From Comcast SportsNetLEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky has hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as the Wildcats' football coach.Stoops replaces Joker Phillips, who was fired on Nov. 4. Phillips went 13-24 in three seasons at Kentucky and the Wildcats were 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference this year.Kentucky made the announcement on Tuesday and the 45-year-old Stoops will be introduced here at a news conference on Sunday. No. 13 Florida State (10-2) plays Georgia Tech Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.Terms of Stoops' contract with Kentucky were not released. His salary with the Seminoles was 550,000 a year. He should definitely receive a raise in his new position; Phillips' annual salary was 1.7 million.Stoops' hiring concludes a quicker-than-expected coaching search by the university. After Saturday's season-ending loss at Tennessee, Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said he had no timetable to find a replacement for Phillips.But it didn't take long for Barnhart and the Wildcats to make a move. The decision makes Stoops a head coach for the first time in his career."I want to thank (Kentucky) President Eli Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity," Stoops said in a statement. "I promise the faithful of the Big Blue Nation I will be focused and driven to create a positive, winning atmosphere for the program and an environment that all of Kentucky can be proud of."Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said after the Seminoles' practice Tuesday that Stoops will coach Saturday's game but that he hadn't talked with him about coaching through a bowl appearance. Stoops did not talk to reporters after the workout.Stoops becomes the third brother in college football's famed coaching family to lead his own program. Older brother Bob Stoops is the head coach at Oklahoma and Mike Stoops is the Sooners' defensive coordinator. Before joining the Oklahoma staff this year, Mike was the head coach at Arizona."He's earned it," Bob Stoops said of his brother. "He's done really well everywhere he's been. I know he's really prepared for the job."Bob said his advice to Mark is to trust his instincts."When you get one of those positions, everybody wants to tell you what to do," the OU coach said. "That's how it was for me. I didn't let anyone hurry me. I took it at my own pace, trusted my guy and my instincts on what I wanted to do, and fortunately it worked out."Mark Stoops has been the Seminoles' defensive coordinator the past three seasons. Florida State's defense was ranked 108th when he took over and he has turned the Seminoles into one of the nation's top defensive teams.The Seminoles have the nation's second-ranked defense, giving up 249.4 yards per game. Kentucky allowed 391 yards a contest this season and ranked 11th in the 14-team conference."Our desire to get better defensively and continue to expand our recruiting base helped guide us to Mark," Barnhart said. "He comes from a coaching family and has been in big games and big atmospheres throughout his career."Now Stoops' challenge will be making Kentucky competitive in the conference that has won the last six BCS national championships.The Wildcats are coming off their third straight losing season and second without a bowl appearance. Seven of their eight conference losses this season were by margins of at least two touchdowns, including a 40-0 blowout at home to Vanderbilt on Nov. 3 and a 37-17 season-ending loss at Tennessee on Saturday.Stoops has a proven track record of rebuilding defenses, which represents a philosophical shift from the offense-minded Phillips.Before joining Fisher's staff, Stoops resurrected an Arizona defense with similar issues that Kentucky experienced. Arizona was 109th in total defense before his arrival; the defense was ranked in the top 25 in his final two seasons and Arizona earned consecutive bowl bids.Stoops leaves a Florida State program poised to claim a BCS bowl bid if it wins the ACC championship on Saturday. The Seminoles enter the ACC title game with the nation's seventh-ranked scoring defense, allowing 15.1 points per game.Fisher said it's a compliment to the defensive players at Florida State that Stoops "got the shot because of how they played and how he coached them.""I'm very proud of him. Very happy for him," Fisher said after Florida State's practice Tuesday. "He got an opportunity to go on and further his career and it's something he wants to do. ... We wanted Mark to stay here for a long time until he got what he wanted to do. Our players are very elated. They know that that's part of this business."Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner said the players are also happy for Stoops."Everybody knew he wanted a head coach job," Werner said. "Everybody was happy for him. Nobody was like sad that he was leaving. ... He did everything he could. He turned a great defense into an even better defense."The search for Stoops' successor will begin next week and Fisher hinted that it could be an internal hire."There are possibilities of that all the time," he said. "We have some great coaches underneath."
LOS ANGELES – It’s only mid-January, but the Sharks have already concluded the five-game season series with their biggest rival. That could be a good thing, as Sharks-Kings games are rarely for the faint of heart.
