Minnesota Sports Roundup: Gophers' solid second half takes care of IlliniMinnesota Sports
-- Wednesday night was a supposed to be a solid Top 15 match up as the #8-ranked Gophers traveled to Champaign to take on the #12-ranked Fighting Illini.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Wednesday night was a supposed to be a solid Top 15 match up as the #8-ranked University of Minnesota men's basketball team traveled to the University of Illinois to take on the #12-ranked Fighting Illini.
Minnesota however steamrolled Illinois 84-67 as Joe Coleman scored a career best 29 points while Andre Hollins added 22. That moves the Gophers to 15-1 and runs their winning streak to 11 straight.
Illinois on the other hand suffers their first loss of the season at home. The schedule won't get any easier for the Gophers as Saturday they'll travel to Bloomington to take on the #5-ranked Indiana Hoosiers. Illinois head to Madison Saturday afternoon to take on Wisconsin.
The Minnesota Timberwolves dropped a 106-84 decision in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. Kevin Durant lead the way for the Thunder with 26 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Minnesota was coming in off a win on Tuesday night at the Target Center over Atlanta. The T'wolves were lead by Nikola Pekovic who had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Next up, Minnesota has today off but travel to New Orleans to face the Hornets on Friday night.
The Timberwolves announced before the game that head coach Rick Adelman would miss Wednesday's game at Oklahoma City due to personal reasons. It was the second consecutive game that Adelman was unavailable as he also missed Tuesdays win over Atlanta in Minneapolis. Wolves assistant coach Terry Porter served as acting head coach for both contests.
The T'wolves got some more bad news on the injury front on Wednesday as they found out forward Kevin Love will require surgery to repair his injured right hand. The surgery is expected to sideline Love for 8-10 weeks. So far this season, Love has played in 18 games and leads Minnesota in scoring, rebounds and double-doubles.
While the Minnesota Wild and the rest of the NHL continue to wait for training camps to begin for real, players continue to make their way to Xcel Energy Center in preparation. Wednesday Wild captain Mikko Koivu returned from Finland and skated with his teammates for the first time as did forward Dany Heatley. The NHLPA is expected to ratify the CBA at some point this weekend and speculation has it that Wild training camp would begin Sunday with the season getting under way starting January 19th.
The NHL Board of Governors has ratified the new CBA by a unanimous 30-0 vote. The players are expected to vote electronically later this week, with training camps likely to open Sunday. Bettman says both sides compromised to reach a 10-year deal that is ultimately good for the game. The owners locked out the players in September after the previous CBA expired. They finally reached an agreement this past Sunday, with an abbreviated, 48-game season expected to begin January 19th.
Nobody will get the call to Baseball's Hall of Fame this year including St. Paul native and former Minnesota Twin Jack Morris. Despite the second highest percentage of votes of eligible players, Morris still missed the 75% of the votes needed from the Baseball Writers Association of America to gain enshrinement. Former Houston Astro Craig Biggio garnered the most votes with 68.2% while Morris was second at 67.7%. Morris has been eligible since 2000 and despite 254 career wins will be forced to wait yet another year.
The Minnesota Vikings announced the signing of a couple of free agents. Punter T.J. Conley and Greg McCoy were both inked on Wednesday. Conley has three years of pro experience and hails from Idaho. McCoy has two years Dan Larson has been hired as the new offensive coordinator for the University of Minnesota Duluth. He previously held the same position with Macalester College the past five years. He replaces Curt Wiese who was promoted to Bulldog head coach on December 21st.
Edina native Brian Burke was relieved of his duties as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday afternoon. He was immediately replaced by longtime Burke assistant David Nonis. Burke will stay on staff as a senior advisor.
The Seattle Seahawks signed former Minnesota Vikings placekicker Ryan Longwell on Wednesday and placed kicker Steven Hauschka on injured reserve. The 38-year old Longwell didn't play in the NFL this season and hasn't stepped on a pro field since he was employed by the Vikings in the 2011 season. Hauschka strained his calf muscle in Sunday's wild card win over the Washington Redskins. Longwell won the spot after the Seahawks worked out four kickers on Tuesday.
The Pittsburgh Pirates agreement with former Twin pitcher Francisco Liriano appears to be off due to an injury suffered to his non-throwing arm. The Pirates agreed to a two-year, $12.75 million contract in December and rumor has it he suffered the unspecified injury shortly after. Last year Liraiano went 6-12 in splitting time with the Twins and White Sox.