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Sen. Marco Rubio announces bid for 2016 election

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio announced his presidential candidacy in a conference call to his top donors Monday morning.

The phone call precedes a political event Monday night at Miami’s Freedom Tower, where he will formally announce his campaign to the rest of the public.

The Freedom Tower was a processing center for Cuban refugees escaping Fidel Castro’s leadership, and it reflects both his Cuban heritage as well as his immigration work in the U.S. Senate. Rubio helped draft a bipartisan immigration bill in 2013 that diluted his support from the right and the left as both were unsatisfied with the middle-of-the-road legislation.

Rubio, 43, is the youngest candidate to enter the race. He has previously served as a state representative for his home state Florida as well as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is also expected the formally enter the race, creating state divide between Bush and Rubio.

Rubio is the third Republican and the fourth candidate to enter the race. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced March 23, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced last Tuesday. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Sunday.

NBA Trade Deadline

The NBA Trade Deadline was supposed to be relatively quiet, with the possibility of a few trades. And it looked like that would be the case leading up to last Thursday’s deadline of 2 p.m. However, the league saw a number of trades come in at the last minute of the deadline. The trades came in fast and furious, but not all were as good as they seemed while others were better than you might think.

Starting from the first and possibly the most overlooked trade was Portland acquiring Arron Afflalo from Denver. With Afflalo, Portland bolsters their bench with a player who was averaging 14.5 points per game and is an excellent defender. Portland had to give up Thomas Robinson and Victor Claver plus a future first round pick, but I still think this was a huge win for Portland. A team who advanced to the second round in last year’s playoffs, returned their core group of guys, and are third in the Western conference added a veteran guard who can defend multiple positions and shoots the ball well. I’ll go ahead and say this trade puts Portland as a dark horse in the West. Why? Because they have a star point guard in Damian Lilliard, not to mention he might be a little pissed off for being an All-Star snub. Granted he was chosen as a replacement, but I still expect Lilliard to play with a chip on his shoulder the rest of the season. And let’s not forget Lamarcus Aldridge is playing at a high level despite his thumb injury. So with a healthy Robin Lopez and Afflalo coming off the bench, this team stacks up well with the West’s best.

The blockbuster trade that got way too much attention in my mind was Phoenix shipping Goran Dragic to Miami. Don’t get me wrong, Dragic is an excellent point guard, and he knows how to produce. But let’s not get carried away here. He isn’t going to help Miami contend for the title this year and most likely not anytime soon. Dragic is posting 16.2 ppg, 4.1 apg, and 3.6 rpg while sharing the point guard duties with Isiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe. However, I don’t think he is worth the max contract he will be offered this offseason or the two first round picks Miami gave up on top of some rotational players. He can’t lead a team by himself and essentially that’s why you pay a player the big time money. That’s what scares me for this Miami team, Dwayne Wade is in the latter half of his career, and Chris Bosh isn’t the same player he was in his prime. (There is a serious concern in Miami that Chris Bosh may miss the entire season due to blood clots in his lungs. It is a very serious issue, so we wish Chris Bosh the best in recovering.) Having said all this, Pat Riley is a genius when operating his teams so I might be completely wrong in saying Miami was on the losing end of this trade.

The trade I liked the most came from team that desperately needed help. And that was the Oklahoma City Thunder. A few days ago, I wrote about how they might acquire Brook Lopez but honestly, he wouldn’t be a fit for a team that runs lots of isolations for their guards and perimeter players. Lopez is a back to the basket type player and I don’t know how he would have gotten his touches in the OKC offense. But that trade didn’t surface out instead the Thunder acquired Enes Kanter from Utah and DJ Augustin and Kyle Singler from the Pistons. In my opinion, Oklahoma City got better overall value than getting Lopez. Kanter is a legit 7 footer averaging 14 ppg and 8 rpg this season. Not to mention he’s only 22 years old. He will slide right into OKC’s rotation with Adams out with injury and Perkins no longer there. This allows Serge Ibaka to play his natural power forward position and stretching the floow out with his perimeter shooting improving. Plus Augustin can fill Jackson’s role as backup point guard and Kyle Singler has proved he can be a solid bench contributor.

On the other hand of this trade, I love what Detroit did. Stan Van Gaundy quietly got himself a steal in Reggie Jackson. Detroit gave up next to nothing for a player who is about to get his chance to be a starter on a playoff contending team. But let’s forget about this season, and look to the future. Detroit has two great guards in Jackson and Brandon Jennings, and arguably the best young frontcourt in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe moving forward. If they can convince Monroe to sign long term after his contract expires after this season, watch out for the Pistons. Van Gaundy has done a great job in his first season operating the team and I look for him to continue to build momentum for the franchise.

Those are the trades that had impacts on contending teams making a final push for playoff jockeying. Oklahoma City and Portland solidified their roster needs to contend in the wild wild west. But there were was one trade that caught my eye and can have a huge impact for a franchise.

The trade that had every NBA fan reminiscing the old days was Kevin Garnett being sent back to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young. Obviously Minnesota is going nowhere this season, but Kevin Garnett could be a valuable pickup for them in terms of leadership and locker room presence. Minnesota might have the best core of young players in the league. Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, and Gogui Dieng are all young talented players still learning their way in this league. The Timberwolves were lacking a veteran leader who can mold these young players into stars. That’s where Kevin Garnett comes in play. KG could be the perfect mentor for these kids since he was thrown into the same fire of the NBA right out of high school. He knows what it takes to become a perennial All Star and win NBA championships. So kudos to the Minnesota front office for making this happen.

And then there was the random swap of point guards that took place. Milwaukee sent Brandon Knight to Phoenix, Phoenix sent Isaiah Thomas to Boston, and Philadelphia packaged reigning rookie of the year Michael Carter Williams to Milwaukee. Brandon Knight was playing very well this season, so I was particularly surprised that the Bucks let him go and brought in Michael Carter Williams. I’m interested to see how Jason Kidd and company can mold the young Carter Williams into a legit PG. Brandon Knight could be a good compliment to Eric Bledsoe down in Phoenix so that could be something to watch for. As for Isiah Thomas in Boston, I just don’t get it. Boston should be in full rebuild mode, and Marcus Smart was their draft pick who could use some playing time at the point guard position so why trade for Thomas who can only play point guard. Thomas also is owed plenty of money after signing a lucrative deal just this offseason so that’ll take a hit on Boston’s cap room. These teams all made the headlines for acquiring players but I’m not sure any of them actually won their respective trades. I guess time will tell with them.

But wait, that’s not all! There have been reports Kendrick Perkins will be bought out by the Utah Jazz and the front runner to sign him is, you guessed it, the Cleveland Cavaliers. He would be a great fit for Cleveland, coming off the bench and giving them valuable minutes defending and rebounding the ball effectively. A few other potential bought out players include Tayshaun Prince and Thomas Robinson who could both be a great addition to any team. So the deadline might have passed, but a few teams could still be adjusting their rosters here in the next few days to gear up for the postseason.

Erik Spoelstra pleaded with his team at halftime of game three. “Just cut it down to 15,” Spoelstra said. “We’re built to play stretches like these. We’re built for this moment.”

The head coach was right, the Heat are at their very best when they are playing relentless trap defense and relying on quick rotations.  

However, the level of energy required to sustain these bursts of play obviously isn’t sustainable for 48 minutes considering the lack of depth on the Heat roster. Therein lies Miami’s Achilles heel. Unless they’re clicking offensively with Lebron and a few shooters, their defense, which ranked 11th in the NBA regular season this year, cannot compete at the highest level for a full 48 minutes.

Moreover, their tendency to rely on these short bursts of high-energy play towards the end of games has affected their mindset coming into games. It isn’t possible for the Heat, who seem to believe that they can go down by whatever margin and always come back with a ferocious burst of defense, to play such a style against the Spurs. So far these Finals, they have been unable to play at their best unless they have their backs against the wall.

 But, these Spurs won’t let a team get away with such a weakness. They have forced the Heat to pay for their lackluster effort in the opening quarter of games. The Spurs’ offensive clinic seems close to unstoppable at times and it is evident that Gregg Popovich’s bunch have come on to the court with a lot more energy and tenacity. Ultimately, the confidence that comes with having won two consecutive championships and the ability to play short bursts of suffocating defense and unstoppable offensive has carried the Heat all season long. But, that same strategy might cost them a championship against the fundamental Spurs.

