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Originally published December 9, 2013 at 8:57 PM | Page modified December 9, 2013 at 10:07 PM

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Arizona leads AP men’s basketball poll

Some basketball coaches dread being ranked No. 1 early in the season, but Arizona’s Sean Miller is enjoying the honor.


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College basketball

Arizona’s Miller doesn’t view early No. 1 ranking as a problem

Some coaches shy away from a No. 1 ranking early in the season, worried about the impact it will have on their players’ psyche.

Count Arizona’s Sean Miller as one who embraces the honor.

Arizona is No. 1 in the Associated Press men’s poll for the first time since 2003, an honor Miller views as not only recognition for what the Wildcats have done this season, but validation for the direction the program has taken in his five seasons in Tucson.

“There’s tremendous satisfaction, no question,” Miller said Monday. “Embracing the fact that we’re number one is something I’m doing, our staff is doing and really our team is doing. It’s an honor a lot of teams would love to have.

“It’s something where no matter what happens the rest of the season, at some point we were ranked number one in the country.”

Coming off a 63-58 home victory over UNLV on Saturday, Arizona (9-0) received 63 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel.

The Wildcats are the Pac-12’s first No. 1 team since UCLA in January 2006.

Syracuse, which received the other first-place votes, is second to Arizona in the AP poll and USA Today coaches poll.

Gonzaga (8-1) dropped from 19th to 20th in the AP poll and from a tie for 15th into a tie for 16th in the coaches poll.

Ranked Pac-12 teams other than Arizona are No. 15 Oregon and No. 21 Colorado.

Gonzaga women are No. 23

Gonzaga (7-1) advanced from 24th to No. 23 in the AP women’s poll.

Zags junior forward Sunny Greinacher was honored as the West Coast Conference player of the week. In three Gonzaga victories, she averaged 14 points on 59.4 percent shooting and 8.7 rebounds.

In Sunday’s 59-58 victory at Ohio State, Greinacher had a season-high 18 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.

Soccer

Organizers vow Cup will be safe

As video of Brazilian fans kicking, beating and using metal bars to pummel supporters of a rival team spread across the globe, officials moved quickly to assure people considering coming to the 2014 World Cup they won’t see that type of violence at the global tournament.

A day after four people were hospitalized after clashes in a match where Atletico Paranaense beat Vasco da Gama 5-1 in Joinville, World Cup organizers said fan safety will not be a problem during soccer’s showcase event.

“We can assure that the safety of this event will be guaranteed,” said Andrei Augusto Passos Rodrigues, one of the Brazilian government’s officials in charge of security during major events. “The lamentable scenes such as the ones that happened yesterday will not be repeated.”

But violence around Brazilian soccer is growing, including about 30 deaths this year.

In July, a referee in a village match fatally stabbed a player after an argument. The referee was then stoned and decapitated by the crowd.

Keeper Nielsen goes out on top

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Niel­sen announced his retirement, two days after the Major League Soccer team beat Real Salt Lake in a penalty-kicks shootout to win the MLS Cup.

After the teams were tied at 1 through overtime, Sporting KC won the tiebreaker 7-6.

Nielsen, 36, played much of his career in his native Denmark. He has a franchise-record 45 shutouts for Sporting KC and his career goals-against average of 0.99 is the best in MLS history among goalkeepers with a minimum of 1,000 regular-season minutes played.

Blackburn player is arrested

Officials for English team Blackburn say striker D.J. Campbell, 32, is one of the six people arrested in the latest match-fixing investigation in British soccer.

Blackburn plays in the second-tier League Championship, one step below the English Premier League. Campbell previously has played in the Premier League for Birmingham, Blackpool and Queens Park Rangers.

Olympics

IOC to warn against protests

The International Olympic Committee is finalizing a letter to athletes reminding them to refrain from demonstrations or political gestures during the Winter Games in Sochi, including any protests against Russia’s law banning gay “propaganda.”

The IOC executive board is expected to approve the instructions at its meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday. The letter will then be sent to the national Olympic committees that are sending athletes to the Sochi Games, which run from Feb. 7 to Feb. 23.

The memo will focus on Rule 50 in the Olympic Charter, which states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

ELSEWHERE

• Actor Leonardo DiCaprio announced he is partnering with Venturi Automobiles and will enter a team in the FIA Formula E Championship, which is the first racing series exclusively for electric cars.

“The future of our planet depends on our ability to embrace fuel-efficient, clean-energy vehicles,” DiCaprio said in a statement.

• UFC fighter Shane Del Rosario died Monday, nearly two weeks after the heavyweight had a heart attack. He was 30.

UFC officials and Del Rosario’s family announced his death. Del Rosario had been hospitalized in his native Orange County (Calif.) since Nov. 26.

Del Rosario’s manager, Jason House, said the fighter’s doctors believe he had a congenital heart disorder.

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