Thursday Sports in BriefThe Associated Press — By The Associated Press
Mississippi State hired Washington State's Mike Leach as its new head coach Thursday, bringing one of the nation's quirkiest and most successful coaches to the Southeastern Conference.
Leach will replace Joe Moorhead, who was fired last week after two seasons.
The post-bowl game firing was unusual, but the Bulldogs landed a coach with a long track record of winning at programs that have historically struggled. In 18 years was Texas Tech and Washington State, Leach is 139-90, using his Air Raid offense to set records and consistently reach the postseason.
At Washington State, Leach took over a program that had been mired in the Pac-12 basement and went to five straight bowl games, including an 11-2 season in 2018.
He finished 55-47 in eight seasons with the Cougars. He produced a similar turnaround at Texas Tech, taking the Red Raiders to bowl games in all 10 seasons.
ATLANTA (AP) — Offensive lineman Cade Mays is leaving Georgia and returning to his hometown to continue his college football career at Tennessee, where he will have an opportunity to play alongside his younger brother.
Tennessee announced Thursday that it had added Mays, who has spent the last two seasons at Georgia. Tennessee sent out a tweet with the Knoxville Catholic graduate's picture along with the message, “Welcome #HomeSweetHome, Cade!”
Mays' attorney said the offensive lineman will have a strong case to be granted immediate eligibility in 2020.
Tom Mars, whose sports law practice has offices in Atlanta and Rogers, Arkansas, accused Georgia of leaking news that Mays' parents, Kevin and Melinda Mays, filed a lawsuit against the University of Georgia in December. The lawsuit was filed in the State Court of Clarke County about two years after an incident in which Kevin Mays lost part of his little finger after it was caught in a folding chair at a dinner for recruits at Sanford Stadium.
Kevin Mays was a team captain at Tennessee and an All-Southeastern Conference guard in 1994.
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has been listed as questionable to play in the divisional round game Saturday at San Francisco because an ankle injury that occurred in practice.
Thielen wore a wrap on his left ankle Thursday. He said he got tangled up with a teammate on the field Wednesday but declined to specify the nature or severity of the injury.
“You just trust the doctors and opinions and do whatever it takes to get out there Saturday,” said Thielen, who had seven catches for 129 yards in the 26-20 overtime win last week in the wild-card round at New Orleans. “That’s my mindset. I’m preparing for Saturday. I’m going to do whatever it takes to help this team win."
Thielen played in only eight full games during the regular season, limited by a hamstring injury he aggravated twice.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles have fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch.
Coach Doug Pederson made the announcement on Thursday, one day after he said both coaches were returning. Pederson issued a statement saying he wanted to inform the coaches first.
Groh joined the Eagles as wide receivers coach in 2017 when the team won the Super Bowl. He was promoted to offensive coordinator after that season when Frank Reich left to become the head coach at Indianapolis.
Walch joined the team in 2018 as assistant receivers coach and was promoted last year.
The Eagles won the NFC East but were eliminated by Seattle in the wild-card round.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Teá Cooper scored 27 points and No. 6 Baylor used a dominant fourth quarter to beat top-ranked UConn 74-58 on Thursday night, ending the Huskies' 98-game home winning streak.
UConn fell one victory short of tying its own NCAA record of 99 in a row at home. The Huskies previous loss at home came in the Big East final against Notre Dame on March 12, 2013.
Baylor (12-1) led by three going into the fourth quarter and neither team could get much going on offense in the first few minutes of the final period. The Huskies cut the deficit to one on Christyn Williams' jumper with 6:36 left. Then the defending national champions took over.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Tamika Catchings and Lauren Jackson headline the list of 12 finalists Thursday for the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
Catchings was a four-time Olympic gold medalist for the U.S. and also a five-time winner of the WNBA defensive player of the year award. She led the Indiana Fever to their lone title in 2012 and Tennessee to an NCAA championship in 1998.
Jackson helped the Seattle Storm win two championships in the WNBA and was the league's MVP three times.
The two former WNBA stars are joined by Swin Cash, who won three WNBA championships with Detroit and Seattle. She also won two NCAA titles at UConn.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia center Joel Embiid will have surgery Friday for a torn ligament in a finger in his left hand and will be evaluated in one to two weeks.
Embiid injured the radial collateral ligament in the ring finger in the first half Monday night against Oklahoma City. Embiid's overlapped his pinkie to the point that it seemed he had his fingers crossed. He played most of the game with his finger taped and said he "couldn't go up with two hands."
Embiid has struggled with injuries ever since he was drafted with the No. 3 pick of the 2014. He missed his first two seasons with various injuries and hasn't played more than 64 games in any of the last three. He is averaging 23.4 points and 12.3 rebounds in 31 games this season.
DETROIT (AP) — John Beilein's first season as an NBA coach took another turbulent turn because of a comment he made during a film session.
