Big Ten

Michigan has huge second half as Illini drop Big Ten opener


Michigan has huge second half as Illini drop Big Ten opener

In what could be an ominous sign heading forward in Big Ten play, the depleted Illini struggled mightily in the second half of their conference opener, falling to Michigan, 78-68.

Caris LeVert and Mark Donnal had monster games for the Wolverines, combining to score 48 of the team's 78 points. Michigan was particularly deadly in the second half, shooting better than 48 percent from the field and hitting seven of the 14 3-point shots it cast up. The Wolverines outscored the Illini, 44-31, in the second half.

Illinois led by three after a closely contested first half. The game was tied at 16 with seven and a half minutes till halftime. After a Michigan bucket gave the Wolverines a small lead, Illinois went on a 13-4 run, started with eight straight points from Kendrick Nunn before 3-pointers from Malcolm Hill and Jalen Coleman-Lands. But that seven-point lead evaporated almost immediately as Michigan went on a 9-0 run to go in front once more. Coleman-Lands sandwiched a pair of triples around a Zak Irvin 3 to give the Illini a 37-34 lead at the break.

LeVert was terrific in the first 20 minutes, scoring 14 points. Nunn had 13 points, going 5-for-7 from the field, and Coleman-Lands scored 11 points, hitting three 3s. Illinois shot 50 percent in the first half, and Michigan shot 48.3 percent. The teams combined for 18 first-half turnovers, the Illini scoring 14 points off the Wolverines’ 10 giveaways.

But the second half was all Michigan. The Wolverines opened the half on a 9-2 run to grab a small lead, Donnal scoring seven of those points. After a Hill layup had Illinois down just a point five minutes into the half, though, Michigan went on a 14-4 run to create a double-digit lead, getting four 3-pointers from four different shooters during that stretch. That lead stretched out as big as 15 and never got smaller than seven, but by then it was too late for the Illini.

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Donnal scored 18 of his career-high 26 points over the final 20 minutes. LeVert had eight of his 22 in the second half, hitting a pair of 3s after halftime. He finished with 10 assists and five rebounds, as well.

Illinois shot just 35.7 percent from the field in the second half and went 3-for-12 from behind the 3-point line in the half. The Illini were out-rebounded, 38-27, on the day, and the Michigan bench outscored the Illinois reserves, 29-8.

Nunn finished with a team-high 23 points. Coleman-Lands scored just two second-half points to finish with 13. Hill had a rough shooting day, scoring 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting.

The Illini are still battling numerous injuries, with Leron Black remaining sidelined and Khalid Lewis sitting out of Wednesday's game with the mumps.

The loss sent Illinois to 8-6 on the season. Next up is a trip to Ohio State on Sunday.

The win to open conference play bumped Michigan to 11-3 on the season and was its ninth win in the last 10 games. The Wolverines face Penn State on Saturday.

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.

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.