Big Ten

Illini embarrassed by hot-shooting Hoosiers in blowout loss

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Illini embarrassed by hot-shooting Hoosiers in blowout loss

Defense hasn't been a strength for the Illini this season, and up against one of the higher-scoring teams in the country on Tuesday night, things got downright embarrassing.

For the first time since 1991, Illinois allowed a Big Ten opponent to score 100 points in a 103-69 rout of a loss to Indiana in Bloomington.

The Hoosiers had a monster night, shooting 56.9 percent from the field — including 68.8 percent in the second half — and knocking down a program-record 19 3-pointers in the win, improving to a perfect 6-0 in conference play and extending their winning streak to 11 games.

For the 12th time this season, Illinois allowed an opponent to hit at least nine 3-pointers.

It looked good for Indiana from the start, with a modest lead stretched out to 11 around the 11-minute mark of the first half. Illinois had a response, going on a 10-0 run to close within a point. But the Hoosiers exploded from there, leaping back out to a double-digit advantage and closing the half on a 20-4 run. The Illini scored four points and made just one basket in the final seven and a half minutes of the first half. Illinois shot just 32 percent from the field, went 3-for-9 from 3-point range and turned the ball over nine times over the first 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Indiana hit nine 3s.

The deficit at 17 at the start of the second half, the Hoosiers just continued to pour it on. The lead was 20 not even four minutes in, and during another four-and-a-half-minute basket-less stretch by Illinois, Indiana extended its lead as high as 24. Max Bielfeldt hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it a 28-point game around the midway point of the half. Illinois native Nick Zeisloft hit a 3 to make it a 36-point game, and the lead hit a game high of 38 points on an O.G. Anunoby triple with under three minutes to play.

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The Illini actually shot better than 53 percent in the second half, but it wasn't nearly enough to keep up with the Hoosiers, who had a shooting percentage above 80 for a good deal of the period.

Illinois was mauled in just about every statistical category in what was the worst loss of the John Groce Era. Indiana had 25 points off of Illinois' 15 turnovers, and the Hoosiers won the rebounding battle, 38-25.

Malcolm Hill scored 20 points for the Illini, with Kendrick Nunn adding 10. Mike Thorne Jr., who missed the previous 11 games, returned for Illinois, scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds in 16 minutes.

Troy Williams was the high man for the Hoosiers with 21 points. Bielfeldt and Yogi Ferrell each had 16 points, with Ferrell becoming the program's all-time assists leader in the game. Robert Johnson added 13 points.

At one point sitting at 5-3 early in the season, Indiana has rattled off 11 wins in a row and remains one of two Big Ten teams with perfect conference records, Iowa the other. At 16-3 overall and 6-0 in league play, the Hoosiers next play host to Northwestern on Saturday.

Illinois dropped to 9-10 overall and 1-5 in conference play with the defeat. Next up is a trip to Minnesota on Saturday.

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.