Big Ten

Northwestern takes down Badgers for 15th win


Northwestern takes down Badgers for 15th win

EVANSTON — If nothing else, Tuesday night served as a perfect indication of just how much difference a year has made for Northwestern and Wisconsin.

Last season, the Badgers visited Evanston in the Big Ten opener, and the team that finished national runner-up crushed the Cats, 81-58.

But with many of those Badgers no longer on the team — not to mention the retirement of former head coach Bo Ryan — and the Cats making noticeable progress in attempting to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time, this year's matchup at Welsh-Ryan Arena was a different story, this time Northwestern earning the win by a score of 70-65.

Bryant McIntosh was stellar for the Cats, finishing with 28 points, his third-highest scoring output of the season, and leading them to their 15th win of the season in 18 games.

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Northwestern started strong, jumping out to an early lead with efficient shooting right around the basket. McIntosh scored eight points in the game's first four minutes, and the Cats had a nine-point lead at 14-5. But Northwestern's hot shooting slowed, and Wisconsin caught up in a hurry. The Badgers went on a 10-2 run to come within a point, and a Jordan Hill 3-pointer gave them a brief lead around the seven-minute mark. Aaron Falzon hit the Cats' first 3 of the game shortly after, and Sanjay Lumpkin splashed in a triple on a pretty pass from Dererk Pardon.

Northwestern ended the first half ahead by a bucket, 26-24. Both teams shot well from the field: the Cats shooting 45.8 percent and the Badgers shooting 47.8 percent. Those numbers were thanks to a bevy of high-percentage shots, the teams combining for 28 points in the paint, Northwestern alone scoring 18 in the painted area.

The game stayed close, though the Cats led by a modest amount for much of the second half. Bronson Koenig — who went scoreless in the first 20 minutes — hit his second 3 of the second half to tie the game at 42 with 11 minutes to play, and after Northwestern took another three-point lead, a Nigel Hayes bucket and a Zak Showalter 3 gave Wisconsin a two-point edge. But the Cats responded with a 7-0 run to move in front by five around the six-minute mark.

Koenig hit another big triple to slice that deficit to two, but McIntosh responded with a 3-pointer to push it back to five at 55-50, an absolute dagger of a shot. Not long after, McIntosh attempted a pass that went off the rim, but it came right back to him and he turned it into a layup, a somewhat-wacky representation of how well things were going for him in this one. That bucket put Northwestern in front by six, 59-53, with a little more than three minutes to play. That lead got as big as eight but no smaller than five down the stretch. McIntosh continued to put the ball in the basket, at one point scoring 10 of 12 points for the Cats.

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Northwestern shot 47.8 percent from the field, including a 50-percent mark in the second half. The Cats held a 34-25 rebounding advantage and an 11-4 edge in second-chance points. Northwestern finished with 30 points in the paint.

Wisconsin shot 47.1 percent from the field and was 7-for-21 from 3-point range.

There was a massive free-throw disparity, with the Cats 22-for-34 from the line and the Badgers 10-for-13.

McIntosh added five assists, four rebounds and a steal to his 28 points and was the lone Northwestern player to score double figures.

Hayes had 17 points for the Badgers, and Ethan Happ had 12.

Northwestern improved to 15-3 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play, while Wisconsin dropped to 9-9 on the season and 1-4 in league play.

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


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


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.