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UCLA strengthens NCAA bid with win over No. 13 Arizona

UCLA strengthens NCAA bid with win over No. 13 Arizona

UCLA strengthens NCAA bid with win over No. 13 Arizona
Photo Credit: 40
UCLA center Thomas Welsh (40) and Arizona's Dusan Ristic (14) wait for a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Tucson, Ariz. UCLA defeated Arizona 82-74. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

UCLA strengthens NCAA bid with win over No. 13 Arizona

UCLA had a difficult start to the season when three players were arrested in China on shoplifting charges. The Bruins had a rough stretch early in the Pac-12 schedule while laboring through a series of injuries.

They seem to be turning a corner at just the right time.

UCLA played one of its best all-around games of the season Thursday night, picking up a resume-boosting win by beating No. 13 Arizona 82-74 at one college basketball's most difficult road venues.

"It's huge," said UCLA guard Aaron Holiday, who had 17 points and eight assists against the Wildcats. "We're obviously fighting for our spot in the NCAA Tournament and it's just a big win for us in that aspect."

Alford had to restock his roster for the 2017-18 season after losing Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton from last year's team.

The Bruins had more holes to fill after Jalen Hill, Cody Riley and LiAngelo Ball were suspended indefinitely following their arrests in China for shoplifting. Ball left the team and the other two players had their suspensions extended for the rest of the season.

On the court, UCLA had a few growing pains, but picked up a neutral-site win over Kentucky and won three of its first four Pac-12 games. A three-game losing streak followed, seemingly pushing the Bruins away from the NCAA Tournament bubble.

UCLA (17-7, 8-4 Pac-12) pushed its way back in the NCAA Tournament picture with Thursday night's road win. The Bruins have won four straight and are now a game behind Arizona in the Pac-12 race.

"This is a top 20 team, they've been top 10, so this is huge for us," Bruins coach Steve Alford said.

UCLA has another difficult road test on Saturday, playing at Arizona State, which knocked off Southern California Thursday night.


Texas A&M. The Aggies (16-8, 5-6 SEC) appeared to have their bubble popped after opening conference play with five straight losses. Texas A&M has played itself back into the NCAA Tournament conversation by winning five of its last seven games. The most recent one was huge: 81-80 at No. 8 Auburn, the Tigers' only home loss this season. The Aggies have another shot to build their case on Saturday, facing No. 24 Kentucky.

Boise State. The first-place Broncos (20-4, 9-2 Mountain West) have been taking care of business, winning four straight and seven of the past eight. The only loss in that stretch was to Nevada, the team right behind them in the standings. Boise State plays Utah State before its rematch against Nevada, giving the Broncos a chance to boost their lead and regular-season title chances.

Marquette. A string of four-point losses put the Golden Eagles (14-10, 5-7 Big East) precariously close to bubble bursting territory. A win over Seton Hall last week, their third Quadrant 1 victory, gives them life again. Still a lot of work left to get there. Marquette has games against St. John's and Creighton this weekend.

Virginia Tech. The Hokies (17-7, 6-5 ACC) bounced back from a loss to Miami last Saturday by knocking off fellow ACC bubble team North Carolina State. The next two games provide big chances for resume boosting: At No. 2 Virginia and at No. 9 Duke.


Washington. The Huskies moved into the NCAA Tournament picture by sweeping the Arizona schools, their first consecutive wins against ranked opponents since 2007. A loss to Oregon Thursday night was a step back. Washington (17-7, 7-4 Pac-12) is still in good shape, but can't afford many more losses or a quick exit from the Pac-12 tournament.

TCU. The Horned Frogs (16-8, 4-7 Big 12) play in college basketball's toughest conference, which could help them come Selection Sunday. Even so, they could stand to pick up a few more wins after missing out on resume-building wins last week in losses to No. 7 Texas Tech and No. 10 Kansas. Wins over Texas and No. 19 West Virginia this weekend could certainly help.

Georgia. The Bulldogs (13-10, 4-7 SEC) lost a game they couldn't afford to lose against Vanderbilt on Wednesday and now have dropped five of six. There are opportunities to build their resume back up, but the margin for error has become incredibly thin.

SMU. Consecutive losses to Tulsa and Houston didn't kill the Mustangs' NCAA Tournament hopes, but certainly didn't help. SMU (15-9, 5-6 AAC) has a neutral-court win over No. 13 Arizona and won at No. 22 Wichita State, but too many more slip-ups could end up costing the Mustangs.