Beilein said Thursday he had apologized after using the word “thugs” while reviewing film with his players the previous day. ESPN.com, citing unidentified sources, reported that Beilein suggested during a Wednesday film session his players were no longer playing “like a bunch of thugs.” Beilein told ESPN he had meant to say “slugs” in reference to the team's effort level.
Beilein repeated that explanation Thursday after his team's shootaround in Detroit, hours before the Cavaliers faced the Pistons.
“I was saying: 'We’re making a lot of mistakes mentally, and we deserve better because we're really playing hard right now. We're not playing like slugs. We're playing hard,'" Beilein said. "And somehow that word came out.”
Beilein said he called the players afterward to explain the situation, and said he apologized.
NEW YORK (AP) — Tim Tebow will be at spring training with the New York Mets for the fourth straight year.
The Mets said Thursday the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner will report to major league training camp next month in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The 32-year-old outfielder hit .163 in 77 games last season at Triple-A Syracuse in his second straight injury-shortened season. He did not play after July 21 because he cut his left hand while fielding a ball in the outfield.
Tebow hit .273 with six home runs, 14 doubles and 36 RBIs in 84 games for Double-A Binghamton in 2018, when his season ended July 18 because of a broken bone in his right hand.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — San Jose Sharks captain and leading scorer Logan Couture will miss about six weeks after breaking his left ankle when he crashed into the boards.
Couture was injured Tuesday night in a 3-2 loss to St. Louis when he collided with Blues defenseman Vince Dunn and banged into the boards. The Sharks said Thursday that Couture has a small fracture in his left ankle and is expected to miss approximately six weeks.
The injury is the latest blow in a tough season for the Sharks, who began Thursday in 13th place in the Western Conference and are nine points out of a playoff berth. San Jose has lost 13 of its past 16 games following a strong November to plummet in the standings a year after making it to the Western Conference final.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Pat Hurst was selected captain of the U.S. team for the 2021 Solheim Cup on Thursday.
The 50-year-old Hurst was an assistant to Juli Inkster for the matches against Europe in 2015, 2017 and 2019, and played in the competition five times during a 20-year career on the LPGA Tour.
Hurst said Inkster was the first person she called after being told she was captain by LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan.
“We’re two different people but we’re also great friends who love and respect each other,” Hurst said. "I want to bring the best of what Juli brought and do it with my own personality. I think I’ve built a lot of trust with the players.”
The 2021 match will be held at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, where the Americans will look to regain the cup from Europe after losing at Gleneagles, Scotland, in September.
NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Wie is expecting her first child — a girl — this summer.
The often-injured golfer announced the news Thursday on Instagram. She married Jonnie West, the son of NBA great Jerry West, in August.
"Babygirl, we love you so much already and we just can’t wait to meet you this summer!" Wie wrote.
Wie had surgery on her right hand in October 2018 to fix an avulsion fracture, bone chips and nerve entrapment. She hasn't played on the LPGA Tour since withdrawing from the KPMG Women's PGA in June.
Wie also recently joined CBS Sports for the Masters and several events.
Forward Robbie Robinson out of Clemson was the first overall pick Thursday in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft by Inter Miami.
Robinson, who won the MAC Hermann Trophy as the nation's top college player, had 18 goals and nine assists this season as a junior. He was also named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
Soon after he was selected, Robinson was connected via Skype with David Beckham, part of Inter Miami's ownership group and the team's president of soccer operations. The expansion team is preparing for its first MLS season.
LONDON (AP) — Tottenham striker Harry Kane will be sidelined until April after being advised to undergo surgery on his left hamstring, the Premier League club said Thursday.
Kane ruptured a tendon in his hamstring during a league match against Southampton on Jan. 1.
“The decision to undergo surgery is not expected to impact the timeframe that the England captain will be sidelined,” Tottenham said in a statement, “with the expectation that he will return to training in April.”
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — No taking a knee at the Olympics. No hand gestures with political meaning. No disrespect at medal ceremonies.
The International Olympic Committee published guidelines Thursday specifying which types of athlete protests will not be allowed at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Athletes are prohibited by the Olympic Charter's Rule 50 from taking a political stand in the field of play — like the raised fists by American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Games.
Today’s Olympians now know more about which acts of “divisive disruption” will lead to disciplinary action in Tokyo. They can still express political opinions in official media settings or on social media accounts.
Pete Dye, among the forefront of modern golf architecture, died Thursday morning at age 94.
His company, Dye Design, posted the news on its Twitter account. Dye had been suffering from Alzheimer's.
His golf courses have held four major championships, most recently at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, which will host the Ryder Cup this year. He also had several courses on the PGA Tour, mostly notably the TPC Sawgrass, where the Stadium Course has held The Players Championship since 1982.
Many of the courses were designed with his wife, Alice, who died last February at 91. She famously suggested to her husband as they were clearing out a swamp at Sawgrass, “Why not just make an island green?”
His courses were often described as “Dye-abolical" because of the penalties they could inflict with a bad shot. But they were memorable, and often difficult.
Dye was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2008
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports