Big Ten

Spartans outlast Terps in slugfest for trip to Big Ten Tournament title game

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Spartans outlast Terps in slugfest for trip to Big Ten Tournament title game

INDIANAPOLIS — They say defense wins championships. Well, at least a lack of offense doesn't seem to lose them.

Michigan State shot just 28.6 percent and scored only 23 points in the second half but somehow pulled out a 64-61 victory over Maryland on Saturday to advance to the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Spartans were limited by a strong defensive effort by the Terps, who also struggled offensively over the final 20 minutes, shooting just 28 percent and going just 2-for-11 from 3-point range as well as going more than 10 minutes between made baskets down the stretch.

That grotesque offensive display was at least remedied by a thrilling finish. Maryland battled back from a deficit that was at double digits in the first half and as big as eight inside of 12 minutes to play, bursting out on an 8-0 run around the midway point of the period. Jake Layman hit a 3, which was followed up by a Diamond Stone bucket. Then Melo Trimble — who started the game 0-for-9 from the field — buried a game-tying triple to knot the score at 53 with 10 minutes left. Three and a half minutes later, a pair of Robert Carter free throws gave the Terps their first lead since starting things 2-0. That lead was rather short lived, though, as Deyonta Davis put the Spartans right back in front with a dunk.

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From their go-ahead free throws, the Terps didn't score for almost six minutes, Layman's free throws with about a minute remaining the first points. That brought Maryland within one, and the Terps had a chance to take the lead after a Michigan State turnover. But Davis swatted away a Stone shot, a huge play that gave the Spartans the ball and a trip to free throw line, where Denzel Valentine buried both to make it 62-59 with 21 seconds to play. Trimble answered with a layup, Maryland's first made basket in more than 10 minutes, and Valentine missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to give the Terps a chance to win. But Trimble's layup try was way off, and Valentine then hit two free throws to put the game away with less than a second remaining.

Maryland shot just 33.3 percent from the field on the day, with Michigan State shooting 42 percent. The Spartans and Terps each hit eight 3-pointers, but the Spartans had the edge in almost every other statistical category, scoring 14 points off turnovers, 24 points in the paint and getting 18 points from their bench.

Valentine led Michigan State with 18 points, also handing out 10 assists and grabbing seven rebounds. Matt Costello was the only other Spartan in double figures with 10 points. Carter's 18 points led Maryland, with Trimble adding 11. No one shot very well, with Valentine going 4-for-12 from the field and the Maryland duo of Trimble and Layman going 5-for-25 from the field.

Michigan State will take on Purdue in Sunday's Big Ten Championship Game, and the Spartans would likely lock up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with a win.

Maryland, which lost for the fifth time in its last eight games, will await its NCAA tournament seed.

 

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.