More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

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  • It’s just what the GOP said we’d hear from a CEO after being handed a big tax break. But when Charles Scharf announced plans last month to spend his company’s tax savings on higher wages and technology, investors began selling. The Bank of New York Mellon CEO said he had a responsibility to “share the benefit” with workers and build the “company of the future.” But investors want to share in the tax bounty as well — through higher dividends and buybacks. By the end of the day, the bank’s stock was down 4.4 percent. The biggest tax rewrite in three decades was sold by its Republican backers as a way to help American workers, and there have been plenty of announcements about bonuses and plans to buy equipment and make other capital investments to improve productivity and raise wages. But much more money has been earmarked for dividends and buybacks. Retailer Lowe’s has authorized $7.1 billion in buybacks, triple the level planned before the tax overhaul. Radio giant Sirius XM has increased its program by a fifth to $12 billion. And Wednesday Cisco announced the biggest number of all — a $25 billion increase to its repurchase program. Buybacks, in which companies purchase their own shares and retire them, are popular with investors because fewer shares outstanding lifts earnings per share, the most watched barometer of corporate success.
  • Hearing from parents and students who lost friends and family members in last week’s school shooting in Florida, President Donald Trump said it was time for the nation to work together to better safeguard schools, as he advocated stronger security including the possibility of allowing teachers and administrators to carry concealed weapons during the school day. “It’s very difficult, it’s very complex, but we’ll find a solution,” the President said as he wrapped the over hour long listening session, which featured tears from parents and students. “I’m never going to see my kid again, I want you all to know that,” said Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was among those killed last week in Florida. “My beautiful daughter, I’m never going to see again,” Pollack added, flanked by his two sons. Andrew Pollack, father of Meadow Pollack: 'My daughter has no voice. She was murdered last week. She was taken from us. Shot nine times on the third floor.' Watch full video here: https://t.co/PTvTbB8sUn #ParklandStudentsSpeak pic.twitter.com/Qkp9WYVZcm — CSPAN (@cspan) February 21, 2018 The over hour long session was respectful on all sides, as parents and students pleaded with the President to do something to end school shootings. “I was actually in the second classroom that was shot at,” said Jonathan Blank, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. “In my mind, as a kid, nothing that horrible should ever have to happen to you,” Blank added. Echoing some of the calls for action by other Douglas students, Sam Zeif used his time before the President to make a tearful plea for change on powerful weapons like the AR-15. 'I lost a best friend. … I don't understand why I can can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war.' Sam Zeif was on the second floor of the Parkland, Florida, school where 17 people died after a mass shooting. https://t.co/ozoMFp0dU5 https://t.co/xsKZjl5Zna — CNN International (@cnni) February 21, 2018 “I don’t understand why I could still go into a store and buy a weapon of war,” Zeif said, fighting back tears. “I don’t know how I’m ever going to step foot in that place again,” Zeif said of his school. As for the President, he listened quietly as students and parents told their stories and made their requests – Mr. Trump said he’s still developing his plan to deal with school shootings, but seemed to outline a series of ideas that he backs: + Stronger school security, by hardening entrance points to schools. + Allowing teachers and administrators to carry a firearm in a school. + Stronger background checks on guns sales, though Mr. Trump has yet to define exactly what that would entail. + Raising the age to purchase a powerful weapon like an AR-15. + Doing more to provide mental health treatment to people – like the Florida shooter – who have been identified to authorities. “If you have a teacher – who was adept at firearms – you could very well end the attack very quickly,” the President said of the idea of concealed carry in schools, as he compared it to airline pilots being allowed to carry a gun in the aftermath of the Nine Eleven attacks. President Trump responds to the emotional stories of students and parents: “We don’t want others to go through the kind of pain that you've gone through” https://t.co/GtcRURoZo4 pic.twitter.com/JliJbQkJgr — CNN International (@cnni) February 21, 2018 “If these cowards knew that the school was well guarded,” the President said, “I don’t think they would go into the school in the first place.” “Thank you for pouring out your hearts, because the world is watching,” the President said as he wrapped up the White House event. “We’re going to come up with a solution.”
  • Evangelist Billy Grahamat his North Carolina home. Graham, who preached Christianity to millions around the world, was also a confidant of U.S. presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush.Here are some quotes from the man who became known as “America’s Pastor.”   Source: Brainy Quotes
  • The world's best-known evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, has died. He was 99. From the gangly 16-year-old baseball-loving teen who found Christ at a tent revival, Graham went on to become an international media darling, a preacher to a dozen presidents and the voice of solace in times of national heartbreak. He was America's pastor.           Graham retired to his mountain home at Montreat, N.C., in 2005 after nearly six decades on the road calling people to Christ at 417 all-out preaching and musical events from Miami to Moscow. His final New York City crusade in 2005 was sponsored by 1,400 regional churches from 82 denominations.          Presidents called on Graham in their dark hours, and uncounted millions say he showed them the light. He took his Bible to the ends of the Earth in preaching tours he called 'crusades.' Even now, anywhere a satellite, radio, TV, video or podcast can reach, his sonorous voice is probably still calling someone to Christ.          Though Graham's shoes could likely never be filled, his son, Franklin, has taken over in some aspects—leading The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and becoming a confidant of President Donald Trump, including speaking at his inauguration.          