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Monday, 31 March 2014 11:05

Ausmus, Tigers host Royals in opener

DETROIT (AP) - New manager Brad Ausmus and the Detroit Tigers begin their pursuit of a fourth straight AL Central title Monday against the Kansas City Royals. Justin Verlander will make his seventh consecutive opening day start, and Detroit will try to move past a difficult spring training in which three significant players went down with major injuries. Kansas City will send right-hander James Shields to the mound. The Royals are coming off an 86-win season - the first time they'd finished above .500 in a decade. They'll need to take another step forward to displace Detroit atop the division. Ausmus took over as Detroit's manager after Jim Leyland stepped down at the end of last season.

NEW YORK (AP) - Shabazz Napier scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half, and UConn beat Michigan State 60-54 to return to the Final Four a year after the Huskies were barred from the NCAA tournament. Napier hit three huge free throws with 37.6 seconds left in the East Regional final at Madison Square Garden to carry UConn to the Final Four just as Kemba Walker did in Napier's freshman year. The Huskies rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit to become the first No. 7 seed to reach the Final Four since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Fourth-seeded Michigan State's seniors become the first four-year players recruited by Tom Izzo to fail to reach the Final Four. Gary Harris led the Spartans with 22 points.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Aaron Harrison made a 3-pointer from NBA range with 2.3 seconds left Sunday to lift Kentucky to a 75-72 win over Michigan and a trip to the Final Four. Harrison, one of five freshmen on eighth-seeded Kentucky's starting lineup, elevated over Caris LeVert, and drained it. He scored all 12 of his points over the last 8:05. Nik Stauskas missed a heave at the buzzer and the Wildcats rushed off the bench and dogpiled Harrison at midcourt. This will be Kentucky's 16th trip to the Final Four and it marks the first time an all-freshman starting lineup has made it there since the Fab Five took Michigan in 1992. Kentucky plays Wisconsin Saturday in Texas. Stauskas led the second-seeded Wolverines with 24 points.

Monday, 31 March 2014 11:03

Legwand, Red Wings top Lightning 3-2

DETROIT (AP) - David Legwand had a goal and an assist, and the Detroit Red Wings held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 Sunday to move into seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist also scored for Detroit, and Jonas Gustavsson stopped 26 shots. Valtteri Filppula and Sami Salo scored for Tampa Bay and Ben Bishop made 27 saves. Legwand assisted on Nyquist's goal that gave Detroit a 2-1 lead with 4:36 remaining in the first. Legwand made it 3-1 on a power-play score with 3:24 left in the second period, tipping in Johan Franzen's shot for his 13th goal. Salo scored his fourth goal to pull Tampa Bay within 3-2 with 4:29 left in the third.

     UNDATED (AP) - The Final Four is set in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, and it will be seventh seed Connecticut against No. 1 Florida in the first game before eighth seed Kentucky takes on No. 2 Wisconsin. The Huskies and Wildcats advanced by winning close games on Sunday.
     Shabazz Napier scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half as UConn downed No. 4 Michigan State 60-54 to win the East Regional at Madison Square Garden. Napier hit three huge free throws with 37.6 seconds left to put the Huskies ahead 56-51.
     The 30-8 Huskies rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit to become the first No. 7 seed to reach the Final Four since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
     Gary Harris had a team-high 22 points for the Spartans, but Branden Dawson was held to five points on 1 of 3 shooting after scoring 24 points in the regional semifinals against Virginia.
     Aaron Harrison and Kentucky ended Michigan's season by defeating the second-seeded Wolverines 75-72 at Indianapolis. The game was tied at 72 until Harrison drained a 3-pointer from NBA range with 2.3 seconds left, moments after Julius Randle inadvertently tipped in the tying shot on Michigan's previous possession. Harrison scored all 12 of his points off 3-pointers in the final 8:05.
     Randle was named the Midwest Region's Most Outstanding Player after delivering 16 points and 11 rebounds for his 24th double-double.
     Nik Stauskas led all scorers with 24 points but missed a halfcourt shot at the buzzer to set off a Wildcat celebration.
     The Final Four is set for Saturday near Dallas. Wisconsin didn't face Kentucky this season, but Connecticut knocked off Florida 65-64 in Storrs on Dec. 2. The Gators haven't lost since, reeling off a school-record 30 consecutive wins.

DETROIT (AP) - Several members of the Detroit Pistons' first two championship teams gathered Thursday for a fundraiser, but the man who still works for the team kept a low profile. President Joe Dumars didn't speak to reporters and owner Tom Gores wouldn't discuss his plans for the end of a season that seems headed toward a fifth straight spring without a postseason berth. Gores says the Pistons will "do like we always do and re-evaluate," before refusing to discuss his plans for the team's or Dumars' future. The Pistons are 26-45 after Wednesday's loss to Cleveland and speculation on Dumars' future only increased after the franchise fired coach Maurice Cheeks 50 games into the season. Hall of Fame guard Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson and other players from the 1988-89 and '89-90 teams took part in "Bad Boys Unite," which raised money for six nonprofit organizations in southeast Michigan, including the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.  

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Lions say they've signed a contract with free agent safety James Ihedigbo. The Lions say they're withholding terms of the deal, but a person familiar with it say it's for two years. The person spoke Tuesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn't been announced. Ihedigbo made 99 tackles and had three interceptions for the Baltimore Ravens last year. He started 12 games in 2011 for the New England Patriots. Ihedigbo made his NFL debut with the New York Jets during the 2008 season. The Jets cut him the previous year as an undrafted rookie, who'd gone from being a walk-on to a standout at Massachusetts. The Lions have been seeking a safety alongside Glover Quin to replace Louis Delmas.

DETROIT (AP) - A person with knowledge of the deal says the Detroit Tigers have agreed to pay Miguel Cabrera a baseball record $292 million over the next 10 years. The person, who says the contract is subject to a physical, spoke Thursday night to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been announced. Cabrera is due $44 million over the final two years from his $152.3 million, eight-year contract, and the person says Cabrera will make $248 million over eight seasons in the new deal that begins in 2016. Cabrera has been voted AL MVP in each of the last two seasons. He won the Triple Crown in 2012, becoming baseball's first player to lead either league in batting average, homers and RBIs since 1967.

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Aaron Harang made his Atlanta Braves debut, allowing six runs, including a long homer to Miguel Cabrera, while pitching into the sixth inning of a 9-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Harang, who won 16 games in 2006 and '07, was signed by the Braves on March 24 after spending the start of spring training with the Cleveland Indians. He allowed eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. Max Scherzer made his final start of the spring for the Tigers and went 6 2-3 innings, giving up homers to Jordan Schafer and B.J. Upton. Tigers shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, went 2 for 3 with a double to raise his spring batting average to .441.

DETROIT (AP) - Max Pacioretty broke a third period tie, Tomas Plekanec scored twice and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 Thursday night. Tomas Vanek added a goal and two assists and David Desharnais had a goal and an assist for Montreal. P.K. Subban had two assists and Carey Price made 26 saves. Tomas Tatar scored two goals for Detroit, Riley Sheahan a goal and an assist, and Johan Franzen also scored. Jimmy Howard stopped 24 shots. Pacioretty gave Montreal a 4-3 lead with a shot from the right circle that deflected off Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall for Pacioretty's 33rd goal. The play appeared to be offside. Saturday night the Red Wings visit the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. and they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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