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National Sports Briefs

Associated Press
NEW YORK ó After a steady climb, Alabama has reached the top of the AP poll.
The Crimson Tide jumped Florida and landed at No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 on Sunday.
The unbeaten Gators had been in the top spot since the preseason, but the Crimson Tide has been gaining ground for weeks by winning more convincingly than the Gators.
The final surge came after Alabama beat South Carolina 20-6 and Florida needed a field goal in the waning seconds to beat Arkansas 23-20 at home.
Texas is No. 3, followed by Southern California, Cincinnati and Boise State at No. 6.
– The first BCS standings also came out Sunday and Florida was in first place, followed by Alabama, Texas and Boise State.
Florida is No. 1 in the two polls used by the Bowl Championship Series ó the USA Today coaches’ poll and Harris poll ó and rated highest by the computers. The polls make up two-thirds of a BCS grade and a compilation of six computer ratings accounts for the other third.
STABBING DEATH
STORRS, Conn ó A Connecticut football player who was an expectant father was stabbed to death early Sunday after an on-campus dance, just hours after helping his team to a homecoming victory.
Jasper Howard, 20, of Miami, and another student were stabbed during a fight after a fire alarm was pulled during a university sponsored dance at the UConn Student Union just after 12:30 a.m., police said.
NBA
NEW YORK ó The New York Knicks’ 106-91 exhibition victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv was delayed for about eight minutes in the third quarter Sunday when the visiting coach refused to leave the floor after being ejected.
In a bizarre scene, a rabbi even came onto the court to ask the referees to let Pini Gershon remain. Gershon eventually left after a discussion with the officials, his assistant coaches and NBA security personnel.
– TORONTO ó Kevin Garnett scored 21 points, Ray Allen added 20 and the Boston Celtics won their fifth straight, beating the Toronto Raptors 101-82.
Late Saturday
LOS ANGELES ó Andrew Bynum scored 15 points and the Los Angeles Lakers held off the Charlotte Bobcats 91-87 on Saturday night in their first game back at Staples Center since winning the NBA title.
“It was great to be back home,” Kobe Bryant said.
Bryant sat out the fourth quarter after getting 13 points and seven assists in 27 minutes. Ron Artest had five points and three rebounds in 18 minutes before fouling out with 6:11 to play.
Vladimir Radmanovic led Charlotte with 15 points. Gerald Wallace added 13 points and seven rebounds. Boris Diaw played his first game of the preseason after returning from an ankle injury and had five points in 19 minutes.
VICK REACTION
OAKLAND, Calif. ó Charles Wright caught plenty of flak for wearing an old-school Michael Vick Falcons jersey.
Wright didn’t care. He’s a longtime Vick fan and wanted to show his support for the quarterback’s first road game with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Oakland since being reinstated to the NFL following an 18-month prison sentence for his involvement in a dogfighting ring.
There were mixed feelings toward Vick outside the Coliseum, where a small group of protesters held signs made by In Defense of Animals. Fans barked their support, in the stadium and out.
“It’s been a little hostile,” said Wright, a sturdy 44-year-old tow truck driver from Oakland. “I’m a Michael Vick fan.”
Vick came out to the field for his regular warmup, but had already gone inside when an airplane began circling with a banner reading, “Dog Fighter Go Home!” sponsored by Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls.
BASEBALL
HOUSTON ó Phil Garner didn’t need to bring a resume to his interview with the Houston Astros.
He just wore his NL championship ring.
Garner met with the Astros to talk about becoming their next manager, just over two years after the franchise fired him. His successor, Cecil Cooper, was fired two weeks before Houston finished the season 74-88.
GOLF
THE WOODLANDS, Texas ó John Cook won his third career Champions Tour title and first of the season, closing with a 4-under 68 on Sunday to hold off Jay Haas and Bob Tway by two strokes in the Administaff Small Business Classic.
TENNIS
SHANGHAI ó Nikolay Davydenko upset top-seeded Rafael Nadal 7-6 (3), 6-3 on Sunday to win the Shanghai Masters for his fourth title of the year.
The sixth-seeded Davydenko broke decisively in the sixth game of the second set to collect his 18th career title. His flat groundstrokes and angled winners denied the Spaniard a sixth title for this year and his first since the Rome Masters in May.
FORMULA ONE
SAO PAULO ó Jenson Button clinched his first Formula One title with a fifth-place finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday and his Brawn GP team made history by becoming the first to take the constructors’ crown in its debut season.

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