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Sweet 16: Coach K says 'It's not the coaching.' But it is

Duke keeps winning games in the NCAA Tournament and Mike Krzyzewski keeps telling anyone who will listen, “It’s not the coaching.”There’s some evidence to suggest he’s right.For one thing, Duke relies almost entirely on freshmen and sophomores, which means his core group of players have only had so much time to soak up Coach K’s decades of gathered wisdom. For another, Krzyzewski switched to a zone defense in the second half of Thursday night’s Sweet 16 game against a rugged Texas Tech team, but when the Blue Devils needed big stops down the stretch his players lobbied — successfully — to go back to man-to-man.Finally, and most important, perhaps, those same kids who are supposed to be feeling the pressure of his impending retirement shot 71% from the floor after halftime, hitting eight straight field goals to end the game. There’s no coaching manual that covers that.But don’t be fooled.On the same night two No. 1 seeds were toppled, the reason Krzyzewski won the 100th NCAA Tournament game of his career and remains squarely on track toward a sixth national championship is … coaching. No one does it better.He’s been recruiting kids who ooze with NBA-caliber talent for four decades now — which is a specialty all its own — and then teaching them the difference between showing up and showing off when the game is on the line. Duke had played zone defense roughly 5% of the time during the regular season, which made it a risky gambit when Coach K threw the switch against the Red Raiders. Then he listened to his players when they pleaded to switch back, which is even riskier, and more to the point, it proved that at age 75, the old Blue Devil is still willing to learn new tricks.“Whenever they can own something, they’re going to do it better than if we just run it,” Krzyzewski said afterward. “When they said that, I felt they’re going to own it. They’ll make it work, and that’s probably more important than strategy during that time. So that’s the way I looked at it.”Three key defensive stops that followed and two late baskets by Jeremy Roach moved Krzyzewski within one win of his record-setting 13th trip to the Final Four with a 78-73 victory. Paolo Banchero led second-seeded Duke with 22 points, Mark Williams scored 16 and Roach, handed his starting spot back just ahead of the tournament, added 15.Bryson Williams led No. 3 seed Texas Tech with 21.Duke will play Arkansas on Saturday with a trip to the Final Four on the line. That’s after the fourth-seeded Razorbacks, who bear some resemblance to the “40 Minutes of Hell” Arkansas teams that tore up the tournament in the mid-1990s, tore up top overall seed Gonzaga en route to a 74-68 win.Much like those teams, coach Eric Musselman has loaded up tenacious defenders and shooters with short memories — notably JD Notae, who missed 20 shots and still scored 21 points — and has the Razorbacks convinced it’s them against the world.“We’ve been disrespected the whole year, so it’s just another thing for us,” Jaylin Williams said. “We saw everything they were saying, we felt like they were dancing before the game. …“We had a chip on our shoulder,” he added a moment later. “Every game we do.”Whatever the Zags had on their shoulders felt like a 40-pound weight. Entering as the top-scoring team in the nation (87.8 points per game), Gonzaga shot 37.5% and went 5 of 21 from 3-point range. NBA prospect Chet Holmgren, the Zags’ skinny freshman center, was hounded all night and spared himself a few minutes of hell by fouling out with 3:29 left.Speaking of discomfort, fifth-seeded Houston did a pretty good job of exploiting top seed Arizona’s lack of experience. The Wildcats missed seven of their first eight shots as Houston sprinted to a 14-4 advantage and led the rest of the way, riding 21 points from Jamal Shead and 19 from Kyler Edwards to a 72-60 win.“I knew we were going to make them uncomfortable, that’s what we do,” Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Our team, we’re a tough bunch. … They’re not afraid of anybody.”Houston lost four starters from last season and then lost Marcus Sasser, the lone returner and leading scorer who broke his left foot before Christmas. And then Taze Moore, one of the transfers Sampson relied on, got hit with his third personal foul against Arizona with 9:22 left and wound up playing only 17 minutes overall.“Tonight, you know, he was in the witness protection program,” Sampson said. “I couldn’t find him. Nowhere. We put him in there, we had to take him right back out.”That won’t do against second-seeded Villanova, where coach Jay Wright has been quietly fashioning a mini-dynasty of his own. The Wildcats don’t play the “no-respect” card because they win too much — two national championships since 2016 — and they put together another workmanlike performance to send No. 11 seed Michigan packing with a 63-55 victory.Jermaine Samuels, a freshman during that last title run in 2018 — capped off against Michigan, no less — led Villanova with 22 points, and drew the unenviable assignment of battling 7-foot-1 Hunter Dickinson on both ends of the floor. Dickinson led Michigan with 15 points and 15 rebounds, but none of them came easy.“I just wanted to stay mobile and move,” Samuels said. “He’s a phenomenal player, so he’s going to get great looks at the basket. But that I have teammates behind me gave me all the confidence I needed.”