San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter goes to the basket against the Miami Heat in the first half in Game 4 of the NBA basketball finals in Miami on Thursday. The Spurs won 107-86.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/ Larry W. Smith | Daily Texan Staff

The San Antonio Spurs inched closer to a fifth NBA Championship Thursday night with a dominating 107-86 victory over the Miami Heat.

The Spurs' destruction of the Heat in Game 4 was San Antonio’s second consecutive blowout win of the series. With the win, the Spurs took a commanding 3-1 series lead. San Antonio put on a clinic in scoring distribution, as every player on the squad scored. Kawhi Leonard, who shined in Game 3, continued to dominate on both ends of the floor, leading San Antonio with 20 points and 14 rebounds, as well as having three blocks and three steals.

Tim Duncan posted yet another double-double, giving him the all-time NBA playoffs double-double record with 158, surpassing Magic Johnson.

“It's an honor,” Duncan said. “When that one more is done, I can look back and say that is truly an honor."

Much like in Game 3, the Heat was unable to find its offensive rhythm. Miami got off to a horrific start and continued to struggle to find any offensive flow throughout the game. Heat forward LeBron James, who scored 28 points, did everything he could to bring Miami back into the game, but San Antonio proved to be too good on the night.

“They smashed us. Two straight home games. Got off to awful starts,” James said. “They were much better than us. It’s that simple.”

The loss snapped Miami’s 13-game streak of wins after a playoff loss. This is also the first time in the Heat’s big-three that they have trailed 3-1 in a series.

If Miami wants to win its third consecutive NBA title, it’s going to have to make history. In 31 tries, a team that trails 3-1 has never rebounded to win the NBA Finals.

“Right now they are playing better than us,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. “No question about it. They whipped our butt at home.”

The Spurs will look to hoist their fifth Larry O’Brien trophy when the series moves back to San Antonio for Game 5 Sunday night.

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard was a non-factor in the first two games of the 2014 NBA Finals, but Leonard put his stamp on the series with a dominating performance in game three.

Leonard was aggressive all night as he worked his way to a career performance. Leonard put together the best shooting performance of his NBA career Tuesday night, shooting 10-13 from the field and finishing with 29 points, leading the Spurs to a 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat.

“(Leonard) was just himself,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s how he’s played all year long. He’s got to be one of our better players on the court or we’re not good enough, that’s just the way it is.”
While Leonard was fantastic, the Spurs team play was phenomenal. San Antonio shot a historic 25-33 in the first half, building a 20-point lead by halftime.

But Miami wasn’t ready to give up. The Heat put on a furious rally in the third quarter, led by guard Dwyane Wade, cutting the Spurs lead to seven. While Miami continued to battle, it couldn’t find a way to overcome San Antonio’s historic performance in the half. With the Heat loss, their perfect home record in the playoffs was ruined.

“They were very aggressive, and we didn’t match that,” Miami forward LeBron James said. “They came in with a desperation that we just didn’t match. Just because it’s our fourth final doesn’t mean anything. That don’t guarantee a win.”

James was sensational in game two, but was less effective in game three as San Antonio found a way to disrupt his rhythm. Once the Spurs were able to get James off his game, the rest of the Miami offense struggled.

Now Miami must focus on getting back in the series before they head back to San Antonio.

"The problem is we are down 2-1. That's the problem,” Wade said. “We have to figure out how to even it up."

The Heat will get a chance to tie it up in game four, which occurs 8 p.m. Thursday in Miami.

LeBron James pushed the Miami Heat to a 98-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in game two of the NBA Finals at the AT&T Center Sunday night. 

After receiving plenty of criticism for leaving game one with cramps, James was dialed in for the second game, dominating the majority of the game. He finished the contest with 35 points and 10 boards.

The game was close throughout, as both teams traded the lead all night long. But, with under a minute and half remaining, Heat forward Chris Bosh hit a go-ahead 3 and Miami held on from there. Bosh finished with 18 points.

With the win, Miami improves to 6-0 Game 2 record when losing the first game of a series.

For the Spurs, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan led the team in a valiant effort. Parker scored 21 points and Duncan finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Duncan’s performance moved him into a tie with Magic Johnson for all-time playoff double-doubles with 157. But Duncan’s historic performance was not enough for San Antonio to get past Miami.

