COLUMBIA, Mo. - The University of Missouri football team (11-2 overall and Southeastern Conference East Division champions) has accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, set for January 3rd in Arlington, Texas at the world-renowned AT&T Stadium. Kickoff for the game, which will pit the Tigers against former conference foe Oklahoma State (10-2, 2nd place in Big 12), is set for 7pm.
The Cotton Bowl appearance will mark Mizzou's 11th New Year's Day (or later) bowl game in program history, and its first since playing in the 2008 Cotton Bowl against Arkansas. The invitation is a reward for an outstanding season which saw the Tigers post one of the top turnaround years in the nation, going from 5-7 in 2012 to 11-2 - a 6 1/2 game improvement. This is MU's 30th alltime bowl appearance.
"We are honored and excited to accept a bid to play in the Cotton Bowl," said Head Coach Gary Pinkel, who will be making his ninth bowl game appearance in 13 seasons at Mizzou. "We know first-hand just how great of a trip this is, and how first-class of an operation the Cotton Bowl runs. We have a chance to play an outstanding team in Oklahoma State, and this is an opportunity to finish up a special season in front of a great Mizzou crowd," Pinkel said.
This will mark the 78th Cotton Bowl Classic, and the Tigers will be making their third appearance in the tradition-rich game. Mizzou rolled to a 38-7 win over Arkansas in the 2008 game, as TB Tony Temple rushed for a Cotton Bowl-record 281 yards and four touchdowns against the 25th-ranked Razorbacks. That win closed a stellar season for Mizzou, who finished with a 12-2 record and a school-best final ranking of 4th in the final polls. Mizzou's other appearance in the Cotton Bowl was back in 1946, when Texas claimed a 40-27 victory.
"Mizzou is very pleased to be part of the 78th annual Cotton Bowl Classic," said Director of Athletics Mike Alden. "The Cotton Bowl is one of the iconic bowl games in all of college football, and it will be a great reward to our team to have the opportunity to play in AT&T Stadium. We have an outstanding alumni base in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I know our fans will be excited to see the Tigers come their way once again," he said.
The chairman of the Cotton Bowl is Tommy Bain. Bain said, "We just landed two of the preeminent teams in the country, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Missouri and Oklahoma State are capable of lighting up the scoreboard in a hurry, and defensively, each team is strong. Something is going to have to give come January 3rd. OSU beat three ranked teams in November and one of the nation’s longest winning streaks going into the Oklahoma game. Missouri was absolutely sensational in just its second season in the SEC. The Tigers won the SEC’s Eastern Division and gave Auburn all it wanted in the conference championship game. We can’t wait to get these two teams to Arlington, pamper them with some Texas hospitality, and then prepare for another exciting Classic.”
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Corey Perry scored his team-high 18th goal and rookie Frederik Andersen made 26 saves to lead the Anaheim Ducks to a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
Anaheim won its second in a row, after beating defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago 3-2 in a shootout Friday. St. Louis lost for the third time in four games and fell to 12-2-2 at home.
Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Cogliano, Nick Bonino and Mark Fistric also scored for the Ducks, who had not won in regulation in their previous eight trips to St. Louis.
Getzlaf, who also added an assist, has a point in his last 13 games. He has 10 goals and 10 assists during that span. Getzlaf missed three games in November with an injury and has a point in his team's past 11 games, the longest current run in the NHL.
Andersen, who won his first six starts, improved to 8-1 with his second successive victory. He leads all rookie goalies in wins.
Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund scored third-period goals for St. Louis, which had won five straight home games.
Anaheim scored three times in the opening 7:29 to chase Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, who faced eight shots.
Bonino converted at 17:16 of the second period to push the lead to 4-0.
Andersen stopped the first 20 shots he faced and helped kill off 4-minute power plays in each of the first two periods.
NOTES: Anaheim RW Teemu Selanne was a healthy scratch after playing Friday in Chicago. The 43-year-old has played on back-to-back nights only once this season. ... St. Louis C Derek Roy is one assist shy of 300 for his career. ... The Blues are an NHL-best 57-16-8 at home since the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. ... Anaheim G Jonas Hiller was given the night off after facing 76 shots and 12 shootout attempts in the previous two games. ... St. Louis has scored at least two goals in all 16 home games this season.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Derek Roy and David Backes scored power-play goals 2:31 apart in the second period to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 5-1 win over the struggling New York Islanders on Thursday night.
