UA women top Florida
FAYETTEVILLE —The quick hands of Kelsey Brooks helped the Arkansas women earn a big home win on Thursday night.
Brooks came off the bench to score 15 points and record seven steals — one shy of Arkansas’ SEC record — to help the Razorbacks pull off a 55-49 win over the Gators at Bud Walton Arena.
Fellow freshmen Jessica Jackson and McKenzie Adams joined Brooks in double-digits, as Jackson finished with 13 points and six rebounds, while Adams contributed 10 points of her own.
After dealing with foul trouble most of the first half, Jackson began to come to life in the second half and helped the Razorbacks (16-7, 3-7 SEC) regain their first lead since halftime, 37-36, with 11:20 to play. Playing big inside, Jackson had eight points behind efficient 4-for-5 shooting.
Florida (16-7, 6-4) struggled to hang onto both the basketball and its lead in the second half, as an 11-4 push from Arkansas helped them build a 39-36 lead at the under 10-minute mark.
Brooks continued to find her range from outside and hit another big three-pointer late, which was then followed by a basket inside from Jackson to give her double digits (10 points) and Arkansas its largest lead of the game at 50-42 with 3:41 to play.
UA baseball to play 3 games on ESPN networks
The Arkansas baseball team will appear on television 14 times during the regular season, including three games that will be broadcast by ESPN’s family of networks.
The full television schedule was unveiled Thursday.
Arkansas’ home series against South Carolina will now by played from Thursday to Saturday (April 3-5) to accommodate ESPNU. The network will televise the first game of the series, while the finale will appear on Cox Sports Television.
The Razorbacks also will play the second game of their weekend series at LSU on ESPN2 on April 12. First pitch has been set for noon. CST will televise the first and third games of the LSU series at 7 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.
Arkansas also will the April 20 finale of their home series against Vanderbilt on ESPN at noon. The second game of the series will be played at 6 p.m. on CST.
Arkansas opens the season against Appalachian State on Feb. 14.
Baseball Hall of Famer Kiner dies
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner died on Thursday. He was 91 years old.
According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which made the announcement, Kiner died of natural causes and passed away peacefully with his family at his side at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Kiner was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975 after a 10-year career that ended after the 1955 season. A six-time All-Star, he was a career .279 hitter, slugged 369 homers and drove in 1,015 runs over 1,472 games.
While with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he led the National League in home runs six straight seasons from 1947 through 1952. His best season came in 1949, when he posted career highs with 54 homers, 127 RBI and a .310 batting average and finished fourth in the NL MVP voting.
Kiner, who also played for the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians, also made a name for himself in the broadcast booth. One of the original broadcasters of the New York Mets, Kiner hosted a popular post-game segment called, “Kiner’s Corner” and was still making guest appearances in the TV booth for the Mets in recent years.
Born October 27, 1922 in Santa Rita, N.M., Kiner averaged a home run every 14.1 at-bats, the sixth-best ratio all-time and second among right-handed batters.
Mariners ink closer Rodney to 2-year deal
SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners continued their busy offseason on Thursday, reportedly signing closer Fernando Rodney to a two-year contract.
According to multiple media outlets, including the News Tribune, the deal is worth $14 million, includes performance bonuses, and is pending a physical.
Rodney spent the last two seasons in Tampa Bay as the Rays’ primary closer, racking up 85 saves with a minuscule 1.91 earned run average over 144 relief appearances.
The 36-year-old right-hander was named an All-Star in 2012, when he recorded 48 saves with a remarkable 0.60 ERA, setting a single-season record for the lowest ERA by a reliever in MLB history.
Over 11 seasons in the majors, Rodney owns a career 3.70 ERA with a 29-44 record and 172 saves in 344 games, all in relief, for the Tigers, Angels and Rays since breaking into the league in 2002.
Cavs dismiss GM Grant
CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers have fired general manager Chris Grant.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert made the decision Thursday and appointed David Griffin, the team’s vice president of basketball operations, as acting GM.
The Cavaliers are just 16-33 and riding a six-game losing streak that included a 119-108 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. They entered Thursday’s action 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot in the lowly Eastern Conference.
Grant originally joined the franchise as assistant general manager in July 2005 and had been the GM since June 4, 2010 when he took over for Danny Ferry. Just a month into his tenure, LeBron James left as a free agent for Miami and Cleveland has been rebuilding ever since.
The Cavs have yet to reach the playoffs since James went to the Heat, finishing with a losing record in each of the last three seasons.
Griffin joined the Cavs in September 2010 after 17 seasons with the Phoenix Suns.
Raptors’ Ross to defend Slam Dunk title against actual All-Stars
NEW YORK — Toronto Raptors forward Terrence Ross will defend his NBA Slam Dunk crown during All-Star weekend in New Orleans, though this year’s field features three big names participating in the All-Star Game on Feb. 16.
All-Star’s Paul George of the Pacers, John Wall of the Wizards and Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers will join Golden State’s Harrison Barnes and Sacramento rookie Ben McLemore as the challengers attempting to take Ross’ title in the Slam Dunk competition, which has lost its luster in recent years due to a lack of star power.
Lillard will also participate in the three-point competition and had already agreed to play in Feb. 14’s rookie/sophomore game, Feb. 15’s skills challenge and Feb. 16’s All-Star Game, making him the first player in All-Star weekend history to participate in all five events.
Joining Lillard in the three-point competition will be Golden State sharpshooter Stephen Curry, Minnesota star Kevin Love, and San Antonio sniper Marco Belinelli representing the West.
Washington’s Bradley Beal, Brooklyn’s Joe Johnson and Orlando’s Arron Afflalo will join reigning champion Kyrie Irving as the East representatives in the three-point competition.
Loupe leads by 2 at Pebble Beach
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Andrew Loupe fired an 8-under 63 on Thursday and took a 2-shot lead to the clubhouse with the first round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am suspended due to darkness.
Loupe played his opening round at Monterey Peninsula’s Shore Course. He will rotate to Spyglass Glass and Pebble Beach for the next two rounds, before Pebble Beach hosts the final round.
The PGA Tour rookie is making his sixth start in the new wrap-around season, and this is the second time in 12 rounds that he has broken par. He opened the Humana Challenge with a 67, but missed the cut as he did in all five of his starts so far.
Jimmy Walker opened with a 6-under 66 at Pebble Beach. He was joined at minus-6 by Stuart Appleby, Scott Gardiner, Jim Renner and Richard H. Lee, who all played at Monterey in the first round.
Jordan Spieth carded a 67 at Spyglass, while Robert Streb posted his 67 at Pebble Beach. They share seventh place with Brian Harman, 2006 runner-up Rory Sabbatini, Dicky Pride, Brian Davis, four-time winner Phil Mickelson, 2011 champ D.A. Points and Tim Wilkinson, who all still have holes to play in their first rounds.