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Arrieta makes triumphant return as Cubs beat Pirates 5-1

CHICAGO (AP) — Jake Arrieta pitched six solid innings in a triumphant return to the Cubs, Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward homered, and Chicago beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Saturday afternoon.
Arrieta (1-0) got a warm reception prior to the game, then gave up just one run and six hits. The 35-year-old right-hander struck out five and walked one.
Arrieta played 4 1/2 years for Chicago, winning a Cy Young Award and a World Series, before signing with Philadelphia in March 2018. He returned to the Cubs in February for a $6 million, one-year contract.
“I’ve been anticipating this day for awhile,” he said.
The Cubs have, too.
“It brought back good memories of having him on the mound and pitching against the Pirates, good memories of him doing that a lot,” Bryant said.
One of Arrieta’s most memorable performances with the Cubs was his five-hit shutout in the 2015 wild-card game at Pittsburgh. He struck out 11 and did not walk a batter.
The Cubs beat St. Louis in their division series before losing to the Mets in the NLCS. A year later, they won it all, ending a championship drought dating to 1908.
Arrieta said he spent the past few days riding his electric scooter around the city, taking in the familiar old sights and mingling with the fans as much as he can.
“I look forward to more scooter rides, meeting more people,” he said.
Bryant made it 3-1 in the third with a solo homer to the center-field basket against Tyler Anderson, pointing to his baby son in the stands after crossing the plate. Heyward bumped the lead to three with a long drive to the right-field bleachers off Clay Holmes in the sixth. And the Cubs added another run in the seventh when Bryant walked and scored.
Javier Báez singled twice, drove in a run and scored one. He also stole two bases.
“J-Hey’s home run was loud,” manager David Ross said. “I don’t know if you could tell on TV or in the stadium. It was extremely loud. It was nice to hear that. Up and down the lineup, I thought we did a really good job.”
Heyward called his drive on a 3-1 sinker a reward for “doing things right and being on time.”
“Tried to be aggressive in the zone,” he said. “I feel like like they’ve done a good job these two games attacking us aggressively in certain counts, in certain times and then making us lay off a tough pitch. It was nice to get ahead right there and not miss one.”
Brandon Workman, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel each threw a perfect inning, combining to strike out seven and walk none. The Cubs avoided their first 0-2 start since the 2014 team lost the first two.
Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes left the game because of discomfort in his left wrist. He jammed his hand diving back to first on a pickoff attempt after walking in the first inning.
Hayes scored on Kevin Newman’s two-out single. But Erik González batted for him in the third and remained at third base.
Anderson (0-1) went five innings in his Pirates debut, allowing three runs and five hits. The left-hander, who signed with Pittsburgh in free agency, struck out seven and walked two.
Pirates right-hander Kyle Crick was going through the intake process after being away from the team for the birth of his child. Manager Derek Shelton said he could be cleared as soon as Sunday. Crick had a 1.59 ERA in seven relief appearances last year.
RHP Zach Davies, acquired from San Diego for NL Cy Young Award runner-up Yu Darvish, makes his Cubs debut, while RHP Mitch Keller starts for Pittsburgh on his 25th birthday. Davies was 7-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 12 starts for the Padres last year after playing his first five seasons for Milwaukee. Keller had a 2.91 ERA in five starts for the Pirates.
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Baylor, Houston a matchup of programs on the rebound

