Big Ten

Northwestern can't cash in on lengthy Purdue dry spell in loss

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Northwestern can't cash in on lengthy Purdue dry spell in loss

Northwestern hung around against a top-20 team Tuesday night, but unable to take advantage of Purdue's lengthy second-half dry spell, the result was the one everyone expected.

The Wildcats got as close as four on multiple occasions in the second half against the 17th-ranked Boilermakers, but the home team pulled away late for the double-digit 71-61 victory in West Lafayette.

Despite big statistical advantages for Purdue all over the box score, Northwestern — thanks in part to 10 first-half points from Tre Demps — trailed by just eight at halftime. And things were looking up for the Cats when the Boilers were unable to do much of anything shooting the basketball for much of the second half. After a bit of basket trading out of the break, Northwestern had the deficit down to four not even five minutes in while Purdue struggled from the field. The Boilers' stretch of poor shooting lasted a while, with only three made baskets coming in the second half's first 12 minutes.

But despite that woeful shooting by Purdue, Northwestern couldn't do anything with it. The Cats, though they shot well — 56 percent — in the second half, had their own dry spells, at one point going three and a half minutes without a bucket. More notably, Northwestern sent Purdue on a parade to the free-throw line. The Boilers attempted 19 free throws in the second half and made 15 of them, going 21-for-28 from the charity stripe on the game.

With about eight minutes to play, Purdue found its shot, and the deficit exploded back out to double figures. Ryan Cline hit a pair of 3-pointers in a minute and a half, and the Boilers were off. The second of those 3s was the start of an 8-0 spurt that quickly made it a 14-point game, and the score didn't get any closer than seven down the stretch.

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The Boilers were out-shot on the night but had massive advantages in free throws (21-for-28 vs. 5-for-8), as well as rebounding (45-24), bench scoring (36-12) and second-chance points (16-6). The Cats also struggled from 3-point range, going 6-for-27 from behind the arc.

A.J. Hammons was huge for Purdue, both literally and figuratively. The seven-foot senior scored a game-high 18 points and recorded a double-double with 12 rebounds, his eighth double-double of the season and his fourth in the last five games. Johnny Hill finished with a season-high 15 points, and Cline ended with 11 points.

Demps was the high man for Northwestern with 16 points. Bryant McIntosh had 14 points, while Alex Olah scored 12.

The loss dropped the Cats to 17-10 overall and 5-9 in Big Ten play. Next up is a trip to Michigan next Wednesday.

The Boilers improved to 21-6 overall and 9-5 in the league. Next up is a huge game against in-state rival Indiana on Saturday night in Bloomington.

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.