Big Ten

Illini advance again in Big Ten Tournament with upset of Hawkeyes

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Illini advance again in Big Ten Tournament with upset of Hawkeyes

INDIANAPOLIS — A win over Minnesota is one thing. A win over Iowa is an entirely different thing altogether.

The Illini scored a 33-point win over the hapless Golden Gophers on Wednesday night, but they're strong play continued in a big way Thursday as the Illini pulled off a 68-66 upset of the fifth-seeded Hawkeyes on the second day of the Big Ten Tournament.

The win advanced Illinois to a Friday matchup against Purdue.

Illinois started strong, shooting well on the offensive end and creating turnovers on the defensive end, building an early seven-point lead. Jarrod Uthoff hit a 3 for a cold Iowa team to cut the deficit to just two a little more than eight minutes in. But Illinois took over again after that shot, scoring the next nine to take its lead to double digits. That's when Peter Jok caught fire, though, the sharp-shooting Hawkeye scoring 17 points during a 20-6 run that featured his own personal 15-2 run. But despite falling behind at the end of that scorching stretch for Iowa, Illinois scored the half's final two baskets and held a slim two-point lead at the break.

[MORE BIG TEN: Northwestern comes up short in overtime loss to Michigan]

The Illini shot 51.9 percent from the field during the first 20 minutes, scoring 14 points off nine Hawkeye turnovers. Maverick Morgan led the way with 12 points, but he was overshadowed by the Iowa tandem of Jok and Uthoff, who combined for 30 first-half points on a combined 12-for-19 shooting.

Offense was the story at the outset of the second half, as both teams were hot from the field. In the half's first four and a half minutes, Illinois hit four 3-pointers and Jok scored 10 more points. Back-to-back steals led to layups for Jalen Coleman-Lands and Kendrick Nunn, creating a bit of breathing room for the Illini. Not a lot happened offensively after that, with both teams hitting few shots. Iowa made just one shot over a nearly eight-minute span. Illinois hit just two shots over a seven-minute span, but they were 3s from Coleman-Lands and Nunn, the latter of which put the Illini ahead by double digits at 61-50, matching the biggest advantage from the first half. Another long stretch with no scoring — three and a half minutes, to be precise — was followed by Iowa getting the deficit down to eight with a three-point play. Jok fouled out in the middle of that play, and it looked like that would do it for Iowa. But the Hawkeyes continued to roar back. Coleman-Lands responded with a 3, only for the Hawkeyes to follow with another three-point play, and it was again an eight-point game at 66-58 with a little more than three minutes to go. Nicholas Baer got a fastbreak dunk off a steal, and Dom Uhl buried a 3 before another Baer three-point play tied the game at 66.

Malcom Hill knocked down a jumper to stop that 11-0 Iowa run, and the two teams traded empty possessions after that. The Hawkeyes got the ball back with 15.2 seconds to play, but the Illini's defense prevented any attempt, securing the upset.

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Fighting Illini gear right here]

Illinois shot 44.8 percent on the game and went 10-for-23 from 3-point range, scoring 19 points off turnovers. Iowa shot just 40.3 percent from the field, turning the ball over 18 times.

Coleman-Lands led the way with 17 points, with Nunn adding 16 points and Morgan finishing with 14.

Jok had 29 to lead Iowa, and Uthoff scored 21, giving the duo 50 points. The rest of the team accounted for just 16 points on 6-for-30 shooting.

The Illini live to fight another day, trying to make continued tournament noise as the No. 12 seed. Friday brings a game against Purdue, a team Illinois defeated earlier this season.

Iowa's habitual late-season slide continued in embarrassing fashion, and the Hawkeyes have lost six of their last eight. It was the third straight season in which Iowa lost in its first Big Ten Tournament game.

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.