By EDDIE PELLS AP National Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The redemption journeys involving Houston coach Kelvin Sampson and the Baylor program he faces at the Final Four on Saturday have roots in far-from-comforting places — courtrooms, prison cells, the NCAA compliance office.
They are vastly different tales, one about a coach, Sampson, kicked out of the sport and labeled a serial cheater, the other about the near-destruction of a program tainted by murder, rule-breaking and a cover-up.
But they are similar, too, in how much work the protagonists were willing to take on to pick up the pieces and start over. The latest reward is this trip to the Final Four, a destination that seemed nothing short of fantastical when these journeys began.
“I felt led to come here,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said when recounting his decision to take over a program that had sunk lower than low when he became coach in 2003. “I really believed in the vision of the school, from the president and the administrators during that time and what they wanted Baylor to continue to grow and become.”
It was hard to see it then.
The Baylor scandal began in the wake of the 2003 murder of player Patrick Dennehy, who was found shot and buried in a gravel pit in Waco, Texas. A teammate, Carlos Dotson, eventually pleaded guilty to the murder.
In the aftermath, an NCAA investigation uncovered a sordid laundry list of transgressions, punctuated by an investigation into improper payments to Dennehy, and then coach Dave Bliss’s made-up story of Dennehy really having earned the money by dealing drugs.
The NCAA stripped away scholarships, made Baylor skip its non-conference schedule for a season and put it on probation through 2010. Four players left, and when Drew arrived in 2003 to pick up the pieces, he barely had a program: seven scholarship players and three walk-ons were all that were left.
“Obviously once we got into the season and you found out that most of your team were walk-ons and most of them weren’t over 6-2, then you realized it might be tougher than you originally thought,” Drew said. “But the goal was always to build a program that could consistently compete and have an opportunity to play in March.”
Among the believers was Sampson, who knew Drew to be an up-and-comer after he took over for his father, Homer, for a year at Valparaiso.
“These days, Baylor was lucky to get a coach as good as Drew,” Sampson said after the hiring while he was nearby, reaching a peak at Oklahoma.
Sampson took the Sooners to the Final Four in 2002 and back to the Elite Eight a year later.
But he ran into a multitude of NCAA problems, both at Oklahoma, then at his next job with Indiana. Most centered around hundreds of impermissible phone calls to recruits. By 2008, Indiana was on probation and Sampson had been kicked out of the game, handed a “show-cause” penalty from the NCAA that would bar him for five years.
Many of the lines Sampson stepped over then would not be considered NCAA violations today. Ousted from the college ranks, he essentially went on a rehab tour for six years as an assistant coach in the NBA. He didn’t envision returning until the Cougars — a team with a colorful history punctuated by the “Phi Slama Jama” years in the ’80s but not much in the present — came calling in 2014.
“I was angry after Indiana,” Sampson said in a 2019 interview with The Washington Post. “I was angry at myself. I blamed myself. I was mad about how it all went down. I had a lot of emotions, but I also had a wife and a family. I had to take care of my family. That was my No. 1 goal. I’ve always said this to them and to a lot of people: You’re not a loser in anything until you quit. Don’t quit.”
Now, Sampson finds himself back on college basketball’s biggest stage, 19 years after his last visit. He is living proof that if you work hard and know your job inside and out, there is almost always a second chance looming somewhere.
He will be seeking a title game berth just an hour’s drive up the highway from the scene of his lowest moments at Indiana. He revived his own career and, in doing so, built Houston back from the ground up. When Sampson took over, the once-proud program had made one NCAA Tournament appearance over the previous 22 seasons.
“Once we got through the first year, we just started adding pieces,” Sampson said. “We weren’t in a hurry. We didn’t try to cut any corners. We did it brick by brick.”

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Oklahoma St star freshman Cade Cunningham to enter NBA draft

By CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Cade Cunningham used to see superstars when he watched NBA players.
Now, he sees opponents. They soon will see him, too.
Cunningham announced Thursday that he will enter the NBA draft after a dynamic freshman season for Oklahoma State that saw him named a first-team AP All-American.
“I see them as more human now than I used to,” he said. “I’ve been looking at those guys since I was a sophomore in high school. Those are the guys I’ve got to try to outwork right now.”
The 6-foot-8 point guard is expected to be a high pick — possibly No. 1 overall. His decision was no surprise — the 19-year-old Cunningham participated in Senior Night activities before the Cowboys faced Oklahoma in Stillwater.
But even after Oklahoma State’s NCAA Tournament loss to Oregon State, Cunningham wouldn’t fully commit either way, deflecting a question about his future while hinting he was ready to move on. He finally made his declaration in a news conference at Gallagher-Iba Arena with coach Mike Boynton by his side and his teammates seated in the courtside bleachers.
“It’s hard to make that decision in the moment, so I just wanted to wait until my head was level,” he said. “But I was just blessed to have that opportunity to be able to enter the draft. I felt like I had did a lot of the work early to be in that position.”
Cunningham won the Wayman Tisdale Award as the top freshman in college basketball. He led the Big 12 in scoring with 20.2 points per game. In league play, he ranked in the top 10 in scoring (20.1), seventh in rebounding (6.5), eighth in field goal percentage (.443), 10th in assists (3.3) and seventh in free throw percentage (.843).
Boynton said that versatility should serve Cunningham well as a pro.
“He’s unique in that I don’t think you can have a roster that he couldn’t fit in because he’s able to play with any type of other player,” Boynton said. “I think he fits regardless of what your roster looks like because his versatility allows you to play another point guard with him, play him at the point, he can post up, which we’ve shown this year, he can be a shooter. That totality of skills is what makes him, I think, a super high value for any NBA franchise out there.”
Cunningham often saved his best moments for late-game surges. In his most dynamic performance, he scored 10 of his 40 points in overtime to help the Cowboys win at rival Oklahoma. He finished his college career by scoring 24 points in Oklahoma State’s 80-70 loss to Oregon State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Kyle Boone, a college basketball writer who helps compile CBS Sports’ mock draft, said Cunningham is the top prospect. He said there will chatter about USC’s Evan Mobley, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs and the NBA’s G-League’s Jalen Green. But he said Cunningham is at the top.
“There are a lot of players in this draft who are impressive, but don’t overthink it,” Boone said. “Cade’s 6-foot-8. He’s a point guard. … The high IQ that he has — he’s clearly the number one prospect in this draft. By the end of this, I think we’re going to see that Cade is clearly the top guy on NBA teams’ big boards.”
Cunningham knows the work is just beginning. The Texas native already been thinking of ways to improve before the July 29 draft date.
“Throughout the season, I was just adding things on in my head,” he said. “We don’t have as much time to just get in the gym and work. I definitely want to get my fluidity and my movement better, whether that’s yoga and things like that. Just getting my range of motion and things a lot better. I still want to focus on tightening my handle, shooting the ball better, just getting more consistent at a lot of the things that I do now.”
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West Virginia Sports

West Virginia guard Taz Sherman to enter NBA draft process

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia guard Taz Sherman plans to enter the NBA draft process.
Sherman announced his intentions Sunday on Twitter, saying he will leave open the option of returning to school for a final season.
Sherman joins fellow guard Sean McNeil in declaring for the draft process. In addition, guard Jordan McCabe and forward Emmitt Matthews announced their plans to transfer last week.
Sherman, a senior, was third in team scoring at 13.4 points per game.
West Virginia lost to Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to finish the season 19-10.

West Virginia Sports

WVU’s Matthews joins McCabe is announcing plans to transfer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia forward Emmitt Matthews is planning to transfer.
The junior announced his decision Thursday on Twitter.
Matthews joins guard Jordan McCabe, who announced earlier this week that he was entering the transfer portal. In addition, junior guard Sean McNeil said earlier that he was planning to enter the NBA Draft but leave open the possibility of returning to school.
Matthews, a three-year starter, was fifth on the team in points this season at 7.7 per game and was the third-leading rebounder with four per game.
West Virginia lost to Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

West Virginia Sports

West Virginia safety Tykee Smith entering transfer portal

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia safety Tykee Smith is entering the transfer portal.
Smith announced his decision Wednesday night on Twitter.
Smith was an Associated Press third team all-American as a sophomore last season, when he was fourth on the Mountaineers with 61 tackles. He also had two interceptions and five pass breakups. Smith started 17 games over two seasons.
Smith’s decision came two months after West Virginia defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae left for the same position at Georgia.
Last month West Virginia cornerback Dreshun Miller announced he is transferring to Auburn.

West Virginia Sports

WVU’s McNeil entering NBA Draft, McCabe to transfer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia guard Sean McNeil is entering his name in this year’s NBA Draft but leaving open the possibility to return to the Mountaineers, while teammate Jordan McCabe has announced his plans to transfer.
Both players announced their decisions Tuesday on Twitter.
McNeil, a junior, started 23 of 29 games for the Mountaineers (19-10), who lost to Syracuse on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. McNeil was fourth in scoring on the team at 12.2 points per game. He led the team in 3-pointers made with 69.
McCabe, a junior guard, started five games and averaged 2.2 points this season. He started 29 of 31 games a year ago.

