Big Ten

Northwestern starts strong but can't keep up with North Carolina

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Northwestern starts strong but can't keep up with North Carolina

Not even nine hours before Northwestern and North Carolina tipped off on Monday night in Kansas City, the Tar Heels were the No. 1 team in the country.

So for the Cats, commend a strong first half and acknowledge what was perhaps an expected result: a 80-69 win for North Carolina.

Northwestern started off strong, staying right with North Carolina for the majority of the first 20 minutes. The Heels built a 10-point lead not even six minutes into the game, but the Cats roared back with a 9-0 run — three straight 3-pointers by Scottie Lindsey, Aaron Falzon and Tre Demps to come within a point. Things stayed close from there, and Alex Olah tied the game at 27 with a free throw with seven minutes till halftime. Another Lindsey 3-pointer gave the Cats their first lead, and three more points from Lindsey shortly thereafter boosted Northwestern's lead to six. But North Carolina turned on the jets in the half's final four minutes, going on a 14-1 run to soar back into the lead with a seven-point halftime edge.

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Demps, though, nearly erased that lead all by himself at the outset of the second half, scoring 10 points in two and a half minutes to make it just a two-point game at 48-46. But again, North Carolina went on a big surge, this one a 12-2 run to bump its lead back to a dozen points. With a little more than eight and a half minutes to play, the Heels' edge was at 20, only dipping into single digits once more before game's end.

Demps finished as the high man for Northwestern, scoring 21 points. Bryant McIntosh had 14 points and matched a career high with nine assists, but he had an ugly night shooting the ball, going 3-for-15 from the field. Lindsey had 11 points, and Olah scored 10.

The Cats shot significantly better from 3-point range and didn't trail by much in field-goal and free-throw percentages. But the Heel's held a 39-25 rebounding advantage, grabbing 13 offensive boards, and a 30-22 points-in-the-paint edge.

Northwestern fell to 3-1 with the loss in its marquee non-conference matchup of the season. The Cats will stay in Kansas City and play Missouri on Tuesday night.

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.