Big Ten

After second-half dry spell, Illini beat Gophers in overtime


After second-half dry spell, Illini beat Gophers in overtime

The Illini scored just seven points over the final 10 and a half minutes of regulation. But once the game went to overtime, everything worked out for the orange and blue.

Behind a 28-point effort from Malcolm Hill, Illinois grabbed a 76-71 overtime win over Minnesota on Saturday in the Twin Cities.

It was a wacky game of runs, the Gophers ahead by nine seven and a half minutes into the first half. The Illini responded with six straight points to get within three, then came seven straight from the Gophers to make it a 10-point game. But Illinois rattled off a 13-0 run from there, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Jalen Coleman-Lands to turn a double-digit deficit into a three-point advantage. All told, it was a 21-6 run for the Illini to end the first half and head to the break with a five-point lead on Minnesota.

Down six in the early stages of the second half, the Gophers turned in a 13-4 run to gain a modest lead before Kendrick Nunn hit back-to-back triples to put the Illini back in front. Maverick Morgan and Hill each got a bucket in the following minutes to extend the lead out to seven with 10 and a half minutes to play, but that's when the Illinois offense stopped. Minnesota went on a 13-2 run, getting 11 of those points from Nate Mason, who hit three 3s during that stretch. Joey King's free throw made it a five-point Gopher lead before Nunn's 3-pointer brought the Illini within a bucket. Hill hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 60 with half a minute remaining, and Minnesota's final possession yielded a horrendous shot, leading to overtime. Illinois was lucky to make it to the extra period, going scoreless for a five-minute stretch in crunch time and scoring just seven points in the final 10 and a half minutes of regulation.

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But the overtime period did come, and the Illini dominated for the most part. Hill scored five quick points, and the Illini opened the period on an 11-0 run. It wasn't until there was a minute and a half left that the Gophers got on the board, and the Illinois lead grew as large as 13 before Minnesota whittled it down to five over the final minute.

The Illini shot 43.9 percent from the field, not an exciting number but one that certainly suffices when up against the Gophers, who are among the Big Ten's worst teams. Minnesota shot just 39.1 percent. While the Gophers made 11 3-pointers, the Illini held a large rebounding advantage, 49-38, turning 10 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points. Illinois also scored 16 points off Minnesota's 13 turnovers, while the Gophers made just eight points out of the 14 Illini turnovers.

Hill's 28 points were a game high and the third-highest scoring output of the season for the Illinois junior. It was Hill's 10th game of the season with at least 20 points. He also grabbed 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the year. Morgan finished with 14 points and a season-high seven rebounds, while Nunn scored 13 points.

King led Minnesota with 20 points, and Mason had 19, both players hitting five 3-pointers apiece. Jordan Murphy scored 12 points.

The win sent the Illini to 10-10 on the season and 2-5 in Big Ten play. Next up is a Thursday game against Ohio State.

The Gophers dropped to 6-14 overall and 0-8 in conference play with the loss. Minnesota is one of two winless Big Ten teams, along with Rutgers. The Gophers are on a nine-game losing streak, losers of 12 of their last 13 games. Next up is a Wednesday game against Purdue.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately


Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal


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.