Big Ten

Despite only 16 first-half points, Badgers come back to beat Pitt

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Despite only 16 first-half points, Badgers come back to beat Pitt

There are low-scoring games. And then there's what the Badgers did in the first half Friday night.

With its season on the line, Wisconsin scored just 16 points through the first 20 minutes of play in its Round of 64 NCAA tournament game against Pitt. But that ridiculously low output in the first half didn't prevent a second-half comeback, and that's exactly what the Badgers turned in, coming back to beat Pitt, 47-43, and advance to the Round of 32.

Pitt led by as many as 12 in the first half, a jumper with about seven minutes before halftime making it 18-6. But Wisconsin closed the first half on a 10-4 run, meaning that despite having just 16 points and going to the break shooting 6-for-24, it was merely a six-point game.

The Badgers continued that trend, opening the second half on a 9-2 burst, extending that halftime-straddling run to 19-6 and giving Wisconsin its first lead of the game at 25-24. From there, though, Pitt returned the favor, answering with a 10-4 run of its own to establish a five-point advantage with under 12 minutes to play. The Badgers got within one a couple times before Vitto Brown's 3-pointer with five and a half minutes to go put Wisconsin in front again, 38-36. Pitt took a 40-39 lead with just under four minutes to play, only for Brown to bury another triple a little more than a minute later. That bucket put the Badgers ahead for good, free throws holding off the Panthers when they made it a one-point game late.

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Wisconsin's offensive effort was dumbfounding, the Badgers shooting just 32.1 percent on the game. They were 17-for-53 from the field and 4-for-19 from 3, with Brown hitting three of those triples. Wisconsin did knock down nine free throws, while Pitt attempted just seven. The Badgers turned the ball over just six times.

Redshirt freshman Ethan Happ was the brightest star for Wisconsin, scoring a team-high 15 points and coming a rebound shy of a double-double. Nigel Hayes had 12 points, and Brown scored 11 points. Hayes and Bronson Koenig, veterans of the Badgers' back-to-back Final Four runs, were overshadowed by Happ and Brown. Hayes and Koenig combined for 14 points on 4-for-25 shooting, while Happ and Brown combined for 26 points on 10-for-25 shooting.

Wisconsin advanced to the Round of 32 with the win, giving the Badgers at least one win in five of the last six NCAA tournaments. They'll play the winner of Xavier and Weber State 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.