ILLINOIS HOLDS ON TO BEAT PENN STATE: D.J. Richardson started slow Thursday but finished with 18 points and hit a pair of key free throws late in Illinois' ugly 64-59 win over Penn State.
The win was the fifth straight for Illinois (20-8, 7-7 Big Ten). But facing a team that hadn't won since late December, it didn't come easy.
Jermaine Marshall's 3-pointer brought Penn State within 62-59 with 5 seconds left. Richardson then sank a pair of free throws that sealed the win.
Illinois led 29-20 at the end of a brutal first half.
The Illini's Brandon Paul entered the game a point shy of 1,500 in his career. It took him almost 17 minutes to get it. He finished with 16.
Penn State (8-18, 0-14) has lost 14 straight. The Nittany Lions committed 31 fouls and sent the Illini to the line 36 times. They made 23.
Jermaine Marshall led Penn State with 20 points.
RAILCATS SIGN DEMPERIO: RailCats manager Greg Tagert has announced the signing of free agent infielder Mike Demperio, a former Los Angeles Angels farmhand.
Demperio, 25, played 39 games in 2012 with the McAllen Thunder in the North American League, batting .263 with a .370 on-base percentage. He hit two home runs, drove in 11 runs and scored 23, while going 6-for-7 in stolen base attempts.
ACE OR NEAR ACE, SALE READY FOR SOX: White Sox left-hander Chris Sale is more than ready for the 2013 season.
He went to the All-Star game last year and pitched 192 innings. He finished sixth in Cy Young Award voting after going 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA. When he spoke up about a tender elbow, the Sox acted swiftly by moving him to the bullpen. Sale talked his way back into the rotation.
Manager Robin Ventura hasn't named his opening day starter, but Sale is a solid bet to get the nod over former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy.
Peavy says Sale is the best pitcher on the team.
COLTS TAKE DIFFERENT APPROACH TO FREE AGENCY: Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has a new perspective on free agency.
Instead of cutting guys to clear room, he has more than $40 million to spend, and he intends to put that money to use.
While Grigson, a Highland grad, didn't outline a specific game plan for free agency, he is dropping hints. If there's a choice, he says he would rather play with a rookie cornerback than a rookie offensive lineman. The Colts could use help in both areas and have expressed concerns over keeping Andrew Luck upright after he took 41 sacks last season.
Grigson also says the reason Indianapolis chose not to re-sign the 33-year-old Dwight Freeney or oft-injured receiver Austin Collie is because they didn't fit into Indy's future plans.
NO. 1 SEED MCILROY ELIMINATED AT MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP: The snow is gone from the Match Play Championship, and so are Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.
In a stunning conclusion Thursday, Shane Lowry made a 4-foot par putt on the 18th hole to eliminate McIlroy in the opening round of golf's most unpredictable tournament. It was the third time in the last four years the No. 1 seed went home after one round.
Moments later, Charles Howell III beat the second-seeded Woods on the 17th hole. Howell nearly holed a wedge for birdie on the 16th and made a 25-foot birdie on the 16th to seize control.
It was the first time since 2002 when the top two seeds were eliminated after one day — even though this round took two days because of snow.
NBA TRADE DEADLINE FEATURES ONLY MINOR MOVES: The only trade involving Dwight Howard came last summer. The potent scorers that moved did so long ago.
There was no eye-catching activity left for deadline day, resulting in minor deals Thursday to the disappointment of those hoping for a frenzy.
Josh Smith stayed put and the Boston Celtics' core stayed together, leaving J.J. Redick as the biggest name to be traded.
There were nine moves, nothing approaching a blockbuster and none to jump-start the Lakers.
PORTER COUNTY STORM SETS SIGN-UPS: The Porter County Storm Baseball Program will hold sign-ups from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday as well as March 2 and 9 at Westchester Intermediate School. Players born in 1994, 1995, 1996 and prior to May 1, 1997, are eligible to play. Cost is $275. For details, go to www.portercountystorm.com.
EXPO THIS WEEKEND AT PORTER COUNTY EXPO CENTER: The Northwest Indiana Youth Sports Expo will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Porter County Expo Center. Seminars and demonstrations will take place at the event, which is $3 for adults and $1 for children aged 5 to 12.
Around the horn
Today's Class 3A Andrean at Class 2A Bishop Noll boys basketball game will start at 7 p.m. Both teams are ranked fourth in the state in their class. ... Exercise physiologist and Purdue Calumet Fitness Center Coordinator John Bobalik will discuss the relationship of body composition to health and fitness on "Purdue Calumet Sports Insight" at 5:30 p.m. today on WJOB-AM (1230).