DALLAS – Penn State President Rodney Erickson says no one has been hired to replace fired football coach Joe Paterno, and the administrator leading the search says there’s no top candidate.

USA Today and ESPN reported Sunday that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is the top candidate for the Nittany Lions job.

At a Penn State pep rally for today’s TicketCity Bowl in Dallas, acting athletic director David Joyner cut off a reporter’s question about the reports and said, “No, don’t believe anything you read in the newspapers.” He answered “No,” when asked if anyone could be classified as a leading candidate.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported that O’Brien, 42, had been followed for the past month by the university committee charged with finding the next coach, and that the two sides would meet during the Patriots’ bye week in the NFL playoffs.

Meanwhile, USA Today said “only contract details need to be finalized” with the committee for O’Brien to assume the job.

O’Brien, who is in his fifth year with the Patriots, never has been a head coach at any level.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

(1) SYRACUSE 87, DEPAUL 68: Kris Joseph scored 22 points and the Orange (15-0, 2-0 Big East) used their defense and depth to rout the Blue Demons (9-4, 0-1) at Rosemont, Ill.

Cleveland Melvin had 23 points for DePaul, which is 3-18 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams.

(5) NORTH CAROLINA 102, MONMOUTH 65: John Henson scored 21 points and Harrison Barnes added 20 as the Tar Heels (13-2) cruised past the Hawks (2-12) at Chapel Hill, N.C.

(7) DUKE 85, PENNSYLVANIA 55: Ryan Kelly had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Blue Devils (12-1) to a win over Quakers (6-8) at Durham, N.C.

(14) MARQUETTE 81, VIL-LANOVA 77: Darius Johnson-Odom matched a season-high with 24 points as the Golden Eagles (12-2, 1-0 Big East), edged the Wildcats (7-7, 0-2) at Milwaukee.

(18) MICHIGAN 61, MINNESOTA 56: Freshman Trey Burke scored a season-high 27 points, and the Wolverines (12-2, 2-0 Big Ten) beat the visiting Golden Gophers (12-3, 0-2) for their seventh straight victory.

CINCINNATI 66, (22) PITTSBURGH 63: JaQuon Parker scored a career-high 21 points and Sean Kilpatrick added 19 for the Bearcats (11-3, 1-0 Big East) have won six straight games since a brawl against crosstown rival Xavier last month led to the suspension of several players, including star forward Yancy Gates.

Nasir Robinson had 19 points and Ashton Gibbs added 18 for the visiting Panthers (11-4, 0-2), who have lost three straight.

HUNTER 84, UNE 57: Marcus Winn scored a season-high 17 points for the Nor’easters (0-8) in the consolation game of the Naismith Classic at Springfield, Mass.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

(6) KENTUCKY 59, FLORIDA 56: A’dia Mathies scored 14 points, Bria Goss added 11, and the Wildcats (12-2) won their Southeastern Conference opener against the Gators (10-4, 0-1) at Gainesville, Fla.

(7) TENNESSEE 73, AUBURN 52: Meighan Simmons scored 20 points and the Volunteers (9-3, 1-0 SEC) pulled away late for a victory over the Tigers (8-6, 0-1) at Auburn, Ala.

(17) GEORGIA 67, ARKANSAS 57: Jasmine Hassell had 19 points and the Bulldogs (12-2, 1-0 SEC) made 10 3-pointers in a victory over the Razorbacks (11-2, 0-1) at Athens, Ga.

MEN’S HOCKEY

SOUTHERN MAINE 2, MIDDLEBURY 2: Louis Belisle scored a power-play goal in the third period to give Middlebury (5-3-2) a tie against the Huskies (4-4-2) in the Middlebury College Holiday Classic.

USM took a 2-1 lead on second-period goals by David Nies and Ben Pearl. Braely Torris made 32 saves for the Huskies.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY

TRINITY 3, SOUTHERN MAINE 1: Whitney Colbert scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period as the Bantams (2-6) beat the Huskies (3-5-1) at Hartford, Conn.

USM was held to three shots through the first two periods, but Katie Paradis gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal 1:56 into the third. Samantha Edelson tied it for Trinity on a power play just two minutes later.