Big Ten

Illini escape Chicago State thanks to Jalen Coleman-Lands' game-winning 3


Illini escape Chicago State thanks to Jalen Coleman-Lands' game-winning 3

Illinois barely avoided making some unpleasant program history Monday night against Chicago State.

The Illini had never lost to the Cougars and had never started a season 1-4, but it looked like both firsts were going to be reached in Springfield. Thankfully for the orange and blue, freshman Jalen Coleman-Lands allowed the Illini to escape by the skin of their teeth, hitting a tie-breaking, game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer to send Illinois to an 82-79 win.

With the game knotted at 79 after a Malcolm Hill steal set up a game-tying basket by Khalid Lewis, the Illinois defense forced a shot-clock violation to get the ball back with four seconds left. The inbound pass went to Hill, who found a wide-open Coleman-Lands in the corner for the game-winning bucket as time expired.

Check out this sweet sideline video of the big shot:

[MORE BIG TEN: Hoosiers' defense struggles in upset loss to Wake Forest in Maui]

It was a mostly disappointing night for the Illini, who trailed by as many as 14 on two separate occasions.

Down by eight at halftime, Illinois' deficit expanded back out to double digits once more and stayed there, peaking at 14 with 11 minutes to play. But from there, the Illini went on a 14-0 run to tie the game at 66. Michael Finke had seven points during the stretch, and freshmen Coleman-Lands and Aaron Jordan each hit 3-pointers. Chicago State went back on top for a while but didn't lead by more than four, allowing Hill to tie the game at 75 with a triple. A Mike Thorne Jr. layup gave the Illini a 77-75 lead with two minutes to go, their first since midway through the first half.

Two straight Chicago State layups made it a 79-77 game before Hill's steal set up Lewis' game-tying bucket ahead of the shot-clock violation and Coleman-Lands' game-winning triple.

The Illini shot just 40 percent from the field on the night but caught fire in the second half, shooting 56.5 percent in the final 20 minutes. They were just 9-for-26 from 3-point range and missed 12 free throws, plus turned the ball over 14 times. But Illinois won the rebounding battle and got 30 bench points in the comeback win.

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

Finke was the high man for the Illini with 17 points, and three Illinois players had 12 points each: Coleman-Lands, Hill and Thorne.

It was not a pretty win, nor was it one to be proud of given the quality of competition. That's been an upsetting theme for the Illini this season, who have home losses to North Florida and Chattanooga and needed comebacks to beat North Dakota State by six and now Chicago State by three.

Illinois sits at 2-3 and has UAB on Friday.

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.