*ALERT ALERT ALERT!!!!*
SEC STEAM GAME GOES TONIGHT ON ESPN!
Click here to get the game!
Cashline Goes 2-0! Again on Monday
That's 4 Straight Wins!
Pacers (+9.5) covering against Mavs 82-91 WON!
Elon (+4.5) Covers against Appalachian St. 54-58 WON!
Blue Ribbon Comes Up Short as Kansas (-21.5) misses cover in beating Oklahoma 81-68.
TUESDAY BASKETBALL PREVIEWS
OKLAHOMA STATE (19-7, 7-5 in Big 12) at #15 TEXAS (21-6, 7-5 in Big 12) -- 9 p.m. ET, espn2
We tipped our Jim Sez caps to the Okie State Cowboys for that mentally tough win against Baylor this past weekend -- but what about some love for the Texas Longhorns?
Rick Barnes' troops were on their way to blowing a 13-point, second-half deficit at 6 1/2;-point favorite Texas Tech when they caught themselves just in the nick of time as J'Covan Brown finally iced matters with a pair of made free throws with four seconds remaining but it was reserve forward Gary Johnson's game-high 22 points in 25 minutes that really saved the Longhorns' bacon here. Now, Johnson -- who drilled 7-of-11 field-goal tries -- wants to see his teammates step it up here in what could be a high-scoring affair deep in the heart of Texas.
The 'Horns connected on only 6-of-17 triples in the win against Texas Tech and probably need to nail double-digit treys here or it could get real sticky.
BIG TEN-SEC PARLAY
The Jim Hurley Network is feeling the momentum as we roll towards the end of February. All our numbers are sharp. Our on-scene sources are dialed into the their local scene, giving us an unbeatable combination of hard-nosed data and sublime intangible information. That's why we've won 10 of our last 15, including showcase winners like Pitt's upset of Villanova. We're set to blast the Big Ten-SEC doubleheader on Tuesday. In the Michigan-Illinois game, the Wolverines have to get production from role players Stu Douglass and Zack Novak, and are basketball people have evaluated them against the Illini personnel. Our on-scene sources are close to the scene in Florida, telling us whether this Gator team can avoid the late-season failures that have kept the team out of the past two NCAA Tournaments. Jim Hurley himself has put all the information and evaluations together into an excellent betting package that will make you 2-0 on Tuesday with a 13-5 parlay payoff!
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NBA NEWS & NOTES:
THE CAVS CONTINUE TO SPUTTER
Hey, wasn't that Trade Deadline move to acquire forward Antawn Jamison from Washington supposed to be the icing-on-top guy for the Cleveland Cavaliers in their pursuit of a first-ever NBA Championship?
Well, Jamison's debut game with the Cavs was that well-documented 0-for-12 shooting affair in a loss at Charlotte last Friday night and then Jamison came alive in Sunday's tilt at Orlando (see 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting) but it was everyone else who melted late in a painful 101-95 loss to the Magic. Okay, so the ESPN folks labeled it a case of LeBron James (33 points) going cold in the final few minutes but what about everyone else?
The Cavs had no defensive answers for Vince Carter who slept-walked for much of this game before scoring 8 of his 11 points in the final frame and don't forget that key Jameer Nelson three-point bomb and then the Rashard Lewis three-pointer -- you would have thought Cleveland knew it had to get out and cover this Magic team that thrives in the perimeter game but instead Cleveland didn't respond at crunch time and now has lost three in a row (two straight since Jamison came aboard).
Maybe it's high time Cavs center Shaquille O'Neal stopped worrying about who's being called 'Superman' in this league and started being a real leader.
Message to Cavs: This is your team for the rest of the way: Now do something that will remind folks you're supposed to be the best bunch in the East.
LT LEAVES SAN DIEGO WITHOUT A RING
No one wanted it this way. It would have been preferable for LaDainian Tomlinson — preferable for everyone floating in his orbit, preferable for all those touched by him — to leave the Chargers carrying the ultimate snapshot: LT, world champion, smiling that smile of his as he hugged and kissed the Lombardi Trophy.
But he never got the chance to say he was going to Disney World, which, in the end, is what he was about. He had run out of disappointments here.
In this case, the hole that opened up for LT when he arrived out of TCU nine years ago eventually had to close, as it abruptly did yesterday. Maybe it was premature, maybe it wasn’t. The Chargers thought it was time, and my guess is the future Hall of Fame running back thought so, too.
“I wish I could have done more for him to make it happen, win a world championship,” General Manager A.J. Smith said shortly after he, club President Dean Spanos, coach Norv Turner and capologist Ed McGuire met with the great tailback to discuss his release. “I said that to him, that I just wished.
“It just wasn’t meant to be here.”
So the leading rusher and touchdown-maker in Chargers history, the young man out of Texas who grew into the best football player of the first decade of this millennium, has been handed an outright release from the only professional football team he has known.
He leaves as a San Diego icon, among the most popular athletes in this city’s history, and he fades away with just about every conceivable honor that can be bestowed on an NFL player — except a ring. That’s what he wanted, that’s what he thought he would have, perhaps more than ever this year after his team spun off 11 straight wins before losing to the Jets in the playoffs.
There will be no further chants of “LT! LT! LT!” — unless he returns flying other colors, a distinct possibility. The Chargers could have waited until March 4, just before he would be due a $2 million roster bonus (which wasn’t going to happen), but they chose to do it early. A possible trade never was considered.
The NFL Combine begins ?tomorrow in Indianapolis, where every football man in The League will be present. “LT was first on our football business list,” Smith said. “Why not now? Every agent will be at the Combine, seeing everyone face-to-face. This is the best opportunity for LT.”
Maybe LT has gas left. Maybe he will run someplace else, at 31 years of age (as of June), and discover that fountain Ponce de Leon was seeking. It is not going to be easy. LT was in superb shape this past season and couldn’t do the things that made him great.
He shouldn’t be expected to be the same player he was, and he isn’t, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help some team, somewhere. It will have to be the right fit.
It’s a cold, cruel business, professional football, but these things happen. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice left San Francisco. Emmitt Smith left Dallas. LT is not standing alone in this line. But it was not an easy deal.
“I told him that, in my 26 years in the business, this was probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do,” Spanos said. “I haven’t been close to many players; he’s probably the one I’ve been closest to. He’s a friend. He was really gracious today; I can’t tell you how gracious — very, very respectful.
“He was the heart and soul of this franchise; so much of our success can be attributed to him over the last nine years. I asked him, when he officially retires, that I’d like him to do so as a Charger. He said he would, that he’ll always be a Charger.”
Clearly, it was time for both parties to move on. For me, personally, I wish LT would have left without saying he was unhappy, pointing fingers, saying there were fellow players not committed to winning. It wasn’t like him, but then, I’m not in his skin. I sense great disappointment from a great competitor.
“As an organization, we felt we had to part ways and look toward the future,” Smith said. “I’ve admired his skills since Day One; his integrity made him special. He flashed that smile today. He’s not done playing, we know that, but it’s part of the business.”
My understanding is LT didn’t want a dog-and-pony news conference, complete with parting gifts, which is his style.
But it would have been great, great for all concerned, if the final shot in the Chargers movie featured Sheriff LT, the man who tamed the West, riding off, guns blazing, tossing down his star to the roar of a grateful public. A statue of the man should be erected somewhere around here.
But this is almost as though the director couldn’t decide how to end it. LaDainian Tomlinson came in like a 747. He should not be leaving by cab.
by Nick Canepa
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