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POSTED March 30, 2012 11:02 p.m.

NFL

PAYTON, THE SAINTS AND GM APPEAL NFL SUSPENSIONS: NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton is appealing his season-long suspension from the NFL for his role in New Orleans' bounty system. And he's not the only one looking for a little relief from the penalties handed down by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

General manager Mickey Loomis, assistant coach Joe Vitt and the Saints organization each decided to appeal on Friday.

Payton will also ask NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his guidance on the parameters of the suspension, which runs through next year's Super Bowl, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the league and the Saints did not announce Payton's plan to appeal.

Saints spokesman Greg Benselm did confirm that Loomis was appealing his eight-game suspension and, separately, the team would challenge its $500,000 fine and loss of second-round draft picks this year and in 2013.

NHL

PENGUINS' SIDNEY CROSBY HITS 600 POINTS: BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby became the NHL's seventh-youngest player to score his 600th career point.

Crosby achieved the plateau in the second period at Buffalo on Friday night, when he set up James Neal's power-play goal. It was Crosby's third point of the night after he assisted on Evgeni Malkin's goal and also scored in the first period.

Crosby then added a third assist in helping set up Steve Sullivan's goal to put Pittsburgh ahead 4-2 later in the period.

At 24 years, 236 days, Crosby is the youngest player to hit the mark since Pierre Turgeon did it with the New York Islanders in 1994.

With 220 goals and 380 assists in 430 games, Crosby also reached 600 points in the seventh-fewest games.

NCAA

CIVIL WAR: KENTUCKY VS. LOUISVILLE IN FINAL FOUR: NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kentucky coach John Calipari likes to say there are no rivalry games at this point in the season.

Try telling that to the Bluegrass State, where basketball's version of the civil war — Kentucky vs. Louisville, winner plays for the NCAA title — has so divided the small state that senior citizens have actually come to fisticuffs.

Basketball purists may argue that Duke-North Carolina or Kansas-Missouri are the game's biggest, most intense rivalries. But those are like quaint tea parties compared with the animosity between Kentucky and Louisville. Think Auburn-Alabama on the hardcourt, and you get the idea.

Top-seeded Kentucky has an overwhelming edge in the series with its in-state rival, winning 29 of their 43 games, including a 69-62 victory at Rupp Arena on Dec. 31.

KENTUCKY'S DAVIS IS AP PLAYER OF THE YEAR: NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis is The Associated Press' college basketball Player of the Year, the first Kentucky player and second freshman to win the award.

He received 43 votes Friday from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. Balloting was done before the NCAA tournament.

The 6-foot-10 player from Chicago is the Southeastern Conference's Player, Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged 14.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 blocks while shooting 64.2 percent. His block total is a school record and third best for a freshman.

Kevin Durant of Texas in 2007 is the only other freshman to win the award.

Thomas Robinson of Kansas was second with 20 votes, and Draymond Green of Michigan State received the other two votes.

GOLF

DAVIS, OOSTHUIZEN SHARE 2ND ROUND LEAD IN HOUSTON: HUMBLE, Texas (AP) — Brian Davis and Louis Oosthuizen shared the lead at 11 under after two days of play in the rain-delayed Houston Open.

The second round was suspended due to darkness at 7:36 p.m. Friday with 70 players still on the course.

Houston resident Jeff Maggert was at 10 under, but he had eight holes left to play in his second round. Defending champion Phil Mickelson (70), J.B. Holmes (67), Tommy Gainey (67), and Greg Owen (69) finished their second rounds and were two shots behind the leaders at 9 under.

A thunderstorm dumped 1 1/4 inches of rain Thursday, causing the backup. The players enjoyed sunny and calm conditions Friday, but the fairways were damp, and players were permitted to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways.

TENNIS

DJOKOVIC BEATS MONACO TO REACH KEY BISCAYNE FINAL: KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Top-ranked Novak Djokovic advanced to his first final since winning the Australian Open, beating Juan Monaco 6-0, 7-6 (5) Friday night at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Djokovic's opponent Sunday will be 2009 champion Andy Murray, who advanced with a walkover when Rafael Nadal withdrew hours before their semifinal because of a left knee injury that has bothered him in recent weeks. Nadal said the injury has been getting worse, but he hopes for a quick recovery to avoid missing any of the upcoming clay-court season.

Djokovic won a quick first set and a 96-minute second set against Monaco, a dogged Argentine playing in only his second Masters 1000 semifinal. Djokovic took the lead for good in the tiebreaker when he won a 26-stroke rally to go up 4-3.

SWIMMING

PHELPS HOLDS ON FOR 2ND WIN AT INDIANAPOLIS: INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Michael Phelps posted the best in-season time of his career in the 400 IM on Friday night, holding off Tyler Clary's late charge at the Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Phelps slashed more seconds off his season-best time, finishing in 4 minutes, 12.51 seconds and possibly opening the door to swim the event at the London Olympics. Clary's time was 4:13.01.

Ryan Lochte, Phelps' biggest rival, led through the first three turns of the 200 backstroke but his final split of 31.80 dropped him to fourth.

Phelps and Lochte are expected to go head-to-head Saturday in the 200 IM.

Allison Schmitt beat three other Olympians in the women's 200 freestyle, including Missy Franklin. Franklin came right back to win the 200 backstroke in the next event by 1.5 seconds.

 

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