West Virginia Sports

West Virginia hires Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive analyst

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Former Penn State and Minnesota offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca has been hired as an offensive analyst at West Virginia.
West Virginia coach Neal Brown announced Ciarrocca’s hiring Tuesday.
Ciarrocca spent last season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the Nittany Lions before being fired in January. Penn State started 0-5 before winning its final four games.
Ciarrocca had the same roles in the three years before that at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers posted a 10-win regular season in 2019, when Ciarrocca was named a semifinalist for the Broyles Award, given to the top assistant coach in the nation.
Ciarrocca’s other assistant coaching stints included stops at Western Michigan, Delaware, Rutgers and Richmond. Brown worked with Ciarrocca in 2005 when the pair were at Delaware.
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West Virginia Sports

Gondrezick leads No. 17 WVa women past Lehigh 77-53

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Once West Virginia started running, the Mountaineers couldn’t be stopped.
Kysre Gondrezick scored seven of her 26 points in a game-breaking 16-0 run to close the third quarter and No. 17 West Virginia raced past Lehigh 77-53 in the opening round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.
The Mountaineers (22-6), the four-seed in the Hemisfair Region, also closed the first half with 10-straight points to help set up a meeting with fifth-seeded Georgia Tech on Tuesday.
“It was just a good game for us to kind of get the kinks out, you know, we’ve been off for a week,” Gondrezick said. “And I think that first quarter we were able to get some of those mistakes (out) that we made, you know, on both offensive and defensive ends.”
Kirsten Deans scored 19 points with eight rebounds and five assists for West Virginia. Esmery Martinez had her 15th double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Deans and Martinez both were 7-of-10 shooting. Gondrezick was 9 of 15 from the field, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range, and grabbed seven rebounds with five assists and four steals.
Emma Grothaus scored 14 points for the Mountain Hawks (11-5), who were in their fourth NCAA Tournament and first since 2010 despite finishing fifth in the Patriot League. Frannie Hottinger added 12 points and Megan Walker 11.
“I thought they came out, particularly in the second half and really established themselves on the defensive end kind of took us out of our offensive flow,” said Sue Troyan, who has coached all of Lehigh’s NCAA Tournament teams. “But I’m super proud of our kids, how they competed, how they represented Lehigh for 40 minutes.”
Deans hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half to cap a 10-0 run that gave the Mountaineers a 36-26 lead at the break.
Lehigh was hanging close, trailing 49-39 after a Grothaus 3-pointer, but West Virginia put the game away, taking a 65-39 into the fourth.
West Virginia made both 3s in the 16-0 run and 10 of 13 shots, plus 7 of 8 free throws, and outscored Lehigh 29-13 in the third quarter. The Mountain Hawks missed four shots and had four turnovers in the last 3 1/2 minutes.
Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks didn’t have the size or speed to keep up with the Mountaineers. They were outrebounded by 10 and shot just 30.6%. … Lehigh did win the only other meeting back on Dec. 27, 1999, in New Orleans, 89-73. … The Mountain Hawks played 10 games in January and just six since, only two in February.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers finished 30 for 55 from the field (54.5%), including 8 of 15 from 3-point range and made 9 of 11 free throws. … Gondrezick, who played her freshman year at Michigan, reached 2,000 points for her three-year West Virginia career.
Six Lehigh players hail from Minnesota so when they were home amid the pandemic shutdown they got together wherever that found an outside basket for hoops and bonding.
That bonding help when one of the Minnesotans, Emma Grothaus, lost her mom, also a college player and confidante, just after the season started. After missing a weekend of play, she chose to be with her teammates, only to suffer a broken nose as soon as she returned. returned, only to break her nose.
Buoyed by her basketball family, made stronger through her state connections, came back and was the Patriot League Tournament MVP.
In early January Kysre Gondrezick lost her dad, former Pepperdine star and NBA player Grant Gondrezick. He was just 57.
Two days later Kysre scored 24 points and West Virginia defeated No. 17 Texas by 34 points and she went on to have an All-Big 12 Conference season.
The Mountaineers face Georgia Tech in the second round.
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West Virginia Sports

