Big Ten

Denzel Valentine returns, Bryn Forbes stars as Spartans blow out Penn State

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Denzel Valentine returns, Bryn Forbes stars as Spartans blow out Penn State

Denzel Valentine is officially back for the Spartans.

After missing the previous four games while recovering from knee surgery, Valentine returned for Michigan State in Sunday’s game against Penn State. Valentine didn’t look exactly like his old self in his first action in three weeks, but the rust came off as the game went on and his much-improved second half helped the Spartans hammer the Nittany Lions, 92-65.

Bryn Forbes starred for Michigan State while Valentine got his legs under him. Forbes hit six 3-pointers and finished with 20 points, doing all his damage in the first half to lead the Spartans in the rout.

Forbes and Gavin Schilling combined to go 12-for-17 from the field in the first half, carrying Michigan State, as the rest of the team went just 4-for-22 in the first 20 minutes. The two teamed for an 11-0 run in the middle of the first half to build a double-digit lead. Penn State chipped away to get it as small as seven, but Michigan State still led by 13 at halftime after another Forbes triple.

After a couple early baskets by the Lions in the second half, the Spartans streaked out on a 12-2 run to get the lead to 20. They went on a separate 12-0 run in the middle of the half, getting that lead to 30 and ended up cruising to a 27-point win.

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Michigan State finished shooting 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range, splashing home 10 triples. Penn State shot 41.2 percent from the field and was just 3-for-14 from 3-point range. The Spartans had a 40-32 rebounding advantage and turned the ball over just six times compared to the Lions' 13.

Forbes scored 20 points for the fourth time this season. Schilling finished with a season-high 13 points in just his sixth game of the season. Eron Harris also had 13 points.

In his first game back from injury and his first Big Ten game of the season, Valentine finished with 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. After going 0-for-5 from the field in the first half, he went 4-for-6 from the field in the second half.

Shep Garner led Penn State with 19 points.

The win sent the Spartans to 3-1 in conference play and 16-1 on the season. Next up is a rematch with Iowa on Thursday. The Hawkeyes handed the Spartans their only loss of the season to open Big Ten play.

The Lions dropped to 1-3 in league play and 10-7 overall with the loss. They next travel to Purdue on Wednesday.

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.