US gains 0-0 draw at Mexico, in strong position to qualify

MEXICO CITY — Christian Pulisic pounded the ground three times just past Mexico’s goal line after his point-blank shot was blocked in the 35th minute.The United States was frustrated yet pleased with a gritty 0-0 draw on Thursday night in the thin air of a half-full Estadio Azteca. The point earned pushed the Americans in place to all but clinch a World Cup berth with a victory against Panama on Sunday night at Orlando, Florida.“We put ourselves in a position to play on Sunday and win and go to the World Cup,” Pulisic said. “But of course I’m disappointed I missed a chance, and I would have loved to have won the game.”The U.S. maintained second place in North and Central America and the Caribbean with 22 points, four behind Canada, and ahead of Mexico on goal difference. The top three nations reach this year’s World Cup in Qatar, and the No. 4 team advances to a playoff, likely against New Zealand.With a victory Sunday, the U.S. would ensure that fourth-place Costa Rica could only pull even by winning its final two games. The U.S. has a plus-nine goal difference, the first tiebreaker, and the Ticos are plus-two following a 1-0 win over Canada. If Costa Rica fails to win at El Salvador and the U.S. beats Panama, which has 18 points after being held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Honduras, the Americans would clinch outright.The U.S. closes on March 30 at Costa Rica, where the Americans have never won in qualifying.“We’re getting close,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said. “Positive disappointment, that’s how I would characterize it. The group is jazzed up. They’re psyched.”Berhalter played his “A” team — minus five injured regulars — after debating whether to rest top players ahead of Sunday. He will face Panama somewhat depleted.Right back DeAndre Yedlin and winger Tim Weah both were given their second yellow cards of qualifying and must serve one-game suspensions, Yedlin in the 26th for an unnecessary sliding tackle in the midfield on Edson Álvarez and Weah in the 39th for knocking over Raúl Jiménez from behind on a throw-in. The U.S. is short at right back with Sergiño Dest injured and Reggie Cannon sidelined following a positive COVID-19 test, and Berhalter said Shaq Moore already had flown from Spain’s Tenerife to join the U.S. group in Orlando.Mexico, which has 40 wins, two losses and 10 draws in qualifiers at Azteca, outshot the U.S. 11-9 and had 62.3% possession. But the Americans had the better chances, a 1.26 expected goals to Mexico’s 0.40.El Tri fans booed the home team at the final whistle.Zack Steffen got the start over Ethan Hovath and came away with his second shutout against Mexico in qualifying, helping the U.S. extend its unbeaten streak over El Tri to four games, including three wins.Pulisic was alone in front after Ricardo Pepi fed Weah wide and the winger got around two defenders for a cross. Sprinting toward goal with Johan Vásquez giving chase, Pulisic redirected the ball with his left foot from 7 yards only for goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to react quickly enough to block the shot off his ribcage.Pulisic had another close call with an angled left-foot shot that Ochoa parried in the 49th for a corner kick.Gio Reyna, the 19-year-old midfielder who had missed the previous 10 qualifiers with a strained hamstring, replaced Weah in the 60th minute and showed explosive speed. Reyna directed Kellyn Acosta’s looping pass in the 72nd minute to Jordan Pefok, who came in at the same time in place of Pepi, but Pefok misfired a left-foot shot and sent it wide from 6 yards.Reyna dribbled half the length of the field in the 77th, starting about 10 yards from his own penalty area. He dashed right to evade a sliding Héctor Herrera, deked left to slalom past Vásquez, sprinted into the center circle and spun around Herrera again, outran Gerardo Arteaga, dribbled past Jiménez and cut left and then right to blow past Jorge Sánchez’s slide tackle. Only then was Vásquez able to knock the ball away, about 30 yards from Mexico’s goal.Berhalter thought of Diego Maradona’s second goal against England in a 1986 World Cup quarterfinal played on the same field.“I had visions of that when Gio was dribbling,” Berhalter said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t finish it off.”Reyna blushed when told of Berhalter’s remark.“I don’t know about that, but, yeah, it was a nice run,” he said. “In the end, it didn’t really turn out to anything.”After FIFA ordered Mexico to play a pair of home qualifiers without fans as punishment for homophobic chants during October qualifiers against Honduras and Canada, the Mexican Football Federation limited the crowd to about 47,000 in the 87,000-seat stadium and mandated spectators present a QR Code and identification for entry.For much of the first half, two sections of several hundred American Outlaws in the upper deck were louder than Mexico’s supporters.“I think everyone’s pretty pleased with the way tonight went,” Pulisic said. “Three points would have been amazing here, but we can’t get too greedy. They’re a great team in a difficult place to play.”NOTES: Aaron Long and Erik Palmer-Brown entered in the 80th minute, the 37th and 38th American players used in qualifying. Palmer-Brown became the 114th U.S. player of the World Cup cycle, the 88th since Berhalter became coach in December 2018.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Disaster again as Italy fails to qualify for World Cup

