Update on the latest in sports:

July 20, 2017 - 8:42 pm


Freeze resigns as Ole Miss football coach after 5 seasons

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze has resigned after five seasons, bringing a stunning end to a once-promising tenure.

The school confirmed Freeze's resignation in a release Thursday night. Assistant Matt Luke has been named the interim coach.

The Rebels had a quick rise under Freeze, recruiting at a high level and reaching an apex with a Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma State following the 2015 season. But an NCAA investigation into the program — alleging 21 charges of academic, booster, and recruiting misconduct — has overshadowed much of that success, especially over the past year. The school has already self-imposed several penalties, including a one-year postseason ban for the upcoming season.

Freeze — who was making more than $5 million per year — had a 39-25 record over five seasons, including a 19-21 mark in the Southeastern Conference.


Smoak (2 HRs), Blue Jays get sun help to shade Red Sox 8-6

BOSTON (AP) — Justin Smoak hit a pair of homers and Steve Pearce drove in two runs when Boston second baseman Brock Holt lost his popup in the sun, and the Toronto Blue Jays held on to beat the Red Sox 8-6 on Thursday.

The teams split the four-game series. Including the 15-inning game on Tuesday with Toronto, the AL East-leading Red Sox played 76 innings in about 144 hours — the equivalent of 8 1/2 games in six days.

Dominic Leone (2-0) earned the win. Starter Francisco Liriano got just five outs, allowing three runs in the second, but Toronto came back with four in the third to take a 5-3 lead against Doug Fister (0-4).

Roberto Osuna pitched the ninth for his 24th save.

Smoak has 26 homers this season. His previous career high was 20, in 2013.

It was 7-3 in the seventh when Dustin Pedroia, in the lineup at designated hitter after the long week, hit a three-run homer — his third hit of the day and his fourth homer in 11 games.

Smoak, who also had an RBI single, added his second homer of the game in the ninth.

In games elsewhere around the majors:

— Gregory Polanco homered, Chris Stewart added three hits and the Pittsburgh Pirates completed a four-game sweep of the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers with a 4-2 victory. The Pirates have won 11 of 13 and moved within three games of the Brewers. Milwaukee has lost five straight.

— Jake Lamb hit a pair of three-run homers and Patrick Corbin pitched into the eighth inning during an emergency start, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 12-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Arizona stabilized itself by taking two of three in the series. The Diamondbacks had dropped eight of nine heading into the set, falling behind Colorado for the second NL wild-card spot.

— Cardinals pitcher Trevor Rosenthal was late covering first base on a two-out grounder by Jose Reyes that turned into a game-winning single in the ninth inning, lifting the New York Mets over St. Louis 3-2. Reyes' fourth career walkoff RBI gave the Mets a split of the four-game series.

In other MLB news:

— The Miami Marlins have traded right-hander David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners for four prospects, including highly regarded outfielder Brayan Hernandez. Also going to the Marlins in the deal are right-handed pitching prospects Pablo Lopez, Brandon Miller, and Lukas Schiraldi. Phelps is 2-4 with a 3.45 ERA in 44 games and 47 innings this season, all out of the bullpen. He's a six-year veteran with 64 career starts.

— A person with knowledge of his plans tells The Associated Press that Pablo Sandoval plans to sign a minor league contract to return to the San Francisco Giants. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. Sandoval technically will not be free to agree to a deal with a team until 1 p.m. Eastern Friday. The Boston Red Sox released Sandoval on Wednesday when the third baseman didn't report after being designated for assignment last week.


Cavaliers talking contract with Derrick Rose

CLEVELAND (AP) — A person familiar with the negotiations says the Cleveland Cavaliers are discussing a contract with former NBA MVP Derrick Rose.

The team is discussing a one-year deal with Rose, said the person who spoke Thursday to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.

Cleveland is limited in what it can offer the free agent guard, whose career has been slowed by knee injuries. Rose made $21.3 million while playing in 64 games for the New York Knicks last season.

ESPN.com first reported the Cavs' interest in the 28-year-old Rose.

The Cavs signed free agent Jose Calderon last month as a backup to All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. Rose, if healthy, would be a better option than the 34-year-old Calderon.

Cleveland struggled to fill the backup role after allowing Matthew Dellavedova to leave as a free agent following the 2016 championship season.

In other NBA news:

— The Utah Jazz signed big man Eric Griffin to a two-way contract Thursday. Contract details were not released. Griffin was a member of the Jazz during NBA summer leagues in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. He averaged 10.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in Vegas.

The 6-foot-8, 205-pound center/forward played in the Israeli Basketball Premier League last season, averaging 14.9 points and 7.1 rebounds. This is the first time the Jazz have used the two-way contracts implemented by the NBA for the upcoming season.

— Udonis Haslem believes he can still play, and the Miami Heat apparently agree. The three-time NBA champion has signed a one-year, $2.3 million deal to remain with the Heat for what will be his 15th season. Haslem was already the longest-tenured player in Heat history, with all of his NBA seasons coming for his hometown team.


