Big Ten

A.J. Hammons scores 24 points as Purdue bests Badgers

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A.J. Hammons scores 24 points as Purdue bests Badgers

A.J. Hammons is coming off the bench, but that isn't stopping him from being one of the best players in the Big Ten.

Hammons scored 24 points Tuesday night, leading Purdue as it built a double-digit lead, then held off Wisconsin in the second half for a 61-55 win in Madison.

The Boilermakers turned the ball over 10 times and the Badgers shot a meager 32.3 percent from the field in an ugly first half. Wisconsin went on a 13-2 run in the first half’s later stages to build a modest lead, but back-to-back three-point plays by Purdue to close the half erased that gap, tying the game at 24 at halftime.

The offenses were more productive in the second half. A 7-0 run put Purdue ahead by seven early in the half, a lead sliced down to three before long. But the Boilermakers punched again, scoring eight straight points to extend their lead to double digits with under six minutes to play. Hammons was particularly huge during Purdue's lead-building, scoring 15 of his 24 points in the second half.

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A couple 3-pointers by Wisconsin's Alex Illikainen cut into the Purdue lead. And Bronson Koenig was credited with a 3 that slashed the lead to five after Hammons' finger appeared to barely touch the ball after it bounced up off the rim. Illikainen then turned a Hammons turnover into a bucket that brought the lead to just three. But Dakota Mathias responded with a 3-pointer, the first made field goal by a non-Hammons Purdue player since the 14:42 mark of the half. Then Mathias answered a Jordan Hill basket with another triple, bulging the lead out to seven in the game's final minute, effectively putting the game away.

Hammons finished with seven rebounds to go along with his 24 points, and he was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. He was the only Boilermaker in double figures, though five others scored at least six points. Purdue shot 44 percent from the field and went 12-for-14 from the charity stripe. The Boilers turned the ball over 16 times, leading to 16 points for the Badgers. Purdue also held a 36-26 rebounding advantage and a 34-20 edge in points in the paint.

Nigel Hayes led Wisconsin with 17 points, and Illikainen finished with 10. Koenig scored just seven points.

Purdue improved to 13-1 on the season, starting Big Ten play with a win. In just his second game as the Wisconsin interim head coach, Greg Gard watched the Badgers fall to 8-6 and suffer their fourth loss at the Kohl Center this season.

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

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USA TODAY

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

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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.