Big Ten

Northwestern takes step closer to tournament with epic Laettner-esque win over Michigan

Northwestern takes step closer to tournament with epic Laettner-esque win over Michigan

EVANSTON — Northwestern is trying to make program history.

So why not take a big step toward doing just that in the style of the greatest moment in college hoops history?

In a finish that mimicked Christian Laettner's famed game-winning bucket for Duke in 1992, Nathan Taphorn's court-length pass to Dererk Pardon ended with the sophomore big man beating the buzzer to send Northwestern to a 67-65 win over Michigan on Wednesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The win, a program-record 21st on the season, stopped a slump that saw the Cats lose five of their previous seven games and send their NCAA tournament hopes into question. Beating a red-hot Michigan team in such dramatic fashion might just lock Northwestern into the tournament field for the first time in program history.

The Cats led by as much as 11 in the first half but held just a two-point advantage at the break. But an extremely entertaining second half followed, with both teams scoring at incredible frequency. Northwestern's narrow lead was finally eclipsed when Michigan point guard Derrick Walton Jr. nailed a triple to put the Wolverines in front, and his four-point play tied the game at 52 moments later. The teams jockeyed from there, with a layup off a controversial possession-arrow situation giving Michigan a brief two-point edge. Scottie Lindsey countered not long after with a sensational reverse layup to tie the game at 60 with under four minutes left.

After a Moe Wagner free throw, Bryant McIntosh and Zak Irvin traded baskets, and Pardon's free throw tied the game at 63. Wagner went to the free-throw line to try to give Michigan a lead, but the officials whistled the Wolverines for a lane violation, giving the ball to the Cats. Sanjay Lumpin got a layup at the other end to give Northwestern a 65-63 lead with under two minutes to play, only for Irvin to get his own rebound and put in a game-tying basket.

After a couple of misses from McIntosh, Irvin missed a potential game-winning 3-point try, setting up the Cats at the opposite end of the floor from the basket with 1.7 seconds remaining. Each team took a timeout before Taphorn heaved the ball to Pardon, who caught it and scored off the glass as time expired.

The win sent Northwestern to 21-9 on the season and 10-7 in Big Ten play. The victory should be enough to keep the Cats off the NCAA tournament bubble. Northwestern wraps its regular-season schedule against Purdue on Sunday before heading to Washington for next week's Big Ten Tournment.

Meanwhile, Michigan — also looking to lock up a spot in the tourney field — dropped to 19-11 overall and 9-8 in the league.

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

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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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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.