Big Ten

Northwestern scores huge win over Maryland to advance to Big Ten Tournament semifinals

Northwestern scores huge win over Maryland to advance to Big Ten Tournament semifinals

WASHINGTON — Northwestern's dream season marches on.

The Wildcats advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament with a 72-64 win over Maryland in front of an extremely pro-Terps crowd Friday night at the Verizon Center.

Northwestern will take on Wisconsin on Saturday with a chance to advance to the conference-tournament championship game. It's the first trip to the semifinals for the Cats.

A night after using a monster 31-0 run to blow past Rutgers, Northwestern again went on some huge runs in its win over Maryland. The first half featured a 20-4 run, and the Cats went on a 20-2 run in the second half.

Northwestern was red hot shooting the ball over the final 20 minutes, shooting 58.3 percent from the field. The Cats shot a scorching 55.3 percent on the game.

After some quality opening minutes from Maryland, Northwestern busted off a 20-4 run to go from down eight to up 10. At one point the Cats made seven straight shots. They got two Vic Law 3-pointers and a triple from Scottie Lindsey during the stretch, also getting five straight points from Isiah Brown off a pair of Terps turnovers.

But Maryland answered Northwestern's big run with a big run of its own, outscoring the Cats 18-6 over the first half's final eight and a half minutes. Northwestern couldn't get on the board during that stretch, going without a basket over the final four and a half minutes before halftime. Bryant McIntosh and Sanjay Lumpkin didn't help things in that stretch, missing back-to-back front ends of 1-and-1 free-throw tries. And L.G. Gill's buzzer-beating bucket to end the first half gave the Terps a two-point lead at the break.

Both teams shot really well over the opening 20 minutes, Northwestern shooting 52.2 percent and Maryland shooting 51.9 percent. The Cats were 5-for-10 from 3-point range but missed four free throws. Though Northwestern turned the ball over nine times in the first half, three more than Maryland, the Cats scored 11 points off turnovers compared to nine by the Terps. Northwestern had the rebounding edge, but Maryland owned the paint scoring by a 20-6 margin.

The Terps stayed hot to start the second half, coming out of the locker room with eight straight points to take a double-digit lead. But the Cats responded with seven straight of their own, part of a 12-2 run to tie the game at 46 and a 20-2 run to take an eight-point lead with about seven minutes to play as the Terps went about six minutes without a point. A Maryland 3 stopped that drought, and Melo Trimble's layup cut the lead down to three with five and a half minutes to play. Law responded for Northwestern, hitting a jumper and getting a fast-break bucket off a Maryland turnover to push the Cats' lead to seven with three and a half minutes to go. That lead touched nine moments later on a Lindsey bucket and got to 13 after Lumpkin, Law and McIntosh connected on six straight free throws. The lead never shrunk below eight the remainder of the game.

Northwestern scored a whopping 25 points off 14 Maryland turnovers, won the rebounding battle and scored 11 second-chance points.

For the second straight Big Ten Tournament game, Law and Lindsey both led the Cats in scoring with 17 points apiece. The two guys struggling to find their shot at regular season's end have been huge in two conference-tournament games. McIntosh had 16 points Friday.

Trimble scored 20 for Maryland, with Kevin Huerter scoring 19.

Northwestern is again in uncharted territory. In the Big Ten Tournament semis for the first time, the Cats continued to add to their program-record win total, now at 23 on the season. A win over a Maryland team that spent much of the season in the top 25, Northwestern's NCAA tournament seed should get a nice boost. This will go down as one of the Cats' biggest resume-building wins of the season.

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

jeremy_larkin.jpg
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

anderson.jpg
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.