Big Ten

Dererk Pardon dominates with 19 points, 22 rebounds as Northwestern wins fifth straight

Dererk Pardon dominates with 19 points, 22 rebounds as Northwestern wins fifth straight

Good teams find ways to win.

And make no mistake about it, Northwestern is one of the Big Ten's best this season.

The Wildcats got almost nothing from leading scorer Scottie Lindsey on Thursday night, but sophomore big man Dererk Pardon put up jaw-dropping numbers in Northwestern's 73-61 win over Nebraska, scoring 19 points and grabbing 22 points.

Pardon's career night was the most impressive aspect of the win, but Vic Law also had a huge game, his fourth 20-plus-point outing of the season with 20 points and five rebounds for good measure.

It was actually a Law play that started the key stretch of the game. With Northwestern ahead by just four, 57-53, with five minutes to play, Law came flying in, exerting some extra effort on a Lindsey miss. Law got credit for the rebound after he tapped the ball out of a scrum, but more importantly he drew a foul, turning what could've been an empty possession into a pair of free throws.

Next trip down the floor, Nebraska turned the ball over, and Bryant McIntosh lobbed a fast-break pass to Law who finished with an emphatic two-handed slam for a roof-raising alley oop.

More effort from Law tapped a defensive rebound to Pardon the next trip down the floor, and McIntosh buried a couple free throws thanks to a Tim Miles technical foul. Those six straight points turned a four-point lead into a 10-point advantage, the beginnings of a 16-1 run that nearly got the Cats' lead up to 20 with a minute left.

Pardon was incredible with the first 20-plus-rebound game by a Northwestern player in nearly two decades and the first of the 21st century. He matched the single-game high for rebounds in a Big Ten game this season, tying Purdue's Caleb Swanigan, who's the odds-on favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year honors. That obviously makes this a career high for Pardon, eclipsing his previous best of 14, which came last season in a loss to Ohio State. This effort doubled Pardon's previous season high in rebounds.

There were a total of three Cats in double figures despite Lindsey's five points, the first time this season he failed to score in double figures. Law's 20 and Pardon's 19 were joined by the 10 points from Isiah Brown. McIntosh nearly had a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.

Northwestern was also terrific defensively, holding Nebraska to just 61 points on 36.5-percent shooting. Entering the game, the Huskers were averaging 75.4 points a game (third best in the Big Ten) on 44.6 percent during conference play.

The win was the fifth straight for the Cats, who continue to prove their standing as one of the conference's top teams. At 6-2 in the league, Northwestern is tied for third with Purdue, trailing Wisconsin and Maryland, both 6-1, by a half game. The Cats, 17-4 overall, next play Indiana 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.