Big Ten

Purdue lets 18-point lead slip away but still scores huge win over Spartans


Purdue lets 18-point lead slip away but still scores huge win over Spartans

Despite blowing an 18-point lead, the Boilermakers were big winners on Tuesday night.

Purdue got monstrous performances from Rapheal Davis and A.J. Hammons and recovered after a fierce charge by Michigan State for a big 82-81 overtime win in West Lafayette.

Davis scored 24, and Hammons had 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks as the Boilers squeaked out their biggest win of the season to date to move ahead of the Spartans and into fourth place in the Big Ten.

It was all Purdue in the first half, with the Boilers getting a massive contribution on both ends of the floor from Davis. The reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year did his usual job shutting down the opposition, silencing Bryn Forbes — who hit seven first-half 3-pointers last weekend at Michigan — to the tune of just two points and also doing noticeably well when infrequently assigned to Denzel Valentine. But Davis also poured in 19 points, passing his season high in scoring in just 20 minutes and hitting an eye-popping five triples in the first half.

Davis’ offensive outburst was just the biggest part of a marvelous shooting performance by the Boilermakers in the first half, as they shot 62.5 percent from the field, going 6-for-8 from behind the 3-point line. Meanwhile, the Purdue defense snuffed out Michigan State’s offense, the Spartans shooting a woeful 31.4 percent from the field and going just 4-for-13 from 3.

[MORE BIG TEN: Alone in first place, Hawkeyes firing on all cylinders]

But the Spartans came out firing in the second half, flipping the game's script in an instant. Valentine hit three consecutive 3-pointers in a 45-second span to bring what was a 16-point halftime lead down to six not even four minutes into the period. A few minutes later, Alvin Ellis III provided a big spark off the bench for Michigan State, combining a 3-pointer with three straight free throws to make it a three-point game, and the deficit was just a point by the midway point of the second half. A Deyonta Davis dunk tied the game at 59, and the Spartans had their first lead on a Matt Costello layup a minute later.

The two teams went back and forth from there until a Matt McQuaid triple with about five minutes to play put Michigan State in front by three. A Valentine layup made it a four-point Spartan lead, but then the offense shut off for the visitors. Two Hammons free throws and a pair of Caleb Swanigan buckets knotted the game at 72. Each side had a chance to win in regulation, though Swanigan and Valentine each cast up awful shots, sending the game to overtime.

Michigan State's basket-less stretch — which lasted the final four and a half minutes of regulation — extended into overtime, as well, and Purdue took advantage, building a modest lead on made free throws until Forbes hit his only 3 of the game to make it a one-point affair with under three minutes to play. After a three-point play from Vince Edwards made it a four-point Purdue lead, Kenny Goins and Valentine each hit a shot to tie the game at 81 with 12 seconds left. But with Purdue trying to prevent a second overtime, Valentine was whistled for a foul on Davis, who made his first free throw to untie the score but missed the second. The rebound, though, ended up in Hammons' hands, and the Boilermakers literally held on for a victory.

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Purdue gear right here]

The Boilers won the rebounding battle but turned the ball over 16 times. They also blocked 11 shots, scored 22 of their points from the free-throw line and had a 14-8 edge in second-chance points despite the Spartans grabbing more offensive rebounds.

While Davis and Hammons starred for the Boilermakers, Valentine was the high man for the Spartans, nearly recording another triple-double with 27 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Costello finished with 11 points, and McQuaid scored 10. Forbes' rough night made a big difference, as he scored just seven points on 3-for-11 shooting.

The win was a gigantic one for Purdue, which improved to 20-5 overall and 8-4 in the conference. The Boilermakers earned their first win this season over a ranked foe, previously losing matchups with Maryland, Iowa and Butler. Next up is a Saturday road trip to Michigan.

Michigan State dropped to 20-5 overall and 7-5 in the league with the defeat. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak. Next up is another big one this weekend against Indiana.

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.