Buddy Boeheim gets dad back to Sweet 16 as Syracuse tops WVU

By GARY B. GRAVES AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Buddy Boeheim kept shooting, carrying his Hall of Fame father and 11th-seeded Syracuse back into the Sweet 16.
The Orange, a top program for four decades under Jim Boeheim, once again showed they’re just as dangerous as an NCAA Tournament afterthought.
“To win two games and be doubted in both, the underdog, this means everything,” Buddy Boeheim said. “If you were to ask me a month or two months ago where I think we would be, I don’t think I would say Sweet 16, that’s for sure.”
“Buckets” Boeheim scored 22 of his 25 points after halftime to lead the Orange past third-seeded West Virginia 75-72 on Sunday. Syracuse (18-9) advanced to face second-seeded Houston in a Midwest Regional semifinal.
The Orange were a bubble team this year, a familiar spot of late. They won their last two regular-season games and once in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament to sneak into the field.
Now they’re heading to Jim Boeheim’s 20th Sweet 16, thanks to his 6-foot-6, sweet-shooting son.
“I mean, he’s just been playing great,” Jim said. “He’s been putting the ball on the floor and getting his own shot. Teammates have been looking for him.
“He had some really good looks today. He was 6 for 13 (on 3-pointers). I’m surprised he wasn’t 10 for 13, really, the way he’s been shooting it. And I know he was disappointed in himself at halftime, but he showed kind of what he’s made of.”
The Orange moved on at the expense of another coaching legend, Bob Huggins, in the second March Madness meeting between coaches with at least 900 Division I victories. Huggins won No. 900 when West Virginia beat Morehead State in the first round on Friday. Boeheim got his 982nd at Huggins’ expense.
Buddy Boeheim made two straight 3s just after halftime. His jumper and 3 on consecutive possessions put Syracuse ahead 63-59 with 4:55 left, and he helped put the game away with three late free throws.
After his quiet first half, Boeheim got a pep talk from former Orange sharpshooter Gerry McNamara, who won the 2003 national championship as Carmelo Anthony’s wingman and is now one of Jim Boeheim’s assistants.
“G-Mac just came up to me at halftime and said, ‘Keep going. I don’t care if you miss 200. Just keep shooting,'” Boeheim said. “I just said, all right, if I get clean looks, I’m going to have to take them and I’m going to start making them.”
Sean McNeil scored 23 points to lead the Mountaineers (19-10), who last made the Sweet 16 in 2018. That was the fifth time West Virginia got that far under Huggins, who also made the regional semis four times with Cincinnati.
WVU trailed 74-72 with 4 seconds left before Boeheim was fouled at midcourt on an inbounds pass. He made one free throw and missed the second, but Miles McBride traveled after grabbing the rebound.
The Mountaineers dug an early hole and briefly took the lead back in the second half. But Boeheim kept answering with big shots.
“They shot it extremely well,” Huggins said. “It seemed like everything they shot went in, and they shot from deep. We wanted to make them bounce it and we let them get too many step-in shots.”
Joe Girard scored all 12 of his points before halftime, steadying the Orange while Boeheim struggled. Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj also scored 12 each for Syracuse.
Syracuse: The Orange are the bubble team nobody wants to play. They have advanced to the Sweet 16 each time they’ve been given a double-digit seeding, reaching the Final Four as a 10 in 2016 and the Sweet 16 as an 11 in 2018. That more recent run ended when Jim Boeheim’s bunch lost to Duke and Mike Krzyzewski, the only previous tourney game between 900-win coaches. Syracuse lost in the first round two years ago when Buddy Boeheim was a freshman role player.
West Virginia: Like many Syracuse opponents, the Mountaineers struggled against the 2-3 zone with poor shooting (37.1%) and turnovers (14). They regrouped, but couldn’t get over the hump.
Buddy Boeheim has 55 points so far in the tournament. Only Gary Clark (60 in 1957) and McNamara (56 in 2004) scored more in Syracuse’s first two tourney games.
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