But Franklin's message has swayed from his father's, leaving a mixed legacy for the Graham name. Franklin has mocked both Islam and LGBT rights. He uses his following on social media to raise funds for 'persecuted Christians,' boycotts businesses that use gay couples in advertisements and blasts the separation of church and state as as the godless successor to Cold War communism.          But his father's words for years offered peace and perspective. On the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance following the 9/11 attacks, Billy Graham spoke of the 'mystery of iniquity and evil,' of 'the lesson of our need for each other' and, ultimately, of hope.          'He was so real, he made Christianity come true.' observed Susan Harding, an anthropologist at the University of California-Santa Cruz. 'He was homespun, historical and newsworthy all at once. He could span the times from Christ to today, from the globe to you, all in one sentence.'          Grant Wacker, a Duke University professor of Christian history, says Graham represented, 'what most decent churchgoing people thought and ought to think.'          His reputation was untouched by sex or financial scandals. When anti-Semitic comments came to light as transcripts of conversations with Richard Nixon surfaced, Graham was promptly and deeply apologetic.          He never built a megachurch, set up a relief agency, launched a political lobby or ran for office. Yet he redefined American Protestant life by popularizing Christianity's core message — Christ died for your sins — downplaying denominational details and proclaiming the joys found in faith.          Graham was, however, drawn to power. Eventually, he met, prayed with, comforted and joked with 12 U.S. presidents, and Graham learned to walk a tightrope.          He found a fine balance that allowed him to become America's pastor, Democrat or Republican. North or South. When President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky came to light, Graham called for forgiveness. Clinton told Peter Boyer of The New Yorker, 'He took sin seriously. But he took redemption seriously. And it was incredibly powerful the way he did it.'          Former president George W. Bush has said it was a conversation with Graham that turned him from his drinking ways when he was young.          'I've never called him on a specific issue but his influence is bigger than a specific issue, as far as I'm concerned. He warms your soul,' Bush told an ABC 20/20 special on the preacher and politics.          Graham emphasized the joy to be found in belief, in contrast to evangelists such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who routinely issued glowering condemnations of politicians or blamed natural disasters on modern culture. However, Graham did take an uncharacteristically political stand before the 2012 presidential election. He authorized full page ads in major newspapers in October urging people to vote for politicians who opposed same-sex marriage on 'biblical principles.'          He brought to the microphone a 'corny but effective humor,' Wacker says, which made him a convivial talk-show guest. Graham logged more than 50 radio or television interviews with Larry King alone. YouTube has a tape of Woody Allen interviewing the evangelist, who draws almost as many laughs as the caustic, agnostic comedian.          The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association he founded, now led by his son, Franklin, used every communications innovation possible to carry the Gospel to any willing heart on Earth. More than 214 million people in 195 cities and territories heard God's call in Graham's voice and witnessed him deliver the Gospel in person or by satellite links. His projects included founding             Christianity Today magazine in 1956 and writing more than 30 books.          High among his numerous honors: The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Billy and Ruth in 1996, the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to him in 1983, and the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion in 1982. He even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.          'Fundamentalists saw him as excessively liberal, and liberals saw him as too literalist in talking about sin and salvation. His wonderful balance between them is critical to his legacy,' says John Wilson, editor of             Books & Culture, a sister publication of             Christianity Today magazine            .  Graham's last decades were slowed by illness and injury. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1989, felled by broken bones, bouts of hydrocephalous and rounds of pneumonia.          Age, illness and bone-breaking falls had left him struggling to deliver 20-minute sermons.   Graham's last crusade, in June 2005 in New York City, drew 242,000 people to Flushing Meadows; 8,786 made a new commitment to Christ and thousands more renewed or rejoiced in their faith.          Then he retired to his Montreat, N.C., mountaintop log cabin home (where his five children grew up mostly without their traveling father) to spend his days with his beloved wife, Ruth. They shared Bible study, devotions and an endless recycling of the movie musicals she loved to watch. Those were bittersweet days, with Ruth bedridden and Billy relying on a walker. Their frequent prayer was, 'Help me, Lord.'          At her funeral in June 2007, Graham called Ruth the finest Christian he ever knew. Graham lived through the explosion of religious diversity in America, the rise of the human potential movement and the trend to personalized spirituality. He also lived to see many tire of lonely seeking or a high-minded hopscotch from church to church, religion to religion.          Yet he remained steadfast in his response. In 1996, when he and Ruth were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, he once more shared his faith in God with some of the most powerful men on Earth:          'As Ruth and I receive this award, we know that some day we will lay it at the feet of the one we seek to serve.
  • The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died. Spokesman Mark DeMoss says Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday morning. He was 99. Graham reached more than 200 million through his appearances and millions more through his pioneering use of television and radio. Unlike many traditional evangelists, he abandoned narrow fundamentalism to engage broader society.