Duren leads No. 11 Memphis past Western Kentucky 74-62


Jalen Duren had 22 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks as No. 11 Memphis beat Western Kentucky 74-62 in a sloppy game on Friday night.

DeAndre Williams added 13 points and Earl Timberlake finished with 10 for the Tigers (4-0).

Camron Justice led the Hilltoppers (1-3) with 18 points, while Jairus Hamilton scored 14. Dayvion McKnight had 11 points and eight rebounds as Western Kentucky lost its third straight.

It was the play of Duren controlling the middle that kept the Tigers from dropping their first game of the season.

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“Jalen’s energy definitely made up for those mistakes that we made shooting the ball in the first half. We shot the ball horrible,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said, adding: “Thank God for Jalen Duren tonight because he kept us in the game and won it for us.”

Duren had 11 points and 12 rebounds in the second half and helped the Tigers pull away.

“That’s why he’s one of the best players in America,” Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury said “He beat us up around that rim. He got those put-backs. He’s hard to keep out and keep off that rim.”

The game ratcheted up the competition for the Tigers, who travel to New York next week to play in the NIT Season Tip-off. They will face Virginia Tech in the opener.

“I’m thankful for a game like this right before we go on the road,” Hardaway said. “I think everything has been so easy that the guys get a little complacent. Tonight, we got into a good game.”

Memphis shot poorly from 3-point range and committed 26 turnovers, keeping Western Kentucky in the game even when the Tigers stretched their second-half lead to double digits.

Western Kentucky had its own problems with 25 turnovers and poor free-throw shooting.

“You can point to a couple of things. You can point to turnovers. We had 25,” Stansbury said. “Then the free-throw line. You can’t go 5 for 13 from the foul line. Those kinds of things just take the air from you.”

The Hilltoppers gave Memphis by far its toughest challenge this season, leading by as many as 10 points in the first half. Memphis went 1 of 7 from 3-point range in the first half against the Western Kentucky zone defense. A late rush by Memphis left the game tied at 38 at the break.

“Give them credit for going to a zone,” Hardaway said. “We work on zone every day. Got a little stagnant on the offensive end.”

Western Kentucky had its own turnover issues in the first half, preventing any kind of flow to the game. In the second half, Memphis’ defense held the Hilltoppers to 26.5% shooting. Memphis was better at 39.4%, but made only one of its nine 3-point attempts after halftime.

“We didn’t win the game, but I’m awful proud of the way our guys came in here and battled,” Stansbury said. “We just played one of the better teams in the country. And we were right there.”

BIG PICTURE

Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers can give opponents plenty of trouble with their zone defense, along with busy hands swatting away passes. Western Kentucky’s 3-point shooting kept the game close until it finished the game by missing six of its last seven shots.

Memphis: Turnovers continue to plague the Tigers. The 14 first-half giveaways resulted in 19 points for the Hilltoppers. And the ballhandling was just as bad in the second half.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win and Memphis should at least hold onto its spot in the AP Top 25.

HOLD ONTO THE BALL

In the first five minutes of the game, the teams combined for 10 turnovers. The Tigers came into the game averaging 20 turnovers a game, and Western Kentucky was forcing their opponents into roughly the same amount.

UP NEXT

Western Kentucky: Hosts Alabama A&M on Wednesday.

Memphis: Faces Virginia Tech on Wednesday in the NIT Season Tip-off in New York.



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Florida tourism agencies: State leads nation in inbound travel thanks to open pandemic policies | Local News


After a nearly 20-month international travel ban was lifted on Monday, travelers who meet COVID-19 restrictions are expected to resume traveling to the U.S., several reports indicate.

Tourism is dominating the recovery of the U.S. travel sector, and Florida is leading the way because of its anti-lockdown policies, VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism agency, says.

Florida is “beating out competitors like New York, Las Vegas, Hawaii, and California,” Dana Young, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO, said, crediting the COVID-19 policies of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Get more from the Citrus County Chronicle

DeSantis was the first governor to fully reopen his state after governors implemented statewide lockdowns in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus last year. DeSantis has been advocating anti-mask mandate and anti-lockdown policies, publicly sparring with the policies of the Biden administration, including suing the administration over executive orders related to mandates and illegal immigration.

DeSantis made sure “that Florida is open and able to welcome the visitors that are our economic livelihood,” Young said.

“While other states were closed, VISIT FLORIDA invited travelers from all over the country to experience the magic and freedom of a Florida vacation,” she added. “As the only state marketing outside its borders for roughly seven months, Florida was able to capitalize on the pent-up travel demand and cultivate a tremendous strategic advantage over its competition.”

In 2019, prior to COVID-related lockdowns, 14.5 million international tourists traveled to Florida, or 11% of all visitors. They contributed $17.3 billion to the economy, according to the agency.

Despite ongoing international travel restrictions, preliminary estimates indicate that 1.1 million overseas visitors came to Florida in the second quarter of 2021, an increase of 854% from last year, the agency reports. Florida also welcomed 27.3 million visitors from January to March this year.

Roughly 31.7 million people came to Florida from April through June of this year, an increase of more than 220% over the prior year. The majority, 30.6 million, were domestic visitors, representing a 216% increase from 2020, and a 6% increase from 2019.

“Florida continues to serve as an example for the country that when you reject lockdowns and unnecessary mandates, your economy will thrive,” DeSantis said. “Not only did Florida have more visitors in the second quarter than we did in 2020, but the data shows that domestic visitation has already fully recovered to 2019 levels. I’m grateful for the dedication of thousands of Florida business owners, who demonstrated the highest commitment to their employees and their customers, and I’m proud of VISIT FLORIDA’s hard work to market the Sunshine State. The revitalization of our tourism industry will have a positive impact on every Floridian.”

 

In an effort to encourage people to come to Florida, VISIT FLORIDA began a marketing campaign in August 2020 partnering with several agencies and companies. It partnered with AAA Northeast to promote Florida as a destination state for travelers, contributing a $150,000 co-investment in a targeted marketing campaign. The campaign resulted in over $24.5 million in total bookings to Florida, the agency says, with the majority making $16 million worth of travel bookings in Orlando.

While air travel was in severe decline during state shutdowns nationwide last year, VISITFLORIDA also partnered with Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines/American Airline Vacations, and United Airlines on three independent campaigns throughout the Midwest and Northeast to market Florida as a key destination.

As a result of Florida’s open policies and marketing campaign, and warmer weather, Florida’s hotel room revenue increased 11% in August of this year compared to 2019, the agency says, while the rest of the U.S. saw a decline of 5% over the same period.

Vacation rental bookings in September of this year were also over 80% higher than they were in September 2019.

And while domestic air capacity is down more than 18% nationally for the calendar year, it’s up by 2% in Florida, trending 9% higher through November, the agency adds.

Airbnb, an online user-based accommodations site operating in more than 220 countries and regions worldwide, reports that a week after the U.S. announced that international travel restrictions would be lifted, searches for trips to the U.S. on its site increased by 50%.

As of Nov. 8, Airbnb said, its hosts in more than 4,000 destinations in the U.S. are welcoming inbound foreign guests, including those coming for an entire year staying in Airbnb rentals.

Guests are primarily traveling from five cities: London, Paris, Santiago, Toronto and Vancouver, it said in a news release.

The five most popular destinations are Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, and South Florida Atlantic Coast, with guests seeking long-term stays of 28 days or more.

“The US. is historically the largest inbound travel market in the world,” Airbnb said, “and the largest country to reopen to foreign travelers arriving by commercial flights.”



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McCollum scores 27, leads Blazers past Pacers, 110-106


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — CJ McCollum scored 27 points, making five 3-pointers, and the Portland Trail Blazers rallied to beat the Indiana Pacers 110-106 on Friday night and snap a three-game losing streak.

Robert Covington added a season-high 19 points, including a key 3-pointer with 14.7 seconds left.

“He shot it tonight, made the extra pass when he needed to, defended. He was aggressive,” McCollum said. “He was the hero tonight. He hit some big shots for us.”

Damian Lillard continued to struggle with his shot, going 2 for 13 from the field and missing all six of his 3-point attempts. He had four points and 11 assists.

T.J. McConnell had 19 points for the Pacers, whose two-game winning streak was snapped.

Portland led by as many as 16 points in the opening half, but the Pacers closed the gap before halftime and held a narrow lead going into the final period.

