CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina-based department store chain Belk says it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Charlotte Observer reports that private equity firm Sycamore Partners made the announcement on Tuesday. The firm owns Belk and says it will continue with “normal operations” as it goes through bankruptcy. Sycamore Partners says it expects to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of February. The 133-year-old chain grew from the opening of a store in Monroe, North Carolina, in 1888. The Belk family sold the chain for $3 billion in 2015. Belk has more than 20,000 employees at its nearly 300 stores in 16 Southeastern states.
A pair of strong victories over the weekend have helped stabilize the USC men’s basketball team after it underwent a bumpy start to Pac-12 competition this season.Senior guard Elijah Stewart scored 9 points against Utah, going 3-for-4 from long range. Tucker Judkins | Daily TrojanA 20-point scoring effort from senior guard Jordan McLaughlin propelled the Trojans past visiting Colorado on Jan. 10, 70-58. The victory over the Buffs was followed up by an 84-67 USC routing of Utah on Sunday, a game which saw the Trojans hit a season-high 14 3-pointers as a team.USC’s (13-6) weekend sweep at the Galen Center improved it’s conference record to 4-2 this season and moved it into a tie for second-place with UCLA in the Pac-12 standings.“Every game in our league is a challenging one this season — we’re in a very deep conference,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “We’re happy with how we played this past week. We beat two tough teams at home and we’ve been playing some good basketball.” The Trojans will look to extend their conference winning-streak to three games Thursday night, as they travel to Eugene to take on Oregon (12-6, 2-3). The Ducks, who are coming off a 90-83 loss to No. 14 Arizona, are led offensively by sophomore guard Payton Pritchard (who is averaging a team-high 15 PPG).“We’ve been playing some good basketball, very well on the defensive side of things over the past five games,” Enfield said. “We know it’s going to take another good defensive effort from our guys to pick up a win at Oregon.” Pac-12 losses to Arizona (Jan. 13), Oregon State (Jan. 5) and Utah (Dec. 29) have dropped Oregon to a 2-3 record in conference play this season. The Ducks currently find themselves situated at eighth in the Pac-12 standings. USC was swept in its series against Oregon last season, losing both games in double-digit fashion. When the Trojans traveled to Oregon last season, they returned with an 84-61 blowout loss to the Ducks. USC has not won a road contest against Oregon since the 2008-2009 season.“We’ve just got to show up and play some solid defense for an entire 40 minutes and knock down some shots,” McLaughlin, said. “It’s a little tough to be playing there, but then again every road game is tougher … If we can stick to playing fast, smart, unselfish, we should be in it.” McLaughlin, who leads the conference with 7.6 APG this season, is also averaging 13.2 PPG and has been the main offensive cog for the Trojans all season long. USC will look to McLaughlin to feed the other three Trojans scoring in double-figures this season: junior forwards Chimezie Metu (team-high 16.7 PPG) and Bennie Boatwright (15.4 PPG) and senior guard Elijah Stewart (10.9 PPG).“[McLaughlin’s] a great leader for us, and it’s really showing on the court right now,” Metu said. “If you’re in the right place on the floor, he’ll find you. He’s a guy who will make the right pass 10 times out of 10.” After losing to Stanford back on Jan. 7 in the most devastating of fashions (allowing a 55-foot 3-pointer as time expired in regulation), USC has responded resiliently by racking up back-to-back conference victories, both by double digits.After doing battle at Oregon on Thursday night, USC will proceed to play Oregon State (10-7, 2-3) in Corvallis on Saturday.Following a rocky non-conference outing this season, USC will have another opportunity to continue its upward trek in the conference standings this weekend. A successful weekend sweep of the Oregon schools would have the Trojans flirting with the top spot in the Pac-12 standings.“We’ve just got to take this road trip one game at a time,” McLaughlin said. “We’ll keep all our focus on [Oregon] first and see what goes from there.”
“The most important thing is team success and we have the possibility to get into the playoffs and that’s really important for me as well.”Bobrovsky added that it would be unfair for the league to immediately start the Stanley Cup playoffs considering there are still 13 games remaining in the regular season. The Panthers are currently two points back of the Islanders for the second Eastern Conference Wild Card spot and three points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.”I think it’s not really fair because we were right in the mix. We had the opportunity to beat them,” Bobrovsky said. “The season is 82 games and then you start the playoffs. You just kind of know where we were and to just grow right into the playoffs.” The first-year Panthers goalie doesn’t have the luxury of receiving shots from skaters during the self-isolation period. As a result, he’s focused on building strength, cardio and stretching.”I would say I have a good gym. I have bikes and all the equipment needed to be in shape,” Bobrovsky said. “It’s not an easy time, because we don’t know when we’re going to play and stuff like that.”Bobrovsky has also been helping the South Florida community during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. On March 13, one day after the season was paused, he donated $100,000 to help BB&T Center part-time employees.MORE: Tracking teams’ stances on paying employeesHis next project is helping South Florida health workers get the necessary equipment, such as N95 masks, to fight the coronavirus. He’s working with the Florida Panthers Foundation as fellow Russians, Rangers forward Artemi Panarin and Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov, are helping the efforts in New York.”I want to make sure the first responders have the right masks,” he said. “It’s good to support those people with high quality wants.”Physically, Bobrovsky said he’s feeling good. The Florida goaltender missed the final four games before the pause due to a lower-body injury.”I was close to coming back,” he said. “Now, it’s time to make sure that my body’s ready to go and build up from that.”MORE: Who could return from injury if season resumes?It has not been a smooth first season in Florida for Bobrovsky. After signing a seven-year deal last summer with the Panthers, he has a record of 23-19-6 record, a 3.23 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. His GAA this season is on pace to be a career-worst and his career-low in save percentage is .899.Bobrovsky understands this has not been the personal season he envisioned, but he hopes the team’s goals can still be achieved.”The numbers are not there and it wasn’t an easy season for me. It was a new team, new coach, new surroundings,” he said. “Everything was new. From a team standpoint, we’re planning for the playoff and we’re only three points behind [in the division] so we’re right in the mix and it’s all in our hands. Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has stuck to a rigid routine as he self-isolates with his wife.”Wake up and have breakfast. Work out and have lunch and then begin another workout. Then, watch a movie or something like that, just free time again.”