“I’m glad to be done with them. If we don’t see them again, I’ll be alright with that,” Pete DeBoer quipped.
On the other hand, Wednesday’s latest and final head-to-head matchup resulted in perhaps the Sharks’ most rewarding win of the season, 3-2 at Staples Center.
San Jose got contributions from up and down its lineup. Despite being without several key players (including Logan Couture, who missed the game due to illness), the Sharks worked hard and smart all over the ice and put some distance between themselves and Los Angeles, which is fighting to remain in playoff position.
“It was a good feeling in this [dressing] room when we came in here [after the game],” said Joe Pavelski, who scored one of the Sharks’ three goals. “Just felt like you put a complete effort out there.”
DeBoer said: “A little bit of a thin lineup, and I thought we competed our asses off. Played hard. This isn’t an easy building to win in. They play a physical game. We stood in there, and I thought played a real complete game.”
Special teams was key, as the Sharks got a power play goal from Pavelski and held the Kings to no goals and just one power play shot on four chances. Martin Jones was his typical solid self, even throwing in a highlight reel save on Dwight King in the third period to preserve the one-goal. Brent Burns continued to dominate, getting yet another goal in the first period (his 19th), and Joe Thornton notched a pair of assists.
And, the fourth line got in on the action, too. Micheal Haley was one of the team’s best forwards of the evening, beautifully setting up Tommy Wingels on a two-on-one, who gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish with less than five minutes to go in the first period.
“Just tried to make an early pass so [Wingels] had enough time to have a good look, and he made a great shot,” Haley said.
DeBoer said: “Big goal from those guys.”
Defensively, Los Angeles was held to just 24 shots, as the Sharks kept the Kings’ stars at bay. That includes Jeff Carter, who was the best player on the ice in the most recent meeting on Jan. 3, and has been far and away Los Angeles’ most valuable player this season.
“He’s a world class player and he’s having a world class season,” DeBoer said of Carter. “He’s dangerous every time he’s on the ice.”
The Sharks played a committed and detailed game in their own end, though, not giving Carter or anyone else much room to operate in their offensive zone. Los Angeles’ scoring chances were few and far between.
Last week, the Sharks failed to put some distance between themselves and another division rival nipping on their heels, the Flames. They didn’t want that to happen again with the Kings, who could have pulled to within four points of San Jose with a regulation win.
Instead, the Kings are now eight points back of San Jose after losing three of the five meetings. And they don’t have any more of those four-point games left on the schedule.
“You always want to win a season series,” Pavelski said. “It was just important because I think we all know it was pretty tight in the standings. It goes [to] four or eight [points], you know?”
Haley said: “We want to make that distance farther and farther. They’re always in the back of our head.”
Late in the first half of Wednesday's game between the Warriors and Thunder, Russell Westbrook collided with Zaza Pachulia.
Pachulia appeared to hit Westbrook in the face. The Thunder guard hit the floor and rolled around for a few seconds before bouncing back up.
The officials reviewed the play and assessed a flagrant foul on Pachulia.
After the game, Westbrook was asked about his vantage point on the play and he didn't hold back.
"I don't know. He me kind of hard. But it's alright. I'm going to get his ass back. Straight up," Westbrook said.
He was then asked if he noticed Pachulai standing over him.
"I didn't see that until just now, but I don't play that game. I'm going to get his ass back. Whenever that is, I don't know, but I don't play that game," Westbrook said.
Westbrook's comments were brought to Pachulia after the game and the Warriors center offered this rebuttal.
"I can't worry about that kind of comment. I'm part of an amazing team and we have a great goal of winning a championship. I'm all in with my energy, 100 percent. So we're thinking about this team, staying healthy, moving forward, getting better, getting to the playoffs and playing for the championship. That's what I'm thinking about. I'm not thinking about those kind of comments. That team is not there, so they may be thinking about other stuff like getting me back. Okay, you can get me back. But again, it's my 14th year, we all know what my game is, to play hard, not dirty. If it was a hard foul, it was a hard foul. It wasn't dirty at all. I'm not worried about this," Pachulia told the media.
Westbrook will get that chance on February 11 when the Warriors travel to Oklahoma City.