Big Ten

Spartans end losing streak with big-time win over Terps

denzel-valentine-0123.png

Spartans end losing streak with big-time win over Terps

The Spartans' three-game losing streak suddenly feels like ancient history.

No. 11 Michigan State made a statement that it isn't going anywhere as far as championship contention is concerned, scoring a big 74-65 win over No. 7 Maryland on Saturday in East Lansing.

The Spartans dominated the glass and played stellar defense, also getting huge performances from Denzel Valentine, Matt Costello and Bryn Forbes to power the win.

After a slow start on both sides, the teams were tied at 14 with about eight and a half minutes left in the first half. From there, Michigan State went on an 11-3 run to build an eight-point lead, and things stayed roughly there as the teams traded scores heading into halftime. The Spartans had a six-point edge at the break as both teams struggled to eclipse 35-percent shooting over the first 20 minutes. Valentine and Forbes teamed for 23 of Michigan State's 35 first-half points.

[MORE BIG TEN: Michigan gets solid road win as Huskers see win streak snapped]

The Terps were red hot to start the second half. They hit their first six shots and started the period on a 17-7 run to turn a six-point halftime deficit into a four-point lead in four minutes. The Spartans responded with eight straight points to streak back in front, and the game was tied at 53 at the midway point of the second half. From there, Michigan State used a 9-0 surge powered by Valentine, Forbes and Costello to reach its largest lead of the game with six and a half minutes to play.

The Terps went five minutes without a made basket, though some key free throws during that stretch allowed Melo Trimble's 3-pointer with five minutes left to make it just a three-point game. Costello followed with four straight free throws, and he was big down the stretch grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. Maryland got as close as three a couple more times in the final minutes, but Michigan State made its free throws to hold on for the win.

The Spartans shot just 36.1 percent from the field but had a 46-36 rebounding advantage, including 17 offensive rebounds that led to 15 second-chance points. They also made 23 free throws, 10 more than the Terps. Michigan State also had 18 fastbreak points.

Forbes was the leading scorer with 25 points, including 12 on four made 3-pointers. But Valentine and Costello stood out with double-doubles. Valentine scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, also handing out eight assists. Costello scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, making more headlines though for his ebullient displays of emotion as the game wound down, including his lifting and twirling hug of head coach Tom Izzo when he was removed from the game in the final seconds.

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

Maryland shot 38.6 percent from the field, the Terps' second-lowest mark of the season. The 29.7-percent mark from 3-point range was the seventh-lowest of the season.

Trimble led the way for Maryland with 24 points and also grabbed seven rebounds. Robert Carter was the only other Terp in double figures with 13 points.

The win sent the Spartans to 17-4 overall and 4-4 in Big Ten play. Michigan State gets games against Northwestern and Rutgers next week before heading to Ann Arbor for a rivalry game against Michigan on Feb. 7.

The Terps dropped to 17-3 on the season and 6-2 in league play with the loss. Next up for Maryland is a huge Thursday-night battle with Iowa.

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

jeremy_larkin.jpg
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

anderson.jpg
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.