches." Stansbury, who has two years remaining on a contract that pays about $1.5 million per year with incentives, said he plans to keep his family in Starkville.
Georgetown men advance in NAIAs
Johonne Hamilton scored 14 points, and No. 14 seed Georgetown beat Lee (Tenn.) 70-62 to advance to the second round of the men's NAIA national tournament in Kansas City, Mo. Georgetown (25-8) will play the winner of Thursday's game between No. 3 seed Robert Morris (Ill.) and Southern-New Orleans (La.)
■ Fifth-seeded Southern Poly (Ga.) made 11 three-pointers and shot 44 percent from long range to beat Cumberlands 66-60 in the first round of the men's NAIA national tournament. Senior guard Jesse Childs and junior forward Cortez Irby each scored 15 points for Southern Poly (25-6), which advances to play LSU in Shreveport on Friday. Flynn Clayman led Cumberlands (20-12) with 13 points.
■ The Saint Xavier (Ill.) women shot 60 percent from the field in the second half and beat Campbellsville 75-57 in the first round of the NAIA national tourney in Frankfort. Saint Xavier (24-8) advances to play Westmont (Calif.) on Friday. Courtney Clifton had five threes and 19 points for Campbellsville (20-13), which was held to 25 percent shooting.
■ Lavanda Ross scored 25 points and Amy Philamlee hit six three-pointers to lead Union (Tenn.) to a 63-50 victory over Lindsey Wilson (20-13) in the women's NAIA Tournament. Ashley Rainey had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Lindsey Wilson.
Harrington opens with 61; Perry 5 back
Padraig Harrington knew he was playing better golf than his scores indicated. He just wasn't expecting the lowest official score of his life, a 10-under 61 to set the course record Thursday in the Transitions Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla. Harrington took a step toward ending 17 months and 37 tournaments without a victory when he made 10 birdies, including a 75-footer late in his round, to build a three-shot lead at Innisbrook. Will Claxton birdied the 18th for a 64, a score that would have put him atop the leader board at Innisbrook the last seven years. John Senden was in a large group at 66 that included William McGirt and 51-year-old Kentucky native Kenny Perry, making a rare appearance on the PGA Tour. Doral winner Justin Rose and Luke Donald were at 67, while defending champion Gary Woodland opened with a 68.
■ Italian teenager Matteo Manassero tied the course record with an 8-under 64 at the Andalucia Open in Spain on Thursday, giving him a three-stroke lead and a strong start in his bid to qualify for the Masters. The 18-year-old's opening round on the Aloha course in Marbella matched Lee Westwood's second-round score en route to his victory in 2007.
■ Top-ranked Yani Tseng played a seven-hole stretch on the back nine in 7 under and finished with a 7-under 65 for a share of the first-round lead with Hee Young Park in the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix.
Wilson, Angels quiet Reds' bats
Newcomer C.J. Wilson allowed one run in four innings, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 in a spring training game in Tempe, Ariz. Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto worked four innings in his third spring appearance and allowed four hits and one earned run. The Reds managed only four hits, two by Denis Phipps.
■ Justin Verlander struck out eight in 32⁄3 innings and the Detroit Tigers beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 in Lakeland, Fla. Verlander gave up one run and three hits. The AL MVP and Cy Young winner has an 0.93 ERA this spring.
■ Michael Pineda moved a step closer to securing a spot in the Yankees' rotation, striking out four through 32⁄3 innings in the New York Yankees' 8-5 win over the Washington Nationals in Viera, Fla.
■ The Kansas City Royals signed shortstop Alcides Escobar to a four-year extension worth $10.5 million, with two club options that could drive the value to $21.75 million.
■ Boston Red Sox right-hander Daniel Bard allowed seven earned runs in 22⁄3 innings in a 9-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers, Fla.
Ex-Texans star Williams signs with Bills
Star defensive end Mario Williams signed a six-year contract with the Buffalo Bills that is the richest ever given to an NFL defensive player — a deal worth up to $100 million with $50 million guaranteed, according to his agent, Ben Dogra. The 6-foot-6, 285-pounds Williams was limited to five games last season with a torn chest muscle. He was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2006 by the Houston Texans and had a franchise-best 53 sacks in six seasons with the Texans.
■ Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook was acquitted Thursday of all charges that he assaulted his girlfriend last October, and he said his next move is to get ready for the upcoming NFL season. Cook, 25, was charged with one count of domestic assault by strangulation and one count of third-degree assault, both felonies, after a fight with his then-girlfriend of 10 months. The jury acquitted him of those and two misdemeanor domestic assault counts.
Penguins win in Crosby's return
Sidney Crosby's return after three months of inactivity didn't hurt the chemistry of the Pittsburgh Penguins one bit as they surged closer to the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers. Crosby played for the first time since another bout with concussion symptoms forced him to the sidelines Dec. 5. He got on the score sheet Thursday night with an assist as the Penguins stretched their winning streak to 10 by beating the host Rangers 5-2. The Penguins trail the Rangers by just four points in the races for the East and the Atlantic Division.
The last word(s)
Kentucky forward Terrence Jones, after the Wildcats lost to Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament on Sunday:"Coach feels we were getting ... ignorant?"To which Coach John Calipari replied:"Arrogant."