Big Ten

Big first half sends Northwestern to win over Penn State


Big first half sends Northwestern to win over Penn State

In the battle of the Big Ten's felines, Northwestern won Thursday.

The Cats shot 63 percent from the field in the first half and got a combined 40 points from Tre Demps and Bryant McIntosh to power a 71-61 win over the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley.

Northwestern led by as many as 20, only for Penn State to whittle that all the way down to four. But that hot-shooting first half proved enough to weather that second-half charge, giving the Cats their second straight victory.

It was actually the Lions who started the game with a 3-pointer, but McIntosh, Demps and Aaron Falzon connected on three straight triples before four minutes had passed to grab a lead. Demps and Gavin Skelly went back-to-back on 3s later in the half to make it a nine-point game, and eight straight Northwestern points in the final minute — part of a larger 12-2 run capped by McIntosh's first-half buzzer-beating jumper — sent the Cats to the break with a big 15-point edge.

Northwestern went 6-for-11 on 3-pointers in the first half and shot that spectacular 63 percent over the first 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Penn State shot just 35.7 percent in the period.

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Falzon opened the second half with a 3, and McIntosh's bucket three minutes after halftime gave the Cats their 20-point lead. The Lions followed that up with a 21-6 run to make it a five-point game with eight and a half minutes to play, and two Shep Garner free throws two and a half minutes later made it a four-point gap. But Northwestern rattled off nine straight points from there — three coming on a Demps three-point play and four coming on Skelly free throws — to send the lead back to double digits with three minutes to play, with more made free throws holding Penn State back.

The Cats finished with a 48.1-percent shooting mark on the game, making just eight shots in the second half, but they were also 10-for-13 from the free-throw line over the final 20 minutes. Northwestern also turned 13 Penn State turnovers into 23 points.

Demps scored 23 points to lead the Cats, with McIntosh adding 17. Falzon finished with nine points, and Skelly and Dererk Pardon each had eight off the bench.

Brandon Taylor led the Lions with 17 points, while Garner scored 13 and Josh Reaves had 11.

The win sent Northwestern to 19-11 overall and 7-10 in the Big Ten. The Cats finish their regular-season schedule with a game against Nebraska on Sunday.

After winning three of four, Penn State has dropped back-to-back games, this loss sending its record to 15-15 overall and 6-11 in the conference. The Lions' final regular-season game comes Sunday against Illinois.

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.