MILAN — When Italy missed out on the last World Cup, it was a disaster for soccer in the country.Missing another? There are really no words to accurately describe it.“NOOOOOOOOO!” screamed the headline on Friday in the Tuttosport newspaper, with all nine of those Os stretching all the way across the front page.The Italians, who won the European Championship only eight months ago, can really only blame themselves for missing out on this year’s World Cup in Qatar. The team failed to convert dozens of chances in the 1-0 semifinal playoff loss to North Macedonia on Thursday, with Aleksandar Trajkovski scoring in injury time to secure a shocking victory for a country ranked 67th in the world.“Into hell,” Corriere dello Sport blared on its front page.Gazzetta dello Sport called it “Out of this world.”The loss in Palermo certainly came as a surprise to many, but it was also predictable for a team that has been in rapid decline since beating England on penalties to win the Euro 2020 title last July.The team that set records for winning last year had won only two of its eight matches since, including losing its first match in more than three years to Spain in the Nations League.“Our triumph at the Euros was fully deserved. But then some of the fortune we had in the tournament transformed into total and complete bad luck,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini said. “It almost feels like conceding a last-minute goal was fitting.“I don’t know what to say. Maybe we shouldn’t even have got to this point.”Here’s a look at where it went wrong for Italy this time:MISSED CHANCESItaly was in total control of its World Cup qualifying group until after Euro 2020. That’s when the scoring touch seemed to disappear.The Azzurri drew four of their final five matches and dropped behind Switzerland for the the sole automatic qualifying position.Missed opportunities cost them dearly in those games, especially against Bulgaria, where Italy had 27 attempts to its opponent’s four and 71% possession but nevertheless drew 1-1.It was the same problem in the playoffs against North Macedonia. Italy had 32 shots on goal while the visitors had only four. One of those went in, allowing North Macedonia to advance to the playoff final against Portugal on Tuesday.Italy’s lack of scoring had so concerned Mancini that he called up Mario Balotelli for a three-day training camp in January, three years after his last appearance for the Azzurri. He left out the controversial forward for the World Cup playoffs, however.PENALTIESPenalties saved Italy at Euro 2020. The Italians beat Spain in the semifinals and England in the final in shootouts.But two failed Jorginho attempts from the spot in the qualifying matches against Switzerland ended up hurting bad. One match ended 0-0, the other 1-1.If Italy had won either of those two matches, they would have finished ahead of Switzerland and gained automatic qualification to this year’s tournament in Qatar.“Honestly, it’s difficult because we have to look at the reality, and I put myself in there, too,” Jorginho said after Thursday’s match. “It hurts when I think about the two penalties, because I do still think about them and I’ll think about them for the rest of my life, unfortunately.“Stepping up there twice and not being able to help your team and your country is something that I will carry with me forever, and it weighs on me so much. People say now we need to move on, but it still hurts.”SERIE AThe Italian national team’s recent poor form has been mirrored at club level in Serie A.Juventus and Inter Milan were eliminated from the Champions League in the round of 16, while AC Milan and Atalanta didn’t even make it past the group stage. No Italian club has won a European trophy since Inter won the Champions League in 2010.Moreover, there is a clear discord between the clubs and the national team. Serie A refused the Italian soccer federation’s request to amend its calendar and move the league matches from the weekend before the playoffs, which would have allowed Mancini more time with his players.“It’s clear that there is always great resistance from the clubs towards the national team,” federation president Gabriele Gravina said. “The national team is seen more as an annoyance than something that unites an entire country.”Gravina acknowledged that there needs to be institutional reforms.“The loss this evening makes us understand that something needs to be done in Italian soccer,” he said. “For example, let’s start by figuring out what we can do for the many youngsters who don’t get opportunities across our leagues and how we can fill this gap.”———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

