Big Ten

Olah, Demps power Northwestern to record 20th regular-season win

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Olah, Demps power Northwestern to record 20th regular-season win

For the first time ever, Northwestern finished a regular season with 20 wins.

Yes, the 2015-16 edition of the Cats became the first in program history to reach 20 victories in a regular season, accomplishing the feat with a 65-54 win over the visiting Nebraska Cornhuskers on Sunday afternoon in Evanston.

Northwestern got big performances from its two starting seniors in their final home games. Tre Demps scored 17 points, and Alex Olah scored 19 points while playing in front of his family — which flew in from Romania — for the first time as a college player.

The Cats actually trailed seven minutes into the game, but they streaked away on a 13-0 run to turn that two-point deficit into an 11-point lead. A separate 10-0 run came later in the first half, part of a bigger 13-2 run that achieved the 20-point margin. Demps scored 12 points in the first 20 minutes, going 5-for-8 from the field and 2-for-2 from 3-point range. Olah scored eight points in the first half, while the Cats as a team shot 53.8 percent from the field.

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Things cooled down significantly after the break, as Northwestern shot just 37 percent over the final 20 minutes. That allowed Nebraska to chip away at the big lead, which was 15 at the break and reached as high as 19 in the early stages of the second half. At one point, the Cats went more than eight minutes with just one made basket, and during that stretch, the Huskers closed the lead to single digits. A burst of six straight points brought Nebraska within six, 55-49, with four minutes to play. But Olah hit a big shot, and Bryant McIntosh found Sanjay Lumpkin for a bucket to boost the lead back to nine. When the Huskers turned it over on the following possession and Aaron Falzon knocked down a pair of free throws, the Cats had the game on ice.

Demps' production fell off dramatically after the strong first half, as he scored just five second-half points on 2-for-10 shooting, going 0-for-4 from 3-point range. Olah, though, did most of his damage after halftime, scoring 11 points in the second half.

Nebraska shot just 36.5 percent from the field on the game, while Northwestern finished with a 45.3-percent shooting mark. The Cats had a monstrous 40-26 rebounding advantage and blasted the Huskers, 34-18, in points in the paint.

The win sent Northwestern to 20-11 overall and 8-10 in the Big Ten. The Cats finished the regular season with three straight wins and secured the No. 9 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament.

With the loss, Nebraska dropped to 14-17 overall and 6-12 in the conference. The Huskers ended the regular season on a five-game losing streak.

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.