Bench delivers first-rate performance for Celtics


Bench delivers first-rate performance for Celtics

BOSTON The Boston Celtics' second unit delivered a first-rate performance in Friday's 96-78 win over Portland.

With Rajon Rondo out serving a two-game suspension along with a few other players whose health status made them game-time decisions, the C's took control of the game in the first half with their bench playing a prominent role.

"I don't care who doesn't play," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said earlier. "The guys that play have to be ready to play and ready to win."

That was indeed the case, with Jeff Green leading all Celtics scorers with 19 points off the bench.

For the game, the C's second unit outscored Portland's backups, 41-22.

Not only were they scoring, but their play was also important on the defensive end as the C's limited Portland to just 34.8 percent shooting and extended their losing streak to four in a row.

In addition to strong play from its bench, here are some other keys identified prior to the tip-off that played a role in the Celtics victory over the Blazers.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Boston and Portland are two of the most rebounding-challenged teams in the NBA. The C's are dead-last while the Blazers are 25th in the league.

WHAT WE SAW: Although Boston lost the rebounding battle 37-36, the C's controlled the action around the glass most of the night with a number of Portland's rebounds coming in the game's final moments when the outcome had already been well established.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. LaMarcus Aldridge: Garnett's ability to stretch the floor won't do him much good against Aldridge who brings that same skillset to the floor. Both have strong all-around games, although Garnett's defense is better.

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett's 10 points and five rebounds was well short of equalling Aldridge's game-high 23 points, but there was no mistaking that Garnett's impact was greater. He set the tone with an early blocked shot that was among several plays made by the C's defensively. Aldridge's impact was minimal, at best.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Without Rondo, Courtney Lee will have more opportunities to score. That's exactly how things played out in the lone game Rondo missed this season. Lee had a season-high 13 points which is his only double-digit scoring game this season.

WHAT WE SAW: Lee was sniffing at a Rondo-like triple double before finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He has had just two double-digit scoring games this season - both coming with Rondo out of the lineup.

STAT TO TRACK: The second quarter has seen the Celtics at their worst far too often. They average an NBA-low 21.9 points per game in the quarter. That wouldn't be that big a deal if opponents weren't scoring an average of 24.8 points per game.

WHAT WE SAW: Not only did the Celtics play better than usual in the second quarter, the 31 points scored by the C's in the second was their highest-scoring quarter of the game. Fueled by the defense, Boston took a commanding 23-point lead in the half that was never threatened afterward.

South Carolina holds off UMass, 34-28


South Carolina holds off UMass, 34-28

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Freshman Jake Bentley threw for two touchdowns and 201 yards in his first college game and South Carolina matched its victory total from last year with a 34-28 victory over Massachusetts on Saturday.

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp was expecting to redshirt Bentley this season before the team's mounting offensive problems - they entered dead last in points per game in the Football Bowl Subdivision - left the first-year coach open to any solution.

Bentley proved the right answer against the Minutemen (1-7). He led the Gamecocks (3-4) to touchdowns on their first two series, and then threw a pair of pretty fade passes for TD, the first from 16 yards out to K.C. Crosby and later a 24-yarder to Bryan Edwards to lead 27-7.

When UMass cut things to 34-28 with less than 5 minutes left, Bentley accounted for 30 yards to help the Gamecocks run out the clock.

It was the first time South Carolina had scored more than 20 points in a game this season.

UMass did its share to help with three turnovers in the opening half, two which led to two South Carolina scores.

Tight end Adam Breneman had two TD catches for UMass, which fell to 0-3 against Southeastern Conference teams this fall.


UMASS: The Minutemen have been outscored 131-77 in its four games this season against teams from the Power 5 conferences.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Its future - and offensive recovery - may have started with Bentley behind center. The freshman, who'll turn 19 next month, is sure to have some bumps ahead, maybe as soon as next week's home game against No. 18 Tennessee. But there was little benefit keeping the strong-armed Bentley on the bench if he could spark up the offense this season.


UMASS: The Minutemen return home to play Football Championship Subdivision opponent Wagner. The game ends the UMass home season as it finishes with games at Troy, BYU and Hawaii.

SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks go back to the Southeastern Conference grinder against No. 18 Tennessee. The Gamecocks have only won two SEC games the past two seasons and will face a difficult challenge against the Vols, who are in the thick of the Eastern Division chase.

© 2016 by STATS & The Associated Press


UConn falls to Central Florida, 24-16


UConn falls to Central Florida, 24-16

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -McKenzie Milton threw for a season-high 317 yards and three touchdowns to lead Central Florida to a 24-16 win over UConn.

The freshman completed 29 of 45 passes and the Knights (4-3, 2-1 American) moved over the .500 mark by scoring 17 unanswered points and holding the Huskies (3-5, 1-4) scoreless in the second half.

Arkeel Newsome ran 21 times for 101 yards and Noel Thomas had his fifth straight 100-yard receiving game for UConn, catching nine passes for 165 yards.

But Thomas dropped a pass in the end zone on a third down with just over 3 minutes remaining, and quarterback Bryant Shirreffs came up short on a fourth-down scramble.

The Huskies got the ball back near midfield with just over 2 minutes left and drove to the 21, but failed to convert a fourth-down pass.

The Knights took the lead on the first drive of the second half, when Milton hit running back Adrian Killins over the middle for a 39-yard touchdown. It was the third consecutive drive of more than 70 yards for UCF.

A career-long 50-yard field goal by Matthew Wright early in the fourth quarter pushed the lead to eight points.

UConn scored the game's first 13 points, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run from Newsome.

The Huskies final points came on a 35-yard Puyol field goal, one of three he kicked in the first half.

The lead was the first at halftime this season for the Huskies.


UCF: The Knights have apparently found their quarterback in the freshman Milton, who started again over senior Justin Holman. It was Milton's fourth start this season. His 317 yards passing were the most since Holman threw for 336 yards against Temple in 2014.

UConn: The Huskies have two offensive weapons in Newsome and Thomas and need to find a third. Shirreffs was again the team's second leading rusher with 49 yards. Alec Bloom was the team's second-leading receiver. He had two catches for 20 yards.


UCF: The Knights visit No. 11 Houston next Saturday

UConn: The Huskies travel south to face East Carolina.

© 2016 by STATS & The Associated Press