Big Ten

Northwestern ice cold from 3 in loss to Penn State that hurts tourney resume

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Northwestern ice cold from 3 in loss to Penn State that hurts tourney resume

Nothing was falling from 3-point range for the Wildcats on Saturday night.

Northwestern was freezing cold from behind the arc, making just three of the 26 long-range shots it hoisted in a 73-62 loss to Penn State that dramatically impacted the Cats' quest to make their first NCAA tournament in program history.

Penn State led almost the entire way, using a 15-2 run in the first half to turn a five-point Northwestern advantage into a 10-point Penn State lead. The margin was just seven points at halftime, somewhat astounding considering the Cats shot an abysmal 28.1 percent from the field and went 0-for-12 from 3-point range over the first 20 minutes.

The Nittany Lions used an 8-0 burst in the second half to turn a nine-point edge into a big 17-point lead, and it reached a game-high 18 shortly thereafter. Tre Demps ended the oh-fer from 3 with a long ball at the 10:21 mark of the second half, and back-to-back triples from Demps and Aaron Falzon reduced the margin to 11 with under four minutes to play. Northwestern made the end of the game interesting, those two 3s the start of a 10-2 run that got the Cats within single digits and Penn State not making a basket in the game's final eight minutes. But the Lions did go 12-for-16 from the free-throw line following the conclusion of that 10-2 spurt, holding off any charge the Cats had in them.

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Thanks to a much better 48.6-percent clip from the field in the second half, Northwestern boosted its shooting mark to 38.8 percent for the game. The Cats finished just 12 percent from 3 at 3-for-26. Northwestern did force 13 Penn State turnovers and turned them into 12 points, plus the Cats scored 38 points in the paint. But the Lions were not cold from 3-point range, going 9-for-21. And Penn State also held a 42-34 rebounding edge.

Demps finished with a game-high 22 points. Bryant McIntosh recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 assists, while Dererk Pardon added 12 points, as well.

Brandon Taylor led Penn State with 19 points, while Donovan Jack had 14 and Payton Banks had 10.

Northwestern dropped to 15-4 on the season and 3-3 in conference play. A loss to the Lions is bad news for the Cats' tourney hopes, as Northwestern is still fighting for national respectability following a 12-1 non-conference schedule absent of impressive wins. A win over Wisconsin earlier this week was the kind of win that would start earning the Cats a little more recognition, but a loss to Penn State has the opposite effect, as the Lions are viewed as one of the Big Ten's lower-quality teams. Plus, Northwestern has a brutal stretch of games coming up next — at Maryland, at Indiana, home against Michigan State and at Iowa — and it's not difficult to envision the type of in-conference losing streak that buried Chris Collins' teams during his first two seasons.

Penn State rebounded from back-to-back losses with the win, moving to 11-8 overall and 2-4 in conference play. Next up is a home game against Wisconsin on Thursday.

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.