TIPPING OFF: Peacocks looking to strut their stuff vs Purdue

A look at what’s happening in the NCAA Tournament today:GAME OF THE DAYSAINT PETER’S VS. PURDUEThis is where the Saint Peter’s storybook run should end, right? Powerful Purdue with 7-foot-4 Zach Edey is favored by 12 1/2 points, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. But this is March, and anything can happen.Count on fans all around the country, plus a packed arena in Philadelphia, to be rooting for an upset in this East semifinal. No doubt plenty will drive down the New Jersey Turnpike to pull for the Peacocks to become the first 15 seed to make the Elite Eight. As it is, they’re only the third team seeded so low to go so far.Saint Peter’s plays great defense, but will have to get creative to keep third-seeded Purdue in check. The Big Ten Boilermakers have weapons all over the court in likely NBA lottery pick Jaden Ivey, 6-10 Trevion Williams, deadeye 3-point shooter Sasha Stefanovic and Edey.For the little team from Jersey City, New Jersey, a lot of eyes will be on plucky point guard Doug Edert. Especially his mustache, which has attracted so much attention it now has its own Twitter account.A BREWIN’ INJURYUCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr., who sprained his right ankle in the second round against Saint Mary’s, is hopeful he’ll be able to play in the fourth-seeded Bruins’ East semifinal against No. 8 seed North Carolina.“He’s going to want to try to play,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “The question is can he be effective? Playing is one thing. Can he play well?”Jaquez is averaging 14 points per game for the season, but is averaging 20.5 over the last eight games.LET’S PLAY AT MY HOUSEProvidence coach Ed Cooley says the Friars’ game against No. 1 seed Kansas in a Midwest semifinal is a great chance to show their stuff. He also wishes his team could play more of the sport’s biggest brands.Asked Thursday why the Friars don’t schedule more high-profile programs, Cooley said, “The reason we don’t play the bluebloods is because they don’t want to come to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Let’s call it exactly what it is. We’d love that opportunity and embrace that opportunity.”Among the all-time winningest programs, excluding those that currently or previously played in the same conference as Providence, only North Carolina has played on the Friars’ home court. That was in 1978.JUST CALL ME ‘GENERAL’You’ve got to admire Tyrese Hunter’s confidence — and courage.The freshman did the unthinkable upon his arrival at Iowa State last summer. He told his teammates to call him “General.”Oh, the audacity.“I was like, ‘Who is this kid coming in and giving himself a nickname? I ain’t never heard of that,” teammate Izaiah Brockington said.Hunter, whose 11th-seeded team plays No. 10 seed Miami in Chicago, said he started calling himself the “General” at a young age and that the reason is self-explanatory.“As a point guard, you’ve got to demand the game, control the game,” he said. “These guys, they took it on and they took it serious, like you’re the ‘General,’ you’re the one that keeps everybody under control throughout the game. So it was big. It started as a joke, but now I feel like that’s something people see me as.”Hunter is third in the Big 12 in both assists and steals and was chosen the conference’s freshman of the year. His teammates say his nickname has stuck.“Tyrese has done a great job taking control of the game on offense and defense and bringing everybody together,” guard Gabe Kalscheur said. “He’s the one — he’s the general on the floor, like his name is.”SWEET HOME CHICAGOMiami’s Charlie Moore has come full circle a couple times in his college career.The Chicago native started out at California, transferred to Kansas and then back to the Windy City to play at DePaul to help his family care for his dad, Curtis, who had a stroke in 2015. Then, with his father’s encouragement, it was on to Miami for his final year.Now he’s back in his hometown to play Iowa State. The point guard played one of his best games of the season in the second round with 15 points, eight assists and nine rebounds in an upset of Auburn.“It’s been a unique experience with me,” he said. “But going through what I went through, going from college to college, I’ve learned a lot. I don’t regret anything. It made me who I am today as a person and I’m pretty happy with who I am.”———More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25

Dadonov scores in 'return' as Vegas routs Predators 6-1

