Latest North Carolina, South Carolina sports

March 25, 2017 - 4:46 am

NCAA-BUTLER-NORTH CAROLINA

Berry scores 26 points and Carolina defeats Butler 92-80

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Joel Berry II scored 26 points and Justin Jackson added 24 as top-seeded North Carolina moved to the Elite Eight with a 92-80 victory over Butler in the NCAA South Region on Friday night.

Luke Maye recorded his first career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, helping fuel a quick start for Carolina (30-7). The Tar Heels never let their lead get under double digits in the second half.

Andrew Chrabascz led the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (25-9) with 21 points and seven rebounds, while Kelan Martin finished with 16 points for Butler, which struggled shooting early and did not recover.

Carolina, which reached the Elite Eight for the 27th time, will face the winner of Friday's second game between UCLA and Kentucky. The Tar Heels connected on 54.4 percent of their shots, while Butler was at 43.5 percent.

NCAA-SOUTH CAROLINA-BAYLOR

South Carolina beats Baylor 70-50 to advance to Elite Eight

NEW YORK (AP) — Sindarius Thornwell scored 24 points and seventh-seeded South Carolina cruised past third-seeded Baylor 70-50 on Friday night in the East Regional semifinals, the Bears' worst NCAA Tournament loss.

The Gamecocks (25-10) were in control from the middle of the first half on, mixing defenses and hustling all over the Madison Square Garden court to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time.

South Carolina will meet the winner of the Wisconsin-Florida game on Sunday with a trip to the Final Four at stake.

DJ Dozier and Chris Silva had 12 points each and Duane Notice added 11 for the Gamecocks.

Johnathan Motley had 18 points, 12 in the second half, for Baylor (27-8), which just couldn't get any offense going. The Bears missed 11 of their first 13 shots from the field and it didn't get a whole lot better the entire game. They finished 17 for 56 from the field (30.4 percent), including 3 for 13 from 3-point range.

CAVALIERS-HORNETS

James, Cavs bounce back with 112-105 victory over Hornets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — LeBron James had 32 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers bounced back from their worst defensive outing of the season with a 112-105 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Kyrie Irving added 26 points and Kevin Love had 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Cavaliers snapped Charlotte's three-game winning streak and remained atop the Eastern Conference standings.

Charlotte was led by Kemba Walker, who had 28 points on five 3-pointers. Cody Zeller added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

The Cavaliers did it with defense.

After allowing 73 first-half points — and 70 in the paint — in a 126-113 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, the Cavaliers held the Hornets to 42 percent shooting from the field.

PANTHERS-GETTLEMAN

Panthers GM not second guessing playing injured Cam Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman isn't second-guessing the team's decision to allow quarterback Cam Newton to continue to play last season despite a partially torn rotator cuff in his right throwing shoulder.

Gettleman said Friday, "Cam is a football player and he wanted to play and the medical people felt it was fine, so we did."

Newton played the final three games of the 2016 season even though Carolina's playoff hopes were essentially over because of its losing record.

The Panthers hoped rest and rehabilitation would solve the problem, but announced earlier this week Newton will need shoulder surgery on March 30. Newton will miss all of OTAs and minicamp, but Gettleman expects the six-year NFL veteran back in time for training camp.

PANTHERS-STEWART

Panthers sign Jonathan Stewart to 1-year contract extension

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Panthers have signed veteran running back Jonathan Stewart to a one-year contract extension, keeping him with the team through the 2018 season.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed Friday.

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman says the 30-year-old Stewart "is still playing at a very high level."

Stewart played in 13 games last season for Carolina and ran for 824 yards with nine touchdowns. He averaged 3.8 yards per carry.

Gettleman isn't worried about Stewart's durability, even though the team's former first-round draft pick has not played in a full 16-game season since 2011 and has missed 24 games the past five seasons with injuries.

Stewart, entering his 10th season, is Carolina's second all-time leading rusher with 6,638 yards and has scored 45 touchdowns rushing and six receiving.

NASCAR-DALE JR-600

Dale Jr prepares for 600th race after creating own legacy

FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — While Dale Earnhardt Jr. prepared for his 600th NASCAR Cup Series race this weekend, he couldn't help thinking about his first time.

He still recalls his conversation with Tony Eury Jr., his cousin and crew chief, as he sat on that starting grid in Charlotte in 1999.

"I remember telling Tony that I would switch with him for a million dollars so he could do this instead of me," Earnhardt recalled Friday with a chuckle. "Because I was scared to death. ... I was overwhelmed with the weight of the situation, and how much attention it was getting, and it made it really hard to soak in and enjoy it, I guess.

"We just wanted to do so well and not fail. It was fun. It was a wild time."

The son of racing royalty once felt crushed by expectations, yet he persevered and established his own legacy in the sport. Along with being NASCAR's most popular driver for most of his career, Junior has 26 victories, 252 top-10 finishes and two Daytona 500 trophies in his first 599 races.

"I just wanted to drive," the 42-year-old Earnhardt recalled. "I wanted to race cars for a living. I wanted to do it well enough to be able to afford to make a living doing it. I didn't have vision or assume that I was going to make all of the money and success that we have made, but all I really wanted to do was to do it long enough so I didn't have to get a real job."

Earnhardt has done it effectively and consistently for 17 straight years. Only 24 drivers in NASCAR history have started 600 races, and Earnhardt would love to celebrate his entry into the club Sunday with his first win on the well-aged asphalt at Fontana, where he has typically run well for most of his storied career.

Earnhardt hasn't won a race since late 2015, and he has never won at Fontana in 24 starts despite finishing second twice and landed inside the top 12 in six consecutive outings at Auto Club Speedway.

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