AP Monday Sports Roundup
UNDATED (AP) — The AFC and NFC championship game matchups are set. The Denver Broncos will be home against the New England Patriots, and the Carolina Panthers will host the Arizona Cardinals.
The Broncos have advanced by rallying in the fourth quarter of a 23-16 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers led 13-12 with less than 10 minutes left when cornerback Bradley Roby punched the ball from Fitzgerald Toussaint's arms before teammate DeMarcus Ware recovered at the Denver 35. Peyton Manning led a methodical drive into the end zone as C.J. Anderson scored the go-ahead touchdown on a one-yard run before Demaryius Thomas caught the 2-point conversion for a 20-13 lead with three minutes remaining.
Pittsburgh's last opportunity to tie the game ended on Ware's sack of Ben Roethlisberger on the next drive. Brandon McManus iced the victory with his fifth field goal of the game, a 45-yarder with 53 seconds left. The five field goals tied an NFL playoff record.
Manning was victimized by several drops, yet he was able to complete 21 of his 37 throws for 222 and no interceptions. Anderson finished with 72 yards on 15 carries.
Roethlisberger threw for 339 yards, with Martavis Bryant grabbing nine passes for 154 yards as the featured receiver in place of the injured Antonio Brown.
The Broncos are in the AFC title game for the second time since 2005. They had lost three of their four previous divisional playoff games.
In Sunday's NFC divisional game, the Panthers carried a 31-0 lead into the second half before holding off the Seattle Seahawks 31-24. Carolina built its lead on two touchdown runs by Jonathan Stewart, a TD pass by Cam Newton, a pick-six by Luke Kuechly and a 48-yard field goal by Graham Gano.
However, the Panthers couldn't move the ball in the second half, allowing the Seahawks to close their deficit. Russell Wilson threw two of his three touchdown passes to Jermaine Kearse before Steven Hauschka's 36-yard field goal got Seattle within a touchdown with 1:12 remaining. The Seahawks' rally ended when the Panthers recovered the onside kick.
Stewart finished with 106 yards rushing on 19 carries for the Panthers, including a 59-yard burst on the first play from scrimmage. Newton completed 16 of his 22 passes for 161 yards and no interceptions.
Wilson's two interceptions led to 10 Carolina points. Kearse finished with 11 receptions for 110 yards, and Wilson was 31 of 48 for 366 yards.
The Panthers are in the NFC title game for the fourth time, and first since 2005.
Spartans lose again
UNDATED (AP) — You can expect several changes among the top five when The Associated Press men's basketball poll is released on Monday. Fourth-ranked Michigan State was beaten again this afternoon, an outcome that follows losses by top-ranked Kansas and No. 3 Maryland last week.
Ethan Happ scored the go-ahead basket from underneath the rim with 10 seconds left to lift Wisconsin past the Spartans 77-76. The Spartans had a final chance to win, but Denzel Valentine missed a 3-pointer and Matt Costello's last-second side jumper bounced off the rim.
Bronson Koenig scored 27 points and Nigel Hayes added 25 for the Badgers, who trailed 76-72 before improving to 2-4 in the conference.
Valentine had 23 points for the 16-3 Spartans, who also fell to Iowa last week
In other top-25 finals:
— Markus Kennedy scored 13 points and No. 10 SMU improved to 17-0 with a 60-45 stifling of Tulane. Jordan Tolbert and Nic Moore scored 12 points each for the Mustangs, who remain the nation's only unbeaten team despite shooting a season-worst 40 percent against the Green Wave.
— Malik Beasley scored five of his 17 points during a 12-3 run that put Florida State ahead by six in the second half of a 55-54 upset of No. 13 Virginia. Dwayne Bacon finished with 18 points and nine rebounds as the Seminoles beat a ranked team for the first time in their last six tries.
— Jarrod Uthoff scored 23 points and 16th-ranked Iowa followed its blowout win over Michigan State on Tuesday by beating Michigan 82-71. Peter Jok had 14 of his 16 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer that made it 76-68 with 2:34 left in the Hawkeyes' seventh consecutive win.
Spurs still perfect at home
UNDATED (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs have matched the best 42-game start in team history by extending their home winning streak.
LaMarcus Aldridge dropped in 23 points and the Spurs improved to 24-0 at home with a 112-83 pounding of Dallas. Aldridge scored 13 of the Spurs' 16 points in a five-minute stretch during the second quarter after the Mavericks carried a 16-14 lead into the period.
Spurs backup Jonathon Simmons finished with 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting, hitting each of his 3-point attempts in a rare chance to produce significant offense.
Boris Diaw added 16 points and Kawhi Leonard had 15 points for the Spurs, who have won 33 in a row at San Antonio dating to March 2015.
The Spurs have won 11 straight overall to improve to 36-6, 1 1/2 games behind Golden State for the NBA's best record.
In other NBA action:
— Russell Westbrook had his second consecutive triple-double in Oklahoma City's 99-74 rout of Miami, finishing with 13 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. Kevin Durant had 24 points and 10 rebounds as the Thunder became the third team with at least 30 wins this season.
— James Harden shot 4-for-7 from 3-point range while scoring 31 points in Houston's 112-95 romp over the Lakers in Los Angeles. Dwight Howard chipped in 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets.
— Randy Foye hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 21 seconds left to send the Nuggets past Indiana 129-126 in Denver. Danilo Gallinari had 23 points and Will Barton had 21, including two free throws with 6 seconds left to help seal it.
— Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins each scored 18 points as Minnesota ripped the Phoenix Suns 117-87 to end a nine-game losing streak. Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points and eight rebounds for Minnesota, which improved to 6-17 at home.
Surgery for Noah
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah may have played his final game of the season. The two-time All-Star faces surgery on his left shoulder, a procedure that has an estimated recovery period of four to six months.
The 30-year old is also in the final year of a five-year, $60 million contract and will become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Noah was moved to a reserve role by new coach Fred Hoiberg this season and hasn't had much success.
League fines Barnes
NEW YORK (AP) — Memphis forward Matt Barnes has been fined $35,000 by the NBA for making "inappropriate public comments" condoning violence. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Barnes said at a team shootaround, "Violence is never the answer, but sometimes it is."
NBA vice president for basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe says in a statement the comments condoning violence do not reflect the league or the character of its players.
Caps get a hat trick Justin time
UNDATED (AP) — The Washington Capitals continue to pad their lead in the NHL's Metropolitan Division.
Justin Williams completed his second career hat trick and first since October 2006 by scoring twice in the third period of the Caps' sixth victory in seven games, 5-2 over the New York Rangers. The game was tied 1-1 until Marcus Johansson and Williams scored during a 62-second span of the second period.
Capitals netminder Braden Holtby had to leave the game late in the middle period because of dehydration. Backup Philipp Grubauer blanked the Rangers over the final 22 minutes to secure the Capitals' league-leading 34th win in 45 games.
Washington now leads its division by a whopping 17 points over the New York Islanders. The Rangers are 18 points behind the Capitals after absorbing the 16th loss in their last 24 games.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— Jonathan Toews scored twice and had an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks earned their 11th straight win, downing Montreal 5-2. Marian Hossa added a goal and two assists for the Hawks, who lead the Western Conference and Central Division races by three points over Dallas. The Canadiens suffered their fourth consecutive loss and fell to 4-15-1 since Dec. 1.
— Anze Kopitar furnished a goal and an assist while Los Angeles scored three times in the second period of a 3-2 triumph against Anaheim. Vincent Lecavalier scored for the second straight game and Jonathan Quick stopped 30 shots to help the Kings stretch their lead in the Pacific Division to 10 points over Arizona.
— Nikita Kucherov scored twice and Ben Bishop turned away 26 shots in Tampa Bay's fifth consecutive win, 2-1 over Florida. Nick Bjugstad had the lone goal for the Panthers, who have dropped three straight since their team-record, 12-game winning streak.
— Ryan Miller turned back 47 shots in regulation before stopping Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares in the shootout to carry Vancouver past the Islanders 2-1. Ben Hutton scored in the second period and Radim Vrbata notched the lone shootout goal as the Canucks improved to 2-1 on their six-game road trip.
— Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his third shutout of the season and 41st of his career by stopping 22 shots in Pittsburgh's 5-0 rout of Carolina. Sidney Crosby scored twice to help the Penguins win for just the second time in six games.
— Claude Giroux scored once in regulation and once in overtime as Philadelphia outlasted Detroit 2-1. The Flyers are 5-0-1 in their last six games.
New deal for goalie
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The Edmonton Oilers have signed goaltender Cam Talbot to a three-year contract extension. The 28-year-old could have become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Talbot is 8-13-3 this season with a .914 save percentage and a 2.58 goals-against average in his first year with the Oilers.
Serena passes 1st round test
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Australian Open has begun in Melbourne.
Men's top-seed Novak Djokovic took his first steps toward a sixth Australian Open title with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Chung Hyeon of South Korea
Top women's seed and defending champion Serena Williams won her first-round match, beating Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-4, 7-5 on Rod Laver Arena. Williams was helped by 12 double-faults by the Italian player, including on break point in the 11th game of the second set to give Williams a 6-5 lead.
Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, the fourth seed, moved into the second round with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Christina McHale of the United States.
First-round winners on the women's side also include sixth seed Petra Kvitova and American Nicole Gibbs.
No. 24 seed Sloane Stephens dropped 10 straight games before losing her first-round match to a Chinese qualifier.
Kei Nishikori was the first seeded men's player to advance to the second round, beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Nishikori is joined in the second round by sixth seed Thomas Berdych and No. 15 David Goffin.
ATP denies unchecked match-fixing allegations
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — ATP chairman Chris Kermode and the Tennis Integrity Unit have rejected news reports that match-fixing has gone unchecked in the sport.
In reports published Monday, the first day of the Australian Open, the BBC and BuzzFeed News said secret files exposed evidence of widespread suspected match-fixing at the top level of world tennis. The report said that in the last decade 16 players — all at some stage ranked in the top 50 — have been repeatedly flagged to the integrity unit.
The reports say the players — it doesn't identify them or say whether they were involved in singles or doubles — were allowed to continue competing.
At a news conference at Melbourne Park on Monday, Kermode said officials "absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed for any reason, or isn't being investigated."
Gomez outlasts Snedeker
HONOLULU (AP) — Fabian Gomez has claimed his second PGA victory by capturing the Sony Open, beating Brandt Snedeker on the second playoff hole.
Gomez closed an 8-under 62 with consecutive birdies and closed out the tournament with his 11th birdie of the day. He ran off seven straight birdies in the middle of his round and let Snedeker back in the game with a pair of bogeys before forcing a playoff with birdies of 10 and 20 feet.
Snedeker made a 4-foot birdie on the 18th for a 66 to force the playoff.