Celtics hold on to beat Hawks, 79-76


Celtics hold on to beat Hawks, 79-76

ATLANTA One by one, the opportunities were there for the Boston Celtics.

And one by one, the Atlanta Hawks found a way to turn them back.

That is, until it mattered most - the fourth quarter.

In a game that in many ways was vintage Boston Celtics, the Green Team turned up the intensity at both ends of the floor and rallied for a 79-76 win.

Atlanta, led by Joe Johnson, refused to go away quietly even after the Celtics seemingly had the game under control.

He finished with a game-high 25 points which included a 3-pointer that cut Boston's lead to just one point with less than 10 seconds to play. But a pair of free throws by Ray Allen who led the Celtics with 19 points, secured the win.

That, and an air ball in the closing seconds by Jeff Teague.

Even as they squandered so many chances during the first three quarters to tie the game or take the lead, their confidence in getting the win never faded.

During time-outs throughout the game, you could still hear the likes of Paul Pierce reminding his teammates to, "keep grinding."

And that's what they did, blowing the game wide open with a 23-7 run to start the fourth which gave them a 73-58 lead.

But the Hawks (26-20) were proving to be a grind-it-out club as well, continuing to battle back in the game's closing minutes.

A pair of free throws by Zaza Pachulia cut Boston's lead to 75-68.

And after a Celtics miss, Joe Johnson brought the Hawks even closer with a 3-pointer that made it a 75-71 game with 57.4 seconds to play.

Boston (24-21), sensing a great rally was gradually fading into another unforgettable collapse, called a time-out.

Prior to the game, C's coach Doc Rivers as well as some players pointed toward this week's games, beginning with Atlanta, being pivotal to their plans for a strong postseason push.

The Hawks are one of the teams the C's know they have to pass in order to finish with the highest possible seeding. Up next is Milwaukee (20-24), a team that's on the Celtics' heels that has won five in a row.

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