Big Ten

Michigan State uses defense to bounce back with blowout win over Minnesota


Michigan State uses defense to bounce back with blowout win over Minnesota

This is probably more what Tom Izzo had in mind.

The Michigan State head coach was outraged by his team's performance in a loss to Penn State last weekend, calling the way the Spartans played in the defeat "humiliating."

His guys responded on Wednesday night, dominating the newly ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers in a 65-47 rout in East Lansing.

Some exceptional defense in the first half allowed Michigan State to build a huge lead. The Spartans limited the visiting Gophers to 17 points on just 26.7-percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes. Minnesota recorded just two assists in the period and never once went to the free-throw line. The Gophers missed their final 12 shots of the opening half and were scoreless the final five and a half minutes before halftime.

The second half didn't go much better for the Gophers, who were given the No. 24 ranking in the AP poll just two days ago. Minnesota finished shooting 33.3 percent on the night.

Offensively, Michigan State got a big performance from Miles Bridges, playing in just his third game after a lengthy injury absence. Bridges scored all 16 of his points in the first half, scoring eight straight in the Spartans' sensational 15-0 run to head into halftime. Michigan State shot 50 percent in the first half and led by 22 at the break, cruising to an 18-point win over the final 20 minutes.

Bridges was joined by fellow freshman Joshua Langford in double figures, Langford scoring 13 points. The Spartans had a huge advantage on the boards, winning the rebounding battle 42-29 and scoring 10 second-chance points on 11 offensive rebounds.

Nate Mason led the Gophers with 14 points. But it was a second straight poor shooting performance for the Minnesota star, who was 6-for-15 from the field. Mason was just 2-for-12 from the field in the Gophers' win over Ohio State last weekend. Dupree McBrayer had 11 points, all coming in the first half.

The bounce-back win was just what the doctor ordered for Michigan State, which is now 12-6 overall and 4-1 in Big Ten play. The Spartans travel to play Ohio State on Sunday.

The loss was a disappointing one for Minnesota, which fell to Michigan State in overtime earlier this season in the Twin Cities. The loss dropped the Gophers to 15-3 overall and 3-2 in the conference. They next play Saturday at Penn State.

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.