Big Ten

Spartans halt Badgers' winning streak with convincing win


Spartans halt Badgers' winning streak with convincing win

It could've been guessed that with road games at Maryland, Michigan State and Iowa, Wisconsin's winning streak was fragile, to say the least.

It came to a crashing halt Thursday night in East Lansing, as the Spartans showed why, despite their not sitting atop the conference standings, they're a national-title contender, beating the Badgers, 69-57.

Michigan State had this one locked up from the start, as Wisconsin had a miserable first half offensively, scoring just 23 points and shooting 25 percent from the field over the game's opening 20 minutes. The Badgers were just 7-for-28 from the field and 2-for-9 from 3-point range. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig combined to shoot just 2-for-12 from the field in the first half. Meanwhile, the Spartans shot well, 46.4 percent from the field the final number at halftime after they shot 50 percent or better for much of the first half. Michigan State opened the game on a 14-3 run, and the first-half edge grew as big as 16 as the shots just weren't falling for Wisconsin.

The Badgers shot better after halftime, 41.9 percent, and actually outscored the Spartans, 37-34, over the final 20 minutes. But the damage was well done by then. Michigan State's lead grew as big as 22 in the second half.

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The Spartans finished with a 46.4-percent shooting mark, much better than the Badgers' final 33.9-percent mark. Michigan State also held edges in rebounding (38-31) and fastbreak points (13-2).

Denzel Valentine had another big game as he continues to boost his candidacy for national player of the year honors. He finished with a game-high 24 points and recorded a double-double — his eight of the season — with 10 assists, coming three rebounds shy of another triple-double. Bryn Forbes scored 17 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Eron Harris finished with 10 points.

Ethan Happ had a team-high 18 points for Wisconsin, and Koenig finished with 12, making a trio of 3s. Hayes finished with just five points, going 1-for-13 from the field.

The win vaulted Michigan State into a four-way tie for fourth place in the ever-changing Big Ten standings, sharing a 9-5 conference mark with Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue. Sitting at 22-5 overall, the Spartans next travel to take on Ohio State next week.

The streak-snapping loss sent the Badgers to 16-10 overall and 8-5 in the league. Next up is a Sunday game against Illinois.

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.