Digest for 12-17-13


STATE

UALR women narrowly beaten by No. 13 LSU

LITTLE ROCK —The Arkansas-Little Rock women’s basketball team nearly pulled a major upset on Sunday.

UALR led then-No. 13 LSU by six points at halftime, but couldn’t keep up in the second half as the Tigers edged the Trojans 58-51.

UALR held LSU, which climbed to No. 12 in Monday’s Associated Press Top 25 poll, to just 29.2 percent shooting in the first half. The Trojans (4-4) led by as many as 10 and went into the break leading 30-24.

Free throws allowed LSU (8-1) to climb back into the game. The Tigers went 26 for 37 on the night, including making 18 of 25 in the second half.

Kierra Clark led UALR with 17 points and eight rebounds. Taylor Ford added 13 points and eight assists for the Trojans.

LSU’s Theresa Plaisance had game-highs in points (19) and rebounds (15). She also went 11 for 17 from the charity stripe.

REGIONAL

Grizzlies sign James Johnson

MEMPHIS — In much need of scoring and inside help with the absence of Marc Gasol, the Memphis Grizzlies signed forward James Johnson of the NBA Development League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Monday.

Johnson, 26, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound NBA veteran from Wake Forest, averaged 18.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.9 steals and 3.4 blocks in 10 games for RGV this season. A first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls in the 2009 draft, Johnson had his best NBA season in 2011-12 with Toronto when he averaged 9.1 points and 4.7 rebounds. He spent last season with the Sacramento Kings and was waived by the Atlanta Hawks before this season.

Memphis (10-13), which has lost eight of its last 11 including the past three, hosts the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

NATIONAL

Dolphins’ Incognito to remain suspended with pay

DAVIE, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins released a statement Monday confirming that guard Richie Incognito will remain suspended until NFL special investigator Ted Wells concludes his inquiry into the club’s workplace conduct.

Incognito had a grievance hearing postponed in late November while Wells interviewed Dolphins players, coaches and staff members surrounding the harassment and bullying allegations in the wake of Jonathan Martin’s exit from the team prior to a Week 9 game against Cincinnati.

Incognito, who will be paid during the banishment, was suspended on Nov. 3 and has already missed six games. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a player can only be suspended for a total of four games, but Incognito is choosing not to fight it.

The 30-year-old Incognito has denied bullying Martin but said he may have been too harsh on his younger teammate and regrets using racist language.

Manning named SI Sportsman of the Year

NEW YORK — Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has been named Sports Illustrated’s 2013 Sportsman of the Year.

The award is presented annually to the person or team who transcended the year in both athletic performance and character.

Manning is the only four-time NFL MVP and is among the candidates for this year’s honor. He has 47 touchdown passes this season and needs four more to break the single-season record of 50 set by Tom Brady, the 2005 SI Sportsman winner.

The 35-year-old veteran is the eighth SI Sportsman from pro football, joining Pete Rozelle (1963), Terry Bradshaw (1979), Reggie Williams (1987), Joe Montana (1990), Tom Brady (2005), Brett Favre (2007), and Drew Brees (2010).

Last year’s winner was Miami Heat star LeBron James.

Army jettisons Ellerson after another loss to Navy

WEST POINT, N.Y. — In the wake of a 34-7 loss to Navy on Saturday in Philadelphia, Army has fired head football coach Rich Ellerson.

“This is a very difficult day for all of us at West Point,” said Army director of athletics Boo Corrigan in making the announcement on Sunday. “Rich Ellerson has represented West Point and the Army football program extremely well since taking over as our head coach five years ago. He has been a tremendous role model for our cadet-athletes and great mentor for many within the athletic department.

“Unfortunately, our team has not experienced the level of success on the football field that we expect, and we feel it is necessary to make a change in leadership at this time.”

Ellerson, who was hired the day after Christmas in 2008 and then signed to a two-year contract extension in December of 2010, finished his tenure at 20-41. That includes a 3-9 record this past season and five straight defeats to their military rivals.

A search for his replacement will take effect immediately.

WORLD

Vitali Klitschko vacates WBC heavyweight title

Vitali Klitschko, who has not defended his WBC heavyweight title in 15 months and is involved in the political unrest in his native Ukraine, vacated his belt Monday.

As a result, the WBC appointed him as the organization’s “champion emeritus.” It means that if Klitschko, 42, decides to fight again, he will have the opportunity to fight for the title.

Klitschko has won 45 of his 47 professional fights, 41 by knockout.