Big Ten

Illini fight back but Buckeyes hold on for victory

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Illini fight back but Buckeyes hold on for victory

The short-handed Illini didn't win Sunday night in Columbus, but that doesn't mean they didn't impress.

Illinois showed a lot of fight in coming back from a deficit as big as 10, taking a lead and continuing to battle to the game's final second. But Ohio State emerged the victor, 75-73.

The Illini were solid defensively throughout the first half, as both teams shot poorly: Illinois shot 34.5 percent and Ohio State shot just 32 percent over the first 20 minutes. The Illini scored the first six points of the game on a pair of Jalen Coleman-Lands 3-pointers, but the Buckeyes scored the next 12 to kick off an 18-2 run that built a 10-point lead. Illinois answered with 11 straight to take a one-point lead, and the teams traded modest leads for a while until Ohio State closed the first half on a 9-5 spurt.

The Buckeyes moved their advantage out to eight in the early minutes of the second half, and it stayed around that for much of the final 20 minutes. But the Illini charged, getting three straight buckets from Michael Finke, Coleman-Lands and Malcolm Hill to make it a 59-58 game with about five and a half minutes remaining. A Finke triple from the corner gave the Illini a lead at 61-59, but it proved to be their only lead of the second half. Marc Loving scored six straight points to put Ohio State back in front by four. Jaylon Tate and JaeSean Tate traded layups before Hill and JaQuan Lyle traded free throws, and the lead grew to five on another Lyle free throw with 32 seconds left.

A Finke bucket trimmed things to three, but the Illini couldn't foul on the ensuing Buckeyes inbound and Tate dunked the ball to punish Illinois for its missed opportunity, one that became even more glaring when Coleman-Lands and Hill hit 3s in the final seven seconds, those shots sandwiched around a pair of Loving free throws.

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Both teams' defenses let up in the second half, with Ohio State shooting a sparkling 52 percent from the field and Illinois shooting 44.4 percent over the final 20 minutes. The two teams combined for 92 second-half points after totaling 56 in the first half. The Buckeyes had 14 turnovers and made just five 3s compared to the Illini's 12, but Ohio State held a massive edge in free-throw shooting, making 28 of its whopping 39 foul shots. Illinois was 9-for-11 from the stripe.

While it was a strong showing by the Illini, the absence of their two starting big men, Mike Thorne Jr. and Leron Black, was noticeable. Ohio State had a 42-33 rebounding advantage and blocked nine shots while Illinois blocked none.

Four different Illini players scored 14 points: Coleman-Lands, Hill, Nunn and Finke. Coleman-Lands hit four 3-pointers, and Finke scored all his points in the second half. All four guys had to put up a lot of shots to get to those point totals, though, combining to shoot 36.5 percent (19-for-52).

Loving had a career-high 27 points to lead all scorers, joined in double figures by Lyle (14 points), Keita Bates-Diop (11 points) and Kam Williams (10 points).

Illinois opened the Big Ten season at 0-2 with the loss, and games against two of the conference's best await with a Thursday trip to Michigan State and a Sunday date with Purdue.

Ohio State joined Maryland, Indiana, Michigan and Iowa as teams to start the league schedule at 2-0. The Buckeyes visit Northwestern on Wednesday and Indiana on Sunday.

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.