Big Ten

Hawkeyes dominate glass in cruising past Illini

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Hawkeyes dominate glass in cruising past Illini

CHAMPAIGN — When Iowa and Illinois met Sunday afternoon, it was clear which was the Big Ten leader and which sat in the bottom half of the standings.

The Hawkeyes improved their conference-leading league record to 10-1 with a 77-65 win over the Fighting Illini at the State Farm Center.

Once again, the Illini playing without their starting big men — Mike Thorne Jr. and Leron Black have sat on the bench in street clothes for almost the entire season — allowed a surging group of Hawkeyes to dominate the rebounding battle. Iowa out-rebounded Illinois, 43-32, and put up a jaw-dropping amount of second-chance points, scoring 26 on 12 offensive rebounds. The Illini barely out-rebounded the Hawkeye duo of Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury, who combined for 26 boards.

Illinois struggled on both ends of the floor in the first half, shooting just 34.4 percent from the field and not making a basket inside the 3-point line in the game’s first 11 and a half minutes. The Illini did shoot the 3-ball well, going 6-for-13 from deep and getting three long balls from Jalen Coleman-Lands.

But the Illini’s first-half defense left plenty to be desired. At one point, the Hawkeyes used a 12-0 run to build a double-digit lead, and despite that gap shrinking as small as four, it was back out to double digits before long. Iowa benefitted from dominance down low (14 points in the paint) and particularly on the offensive glass, grabbing six offensive rebounds and turning them into 12 second-chance points. The Hawkeyes out-rebounded the Illini, 25-14, in the opening 20 minutes, Uthoff grabbing eight of those and Woodbury hauling in six.

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Despite all that, it was just a nine-point deficit at the break, but Iowa created separation quickly. Peter Jok started the second half with a fast break layup, a 3-pointer and a steal and dunk that put the Hawkeyes up by 12 and forced an Illini timeout. By the time seven minutes had elapsed since halftime, the Iowa edge was 19. A few minutes later, a Dom Uhl 3 sent the lead to a game-high 20, and Illinois didn’t get any closer than 10 the rest of the way.

Iowa finished shooting 43.1 percent. Illinois finished shooting 39.4 percent on the afternoon.

Jok led the way for the Hawkeyes, scoring 23 points, his seventh game of at least 20 points this season. Uthoff, Woodbury and Anthony Clemmons were all also in double figures with 18, 10 and 10 points, respectively. Uthoff and Woodbury each tallied double-doubles with their terrific rebounding efforts.

Coleman-Lands’ 17 points were the most by an Illinois player, with Malcolm Hill adding 14 and Maverick Morgan scoring 10 points.

The win sent the fifth-ranked Hawkeyes to 19-4 on the season and 10-1 in conference play. After Indiana’s loss at Penn State on Saturday night, Iowa sits alone in first place in the league standings. Next up is a big Thursday-night showdown against those Hoosiers.

The Illini dropped to 11-13 overall and 3-8 in the Big Ten with the loss. Next comes a trip to Northwestern next weekend.

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.