“We didn’t do it as a group,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “We tried to do it individually, and we aren’t good enough to do that.”

As a team, San Antonio also sturggled mightily from the free throw line, converting just 12 of 20 attempts.

The NBA Finals now transition to Miami for the next two games. Game 3 is Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

The San Antonio Spurs outlasted the Miami Heat, and the Texas heat, in the first game of the NBA Finals.

Temperatures at the AT&T Center in San Antonio rose into the nineties after an electrical failure caused the arena’s air conditioning to fail, as the Spurs knocked off the Heat, 110-95.

Despite the sweltering heat, the Spurs were able to overcome a nine point deficit in the fourth quarter. San Antonio rallied behind a 16-3 run to end the game. San Antonio was a scorching 14 of 16 from the field and a perfect 6 for 6 from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter.

Spurs forward Tim Duncan showed off his signature fundamental approach en route to a double-double. Duncan led the team to victory with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

“We are one step closer to four wins,” Duncan said.

Alongside Duncan’s masterful performance, San Antonio received solid play from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili - the duo combined to score 35 points. Spurs guard Danny Green fueled the team’s comeback by hitting three big three-point shots in the fourth quarter.

Although the heat didn’t affect the San Antonio players, Miami forward LeBron James fell victim to cramping. James’ cramping became evident during the fourth quarter and got so bad his teammates had carry him off the court. The cramps James went through caused the Heat to lose any momentum they had and helped Spurs pull away.

“It felt like a punch in the gut when you see your leader limping to bench like that," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.

While the Heat lost game one, they possibility of a three-peat certainly shouldn’t be put to rest. Since 2011, Miami is 5-0 in series’ in which it loses the first game.

Spurs and NBA officials are confident that the AT&T Center’s air conditioning issue will be fixed in time for game two.

“We think it'll be fixed come Sunday and we'll be able to play under normal conditions," NBA executive Rod Thorn said.

The Spurs and Heat will play game two Sunday at the AT&T Center at 7 pm.

The Longhorns open the dual-match season at home Wednesday against UTSA.

No. 17 Texas endured a rough 6-24 record this past weekend in Miami against three other top-ranked universities. Today, the team matches up against one of the two unranked opponents they will face during their non-conference schedule.

All-American sophomore Breaunna Addison was 1-1 in singles in Miami after she lost to a lower-ranked opponent. She will start the season as the leading Longhorn singles player.

Senior Elizabeth Begley enters her final semester with a chance at a third consecutive Big 12 Championship with Texas.

The dual-match style of play requires a school to be the first to accumulate four points. A team receives one point for each singles match won — there are six opportunities. Competing schools play a best two-out-of-three doubles match, in which the winner can receive one point.

Play will begin at 2 p.m.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

1. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota (So.)

Last Week (W, 42-14, vs. UCLA): 21-for-28, 230 yards, TD (18 rush yards)

Season: 144-for-225 (64.0%), 2,281 yards, 20 TD (511 rush yards, 9 touchdowns)

Mariota went another game without throwing an interception, leading his Ducks to victory over No. 12 UCLA. Oregon struggled early, coughing up two fumbles in the first quarter but recovered for 28 unanswered second-half points. Mariota did what was asked of him, though his stats from this contest don’t scream Heisman winner. Oregon’s game at No. 5 Stanford on Nov. 7 will have Pac-12 and national title implications, as well as serve as Mariota’s opportunity to showcase why he should win the Heisman.


2. Florida State QB Jameis Winston (Fr.)

Last Week (W, 49-17, vs. NC State): 16-for-26, 292 yards, 3 TD, INT

Season: 128-for-183 (69.9%), 2,177 yards, 23 TD, 4 INT (126 yards, 3 TD)

Winston was clearly in sync early, going 11-for-14 with 229 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter, helping Florida State to take a commanding 35-0 lead less than 13 minutes into the contest. Winston’s numbers would’ve been more gaudy but he was pulled after the first series in the second half with the Seminoles already up, 42-0. Winston continues to impress and has now thrown for 19 touchdown passes and three interceptions in conference play. If he plays like he has the last few weeks this weekend against No. 7 Miami, he will claim the top spot on the Heisman Watch.