"The Blind Side" subject Oher released by Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Michael Oher saga in Carolina has come to an end.

The Panthers released the former starting left tackle — the subject of the movie "The Blind Side" — after he failed a physical on Thursday. The move comes six days before the Panthers are scheduled to report to training camp and 10 months since Oher last played.

Oher started 16 regular games and three playoff games for the Panthers during their Super Bowl run in 2015. However, he sustained a concussion in the third game of last season and hasn't played since. He remains in the league's concussion protocol.

Oher tweeted after being released that "The Brain is a scary thing. You have to be careful with it."

Oher's release did not come as a surprise. The Panthers signed free agent tackle Matt Kalil to take Oher's spot at left tackle earlier this offseason.

In other NFL news:

— The Arizona Cardinals have re-signed nine-year NFL veteran Chris Johnson to a one-year contract.

The 31-year-old running back is expected to provide backup support for All-Pro David Johnson at the position. Chris Johnson spent the last two seasons with Arizona. He played in only four games last season before a groin injury sidelined him for the rest of the year.

Johnson is a three-time Pro Bowl player and is one of only seven players to top 2,000 yards rushing in a season. He rushed for 2,006 yards for Tennessee in 2009.

—The Dallas Cowboys are bringing back linebacker Justin Durant again with training camp just a few days away. Durant signed Thursday for a second season in his second stint with the Cowboys. He spent the 2013-14 seasons with Dallas before going to Atlanta as a free agent for one year. He returned to the Cowboys last season, finishing with 54 tackles in a reserve role. The Cowboys released defensive back Jeremiah McKinnon of Florida.


Simpson to go free in October

LOVELOCK, Nev. (AP) — O.J. Simpson's lawyer says his client has taken plenty of responsibility for the armed robbery that sent him to prison for nearly nine years.

Malcolm LaVergne spoke to reporters outside a Nevada prison Thursday after Simpson was granted parole.

The parole board decided that the 70-year-old former football, TV and movie star can be set free after serving his minimum nine-year term for armed robbery and assault with a weapon. He tried to take back sports memorabilia in a hotel room in Las Vegas.

Simpson told the parole board that he's sorry "that things turned out the way they did" and had no intent to commit a crime. At one point, he also said he had basically lived a "conflict-free life."

In allowing Simpson to go free in October, the board cited his compliance with prison rules, his lack of prior convictions, his low risk of committing another crime, his community support and stable release plans.


Rahm escapes penalty for moving vine at Open

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) — Jon Rahm has escaped a penalty for improving the area of his intended swing. As a result, his bogey became a birdie on the 17th hole at Royal Birkdale in the opening round of the British Open, and Rahm shot a 69.

It happened in thick grass left of the fairway. Rahm went to move what he thought was a loose twig to the right of his ball. But it was a vine with thorns growing out of the ground. Lee Westwood noticed it and pointed out the violation. The walking official said it would be a two-shot penalty. After the round, Rahm met with R&A rules director who concluded the vine wasn't in Rahm's intended swing path.

The first round leaders are all Americans, Matt Kuchar (KOO'-chur), Jordan Spieth (speeth) and U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka (KEHP'-kah). They are 5-under par.


RB B.J. Emmons transfers to Hutchinson Community College

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama running back B.J. Emmons has transferred to Hutchinson Community College.

Hutchinson coach Rion Rhoades said Thursday that Emmons has already arrived at the Kansas junior college.

Emmons was one of the nation's top running back recruits in 2016 and rushed for 173 yards as a freshman. He sustained a foot injury against Texas A&M.

He was the 36th-rated prospect overall and No. 2 running back in the 247Sports Composite rankings. Emmons was stuck in a crowded backfield where Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough and freshman Najee Harris are all former five-star recruits.

Sophomore Josh Jacobs was a less heralded recruit, but he also topped 500 yards rushing last season.

Emmons would be able to transfer to another FBS program after one season.


Hendrick tabs Bowman as Earnhardt replacement in No. 88 car

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Hendrick Motorsports has picked 24-year-old Alex Bowman as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s replacement next season. Bowman has big shoes to fill. Earnhardt has won NASCAR's most popular driver award 14 times and the seat in the No. 88 car is one of the most coveted in the Cup series. But Bowman has one big fan already on his side: Junior. After announcing his retirement earlier this year, the 42-year-old Earnhardt tabbed Bowman as the logical successor in May.


MLS will start video review for all league matches on Aug. 5

NEW YORK (AP) — As if 90 minutes isn't long enough. Major League Soccer will begin using video review for all matches on Aug. 5.

MLS has been testing the system at matches throughout the first half of the season. The league announced Thursday that it would be implemented following the All-Star game in Chicago on Aug. 2.

All matches will now include a video assistant referee, who will be allowed to review video to confirm calls in four situations: goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity.

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