IN BRIEF

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

UNLV’s Willis shares player of week honor

UNLV guard Tre’Von Willis shared Mountain West Conference men’s basketball Player of the Week honors with Wyoming’s Tyson Johnson.

Willis averaged 17.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in comeback victories at Brigham Young and at home against Utah.

Saturday against the Utes, Willis had a career-best 22 points, along with six assists and three steals. He scored seven points during a 23-9 run that propelled UNLV to a 75-65 win.

Also: Mark Gottfried resigned as Alabama coach, leaving in the middle of his 11th season amid criticism of both the team’s play and the departure of star point guard Ronald Steele. The school said Gottfried will immediately be replaced by assistant Philip Pearson.

Kentucky forward Ramon Harris was cleared to return to practice by doctors, two days after fainting during halftime of a victory at Alabama.

Duke returned to the top of the Associated Press men’s college basketball poll.

The Blue Devils (18-1) moved up one spot to No. 1, their first appearance there since the final poll of 2005-06.

MISCELLANEOUS

Mountain West seeks automatic BCS bid

The Mountain West Conference is pushing for an automatic annual entry into the Bowl Championship Series’ postseason lineup, USA Today reported.

The newspaper said that presidents and chancellors of the league’s nine schools, along with commissioner Craig Thompson, will press for a meeting with BCS coordinator John Swofford to discuss an automatic berth into the BCS.

“I would not be optimistic,” Thompson said.

Also: The older brother of American League Most Valuable Player Dustin Pedroia is facing child molestation charges.

Woodland, Calif., police say 30-year-old Brett Pedroia was booked at the Yolo County jail Jan. 9 on two counts of oral copulation and lewd acts with a child under age 14.

Three-time reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson underwent surgery to repair a tendon and nerve after cutting his left middle finger with a kitchen knife Sunday, while preparing to compete in the final segment of the Rolex 24 sports car race in Daytona Beach Fla.

The injury will not keep Johnson from driving in the season’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup event, the Budweiser Shootout on Feb. 7 at Daytona International Speedway.

Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Terry Labonte will attempt to qualify for the Feb. 15 Daytona 500 in a Toyota fielded by Prism Motorsports, co-owned by former NASCAR driver Phil Parson and Randy Humphrey.

Humphrey said the new team plans to compete in the full Cup schedule in 2009, with Dave Blaney taking over the driving duties after Daytona.

Two Palo Verde High School senior football players said they recently gave oral commitments to schools.

Liloa Nobriga chose Colorado, which has told him he will play linebacker or defensive end.

Sidney Hodge picked UNLV, which has said it will use him at cornerback. He plans to grayshirt, which means his scholarship will begin in January 2010 and he can participate in the Rebels’ ensuing spring practices.

A high school football coach pleaded not guilty in Louisville, Ky., to reckless homicide in the heat-related death of a 15-year-old player who collapsed while running sprints at a sweltering August practice.

David Jason Stinson was released without having to post bond after his arraignment. A grand jury last week indicted Stinson in the death of Pleasure Ridge High School offensive lineman Max Gilpin.

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