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Spurrier gets 2-year extension at South Carolina

Spurrier gets 2-year extension at South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Steve Spurrier has received a two-year contract extension that will keep him at South Carolina through 2017.

The university's board of trustees unanimously approved the extension Monday. There was no salary increase in the deal. Spurrier is scheduled to again earn $3.3 million in 2013.

A year ago, trustees gave Spurrier two additional years on the contract after the football season, then voted him a raise of $475,000 this past February to his current salary.

Spurrier has led the Gamecocks to consecutive seasons with double-digit victories, a first in program history. No. 11 South Carolina finished 6-2 in the Southeastern Conference for a second straight year. Spurrier became the school's all-time victories leader with his 65th win when the Gamecocks defeated Clemson on Nov. 24.

South Carolina (10-2) faces No. 19 Michigan (8-4) in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day. Should the Gamecocks win, it would give Spurrier his third bowl win at the school - also tops in the program.

University President Harris Pastides said South Carolina was ``delighted in the success we've been having.''

Athletic director Ray Tanner said Spurrier wasn't concerned about his financial package, but thought adding two more years would help with football recruiting.

Spurrier was grateful to the school's leaders for the contract extension.

``We have achieved a lot of goals, but we have not yet won the SEC championship,'' he said. ``Hopefully, we can do that within the next couple of years.''

The Gamecocks looked on track to contend for the league and national titles midway through this season. They were 6-0 and ranked third in the country after a dominating 35-7 win over Georgia.

But South Carolina dropped consecutive top-10 showdowns, losing at LSU (23-21) and Florida (44-11) to fall out of the championship chase.

Still, defeating rival Clemson for a fourth-straight season left a good taste in Spurrier's mouth. He and some players were honored Sunday at halftime of the Gamecocks' basketball game and Spurrier couldn't resist needling his state rival.

He explained to the crowd how his team had a difficult game with ``that school from the Upstate.''

``As all of you know, it was a very close game,'' Spurrier continued with a grin. ``Went into the fourth quarter, our defense played very well, our kicker made his kicks and we were able to beat Wofford, 24-7.''

Incentives in Spurrier's contract also remain the same as in the contract approved last February. In that deal, the school agreed to add the Outback Bowl to the list of other top-tier postseason games where Spurrier would earn $100,000 bonus for playing there.

Spurrier has already earned bonuses totaling $150,000 for 10 victories. He can get an additional $200,000 for an 11th win.

Tanner said Spurrier has elevated the football program in every way and ``is well deserving of this contract extension.''

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The goal that no one wanted: Alex Ovechkin gives up hat trick to set up T.J. Oshie

The goal that no one wanted: Alex Ovechkin gives up hat trick to set up T.J. Oshie

Alex Ovechkin had two goals, the puck on his stick and an empty-net yawning. The Caps held a 4-2 lead on Monday against the Vancouver Canucks late in the third period and the win looked all but secured. The only thing still up for grabs was the exclamation point empty-net goal.

Ovechkin took the puck in the defensive zone and weaved his way through the neutral zone. Once he hit center ice, there was only one player between him and the net. The hat trick looked all but certain…until he passed the puck away.

He easily could have taken the puck himself and fired it into the empty yet, but instead he chose to pass it off to T.J. Oshie on the wing.

Oshie delayed, but with the trailing Vancouver players skating into the passing lane, there was no way for Oshie to try to pass it back to Ovechkin and he very reluctantly shot the puck into the net.

When the players returned to the bench, the disappointment on Oshie’s face was clear to see. He wanted Ovechkin to get the hat trick, but Ovechkin wasn’t having it.

After the game, head coach Todd Reirden praised Ovechkin for his leadership.

“He could have easily got in the red and tried to score himself and it wasn’t even a thought,” Reirden said. “He passed right to Osh and Osh couldn’t go back to him and that’s the way it worked out. It doesn’t bother him one bit and I think that’s where you see a different player than maybe you saw three or four years ago that is not focused on individual stuff. He’s doing the right thing and he feels if you do the right thing for long enough, you’re going to get rewarded.

“We were benefactors of that last season with being able to win out at the end. He’s really got a lot of buy-in right now for doing the right thing. I think his leadership is really in the last probably year, year and a half has really gone to a new level.”
 
Reirden saw leadership on the play. Oshie saw disappointment.
 
Ovechkin offered his own explanation for giving up the shot as he said, “Save it for next time.”

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Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. show how they can change everything for Wizards in win over Blazers

Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. show how they can change everything for Wizards in win over Blazers

Most nights, with little variance, the Wizards know what they are going to get from John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. They are consistently what they are, both good and bad, and mostly good.

The same cannot always be said about Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. Both are capable of brilliance, it's just those moments come and go and sometimes with mysterious timing. Both players help the team more often than not, but can be unpredictable and enigmatic.

Monday night saw both Morris and Oubre at their best as the Wizards topped the Blazers 125-124 in overtime at the Moda Center. It was a worthy reminder of how much the two of them can change the outlook for the Wizards as a team on any given night.

Let's begin with Morris because this may have been the best game he's played with the Wizards since joining them in a Feb. 2016 trade. On both ends of the floor, he  was a force, but particularly on offense.

Morris erupted for 28 points in 25 minutes on 9-for-15 from the field and 6-for-10 from three. His six threes were a career-high. He also had 10 rebounds, a block and a steal.

It was the most efficient night in Morris' career and, by one measure, one of the most efficient in franchise history. His 28 points were the most by a Wizards or Bullets player in 25 minutes or less since A.J. English dropped 30 points in 23 minutes in 1990.

Morris' threes were well-timed. He hit two in the extra period, including one with 38.5 seconds remaining to put the Wizards up four. He also made one with 1:04 left in regulation and another right before that with 1:39 to go, both to give the Wizards a lead at the time. 

The clutch threes invoked memories of a game-winner Morris hit in the very same building two seasons ago. That also happened to be his best year with the Wizards.

Morris has improved his three-point shooting in recent years with a career-best 36.7 percent last season. When he's knocking them down, the Wizards can be uniquely good at spacing the floor, as Wall and especially Beal and Porter can be dangerous from three.

What Morris did against Portland was a major departure from a pair of uninspired games to begin the season. He had 21 points and 12 rebounds total in his first two games, both losses, as he failed to compensate for Dwight Howard's absence. On Monday, he stepped up and helped lead the Wizards to victory.

Like Morris, Oubre had been scuffling through two games. A different version of him showed up in Portland.

Oubre amassed only 17 points in his first two games and shot just 5-for-16 from the field and 1-for-7 from three. Against the Blazers, Oubre scored 22 points and shot 9-for-13 overall and 3-for-3 from long range.

Oubre added six rebounds, a block and a steal and a host of winning plays that didn't show up in traditional stats. He drew a loose ball foul on Mo Harkless early in the fourth quarter and took a charge on C.J. McCollum with under two minutes in overtime.

Oubre played pretty much exactly how head coach Scott Brooks often says he should. He ran the floor in transition and attacked the rim when the ball swung his way. He was more selective with his three-point attempts than usual. He wreaked havoc on defense with deflections, didn't gamble for steals and he hustled for rebounds. 

Monday night showed the perfect version of both Morris and Oubre. The Wizards need that to be the model for how they aspire to play every single night. If they do, this team's ceiling is significantly higher.

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