Big Ten

Bryn Forbes, Denzel Valentine shoot Spartans past Buckeyes


Bryn Forbes, Denzel Valentine shoot Spartans past Buckeyes

The Buckeyes came out with energy Tuesday night, but if the other team shoots the lights out, there's not much you can do about it.

Ohio State needs some gigantic late-season wins if it wants to get in the NCAA tournament discussion, but it had no chance Tuesday as Michigan State shot 54.4 percent from the field, including 64.3 percent in the second half and a sterling 14-for-22 from 3-point range in a blowout 81-62 win in Columbus.

Bryn Forbes and Denzel Valentine shot tremendously for the Spartans. Forbes scored 27 points and went 7-for-10 from behind the 3-point line, and Valentine scored 17 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Matt Costello, who was chewed out by head coach Tom Izzo during a halftime TV interview, finished with 16 points.

Michigan State actually struggled to put much distance between itself and Ohio State in the first half. Despite the Buckeyes going ice cold from the field, going roughly six minutes without a made basket and hitting just one shot over the first half's final seven and a half minutes, the Spartans led by just five at the break. The shooting numbers were good for Michigan State (44.8 percent and 7-for-10 from 3), and they were bad for Ohio State (35.7 percent). But that didn't translate into a big Spartan lead.

That is until the second half, when the green and white got even hotter shooting the ball. After JaQuan Lyle's triple made it just a two-point game out of the half, Michigan State went on a 14-6 run to the first media timeout to build a double-digit lead. By the eight-minute mark, Forbes had hit five second-half triples and the Spartans' lead was 13. Forbes scored 20 of his 27 points over the final 20 minutes, including hitting six of his seven 3s. Costello scored 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting in the second half. The Michigan State advantage grew as big as 19 by game's end.

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The Spartans won the game by a mile thanks to that hot shooting, playing roughly even with the Buckeyes in most other statistical categories, though they did have a 16-7 advantage in points off turnovers.

Forbes, Valentine and Costello accounted for 60 of the Spartans' 81 points, with only five other players scoring and only two of those five scoring more than two points.

Ohio State finished shooting just 39.6 percent from the field and somewhat stunningly recorded just four assists on the night. The Buckeyes did shoot the ball tremendously from the free-throw line, going 19-for-21 from the charity stripe. Marc Loving finished with 19 points to lead Ohio State, and Lyle scored 16.

The win sent the Spartans to 23-5 overall and 10-5 in the conference, moving them ahead of the Buckeyes in the Big Ten standings. Michigan State, now a winner of seven of its last eight games, next plays Penn State on Sunday.

The loss made a bad day for the Buckeyes even worse. Before the game, the team announced Jae'Sean Tate would miss the rest of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery. This was the first of three games against top-10 opponents to end the regular season, and Ohio State needs wins now if it wants to be in the discussion for an NCAA tournament invite. The Buckeyes — 18-11 overall and 10-6 in the league — face No. 8 Iowa on Sunday before a rematch with these Spartans in East Lansing to finish the regular-season schedule.

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.