The Pacers went on an 11-0 run to go up 97-90 but it was snapped by Jusuf Nurkic’s layup. McCollum and Covington each made 3-pointers to pull Portland within 101-98 with 3:55 left.

Norman Powell’s free throws and McCollum’s layup put the Blazers in front 102-101. After Nurkic dunked, Domantas Sabonis’ layup kept the Pacers close.

Covington hit a 3-pointer to extend Portland’s lead, but Myles Turner answered with a 3 to narrow it to 107-106. Covington’s 3 as the seconds ticked down sealed it.

Indiana was without starting guard Malcolm Brogdon, who leads the Pacers with 22.3 points per game, because of a non-COVID illness. McConnell started in his place.

Caris LeVert, who missed the start of the season with a stress fracture in his back, averaged 18.5 points in the Pacers’ past two games. He finished with 12 against the Blazers.

“I really like our team. I think we have a lot of talent on this team, but we don’t have the kind of talent to win on talent alone,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “I mean, we’ve got to really be tied together. And our compete level has got to be way up there.”

Lillard was averaging 19.5 points, well off his average last season. Going into Friday game, Portland’s All-Star had hit just 18 of 77 3-point attempts, or about 23%. However, he is among the league leaders with 8.5 assists a game.

Blazers coach Chauncey Billups praised Lillard’s floor game, saying he was finding guys for the right shots. Asked if he was concerned about Lillard, Portland’s new coach was emphatic.

“No. Why would I? He’s one of the greatest of all time. He’s still in his prime. He’s not 38 or 39,” Billups said. “I played this game for a long time, I went through that myself.”

Portland led by as many as 13 points early but Indiana closed the gap to 24-22 on Justin Holiday’s 3-pointer early in the second.

McCollum made back-to-back 3-pointers to push Portland’s lead to 40-28 but the Pacers went on a 10-0 run to close the half and got within 59-53.

“It’s easy to lay down and just let the chips fall where they may. But I don’t think we did that. We got off to a slow start and we were able to fight back. But it just wasn’t enough,” Turner said. “We can go and make all the excuses in the world — it’s the West Coast, travel, and all that — but you’ve got to find a way to get it done.”

Powell finished with 25 points.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Domantas Sabonis, son of former Trail Blazers great Arvydas Sabonis, wore special shoes customized by Pacific Northwest artist Justin Tigner that pays homage to both father and son. … Billups played under Carlisle in Detroit. “It’s a proud moment for me,” Carlisle said about coaching opposite former players. “I always thought Chauncey could do anything he wanted in basketball.”

Trail Blazers: McCollum led all scorers in the first half with 19 points. … Powell has had three straight games with 20 or more points. … Blazers owner Jody Allen was at the game.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Visit the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

Trail Blazers: Play the second of a back-to-back against the Lakers on Saturday.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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TikTok hand gesture leads to Kentucky officers rescuing NC teen


Laurel County Police said a person reported a tip of a girl using a hand gesture made popular on TikTok led to the arrest. She was reported missing Nov. 2.

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A man was arrested after a 16-year-old girl who was reported to be missing was found in his car. The Laurel County Sheriff’s Office said they were able to arrest the man after a tip was received of a girl giving hand gestures to represent domestic violence made popular from TikTok.

The sheriff’s office confirmed the arrest of 61-year-old James Brick happened on I-75 at KY 80 Nov. 4. Police said the person who reported the tip was behind Brick’s car. 

As Brick continued to travel on I-75, the person followed him giving officers an update on the location and description of his car.

Investigators positioned themselves at an exit in London to wait for the suspect vehicle and were advised by the tipster the vehicle was exiting the interstate. Laurel Sheriff’s detectives and deputies conducted a traffic stop and an investigation on its occupants.

It was learned through the girl had been reported missing by her parents out of Asheville, North Carolina. The girl told investigators she had gotten with Brick and traveled through multiple states.

During the investigation deputies also located a phone in the possession of Brick allegedly portraying another girl in a sexual manner. 

James Brick has been charged with unlawful imprisonment and possession of matter sex performance by a minor over the age of 12 but under age 18. 

He is currently being held at the Laurel County correctional center. The investigation is ongoing.

