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SPORTS TODAY

Tiger's winning margin turns astronomical

Tiger Woods surprised even himself Wednesday.

Woods continued his dominance at the Grand Slam of Golf in Poipu Beach, Hawaii, winning the tournament for the fifth straight time with a tournament-record round of 11-under 61.

Woods, this year's Masters and U.S. Open champion, finished with a record 17 under par to win by 14 strokes over Justin Leonard and Davis Love III. Wednesday's score also broke the tournament and course record at the 7,081-yard oceanside Poipu Bay Golf Course on Kauai.

"I was surprised at a couple shots I hit out there," he said. "I really couldn't mis-hit a shot today. Every shot I hit was right in the middle of the face."

The 61 tied Woods' personal best for an 18-hole tournament round.

"I was making shots, aiming at my shots and I was knocking down my putts," he said. "It's a lot of fun when everything works like that."

Love shot 69, while Leonard closed with a 72 in the 36-hole event for this year's major champions. PGA champion Rich Beem finished last at 1-over 145 after a 73.

North Carolina records big win over Kansas

Freshman Rashad McCants energized North Carolina with some nearly flawless shooting and led the Tar Heels to a 67-56 victory over No. 2 Kansas in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT.

North Carolina (4-0) will play Stanford (4-0) for the tournament championship Friday night. The Cardinal advanced with a 69-65 victory over No. 7 Florida in Wednesday night's first game. The Gators (3-1) will meet Kansas (2-1) in the consolation game.

The loss ended a streak of 14 straight victories in the Preseason NIT for Kansas, a Final Four team last year. And it was an emotional triumph for Tar Heels coach Matt Doherty, who spent seven years as an assistant at Kansas under coach Roy Williams.

In other Top 25 games:

Will Bynum scored a career-high 18 points, all on three-pointers, but No. 1 Arizona lost Luke Walton to a sprained right ankle in a 101-66 rout of Northern Arizona.

James Thomas had 14 points and 15 rebounds and No. 3 Texas used relentless defense to beat Texas-Arlington, 76-45.

No. 5 Pittsburgh turned Brandin Knight's playmaking and Jaron Brown's dunks into a big early lead and never let up in a 69-46 victory over St. Francis, Pa.

Drew Nicholas scored 17 of his career-high 28 points in the first half as No. 11 Maryland built a 26-point lead and cruised past The Citadel, 97-49.

B.J. Elder shook off the pain in his cramping right leg, scoring 24 points to lead Georgia Tech to an 83-77 victory over No. 17 Georgia.

Bracey Wright scored 21 points and fellow freshman guard Marshall Strickland added 15 as No. 19 Indiana beat Virginia, 70-63, to win the Maui Invitational. Keith Bogans scored 18 points and No. 15 Kentucky handled a zone defense much better than it did in its previous game and beat No. 20 Gonzaga, 80-72, in the third-place game.

McPherson in trouble over stealing check

Florida State quarterback Adrian McPherson was arrested on charges of stealing a blank check and receiving nearly $3,500 after it was cashed.

McPherson, kicked off the team Monday by coach Bobby Bowden, surrendered to police and was released about 45 minutes later after posting bail.

"Mr. McPherson has come here, bonded out and will have his day in court," said Daryl Parks, one of McPherson's lawyers.

McPherson started the last four games for Florida State, going 3-1. The 23rd-ranked Seminoles host No. 15 Florida on Saturday.

The sophomore was charged with misdemeanor theft for stealing a blank check from R&R Truck Accessories in Tallahassee and felony grand theft for receiving stolen goods after the check was cashed.

A McPherson friend, Melvin Capers Jr., was arrested this week and charged with grand theft and passing a forged check. He was released on bail Monday.

Police said Capers cashed a $3,500 check and gave the money to McPherson, who then gave his friend $30 "to get something to eat."

Indians up the ante in trying to keep Thome

Jim Thome's decision may have gotten tougher after the Cleveland Indians improved their $60 million, five-year contract offer to the free agent first baseman.

The Indians sent a revised proposal to Thome's agent, Pat Rooney, that includes some "variations" on a sixth option year from their previous package, a team source said on the condition of anonymity.

The source said the Indians, who made what they said was their "final" offer on Monday, spent the past 24 hours trying to come up with a "more competitive offer."

It is believed Cleveland's latest deal would allow Thome to reach some incentives more easily.

Thome, also pursued by the Philadelphia Phillies, had hoped to finalize his decision by Thanksgiving. However, Cleveland's late push to re-sign its career home-run leader has delayed any decision until next week.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia increased its offer to Tom Glavine by $3 million, and the Phillies and New York Mets added option years for 2006.

Philadelphia's latest offer would pay Glavine $30 million over three years, two people familiar with the negotiations said on condition of anonymity.

New York kept its guarantee at $28.5 million over three years, one of the sources said, and added a $9.5 million option for 2006 that would become guaranteed if Glavine pitches 210 innings in 2005 or 630 innings from 2003 to 2005.

Bandits acquire Panos, sign Crosbie to contract

The Buffalo Bandits have reacquired high-scoring forward Chris Panos in a trade with the Calgary Roughnecks.

Panos, who had 16 goals and 25 points in eight games as a Bandit in 1999, enjoyed a breakout season last winter in Calgary with career-high totals of 36 goals and 71 points. The Bandits sent forward Brad Dairon, who never appeared in a game with Buffalo, to Calgary for the 28-year-old Panos.

Panos is a Hofstra graduate who has also played for Boston, Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia. That means he's played for six different teams in a six-year career that has produced 92 goals and 167 points in 53 games.

"I was shocked," Panos told the Calgary Sun. "There's obviously ulterior motives. . . . To deal me straight up for that kid makes no sense. He's nowhere near the player I am."

The Bandits also signed restricted free agent forward Jason Crosbie to a one-year deal. He had 13 goals and 39 points for the Montreal Express last season.

Around & About

In high school basketball, all of Nardin's dozen players found her way to the score sheet in a 55-14 nonleague victory at Tonawanda. Alison Urbanski paced Nardin with nine points and 10 rebounds. On the boys side, Kevin Eick's 18 points weren't enough to keep Medina from dropping a 54-41 decision to Notre Dame of Batavia in the opening round of the Perry Tournament.

The annual computer simulation of the greatest Harvard Cup team of all-time will again come down to Bennett of 1959 against South Park of 1993. It will be broadcast on 1440 AM, immediately following today's Harvard Cup final between Hutch-Tech and South Park, which begins at 11 a.m. at All-High Stadium. Bennett of '59 beat Riverside of '36 by a 9-6 score in Wednesday's computer semifinals and South Park of '93 beat Riverside of '64, 14-7, in the semifinals. In last year's computer simulation, Bennett of '59 beat South Park of '93, 10-9.

Philip "Jim" Butterfield, who won three national championships in his 27 years as head football coach at Ithaca College, died at age 74. Butterfield died Tuesday of complications from Alzheimer's Disease, his family said.

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