Big Ten

Illini drop to 1-3 after another upset loss to Chattanooga

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Illini drop to 1-3 after another upset loss to Chattanooga

The Illini are 1-3 after another upset loss.

Illinois fought back from a first-half deficit as large as 15 and led by nine with six and a half minutes to play in Saturday night's game against Chattanooga. But the visiting Mocs closed the game on a 21-12 run to send the Illini to their third loss of the young season by a score of 81-77.

Trailing by eight at the start of the second half, Illinois watched the gap get as big as 12 a little more than two minutes into the period. But an 18-6 Illini run tied the game at 53 with a little less than 13 minutes to play. Malcolm Hill had seven straight points to kick off that stretch, and Khalid Lewis hit a 3-pointer and got a game-tying bucket to knot the score.

After Hill tied the score at 55 a little later, the Illini went on a 14-5 run to grab a nine-point edge. Hill and Mike Thorne Jr. scored 12 of those points.

But from there the Mocs went on their big run, tying the game at 74 with about three minutes to play. The Illini went more than three minutes without a made basket and trailed by five with a minute to play. Michael Finke's 3-pointer in the final minute brought Illinois within a basket, but Finke missed a 3-point attempt with 12 seconds left, allowing Chattanooga to put the game away with a pair of free throws.

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While the Illini shot 51.7 percent from the field and forced 19 turnovers, the defense failed again, allowing the Mocs to shoot 50 percent from the field and hit 12 3-pointers.

Hill led the Illini with 25 points, while Thorne turned in another double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Aaron Jordan and Maverick Morgan each had eight points, and Lewis and Finke each had seven.

This is the first time Illinois has started a season with a 1-3 record since 1965-66. It's the program's fourth 1-3 start in 110 seasons.

Next up for the Illini is a Monday-night game against Chicago State, also in Springfield.

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.