St. Louis won for the sixth time in eight games. The Islanders have lost eight straight overall (0-6-2) and eight in a row on the road.
Jay Bouwmeester, Magnus Paajarvi and Brenden Morrow also scored for the Blues, who improved to 12-1-2 at home and tied Boston (12-3-2) for the most home wins in the NHL. Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves and upped his record to 15-4-2.
Andrew MacDonald scored for the Islanders, who are 2-11-2 in their last 15 games.
St. Louis was 3 for 6 on the power play after managing one goal in its previous 10 chances.
The Blues scored three times in 7:57 during the second period to break a 1-all tie. Roy converted the rebound of a shot by Kevin Shattenkirk at 7:02 to put St. Louis in front 2-1. Following an instigator penalty on Matt Carkner, Backes scored on a wrist shot from the top of the circle.
Paajarvi added his second of the season just more than 5 minutes later.
New York goalie Anders Nilsson lost for the first time in regulation in his third start of the season.
The Islanders, who are 3-10-0 on the road, have given up a league-high 27 power-play goals.
NOTES: The Blues are 11-0-1 when leading after the first period. ... Islanders G Evgeni Nabokov, who is out with a groin injury, practiced Wednesday and could rejoin the team in a week. ... New York started a five-game road swing that will end Dec. 12 in Phoenix. ... Paajarvi was back in the lineup after missing the previous game with the flu. ... St. Louis won the previous meeting between the teams 5-1 on Feb. 16, 2012. ... The Blues killed off 15 successive penalties at home before MacDonald's power-play goal in the second period.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Jameis Winston will learn whether he faces prosecution Thursday when a state attorney finally announces the results of an intensive investigation into sexual assault allegations against the Florida State quarterback.
The alleged incident occurred nearly a year ago, but it wasn't until last month that Tallahassee police finally turned over information about the case to prosecutors.
State Attorney Willie Meggs said Wednesday that his office has "exhausted all investigative tools" since the case was handed over in mid-November.
"We have learned as much as we can learn," said Meggs, who was expected to announce his findings at a 2 p.m. news conference in his offices in the Leon County Courthouse.
In the short time since Meggs' office took over the case investigators have taken DNA from Winston, interviewed the victim and looked at other evidence connected to the case. ESPN reported that DNA found in the accuser's underwear matched Winston.
But Timothy Jansen, Winston's attorney, said he expects Meggs will exonerate his client. He has suggested that Winston had consensual sex with the accuser. The accuser's family has put out a statement saying Winston raped the woman.
"If he looked at evidence we did, we feel confident he will find that Mr. Winston did nothing wrong," Jansen said.
Jansen is confident enough that he plans to have Winston briefly address the media about the findings at 7 p.m. at the Hotel Duval in downtown Tallahassee, Fla.
Patricia Carroll, the attorney representing the alleged victim, has not responded to requests for comment.
The case against Winston has drawn national attention. The 19-year-old has led the Seminoles to a No. 1 ranking and a shot at a national championship if they defeat Duke this Saturday. Winston's play at quarterback has also made him a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy.
Many voters are waiting to see whether Winston will be charged with a crime before casting their ballots. The deadline for Heisman ballots to be turned in is Dec. 9.
Florida State policy dictates that a student-athlete is suspended from game action if charged with a felony until the charge is resolved "absent extraordinary circumstances as determined by the administration."
Meggs has said he wanted to make sure prosecutors completed a thorough investigation before making a final decision. He has also said several times that prosecutors must determine whether there is a "reasonable" chance of conviction.
The fact that Meggs has scheduled a news conference - as opposed to getting a warrant for Winston's arrest - could be seen as a sign that he will not file charges.
Meggs said Wednesday that the investigation results should answer some lingering questions about how the investigation was handled and why it took 11 months before prosecutors were notified.
"When you all look at this, when the dust all settles, you'll say `Man, there were some things that could have been done back in December of `12 that could have cleared this up a whole lot easier than November of 2013," he said.
The alleged sexual assault was first reported to police on Dec. 7, 2012. The family has said the victim did not know the identity of her attacker until early January, when she identified him as Winston. Police said last week that they tried to interview Winston back in January but that Jansen at the time told them his client would not answer questions.
