Big Ten

Kendrick Nunn scores 18 points in return as Illini beat UAB

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Kendrick Nunn scores 18 points in return as Illini beat UAB

Kendrick Nunn sat out the first five games of the season. Friday, he showed how much the Illini missed him.

The junior guard, who was slated to be out till mid-December after tearing a ligament in his thumb during preseason practice, scored 18 points in his first action of the year, leading the Illini to their first somewhat-comfortable win of the season, a 72-58 victory over UAB in the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Fla.

Nunn had 10 of his points in the first half, where the Illini limited the Blazers — who played in last season's NCAA tournament — to just 23 points.

After going back and forth for much of the first 20 minutes, Illinois used a 9-0 run to create some separation, getting six of those points from Nunn. The Illini led by five at the half, their first lead at the half this season.

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Up by nine six minutes into the second half, the Illini went on another run, this one 18-10 to build a 17-point advantage, getting six points from Maverick Morgan during the stretch and hanging on from there for a comfortable win.

Illinois shot 48.2 percent on the night, but it was the defense that showed up after a struggle of a start to the season. The Illini forced 16 UAB turnovers and limited the Blazers to 38.8-percent shooting and just five 3-pointers.

Nunn hit three 3-pointers en route to his 18-point scoring performance, adding five rebounds and a pair of steals. Three other Illini joined Nunn in double figures, Malcolm Hill, Morgan and Leron Black all scoring 12 points. Hill added six assists, four rebounds and four steals. Morgan's 12 points were a career high. Black was also back in action after sitting out the last game against Chicago State.

The Illini improved to 3-3 with the win and will face No. 4 Iowa State on Saturday in the Emerald Coast Classic.

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.