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Hospitality leads economic recovery in the UK | News


Hospitality businesses outpaced the rest of the UK economy for the first time in more than nine years during September, according to the latest Lloyds Bank UK Recovery Tracker.

Tourism and recreation (62.2) – which includes pubs, hotels, restaurants, leisure facilities and travel agents – was the fastest growing UK sector monitored by the Tracker for the first time since January 2012.

A reading above 50 signals output is rising, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction.

The sector benefitted from strong consumer demand for large-scale events, such as concerts and music festivals, and the easing and simplification of international travel rules in England – which led to a rise in people booking holidays abroad and more tourists visiting the UK.

Transport operators also benefited from a loosening of travel restrictions and more people commuting, causing the sector’s output to rebound sharply month-on-month (55.9 in September against 42.9 in August).

In addition, tourism and recreation became the only services sector to record the strongest monthly output growth since before the pandemic.

A total of ten of the 14 UK sectors monitored by the tracker saw output rise during September, up from nine in August.

Jeavon Lolay, head of economics and market insight, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While the number of sectors in growth mode increased last month, we are now firmly in an economic phase of recovery where big leaps in activity won’t happen every month.

“Tourism and recreation outpaced other sectors in September because it continues to benefit from relaxations in Covid-19 restrictions and resurgent consumer demand.

“As the UK economy continues to inch towards its pre-pandemic peak, logistical challenges, higher energy prices and uncertainty relating to the path of the virus as we head into winter are key risks.”





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Breaking Travel News investigates: Dubai leads global tourism recovery | Focus


Dubai was one of the first cities globally to reopen its markets and businesses in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and continues to stay open, while ensuring strict compliance with internationally benchmarked health and safety protocols.

Supported by a solid network of stakeholders and partners, the emirate has now launched a new tourism campaign as it seeks to build on the steady influx of visitors seen since the reopening in July last year.

The move is further evidence of a consistent and calibrated approach since the start of the pandemic to ensure the destination remains resilient and safe for international travellers.

The United Arab Emirates has one of the highest per capita vaccination rates in the world, with close to 85 per cent of residents having received at least one dose of the vaccine, and nearly 75 per cent having received both doses to-date.

So what has been behind the successful relaunch of the tourism sector?

Boosted by demand for staycations in the domestic market and visitation from international markets that are open, hotels in Dubai enjoyed occupancy levels of 61 per cent overall from January-to-July this year.

This has further instilled confidence in this sector and demonstrates its capability to attract guests and provide them with world-class hospitality.

By the end of July, the hotel inventory in the emirate stood at 718 establishments offering 129,318 rooms with RevPAR increasing to AED225 (£50) compared to AED194 for the same period in 2020.

In the first seven months of 2021, the occupied room nights for hotels stood at 16.34 million, compared to 10.74 million for the corresponding period in 2020.

According to data from hotel management analytics firm STR, for the first seven months of 2021, Dubai ranked second globally in terms of occupancy after Singapore and ahead of London and Paris.

For the January-July 2021 period, year-to-date RevPAR in Dubai was highest among the four destinations, followed by Singapore, Paris and London.

Dubai has continued to invest in integrated marketing campaigns, highlighting that the city is open to travellers when they are ready to start holidaying again.

The latest campaign, Dubai Presents, features a series of blockbuster trailers helmed by Hollywood icons Jessica Alba and Zac Efron, and is designed to showcase the diversity of experiences, attractions and events that await visitors this year.

These include Expo 2020, which started on October 1st, and celebrations surrounding the fiftieth anniversary of United Arab Emirates on December 2nd.

Dubai Presents builds on a series of global marketing campaigns developed by Dubai Tourism such as A Story Takes Flight, starring Hollywood celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson and Zoe Saldanha, the award-winning #BeMyGuest featuring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, as well as many other campaigns led by prominent regional celebrities and influencers, in addition to various digital activations.

The recovery strategy, implemented in close coordination with stakeholders, proved crucial in reinvigorating the domestic hospitality market in May last year, preparing the ground for the return of international visitors to the city in July 2020.

As tourists returned to Dubai to enjoy its iconic attractions, experiences and world class infrastructure including beaches, shopping malls, restaurants, theme parks and golf courses, Dubai Tourism remained firmly focused on delivering an exceptional tourism experience whilst prioritising the safety of tourists at every stage and touchpoint of their travel journey, from arrival to departure.