Evgenii Dadonov had a goal and two assists, and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Nashville Predators 6-1 in a game that included a frightening injuryBy W.G. RAMIREZ Associated PressMarch 25, 2022, 6:18 AM• 5 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLAS VEGAS — Evgenii Dadonov had a goal and two assists, and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Nashville Predators 6-1 on Thursday night in a game that included a frightening injury.Golden Knights forward Brett Howden was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher after going headfirst into the boards near the Vegas bench. He was taken to a hospital and was in stable condition, the team said.Shaking off a strange week that saw him traded to Anaheim at the deadline, only to have the NHL negate the transaction a little more than 48 hours later due to a no-trade clause, Dadonov scored his sixth goal in eight games and has 32 points this season.“I felt that support from the stands,” said Dadonov, who was in the starting lineup and received a raucous ovation from the crowd of 18,021. “Probably pumped me up even more. I always loved playing here, even when I was coming (from) Florida (to) here. Great experience playing here in front of this crowd. Still think it’s the best fans in the league.”Mattias Janmark, Nic Roy, Jack Eichel, Chandler Stephenson and Alex Pietrangelo also scored for the Golden Knights. Logan Thompson, making his fifth straight start, stopped 35 shots.Stephenson added two assists and Jonathan Marchessault had three.Filip Forsberg scored for Nashville, and Juuse Saros made 44 saves.Though the Golden Knights were able to celebrate a win that kept them within three points of third-place Edmonton in the Pacific Division, their victory was marred by a scary moment with 3:31 left in the first period when Howden was stretchered off after going down near the Vegas bench. The 23-year-old forward was battling for the puck with Forsberg before losing his balance and getting what appeared to be inadvertently shoved into the boards headfirst.“I thought liberty was taken. He was in a vulnerable position and I thought he got driven into the boards from behind in a dangerous spot,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “My initial concern was obviously about our player. It was a really dangerous hit, and anytime you see someone get stretchered off your concern is there.”Medical personnel brought a stretcher onto the ice and tended to Howden, who appeared responsive and raised one of his arms as he was taken off the playing surface after a nine-minute delay. The Golden Knights announced during the game that Howden was in stable condition at a Las Vegas hospital.After the game, DeBoer said Howden has full movement and he’ll know more Friday.Nashville coach John Hynes and captain Roman Josi opened their postgame news conference commenting on the situation.“On behalf of us Predators players and everyone else, we just want to wish Brett all the best,” Josi said. “Scary incident there and everyone was a little shocked, but we’ve heard he’s in stable condition and hopefully his recovery goes well. Just want to wish you all the best.”Added Hynes: “I’d just like to echo Roman’s statements regarding Brett Howden. On behalf of the Nashville Predators, it’s nice to hear he’s in stable condition and doing well. We support him and wish him all the best.”Janmark put Vegas on the board 1:31 into the game with a redirect from the high slot off Pietrangelo’s shot from the blue line.Roy increased the lead later in the period when he gathered a loose puck in the center of the right circle, turned and fired it past Saros in one swift motion.On a power play in the second period, Dadonov sent the appreciative crowd that welcomed him back with the roar during pregame introductions into another frenzy when he buried a loose puck in front with a backhand.Forsberg ruined Thompson’s bid for a shutout when he tapped home Josi’s pass across the slot for a power-play goal. With the assist, Josi tied his career high with a point in his 12th straight game.Eichel pushed the lead back to three when he squeezed through two defenders and found space inside the near post for the Golden Knights’ second power-play goal of the period.Stephenson and Pietrangeo put an exclamation point on the win with goals late in the third.NOTES: DeBoer coached in his 1,000th career game. … The Golden Knights also lost center Nolan Patrick early in the game after he played just 1:37 over three shifts. … The Predators lost for the fourth time in 11 games and remain in a third-place tie with Minnesota in the Central Division, one point back of St. Louis. … Forsberg’s 36th goal of the season moved him into a sixth-place tie in the NHL with Boston’s David Pastrnak, who had a hat trick earlier in the night.UP NEXTNashville: Hosts the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.Vegas: Hosts the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.———More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

