Big Ten

Northwestern beats Dayton to add to list of notable non-conference wins

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USA TODAY

Northwestern beats Dayton to add to list of notable non-conference wins

Northwestern grabbed wins over Texas and Wake Forest earlier in the season, and Saturday at the United Center, the Wildcats added a victory over perennial tournament team Dayton.

The Cats, looking for their first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament, have a resume that should at least warrant attention, with Saturday's 67-64 win over Dayton at the United Center standing as the non-conference centerpiece.

It wasn't easy, though. Northwestern dominated the first half, holding a 23-point edge at the break. But the teams switched roles after halftime, and that lead all but evaporated, the Cats just barely holding off a furious second-half charge by the Flyers.

The first half was all Cats, the Flyers jaw-droppingly making just four baskets over the game's first 20 minutes. Northwestern opened the game on an 11-0 run, its dominance staying consistent from there. The defensive effort was especially impressive, the Cats limiting the Flyers to just 14.3-percent shooting in the first half. While Northwestern clamped down on the defensive end, Dayton didn't have much success stopping the Cats, either. Northwestern shot 51.7 percent from the field in the first half, three different players racking up eight first-half points. Sanjay Lumpkin had a big opening 20 minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing 11 rebounds before halftime.

Well, Dayton figured things out in the second half, completely reversing the abysmal shooting of the first 20 minutes for hot shooting after the break. Northwestern weathered the initial charge, keeping its big lead for the most part. Nathan Taphorn's 3-pointer around the midway point of the half made it a 22-point game at 55-33. But the Cats' production fell off a cliff from there. The Flyers scored the next 13 points to get the deficit to single digits, that 13-0 spurt part of a bigger 19-4 run that had the gap at just seven with a little more than two minutes to go. The run extended to 22-4 and the lead shrunk to just four when Dayton's Scoochie Smith ripped the ball away from Vic Law on an inbounds play and drilled a 3-pointer.

From there, Bryant McIntosh and Chicago-native Kendall Pollard traded baskets, sending the Northwestern lead to 61-57 with 42.8 seconds left. McIntosh's made basket was the Cats' first since the 10:18 mark of the half, ending a nine-minute-and-18-second span without a made field goal. The teams traded free throws over the final minute, with Northwestern making just enough to barely hold on for the win. The Cats almost screwed up the inbounds play up three with two seconds left, but a replay review gave them the ball back.

Northwestern made just one basket over the final 10 minutes of the game, shooting a dismal 27.3 percent in the second half. Dayton fueled its comeback with 51.9-percent shooting over the final 20 minutes.

Lumpkin finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds in his double-double effort. McIntosh scored 13 points, and Taphorn and Lindsey each scored 11 points.

The win sent Northwestern to 9-2 on the season, with its lone losses coming against currently ranked Butler and Notre Dame teams. Two more non-conference games remain — against IUPUI and Houston Baptist — before the beginning of Big Ten play.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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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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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.