A variety of safety initiatives were launched, based on the guidelines of the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, including a wide range of precautionary measures, in addition to effective testing and vaccination programmes.

The vaccination campaign also covered employees across hotels, considered the frontline of the tourism industry, starting with a pilot programme that saw more than 10,000 employees of leading hotels on the Palm Jumeirah receiving the vaccines.

The stringent measures are underpinned by the Dubai Assured stamp, a compliance protocol that certifies establishments within the tourism ecosystem that adhere to health and safety protocols.

Inspectors of Dubai Tourism, Department of Economic Development and Dubai Municipality are also taking a zero-tolerance approach towards non-compliance.

In 2020, when the pandemic was at its peak, the joint teams conducted more than 140,000 inspections on establishments across the tourism ecosystem.

Take a look below as Breaking Travel News speaks to Issam Kazim, chief executive of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism & Commerce Marketing, about the reopening of the tourism market in the emirate:

More Information

With the ultimate vision of positioning Dubai as the leading tourism destination and commercial hub in the world, Dubai Tourism has a mission is to increase the awareness of emirate among global audiences and to attract tourists and inward investment.

The body markets and promotes the commerce sector in the emirate and is responsible for the licensing and classification of all tourism services, including hotels, tour operators and travel agents.

Find out more on the official website.





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‘Tip of the spear’: Atlanta leads Southeast innovation, Panoramic Ventures reports shows – Atlanta Business Chronicle



‘Tip of the spear’: Atlanta leads Southeast innovation, Panoramic Ventures reports shows  Atlanta Business Chronicle



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Police seek leads in Polk County man’s disappearance


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Seventeen years after Glenn Pennie disappeared, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating what happened.

Pennie, 56 at the time, was last seen by a neighbor at his house in rural Polk County southwest of Monmouth on Oct. 3, 2004. He lived on the 14000 block of Airlie Road. 

Polk County sheriff’s Detective John Williams said the office is trying to renew public awareness of Pennie’s disappearance in hopes that it could yield new information.

Pennie had been planning to leave Oct. 4, 2004, for Oakland, California, for a hearing about his late father’s estate, but his Toyota Tacoma was still in the driveway a few days after his planned departure. He stood to inherit more than $1 million, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“Investigators found no sign of a struggle and no signs that other vehicles had been in or out of Glenn’s driveway,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a post on its website. “Glenn’s pickup was found to be packed with a suitcase, snacks, and other travel items for his planned trip to California.”

Pennie was divorced and working as an electrical contractor. He had asked neighbors to feed his cat, and he’d called his cousins in California on Oct. 3 to let them know he was leaving first thing the next morning.

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After Pennie disappeared, authorities unsuccessfully conducted a “massive search” covering 53 square miles. Pennie’s bank accounts and cellphone records haven’t turned up any clues, either. 

“Those that knew Glenn told investigators that he would not have simply walked away from his father’s inheritance,” the Sheriff’s Office said. 

Pennie was due to get 75% of the properties in his father’s estate while his brother, Dale, was due to get 25%. Any collectible coins would be split 50-50 between the brothers.

After Glenn’s disappearance, the estate was divided between his daughter and Dale. The value of the properties in the estate diminished because they weren’t maintained, and lawyers’ fees also ate up much of the money, Williams said. 

A decade ago, the Sheriff’s Office renewed its efforts to investigate Pennie’s disappearance with help from other police agencies, but didn’t get much out of that effort, Williams said.

In 2017, the case was featured on the TV show “Cold Justice” and police had hoped that would help turn up some new information. Nothing came of that, either.

“We’re just kind of running out of ideas,” Williams said. “Since we don’t have a body, we don’t know what happened to him. Nobody’s talking. We have people of interest that we’ve looked at again and again and again, but their stories never change and we just can’t move past it. We’re just kind of stuck at this point.”

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“There’s never been any direct evidence that showed anyone did anything to Glenn,” Williams said. “It’s just like he vanished.”

The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information about Pennie’s disappearance to call the tip line at (503) 623-1878 and refer to Case #04-2879.



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