Big Ten

Badgers stunned in season-opening loss to Western Illinois

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Badgers stunned in season-opening loss to Western Illinois

Last year's national runner up started the season in shocking fashion when No. 17 Wisconsin was upset by Western Illinois, 69-67, on Friday night in Madison.

It was the first season-opening loss for the Badgers since Bo Ryan's first season as head coach, when Wisconsin fell to UNLV in 2001. It was Western Illinois' first win against a Big Ten team since 1994.

Wisconsin scored just 23 points in the second half and shot 35.5 percent from the field on the night, making just seven of its 21 3-point attempts, while Western Illinois shot 54 percent from the field.

The Badgers led by seven at halftime, but the Leathernecks opened the second half with a 7-0 run to tie the game not three minutes into the period. Western Illinois took an eight-point lead with a 9-1 run in the middle of the second half, and that's where it stood with five minutes to play.

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Vitto Brown did his best to claw the Badgers back into the game, hitting a jumper, grabbing a rebound, hitting a pair of free throws, blocking a shot and grabbing two more rebounds during a terrific stretch to set up a Bronson Koenig jumper that cut Western's lead to two with three minutes left. And after a Leathernecks spurt extended things back out to five, Koenig hit a 3 with two and a half minutes left to make it a two-point game again. After getting a steal, Brown got a layup to tie the game with two minutes to go.

Wisconsin missed a couple chances to take a late lead, and Western's Garrett Covington hit a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left to give the Leathernecks a lead. Koenig's jumper to tie missed as time expired, and the Badgers lost.

Koenig and Nigel Hayes each had 17 points to lead the Badgers. Brown scored 11 points, grabbed five rebounds, blocked two shots and had a pair of steals.

Wisconsin next faces Siena on Sunday.

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.