DeBrincat's shootout goal propels Blackhawks over Kings 4-3

LOS ANGELES — Collin Delia grew up in Southern California going to Los Angeles Kings games and watching Jonathan Quick in goal.Thursday night, Delia picked up the biggest win of his fledgling NHL career and outdueled Quick.Delia made 43 saves and stopped all three of Los Angeles’ attempts in the shootout to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory.“It’s hard to put into words. It’s really cool,” said Delia, a Rancho Cucamonga native. “To be from this area, growing up watching Kings and Ducks, especially Jonathan Quick and, you know, get to compete with some really good company and come out victorious, it’s definitely a memorable experience.”Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist in regulation and then had the only score in the shootout for the Blackhawks, who have won two straight for the first time since getting four consecutive victories in the middle of January.Delia made only his third NHL appearance this season. The 27-year old goalie began the season with Rockford of the AHL before being called up two months into the season. With Chicago playing on back-to-back nights, Delia found out before Wednesday’s game in Anaheim that he was going to get the start.“He’s gone through a lot. Just nice for him, a California boy won in California in front of his family. Awesome,” coach Derek King said. “He stood in there and also did a great job in the shootout.”Delia will be seeing more action over the final month of the season. He is the Blackhawks’ backup goaltender after Marc Andre-Fleury was traded to Minnesota and Kevin Lankinen assumed No. 1 duties.Patrick Kane also had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks. Sam Lafferty also scored.“As a team, we’re trying to form this identity of how we want to play and how we want to be moving forward. So I think these past few games we’ve been pretty good,” DeBrincat said. “It’s nice to win some games again, and hopefully we can keep going.”Phillip Danault scored twice for the Kings for his fourth multigoal game of the season. Quick made 28 saves.Trevor Moore added a short-handed score for Los Angeles. He’s the first Kings player since Mike Richards in 2011 to have a short-handed goal in two straight games.“We had a strong start. And we got down a little bit, and then we pick it up and we came back in the third, and that was a huge point. Obviously, we didn’t get the finish we wanted,” said Danault, who has a career-high 21 goals on the season.Kane, who has four straight games with a point, has 23 in March (five goals, 18 assists). That’s second to Nashville’s Roman Josi, who has 26 points this month. Kane was in position after DeBrincat’s shot took a big bounce off the endboards and put it past Quick at 16:44 of the first period.Shortly after Los Angeles’ Troy Stecher was sent to the penalty box for hooking, the Kings evened it on Moore’s breakaway short-hander 2:13 into the second. Moore has 13 goals this season, but four are short-handed — which ties him with Columbus’ Gustav Nyquist, Florida’s Aleksander Barkov, Ottawa’s Alex Formenton and Anaheim’s Isac Lundestrom for the league lead.DeBrincat scored his team-leading 36th of the season nine minutes later on a one-timer after a feed from behind the net by Dylan Strome.Both of Danault’s goals were rebounds in front of the net. His first score at 16:50 of the second period gave him his third goal in the last four games and tied it at 2.After Lafferty’s backhander in front of the crease put the Blackhawks back on top with 1:51 remaining in the second, Danault would tie it again at 9:07 of the third when he was able to fight through traffic and knock it in.With the Kings still missing seven key players due to injuries, coach Todd McLellan thought this was the first time there were major breakdowns in communication. Despite being short-handed, Los Angeles is in second place in the Pacific Division by two points over Edmonton.“It looked disjointed between forwards and defensemen, whether it was passing execution coming out of our end,” he said. “Defending in our zone, there wasn’t a lot of communication. Duplication between forwards and defensemen, missed coverages from back of the net, so we have to clean that up if we want to have success moving forward.”UP NEXTBlackhawks: Conclude their three-game road trip against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.Kings: Host the Seattle Kraken on Saturday.———More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Shead scores 21 points, Houston knocks out 1-seed Arizona

