Big Ten

Hawkeyes stunned in Happy Valley as Penn State pulls upset


Hawkeyes stunned in Happy Valley as Penn State pulls upset

The Big Ten is quite the minefield for top-ranked teams, and this season has been extra dangerous for squads with a single-digit number in front of their names.

But you'd be lying if you said you predicted fourth-ranked Iowa would fall at Penn State on Wednesday night.

Well, that's exactly what happened in Happy Valley, as the first-place Hawkeyes fell to the Nittany Lions in a 79-75 stunner.

Donovon Jack, Shep Garner and Brandon Taylor all had huge games for Penn State, scoring 19, 18 and 18, respectively. Meanwhile, Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff had a tough shooting night, going 5-for-14 from the field. Iowa shot 41.2 percent from the field, went 8-for-24 from 3-point range and missed 10 free throws en route to just its third loss during conference play.

The Hawkeyes scored the game's first eight points and had a couple eight-point edges during the first half. But the Lions went on a 15-4 run to turn that eight-point deficit into a three-point lead with under five minutes till halftime. That first-half lead for the home team actually reached eight itself as Iowa went ice cold from the field, going without a made field goal for the final seven and a half minutes of the half, Penn State closing the half on a 25-10 run. The Lions shot 55.6 percent from the field in the first half, including going 7-for-14 from 3-point range, an impressive feat for a team that ranks last in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting.

Iowa never led in the second half, whittling the Penn State lead down to three in the early minutes of the period and getting the deficit down to two on multiple occasions in the final minutes. But again the Hawkeyes went cold from the field, going another seven and a half minutes without a made basket from the 8:55 mark of the second half to the 1:22 mark. A parade to the free-throw line kept them in it, Peter Jok hitting a pair to make it a 59-57 game with four and a half minutes left, but the Lions had an answer at every turn, hanging on to win even as Jok hit a few late 3s.

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Penn State gear right here]

It was the first home win over a top-five team for Penn State since 2011.

Jok had a big night for the Hawkeyes, scoring a game-high 28 points, though he needed to cast up 15 shots and 11 3-point attempts to get there. Jok and Uthoff were the only Hawkeyes in double figures, the rest of the team scoring just 28 points on 9-for-22 shooting.

Jack's 19 points were a career-high, as he, Garner and Taylor were the only Lions in double figures.

Iowa will almost surely drop out of the top five following the defeat. The Hawkeyes dropped to 20-6 overall and 11-3 in the conference with the loss. Iowa has shown vulnerability of late, losing two of its last three games and having trouble getting past Minnesota in its last victory. Next up is a game against red-hot Wisconsin next Wednesday.

For Penn State, it was the team's second straight home victory over a ranked opponent after defeating Indiana last week. The Lions improved to 13-13 overall and 4-9 in the Big Ten. Next up is a Saturday-afternoon trip to Rutgers.

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.