NCAA

Cardinals interview Horton, plan to meet with Reid

Cardinals interview Horton, plan to meet with Reid

PHOENIX (AP) The Arizona Cardinals officially have begun their coaching search with a formal interview of defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

The interview, conducted Tuesday by team president Michael Bidwill, was the first in the team's search for a replacement for Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired Monday after six seasons on the job.

The team has reached out to Andy Reid but had not scheduled an interview. Reid was fired Monday after 14 seasons as head coach in Philadelphia.

Bidwill plans to fly to Denver over the weekend to interview Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Horton, Reid and McCoy are the only candidates thus far identified by the Cardinals.

Horton is a rising star in NFL coaching circles, despite Arizona's lack of success.

The Cardinals' defense was among the league leaders in several categories, with the 5-11 overall record due mostly to the worst offense in the NFL.

Horton reportedly had other interviews scheduled. Buffalo CEO Russ Brandon confirmed Tuesday that he, general manager Buddy Nix and other front office personnel were flying to Arizona with Horton and Whisenhunt presumed to be among those targeted for the Bills' coaching vacancy. Horton also is reported to be a candidate for the Cleveland Browns.

Reid is an intriguing prospect for the Cardinals. He could be reunited with quarterback Kevin Kolb, who had some big games with the Eagles before being traded to Arizona just before the start of the 2011 season. Kolb remains under contract with Arizona but the team is expected to want to restructure his contract. He is set to make $9 million plus a $2 million roster bonus for the coming season.

``I'm not ready to give up on Kevin Kolb yet,'' Bidwill said Monday.

Bidwill has to interview McCoy this weekend in Denver under NFL rules that provide a narrow window for such meetings with members of coaching staffs whose teams have a bye the first round of the playoffs. McCoy also has an interview scheduled with the Browns.

Larry Fitzgerald, who had one of his worst seasons as the Cardinals struggled at the quarterback position, weighed in on the firing of Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves. In a lengthy tweet, Fitzgerald thanked the pair for giving him the opportunity to ``live my dream in the NFL.''

``We all shoulder the blame for a disappointing season which began with such promise,'' Fitzgerald wrote.

He said that ``even in the midst of a tumultuous season, it was still a pleasure to work for the staff we served under, and for that we remain grateful.''

``Their professionalism will provide for renewed accomplishments in different environs,'' Fitzgerald wrote. ``We all, to a man, thank them and wish them the best.''

Whisenhunt set the record for victories by a Cardinals coach, going 45-51 in six seasons, 4-2 in the playoffs. The team got off to a 4-0 start but lost 11 of 12 to finish 5-11 for the second time in three seasons.

Whisenhunt and his staff was never able to find success on offense after the retirement of Kurt Warner, who quarterbacked the team to its surprise run to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season and the NFC West title in 2009.

Bidwill said he decided over the last few weeks that Whisenhunt and Graves should be replaced, making the final decision on Sunday night. Graves had been with the organization for 16 years.

Bidwill said he had no preference on the order of hiring a new general manager and coach.

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AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Buffalo, N.Y., contributed to this report.

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Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

Watkins, Stevens lead Penn State over No. 4 Maryland

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USA Today Sports Images

Watkins, Stevens lead Penn State over No. 4 Maryland

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State became the fifth unranked team to beat a top-5 program in this upset-filled college basketball season, getting 15 points and 11 rebounds from Mike Watkins in a 76-69 win over No. 4 Maryland on Tuesday night.

Lamar Stevens added 15 points and 10 rebounds, Myreon Jones and Izaiah Brockington each scored 14 points, and Myles Dread had 12 points for the Nittany Lions (8-2, 1-1 Big Ten), who led for all but 1:54.

Jalen Smith had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (10-1, 1-1), who were trying for their first 11-0 start since 1996.

Eric Ayala scored 15, Anthony Cowan Jr. had 14, Aaron Wiggins had 13 and Serrel Smith added 12 for the Terps, who trailed 40-30 at halftime.

Penn State's win was followed minutes later by another unranked team knocking off an unbeaten opponent -- Texas Tech over No. 1 Louisville at Madison Square Garden.

The Nittany Lions led by as many as 10 with 15:19 to play, but the Terps used an 11-3 run capped by a 3-pointer from Cowan to cut the deficit to 52-50 with 10:57 left.

They wouldn't get any closer, and Penn State won its first game against a top-5 team since Feb. 17, 2016, when the Nittany Lions knocked off then-No. 4 Iowa.

Penn State leaned on its defense to build its first-half lead.

The Nittany Lions forced 12 turnovers in the first 10 minutes and used most of them to fuel an 18-5 run. Dread capped the sequence with a 3-pointer that made it 27-15.

Maryland slowed the pace with a pair of jumpers before Cowan hit a 3 that cut Penn State's lead to five. The Nittany Lions closed the half with a 13-8 run, capped by a buzzer-beating 3 from Jones.

THE TAKEAWAY

Maryland: The Terps fell behind early for a second straight game, but it didn't work out as well against a bigger, more skilled opponent. Maryland also spotted Illinois a big lead on Saturday before rallying.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions have beaten top teams at home in the Patrick Chambers era, but those wins have usually come late in the season.

UP NEXT

Maryland visits No. 22 Seton Hall on Dec. 19

Penn State hosts Alabama on Saturday.

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Ish Smith helps mop the court during a timeout

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NBC Sports Washington

Ish Smith helps mop the court during a timeout

As a guard, Ish Smith is asked to do a lot on the court. Pass, shoot, and defend, the Wizards need him to do it all in order to succeed. On Tuesday, however, Smith demonstrated another on-court intangible that isn't always seen from NBA players: cleaning.

During the final moments of what would be a 114-107 loss to the Hornets, the game came to a halt in order to mop up a wet spot on the court. Smith happened to find himself near the large mop under the baseline, grabbed it and began helping out the worker. 

Overall, it's pretty good form here from Smith. He bent his knees, extended his arms and had a solid motion with the mop. Smith finished the night with 13 points and five assists in the boxscore, but this sixth assist was his most innovative.

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