SAN ANTONIO — Houston coach Kelvin Sampson gritted his teeth and raised his arms before emphatically pounding his right fist into his left hand 11 times while celebrating with ecstatic Cougars fans who were not too far from home.Another No. 1 seed is out, and Houston is one win way from playing in its second straight Final Four after leading throughout in a 72-60 victory over Arizona in an NCAA South Regional semifinal game Thursday night.“I knew we were going to make them uncomfortable, that’s what we do,” Sampson said. “Our team, we’re a tough bunch. … They’re not afraid of anybody.”Jamal Shead, a 19-year-old second-year guard, scored a career-high 21 points and experienced guard Kyler Edwards had 19 points with five 3-pointers. They both played 38 minutes after Taze Moore got in early foul trouble.“We always feel like we’re the toughest team out there and we play like that …. we can’t be scared of anybody,” Shead said. “The energy was just electric. It was awesome to have that type of crowd here.”Consecutive layups by Dalen Terry got Arizona within 64-58 with just over two minutes left. But Edwards, the transfer from Texas Tech who played in the 2019 national championship game for the Red Raiders, settled things for Houston with a 3 from the right wing.The No. 5 seed Cougars (32-5) play second-seeded Villanova in the South Region final on Saturday in San Antonio, about 200 miles from the Houston campus.Terry had 17 points for Arizona (33-4), while Pac-12 player of the year Bennedict Mathurin had 15 and Christian Koloko 10.“It was a tough game. There’s a lot of things we could have done better to win the game,” Mathurin said. “I don’t have a lot to say.”The American Athletic Conference champion Cougars became the second former Southwest Conference team to knock a No. 1 seed out of this NCAA Tournament in a matter of hours. Top overall seed Gonzaga lost 74-68 to Arkansas, which went to the SEC in 1991, five years before the SWC’s final season.These Cougars are much different than the ones Sampson took the the Final Four last year — their first since going three times in a row during the Phi Slama Jama era from 1982-84.Houston lost four starters from last season and then lost Marcus Sasser, the lone returner and leading scorer who broke his left foot before Christmas. Sophomore guard Tramon Mark had a season-ending shoulder injury before that.Arizona had one of the least-experienced teams in Division I this season; according to KenPom.com, the Wildcats average 0.63 years of experienced, ranked 355th out of 358 teams. But they won 33 games, and two of their losses were on the road during the regular season against top-20 teams.Those 33 wins left Tommy Lloyd one win shy of the most in NCAA history for a first-year coach. He took over the Wildcats after 21 seasons as an assistant coach for Mark Few at Gonzaga.“I think we really built some foundational pieces this year that are really going to serve us well moving forward. Extremely proud of the guys. Extremely proud of the coaching staff,” Lloyd said. “We ran into a really good team tonight that was just a little bit too much for us.Houston stretched its lead to 10 points three different times before halftime.The Wildcats missed seven of their first eight shots, and trailed by double digits for the first time after Houston scored seven points in a 57-second span for a 14-4 lead. That quick spurt included Shead getting a rebound to start a fastbreak that ended with his pass to Ramon Walker Jr. in the left corner for an open 3, and a driving layup by Edwards after a turnover.Moore, a graduate transfer, had a career-high 21 points in Houston’s second-round win over Illinois, but his early 3 to make it 5-0 Houston in the first two minutes was all he’d score against the Wildcats. He committed his third personal foul with 9:22 left and played only 17 minutes overall.“The guy that’s been really good for us, Taze Moore, was a non-factor. … Tonight, you know, he was in the witness protection program. I couldn’t find him. Nowhere,” Sampson said. “We put him in there, we had to take him right back out.”EXTRA SECONDArizona was within 34-28 at halftime when Koloko made both free throws after a whistle and a replay review when 0.6 seconds were put back on the clock. Sampson and the Cougars thought the half was over, and Mathurin thought he had been fouled going for the rebound on Koloko’s miss as the buzzer sounded, but the refs ruled a foul on Koloko’s shot after looking at the replay.BIG PICTUREArizona: The Wildcats needed overtime to beat TCU in the second round, but they got off to the slow start shooting and never recovered in the Sweet 16 game. They shot 33% (18 of 54) and had 14 turnovers that Houston turned into 24 points.Houston: The Cougars have been to six regional finals in the past. They won each time to advance to the Final Four. … When Arizona was down only two early in the second half, Edwards hit a 3-pointer. Terry hit a 3 a few minutes later to get the Wildcats within a bucket again, but Shead responded with another from long range.UP NEXTHouston and Villanova haven’t played since the Cougars’ 79-49 win on November 23, 1991. The two teams have played twice in the NCAA Tournament — Houston won in 1983 and Villanova won in the 1981 tourney.———More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25