Weekend Sports In Brief
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Flip Saunders, who rose from the backwaters of basketball’s minor leagues to become one of the most powerful men in the NBA as coach, team president and part owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, died Sunday, the team said. He was 60.
Saunders was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in June and doctors called it ”treatable and curable.” But he took a leave of absence from the team in September after complications arose during his treatment, which included chemotherapy. He had been hospitalized for more than a month.
Sam Mitchell has been named interim head coach and GM Milt Newton is heading the team’s personnel department.
Saunders went 654-592 in 17 NBA seasons with the Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards. But his best days came in Minnesota, where he nurtured Kevin Garnett from a teenager who jumped straight from high school to the NBA in 1995 and helped turn the woeful Wolves into a perennial playoff team.
Utah dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten and so did Florida State. The two losses led to a shake-up in The Associated Press’ Top 25 college football poll.
Ohio State (8-0) strengthened its season-long hold on the top spot, adding 11 first-place votes in Sunday’s balloting after rolling over Rutgers.
Baylor (7-0) remained at No. 2, but lost five first-place votes and now totals seven. Clemson (7-0) climbed three spots to No. 3 and has six first-place votes. LSU (7-0) moved up a spot and received five first-place votes following its win over Western Kentucky. TCU (7-0) dropped a spot to No. 5 despite not playing over the weekend.
No. 7 Alabama (7-1), a spot behind Michigan State (8-0) in the poll, was the only one-loss team to receive a first-place vote after holding off Tennessee. Utah (6-1) dropped 10 spots to No. 13.
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) – The worst loss in Miami’s storied history was coach Al Golden’s last game with the Hurricanes.
In a move that long seemed inevitable, Golden was fired Sunday with more than four years left on his contract. Tight ends coach Larry Scott will take over as interim head coach, as the Hurricanes try to save their season and take another run at trying to reclaim lost prominence.
Golden went 32-25 with the Hurricanes and 17-18 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, his entire stint marred by an NCAA investigation and subsequent fallout caused by things that happened before he arrived in Coral Gables. His last game with Miami was a 58-0 loss to then-No. 6 Clemson.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Following one of the worst starts in program history, George O’Leary is retiring as UCF’s football coach, effective immediately, the school announced Sunday.
It comes a day after the Knights dropped to 0-8 with a 59-10 loss to Houston, the worst home defeat in school history. Quarterbacks coach Danny Barrett has been named interim coach. The decision ends a tumultuous season marked by a rash of injuries and dismal on-field play that was punctuated by UCF being ranked last in Football Bowl Subdivision in total offense.
The 69-year-old coach leaves UCF with an 81-68 record. He went 0-11 in his first season at UCF in 2004, but took the Knights to their first-ever bowl appearance in 2005. It was the first of seven bowl berths the under O’Leary.
O’Leary previously stepped down as interim athletic director on Oct. 12.
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) – As Joey Logano made his third straight trip to victory lane, questions swirled about reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick’s late-race tactics.
Several competitors accused Harvick of intentionally causing a race-ending caution Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, where Logano completed a sweep of the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs.
It came at the expense of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship at his best track for the second consecutive year. Earnhardt led a race-high 61 laps, but had to settle for second in a race he had to win when the Harvick-triggered crash ended the race under caution.
Eliminated Sunday were Earnhardt, Ryan Newman – the runner-up to Harvick last year – and Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Smylie Kaufman won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on Sunday in his fifth PGA Tour start, shooting a 10-under 61 and waiting more than two hours while rival after rival fell short.
Kaufman played the final 11 holes in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies. The 23-year-old former LSU player set up the eagle with a 3-wood drive to 15 feet on the par-4 15th and closed with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th to post 16-under 268 at TPC Summerlin.
Kevin Na, third-round leader Brett Stegmaier, Patton Kizzire, Cameron Tringale, Jason Bohn and Alex Cejka tied for second, a stroke back.
Seven strokes back entering the round, Kaufman became the second straight rookie winner on the tour, earning $1,152,000 and a spot in the Masters. He also gets in the PGA Championship, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua to start the new year and The Players Championship.
Na, the 2011 Las Vegas winner for his lone PGA Tour title, finished with a 67. Stegmaier shot 69, Kizzire 63, and Tringale, Bohn and Cejka 66.
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Lydia Ko ran away with the LPGA Taiwan Championship to regain the No. 1 spot in the world ranking.
The 18-year-old New Zealander holed a 30-yard pitch for eagle on the par-5 12th and finished with a 7-under 65 in sunny, breezy conditions at Miramar for a nine-stroke victory.
Ko took the top spot in the world from South Korea’s Inbee Park with her fifth LPGA Tour victory of the season and the 10th of her career. Park skipped her title defense at Miramar to play in a Korea LPGA event, where she tied for second Sunday.
At 18 years, 6 months, 1 day, Ko is the youngest player to win 10 events on any major tour. Horton Smith set the PGA Tour mark of 21 years, 7 months in 1929, and Nancy Lopez set the previous LPGA Tour record in 1979 at 22 years, 2 months, 5 days.
Ko broke ties with Park for the tour victory lead and the No. 1 spot in the player of the year points race, and earned $300,000 to increase her tour-leading total to $2,716,753.
The South Korean-born Ko finished at 20-under 268 after opening with rounds of 69, 67 and 67 to take a four-stroke lead into the final day. South Koreans So Yeon Ryu and Ji Eun-hee tied for second.
HONG KONG (AP) – England’s Justin Rose won the Hong Kong Open, closing with a 2-under 68 for a one-stroke victory over Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard.
Rose finished at 17-under 263 for his eighth European Tour title. The 2013 U.S. Open champion opened with round of 65, 66 and 64. Bjerregaard closed with a 69.