Big Ten

No overtimes this time as Illini roll past still-winless Rutgers

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No overtimes this time as Illini roll past still-winless Rutgers

It hasn't been a good season for Illinois, and there's little debate that they have been one of the least-impressive teams in the Big Ten. But a meeting with Rutgers typically soothes all ills.

It even seemed to make Malcolm Hill's injured hamstring better, the junior scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Illini cruised past the Scarlet Knights, 82-66, on Tuesday night in Champaign.

An early 13-0 Illinois run was all that was needed to establish that this meeting would go little like the first, which was a sweat-it-out, three-overtime win for the Illini in New Jersey. But this time around, Illinois shot 58.6 percent from the field in the first half, outscoring the visitors, 47-25. The Illini were 6-for-11 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes. Yes, an early nine-point lead — built by that 13-0 run — was whittled down to two, but Rutgers followed by going scoreless for nearly six minutes and made just one basket over a seven-and-a-half-minute stretch. The Illini outscored the Knights, 29-9, over about the final 12 minutes of the first half.

The whopping advantage at the half made for little drama over the final 20 minutes. Rutgers shot much better and Illinois much worse after halftime, the Knights shooting 53.6 percent and the Illini just 33.3 percent. But the huge margin and plenty more points from Hill, Maverick Morgan and Kendrick Nunn meant the lead was safe till the end, it never slipping into single digits during the second half.

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Illinois impressed at the free-throw line, going 19-for-23 compared to Rutgers going 11-for-18. The Illini also scored 21 points off 16 Knights turnovers.

Hill's 22-point, 10-rebound night made for his sixth double-double of the season and marked the third time in the last four games he's hauled in double-digit rebounds. Morgan finished with 17 points, his second-highest scoring output of the season. He's averaging 14.8 points per game over his past four games. Nunn finished with 16, hitting four 3s, and Jalen Coleman-Lands had nine points on three made 3s.

Rutgers played without freshman Corey Sanders, its leading scorer, who was suspended for violating team rules. The Knights still had four players score in double figures: Jonathan Laurent had a team-high 18 points, Bishop Daniels and Mike Williams each scored 15 points, and D.J. Foreman scored 11 points.

The win bumped the Illini to 12-14 overall and 4-9 in Big Ten play. Next up is a Sunday trip to take on Wisconsin.

The loss dropped the Knights to 6-20 overall and 0-13 in the conference. Next up is a Saturday game against Penn State.

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.