Big Ten

Spartans hold off Purdue in second half to win Big Ten Tournament

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Spartans hold off Purdue in second half to win Big Ten Tournament

INDIANAPOLIS — For the third time in the last five seasons, the Michigan State Spartans are the Big Ten Tournament champions.

Is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament next?

The Spartans held off an incredible second-half charge from the Purdue Boilermakers in Sunday's championship game, pulling out a 66-62 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

After bursting away from Purdue in the first half, closing the period on a 20-7 run, Michigan State led by as many as 13 in the second half, only for the Boilers to return the favor with an 18-6 run to come within a point. But the Boilers made just one basket the final seven and a half minutes of the game as the Spartans held on for the victory.

Michigan State struggled offensively to start the game. Between Purdue's defense and its own poor shooting, Michigan State struggled to get going. But the score stayed close, the Boilers' lead never growing bigger than four as neither the standard feed-the-post or 3-point strategies were working all that well. After plenty of basket trading, Purdue had a 19-16 lead with under eight minutes to go until halftime. But that's when the Spartans clamped down on defense, silencing the Boilers' offense while going on an extended run, sparked by Michigan State reserves. Backup big men Gavin Schilling and Colby Wollenman each got a bucket, then a Marvin Clark offensive rebound turned into a Denzel Valentine 3-pointer that made it a 9-0 run and saw the Spartans with a six-point lead. Rapheal Davis' three-point play momentarily stopped the bleeding, but then Michigan State rattled off seven more points in a blink, two buckets from Matt Costello and a 3 from Alvin Ellis, making it a 10-point lead, which touched 12 before getting back to 10 by halftime.

All in all, it was a 20-7 run to close the half by Michigan State. Purdue made just one basket the final almost eight minutes of the half, making one of the last 12 shots it took. The Boilers finished the opening 20 minutes with a 33.3-percent shooting mark, while the Spartans warmed up enough to shoot 41.2 percent in the first half. Purdue was 0-for-7 from 3-point range, with Michigan State holding a 24-17 rebounding advantage and getting 16 of its 36 points from its bench.

After some basket trading to begin the second half — which featured Michigan State reaching its biggest lead of the game at 13 on a Clark triple — Purdue roared back. The Boilers scored eight straight, and though the Spartans got their lead back to eight not long after, five straight points from Johnny Hill and an electrifying A.J. Hammons dunk capped an extended 18-6 run to bring Purdue within a point at 52-51 with under eight minutes to go. Bryn Forbes, who had a generally cold week in Indy, hit his first 3 of the game at a crucial moment, and the Spartans once more toughened up on the defensive end. The Boilers went more than four minutes from Hammons' dunk without making a shot, hitting six free throws in that span. But it allowed Michigan State to create a bit of breathing room, Eron Harris hitting a 3 and Wollenman slamming home a huge putback dunk off a questionable Costello 3-point attempt.

But Purdue kept coming, another Hammons dunk snapping that basket-less drought, with his free throw making it a two-point game, 62-60, with about three and a half minutes remaining. After Rapheal Davis split a pair of free throws, Valentine made a sensational jumper to put his team up three. Edwards split a pair of free throws to cut it to two, and Purdue got a stop. But Caleb Swanigan cast up a questionable 3-pointer that was way off the mark, and the Spartans took over with 26.1 seconds remaining. Costello missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to give the Boilers life, and Hill got all the way to the hoop but Costello flew in from behind and blocked the layup attempt. Forbes then knocked down a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game and seal the deal.

Purdue was shut down over the final seven and a half minutes, making just one basket and going 1-for-10 over that span. The Boilers finished the game with a 38.2-percent shooting mark. Purdue actually out-shot Michigan State in the second half, but the Spartans finished the game at 41.7 percent from the field. The Spartans dominated the rebounding battle, 41-31, getting 14 second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds. The Michigan State bench outscored the Purdue bench, 21-14.

Valentine was the only Michigan State player to score in double figures, finishing with 15 points to go along with his 10 rebounds and nine assists. Five other players scored at least five points.

Edwards was sensational for Purdue with 19 points. Hammons and Swanigan both finished with 11 points.

 

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.