The family has been sharply critical of the way Tallahassee police have handled the case. The family says they pushed to have a DNA sample taken from Winston only to be told by a police detective that it would alert Winston and make the case public. The family said Carroll was warned by police that Tallahassee is a "big football town, and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable."
Tallahassee police have defended their handling of the case and said it was placed on inactive status in February after police were told the alleged victim did not wish to prosecute the case. Carroll has denied that the woman wanted to drop the investigation.
The alleged victim was an FSU student during the December incident, but she left school after Carroll was told by police that information about the case was about to be released to the media.
Associated Press writer Kareem Copeland contributed to this story.
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- North Carolina flashed its potential again, earning another impressive victory after a second shaky setback.
J.P. Tokoto had 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds to help the Tar Heels beat No. 1 Michigan State 79-65 Wednesday night.
North Carolina (5-2) has been talented enough to knock off the top-ranked Spartans and then-No. 3 Louisville this season, but the Tar Heels have also lost to Belmont and UAB.
"I truly believe after the Louisville win, our mentality after that was, `Birmingham is just going to be an automatic win. Just because we're North Carolina,'" Tokoto said. "We can't have that mentality - and kind of learned that Sunday night.
"We came here, were ready to play, intensity level was up, and we got results."
The Spartans (7-1) lost to an unranked nonconference team at home for the first time in more than a decade. They looked nothing like the team that beat then-No. 1 Kentucky a few weeks ago or the program that has had so much success over nearly two decades under coach Tom Izzo.
"One of the more disappointing performances of my career here," Izzo said. "From the jump ball, they kind of took it to us."
The Tar Heels took control from the start, never trailed and used a 12-1 run to take a 65-52 lead with 6:02 left.
"Michigan State did not want it that much more than we did," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
"We looked soft," he lamented.
North Carolina outrebounded the Spartans by 11, leading to 19 second-chance points. The Tar Heels turned 14 of Michigan State's turnovers into 19 points and held the Spartans to 36 percent shooting.
"We're as happy as we can possibly be - 179 degrees away from where we were after the UAB game," Williams said.
Kennedy Meeks scored 15 points for North Carolina and Brice Johnson had 14 off the bench. Marcus Paige and Nate Britt added 13 apiece.
"You can't tell in college basketball what's going to happen," Williams said. "At one point, we had three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior on the court."
Gary Harris had 17 points and Keith Appling scored 13, but both Michigan State guards missed 10 of 15 shots. Adreian Payne had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Spartans, whose last loss at home against an unranked nonconference team was Toledo on Dec. 30, 2002.
The Tar Heels beat a No. 1 team for the first time since March 4, 2006, at Duke, and they have a nation-high 13 wins over top-ranked teams. They've won seven straight against the Spartans, including in the 2009 NCAA final.
Tokoto has taken advantage of an expanded role while P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald sit out because of NCAA eligibility concerns.
The 6-foot-5 Tokoto, who is from Wisconsin, made some friends and family members in the stands at the Breslin Center happy while green-and-white clad fans didn't have much to get excited about.
Tokoto blocked a shot early in the second half, got to a loose ball and threw it to Appling - while the Michigan State player was standing out of bounds - and made three straight shots later in the half to help the Tar Heels pull away.
"J.P. was really active," Williams said. "He did a lot of things. He's so athletic."
Michigan State pulled into a 32-all tie at halftime after an awful start, struggling to take care of the ball or make shots.
The Tar Heels scored the first six points of the game and led 16-4 while holding the Spartans to 1-of-7 shooting with four turnovers.
On the bench, North Carolina freshman Isaiah Hicks implored his teammates to keep playing and avoid looking at the scoreboard. The Tar Heels seemed to do that, building a 20-6 cushion midway through the first half as Michigan State missed nine of 11 shots and turned the ball over six times.
The Spartans got a scare later in the half when Appling landed hard on his right hip after defending a shot. He hobbled off the court, but was able to return to action before halftime.
Michigan State outscored the Tar Heels 13-2 over the last several minutes of the first half.
The Spartans, though, couldn't do enough to get ahead in the second half and they will likely fall in next week's poll after being No. 1 for a school-record three weeks this season.
"They came off a loss and they looked hungrier," Izzo said. "We came off all the hype and we looked not as hungry."
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