'Cuse rises to Final Four...Carolina repels Irish challenge for record 19th Final Four trip

CHICAGO (AP) — Syracuse, unheralded as a No. 10 seed in the Midwest Regional, is going to the Final Four. The Orange are the fourth double-digit seeded team in NCAA history to go to the Final Four.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - East Regional - Notre Dame v North Carolina
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And the 'Cuse rose to the occasion in shocking fashion.

Syracuse trailed Virginia 54-39 midway through the second half before going on a stunning 29-8 run in the final nine and a-half minutes. During one stretch, Syracuse scored 15 straight points. The final was 68-62 Syracuse. After the game, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said he has "never been prouder" of any team in his 40-year coaching career.

Malachi Richardson scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half. Michael Gbinije and freshman Tyler Lydon each scored 11 points for Syracuse, which will play North Carolina on Saturday in one national semifinal.

PHILADELPHIA (AP)— North Carolina will be the lone No. 1 seed at the Final Four in Houston. The Tar Heels repelled a spirited Notre Dame comeback to beat the Irish 88-74 to win the East Regional. North Carolina is in the Final Four for a record 19th time, and the first since the Tar Heels won it all in 2009.

The Tar Heels had built an 11-point lead in the second half, lost it but regained their composure to regain the lead and win handily. Brice Johnson led the Tar Heels with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Marcus Paige added 13 points as all five North Carolina starters hit double figures.

The other two spots in the national semifinals in Houston were determined Saturday night with Villanova and Oklahoma advancing. They will play the first game next Saturday.

The championship game is Monday, April 4.


Pitt has a new coach

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Kevin Stallings is the new head basketball coach at Pittsburgh. The 55-year old has left Vanderbilt after building a record of 332-220. In his career with Vandy and Illinois State Stallings is 455-283. His tenure with Vanderbilt included seven NCAA berths and trips to the Sweet 16 in 2004 and 2007.


Warriors stretch home win streak to 52

UNDATED (AP) — The Golden State Warriors extended their NBA regular-season home winning streak to 52 -- including 35-0 at home this season -- by downing the Philadelphia 76ers 117-105. Klay Thompson scored 40 points in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.

Draymond Green posted his franchise-best 12th triple-double -- 13 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Stephen urry added 20 points and eight assists for the 66-7 Warriors. They are one game ahead of the pace set by the 1995-96 Bulls' during their record 72-win season. Chicago was 65-8 through 73 games.

In other NBA:

— The L.A. Clippers clinched a playoff berth with a 105-90 win over Denver. DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and 16 rebounds in the win while Chris Paul added 14 points, six rebounds and nine assists.

— Paul George scored 16 of his 25 points in the first quarter and the Indiana Pacers overcame 34 points from James Harden to beat the Houston Rockets 104-101. Monta Ellis had 23 points for the Pacers.

— Rookie Willie Cauley-Stein scored 21 points and DeMarcus Cousins had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Sacramento Kings over the Dallas Mavericks 133-111.

— The Washington Wizards ran past the L.A. Lakers 101-88. John Wall led the Wiz with 22 points and 13 assists. The Wizards are within two and a-half games of the final playoff spot in the East.


Green light for Griffin

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin has been cleared medically to return to the Los Angeles Clippers. His return won't take place for a few days, however, as he now has to complete the club's mandated four game suspension for punching the assistant equipment manager. Griffin, who has not played since December, practiced with the Clippers on Saturday and was then cleared. He missed 41 games because of injuries.


Penguins work OT...Blackhawks back in playoffs

UNDATED (AP)__Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning with a goal with 30 seconds left in overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. The Penguins have won eight of nine.

In other NHL:

— Andrew Ladd scored the go-ahead goal with 2:27 left and the Chicago Blackhawks clinched their eighth straight playoff berth with a 3-2 victory over the skidding Vancouver Canucks, who've lost eight straight.

— Victor Rask had the first multigoal game of his career, scoring twice as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Rask has scored in three straight games.


News from spring training

UNDATED (AP) — All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley won't be with the Cleveland Indians when they open the season. The club has announced that after playing in two exhibition games, Brantley reported residual soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder. Brantley underwent the operation in November and had hoped to be ready for the start of the season although the doctors said it would probably take longer.

— The Atlanta Braves have acquired left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty from the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations. The 31-year-old pitched for the Braves between 2009-13. O'Flaherty, who had Tommy John surgery in 2013, had signed a minor league deal with Pittsburgh last month. He has a 3.24 career ERA in 435 appearances with four teams.

— In another move the Braves acquired infielder/outfielder Tyler Moore from the Nationals in exchange for minor-league first baseman Nate Freiman. The Nationals waived Moore and outrighted him off the 40-man roster to Triple-A Syracuse earlier in the week. Moore has played in 277 games for Washington over the past four seasons.


Day wins again

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Jason Day, the winner of last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational and last year's PGA Championship, has won the Dell Match Play event in Austin, Texas. The new world No. 1 needed just 14 holes to beat Louis Oosthuizen (WUHST'-hy-zehn) 5-and-4.

Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain won the consolation with a win over Rory McIlroy, 3 and 2.

Day has now won the Match Play tournament in two of the last three years. The victory is his ninth on the PGA Tour.


Extra golf in San Juan

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — It took a playoff but the winner of the PGA's Puerto Rico Open was Tony Finau. He finished regulation tied with Steve Marino at 12-under-par. Finau closed the win out on the third hole of the playoff. It's his first win on the PGA Tour.


New contract for commissioner

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Tim Finchem has signed on for one more year as the PGA Tour commissioner, even though he might not stay that long. He has been the commissioner of men's golf since 1994. His latest contract was to expire on June 1, but he now says the PGA Tour board has extended his contract until June 2017.

Earlier this week, deputy commissioner Jay Monahan was given the title of chief operating officer. Finchem says Monahan already has been running the day-to-day operations of the tour and that he is pleased with the transition plan.


Ko ends on top

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — Lydia Ko won the Kia Classic to reaffirm her position as the top LPGA player in the world heading into the first major championship of the season, the ANA Inspiration coming up this week.

Ko birdied the final three holes for her third straight 5-under 67 and a four-stroke victory over second-ranked Inbee Park

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