Big Ten

Aaron Falzon pours in 20 as Northwestern crushes Gophers

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Aaron Falzon pours in 20 as Northwestern crushes Gophers

Before the season started, Chris Collins already dubbed Northwestern freshman Aaron Falzon as one of the best shooters in the Big Ten.

Coming off back-to-back miserable shooting performances in losses to Maryland and Ohio State, the Wildcats needed someone to shoot the lights out Saturday.

Enter the freshman. Falzon was 7-for-10 from the field, 6-for-9 from 3-point range, scoring a game-high 20 points to help Northwestern blow out Minnesota, 77-52, in the Twin Cities.

The Cats as a whole shot brilliantly following those two straight ice-cold outings. Northwestern shot 56 percent from the field, including a stunning 65.2-percent clip in the second half as it ran away from Minnesota.

Falzon hit a pair of early 3s, but the Gophers held a one-point lead about six minutes in. From there, though, the Cats went on a 10-0 run, helped by two more Falzon triples, and they led by six at the half.

The Cats opened the second half on another burst, getting back-to-back dunks by Joey van Zegeren and eight straight points, including two more 3s. The first of those stretched the Northwestern lead out to 15. And the Cats continued to shoot hot from there, the lead hitting 22 on a Tre Demps triple closing in on eight minutes remaining. Bryant McIntosh's 3-pointer with two and a half minutes to go made it a 25-point game, and it got as big as 27 multiple times in the final minutes.

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Northwestern went 11-for-25 from 3-point range on the day. Minnesota shot just 39.1 percent from the field and went 5-for-18 from 3-point range. The Cats also held a big rebounding edge, dominating the boards, 33-17.

Falzon matched a season and career high with his 20 points, setting a new season and career high with the six made 3-pointers. Demps scored 13 points, getting into double digits for just the second time in his last five games. McIntosh set a new career high with 11 assists, and van Zegeren had his highest-scoring game since coming to Northwestern with 11 points. Sanjay Lumpkin had 10 rebounds.

It was an important win for the Cats, who could have let the past two losses dictate things for some time. In the first two seasons under Collins, lengthy losing streaks in conference play have crippled seasons. Sure, Minnesota isn't a very good team, one of the Big Ten's bottom feeders this season, but it was important to get back to winning nonetheless.

The victory sent the Cats to 2-2 in Big Ten play and 14-3 on the season. Northwestern next plays host to Wisconsin on Tuesday.

The loss was the fifth straight for the Gophers, who fell to 6-10 on the campaign and 0-4 to start conference play. Minnesota travels to Nebraska on Tuesday.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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USA TODAY

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.