Kings

Penn State ends season in disappointment

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Penn State ends season in disappointment

DALLAS (AP) -- Pacing the Penn State sideline just the way his dad did for 46 seasons, Jay Paterno couldn't help but wonder what JoePa might be doing back home in Happy Valley. A 30-14 loss to Houston at the TicketCity Bowl on Monday ended a tumultuous season for a program shrouded with uncertainty following the firing of a Hall of Fame coach in the aftermath of a child sex-abuse scandal that shook college sports. "It wasn't easy ... It wasn't easy on game day without him because you think about him," said Jay Paterno, Penn State's quarterbacks coach. "I always came to work knowing we had an ace up our sleeve in Joe because of all of his experience, so yeah it was tough." For the players, too. "We've been to hell and back in a lot of ways, more so for our kids," Paterno said. "They did nothing." The 24th-ranked Nittany Lions were picked apart by Case Keenum and the 20th-ranked Cougars. He threw for 532 yards and three touchdowns, a dispiriting finish for a defense that was allowing 162 yards passing per game. Keenum threw for more than double that by halftime. Now, Houston (13-1) gets to relish in the satisfaction of extending its school record for victories in a season. Penn State must push forward still without a permanent head coach. Longtime defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who was appointed the interim coach after Paterno's dismissal, is a candidate in a search that overshadowed the game itself. "I thought the guys came out and they played hard. It's been a difficult year for them," Bradley said. "It just didn't go our way." Keenum burned the Nittany Lions' veteran secondary with touchdown passes of 40 and 75 yards to build a 24-7 lead by halftime. It was the school's first bowl game without Paterno as head coach since the 1962 Gator Bowl, a 17-7 loss to Florida. Paterno was fired Nov. 9 by school trustees amid mounting criticism that school leaders should have done more to prevent the shocking abuse allegations against retired assistant Jerry Sandusky. He is awaiting trial after pleading not guilty last month. Bradley's enormous task: guide players besieged by the resulting media scrutiny. Bypassed by more prominent bowls, some Nittany Lions (9-4) debated whether to travel to Dallas at all, then vowed they were over getting jilted and focused on stopping Houston. Turned out Linbacker U. got trampled over by Keenum and Houston's high-octane offense. "When you have a lot of fast guys, it makes my job a lot easier," Keenum said. Start with receiver Patrick Edwards, who burned safety Macolm Willis for a 40-yard touchdown pass from Keenum down the left sideline for a 7-0 lead just 1:52 into the game that often resembled a one-sided track meet. Keenum hit Justin Johnson for an 8-yard TD pass with 2:35 left for a 17-0 lead. Houston coach Tony Levine, leading the Cougars for the first time since replacing Kevin Sumlin, was pretty impressed. "I'm biased, obviously. I'd put him right at the top," Levine said of Keenum. "You don't win 12 games by accident and I don't think you don't break the records he broke by accident, either." Already the NCAA career leader coming into the game for passing yardage and touchdown passes, Keenum added another record to his impressive resume. His 227 first-quarter passing yards set the record for most passing yards in one quarter in any bowl game, breaking the mark previously held by Louisville's Browning Nagle (223 yards) against Alabama in the first quarter of the 1991 Fiesta Bowl, according to TicketCity Bowl officials. Penn State All-American defensive tackle Devon Still, already slowed by turf toe, couldn't keep up with Keenum's quick release and Houston's no-huddle attack. The Cougars exploited Penn State's bend-but-don't -break defense across the middle, including Edwards 75-yard touchdown reception up the seam from a scrambling Keenum for a 24-7 lead by halftime. Keenum finished 45 of 69 passing -- two fewer attempts than the number of offensive plays Penn State ran all afternoon. Down by 20 midway through the third quarter, cornerback Stephon Morris tried to keep his fellow defenders motivated on the bench with high-fives. The struggling offense without injured starting quarterback Matt McGloin provided a glimmer of hope after Rob Bolden connected with Justin Brown for a pretty 69-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 27-14 at 2:38 of the third quarter. Penn State's defense adjusted to hold the Cougars to just two field goals in the second half, but the early deficit proved too much to overcome and Bolden threw three second-half interceptions -- two by safety Nick Saenz. "We knew they were going to be tough, we watched a lot of film on them," left tackle Quinn Barham said about Houston's defense. "We knew -- and they brought it to us." With 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Penn State had already given up 552 yards of total offense to Houston, the most allowed by the Nittany Lions all season. This wasn't the lasting impression Bradley wanted to leave on the Penn State committee searching for Paterno's replacement. The outgoing Bradley, who is popular with players, is among the candidates who have been interviewed. Acting athletic director David Joyner has said he hopes to have a new coach in place to give him a few weeks to recruit before Feb. 1, when high school seniors can announce their college choices. Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill said he wasn't relieved a difficult season was over. "I'm glad that we're going to get to move on, but it's hard letting go of this team because we're so close," he said. Bolden finished 7 of 26 passing for 137 yards, while Stephfon Green ran for 63 yards on 15 carries including a 6-yard scoring run on a direct snap in the second quarter. It was one of the few times the Cougars' D got tricked. After getting upset 49-28 by Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA title game to lose a chance to play in the BCS, Houston ended the season with an impressive win over a power conference team. Edwards finished with 10 catches and 228 yards for two touchdowns, while Johnson had 12 catches for 148 yards at the 92,000-seat Cotton Bowl. The stands were about a half-full on a sunny afternoon that ended with Houston's red-clad fans celebrating and chanting "Houston." Back in State College, the 85-year-old Paterno planned to watch from home, Jay Paterno said. He may not have been happy by what he saw -- though he was still rooting for his players. "One thing he said, Yeah, I'm going to watch because I care so much about these kids,'" Jay said. "He cares about those kids."

