No. 11 Cincinnati beats UALR 87-53


No. 11 Cincinnati beats UALR 87-53

CINCINNATI (AP) Sean Kilpatrick scored 10 of his 18 points in the second half, and No. 11 Cincinnati set a school record with 23 steals Thursday night, emerging from a sloppy start for an 87-53 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock.

The Bearcats (8-0) started with eight straight wins for the 15th time in school history and the second time in three seasons.

Playing with their highest ranking since they were No. 11 at end of 2003-04, the Bearcats threw the ball away early, prompting coach Mick Cronin to substitute for all five starters. Cincinnati was coming off attention-getting wins over Iowa State and Oregon followed by a 58-56 victory over Alabama on Cashmere Wright's fadeaway at the buzzer on Saturday.

Despite their early sloppiness, the Bearcats quickly wore down the Trojans (7-4), who had a season-high 32 turnovers, 18 in the opening half alone. Cincinnati's steals topped the previous school record by three.

Cheikh Mbodj had 12 points and seven rebounds for Cincinnati, which finished with four players in double figures. Shaquille Thomas had the record-setting 21st steal and a dunk with 6:11 to go.

Will Neighbour, Ben Dillard and James White scored 10 apiece for Arkansas-Little Rock.

The teams combined for 54 field goals and 49 turnovers.

The Trojans have started freshman John Gillon at point guard the last nine games. He struggled against the unrelenting pressure, turning the ball over eight times. Junior shooting guard Leroy Isler had seven turnovers.

Playing against a badly overmatched opponent for the first time in the last four games, the Bearcats lacked focus at the outset, throwing the ball away five times before the 15:55 mark. Cronin benched all of his starters. At one point, he yelled at one of his players on the court: ``What don't you understand?''

The lineup change got their attention. Cincinnati had only two more turnovers the rest of the half while pulling away to a 42-17 lead. The Bearcats extended their pressure defense full-court and got the Trojans so flustered that they repeatedly threw the ball away on fast-break chances.

Cincinnati's offense finally got going when JaQuon Parker returned and hit two 3s - Cincinnati's first of the game - during a 12-point run that built the lead to 25-8.

The Trojans had trouble getting the ball across midcourt in the closing minutes of the half, fueling another surge. Arkansas-Little Rock had 18 turnovers and was 8 of 25 from the field in the half.

Cronin kept on his players all game, stomping his foot on the court to get their attention and growing angry over every mistake.


Follow Joe Kay on Twitter:http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."