3. Baylor QB Bryce Petty (Jr.)

Last Week (W, 59-14, at Kansas): 20-for-32, 430 yards, 3 TD (22 rush yards, TD)

Season: 122-for-176 (69.3%), 2,453 yards, 18 TD, INT (73 rush yards, 6 TD)

Baylor is still the highest-scoring team in the country at 63.9 points per game and Bryce Petty is still the reason why. The Bears have broken 70 points in four of seven games but have yet to face an opponent with a winning record vs. FBS teams entering the game. This will change come Nov. 7 when Baylor hosts No. 10 Oklahoma. If the Bears’ offense continues its pace the last five games of the season, Petty will continue to garner more attention nationally in the Heisman race.


4. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (So.)

Last Week (W, 56-24, vs. Vanderbilt): 25-for-35, 305 yards, 4 TD, INT (11 rush yards)

Season: 184-for-252 (73.0%), 2,594 yards, 22 TD, 8 INT (497 rush yards, 6 TD)

So much for that shoulder injury. Manziel scored three touchdowns in the first quarter and added a fourth in the third quarter before exiting the game with over six minutes left in the third quarter. After a performance like this, there is no question about Johnny Football’s toughness, nor his abilities to dominate at the collegiate level. Manziel plays well on a consistent basis but he will need the three above candidates to struggle in order to claim his second Heisman.


5. Arizona RB Ka’Deem Carey (Jr.)

Last week (W, 44-20, at Colorado): 23 car, 119 yards, 4 TD (3 rec, 12 yards)

Season: 157 car, 924 yards, 10 TD (18 rec, 131 yards)

After being suspended for the first game, Carey has posted at least 125 rushing yards in all six contests, finding the end zone in five of them. In four Pac-12 games, he has rushed for 626 yards and six touchdowns, helping Arizona stay in contention for the Pac-12 South crown. The Wildcats host No. 20 UCLA next weekend, as well as No. 2 Oregon a couple weeks later in games that could put Carey in the national spotlight and solidify him as a Heisman contender. 

No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 7 Miami (FL)

The Seminoles were victorious in the last matchup of undefeated ACC teams when they stomped Clemson, 51-14, and are hoping to do it again to Miami. For the Hurricanes to make sure that doesn’t happen, they’re going to have to accomplish what no other team has so far — contain Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston. He has completed 69.9 percent of his throws, racked up 2,177 passing yards and 23 touchdown passes. But those stats were earned against teams with secondaries not nearly as talented as Miami’s, and the Hurricanes also have a solid pass rush. Where Miami could really struggle is at the quarterback position. Morris has thrown eight interceptions, including six in the last three games.


No. 23 Michigan vs. No. 24 Michigan State

Michigan State is heading into this game with momentum from its 39-point domination of Illinois. The Wolverines had last week off, which could also be an advantage, but their offense has to be wary after seeing what the Spartans defense brings to the table. The Spartans defense is one of the best in the nation. Michigan will have to keep its offense consistent and strong throughout to have a chance to compete. Despite scoring 42.4 points per game, the eighth-most in the country, the Wolverines offense has had a spotty history. One slip-up here could cost the game.


No. 18 Oklahoma State vs. No. 15 Texas Tech

Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf’s sloppy performance against Iowa State last week may have actually been productive for the Cowboys. It gave their offense a chance to prove that they have a running game that can perform in crucial situations. They ran for 342 yards while Texas Tech suffered its first loss of the year, losing to Oklahoma, 38-30. In recent years, the Cowboys have had a history of demolishing the Red Raiders. With this in mind, along with their loss against the Sooners still fresh, the Red Raiders are looking for redemption. Look to Texas Tech’s quarterback Davis Webb to lead its high-powered offense to the end zone early and often.


Florida vs. Georgia

This battle of two teams that fell from grace is pretty evenly matched. Both teams are hoping to end multiple-game losing streaks and are trying to turn disappointing seasons around. The Florida offense has hit a wall, averaging 21.1 points and 336.9 yards per game while committing 13 turnovers. Although the Gators have been slacking on offense, their defense has stood strong. Georgia can blame their fall partially on its long list of injuries. The Bulldogs running attack becomes less and less intimidating as the injury list grows, but running back Todd Gurley should return and kick up some serious dirt if he does.