Instant Analysis: Slow start dooms Kings, burnt by Suns despite late rally

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: Slow start dooms Kings, burnt by Suns despite late rally

BOX SCORE

Opportunity lost. The Sacramento Kings had a game handed to them on a silver platter Monday night in Phoenix and they couldn’t take advantage. Playing for a new head coach and without their star point guard, the Suns manhandled the Kings early and held them off late to come away with the 117-115 win and pick up their first win of the season.

Garrett Temple is known for his defensive prowess, but on Monday night in Phoenix, he was an offensive juggernaut. With the Kings falling behind early, the veteran wing hit 6-of-8 from long range to post 23 and keep the Kings in the ballgame late. He had a look at 3-ball to win it at the buzzer, but came up short.

It took Bogdan Bogdanovic less than a quarter to get comfortable with the NBA game. Phoenix drafted the rookie with the 27th pick back in 2014, but they abandoned their efforts to bring him over from Europe. He lit the Suns up 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half, but struggled to get it going after the break.

With Bogdanovic manning the two, fellow rookie De’Aaron Fox put on the jets at the point guard spot. Fox attacked Phoenix on both ends of the floor, finishing with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Skal Labissiere scored 17 points and grabbed four rebounds off Joerger’s bench. Willie Cauley-Stein added 11 points, four assists and four rebounds, while rookie Justin Jackson chipped in a career-best 10 points.

Buddy Hield couldn’t buy a bucket early, but his defense fueled his offensive in the second half. Hield grabbed a career-high five steals and added 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting.

Sacramento’s Marquese Chriss did damage against his hometown team. The second-year forward dropped in 19 points and six rebounds before fouling out late. 

Devin Booker added 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Mike James finished with 18 points and seven assists starting in place of the exiled Eric Bledsoe and rookie Josh Jackson came off the bench to score 15.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Temple caught fire and the Kings kept feeding him. Not known for his offense, the veteran wing went off in a wild game at the Talking Stick Resort Arena

TURNING POINT

Phoenix put the Kings on blast to start the game, outscoring the Kings starters 36-17 in the first 12 minutes of action. Dave Joerger went to his bench in the second and the combination of Fox, Bogdanovic and Labissiere went to work. The trio helped cut the Suns lead from 21 in the first quarter to eight before the half. They stole the momentum of the game.

INJURY UPDATE

Rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic returned from a sprained right ankle to make his NBA debut. Labissiere tweaked his right ankle in the fourth quarter, but was able to walk off under his own power and returned to the game late.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Kings return home to host DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday at Golden 1 Center. They’ll stick around Sacramento to face the Washington Wizards on Sunday before heading back out on the road for three games.

Draymond defends Bell's garbage time alley-oop off backboard to himself

Draymond defends Bell's garbage time alley-oop off backboard to himself

With just under three minutes to go and the Warriors leading by 25 points, Steve Kerr put the end of the bench into the game.

Somehow, with the game in control, rookie Jordan Bell found a way to produce the highlight of the night.

After Bell got a piece of Dwight Powell's shot, JaVale McGee batted the ball ahead. With no one in front of him, the rookie tossed the ball off the backboard and threw down a dunk. The sequence left his Warriors teammates flabergasted. But Bell may have broken an unwritten rule about showboating in a blowout game.

After the game, Draymond Green was not having it with possible criticism of Bell.

"Listen man, when you get on the basketball floor, I don't care if you get out there with two minutes to go up 25 or with two minutes to go down 25, somebody is evaluating you. So you gotta play the game just like it's tied up or if you're up four or if you're down four. You gotta play the game the same way. Somebody is evaluating you. So if you want to throw it off the backboard, feel free and dunk the ball. He got an And One. It was a great play. So, I got no message for him. Do what you do. Play basketball. That's what he did. I don't get all up into the whole 'Ah man, they're winning by this much, that's bad.' Says who? Dunk the ball. What's the difference between if he threw it off the backboard and dunked it as opposed to grabbing it and dunking it? It's a dunk," Green told reporters in Dallas after the Warriors' 133-130 win.

Green was then asked what he thought of the play, regardless of game situation.

"Great play. Great play. Amazing. Did you see it? It was dope. He got an And One too. He missed the free throw though. We gotta talk about that. That's my message for him. Make the free throw," Green said.

Kerr reportedly apologized to Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle after the game. Green commented on that.

"Steve's the coach. I'm not. That's not my problem," Green said.

Draymond wasn't the only member of the Green family defending Bell. His mom, Mary Babers-Green was on Twitter defending the rookie.

https://twitter.com/BabersGreen/status/922660243921874945