Big Ten

Spartans undefeated no more as Hawkeyes knock off nation's No. 1 team


Spartans undefeated no more as Hawkeyes knock off nation's No. 1 team

The Spartans, undefeated through 13 non-conference games, saw their perfect season end on the first night of conference play.

Michigan State is undefeated no more thanks to a huge night for Iowa on Tuesday in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes knocking off the Spartans by a score of 83-70.

Mike Gesell scored 25 points, Peter Jok had 19, Nicholas Baer had 11 and Jarrod Uthoff scored 10, with the Hawkeyes leading by as many as 19 in a red-hot second half where Iowa shot a staggering 63.6 percent from the field.

Meanwhile, playing for the second straight game without injured star Denzel Valentine, the Spartans struggled on the offensive end during long stretches.

Iowa was terrific in the first half as Michigan State had little going on offense. Uthoff had to sit early with a couple of fouls, but Iowa reserves Baer and Dom Uhl combined for 16 points in the opening 20 minutes. But it was Michigan State’s offensive drought that allowed Iowa to build its lead. It was a four-point game after a Bryn Forbes bucket around the midway point of the half, but the Spartans went scoreless for nearly six minutes, while the Hawkeyes went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 14. Iowa out-scored Michigan State, 16-6, over the final 10 minutes of the first half.

The Hawkeyes hit four 3-pointers as the Spartans hit none in the first half. Iowa turned 11 Michigan State turnovers into 12 points, and had a 17-6 advantage in bench points.

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Fourteen was the Iowa lead at the break, and the Hawkeyes kept the offense humming. The lead never dipped below double digits during the final 20 minutes. After three minutes, the edge was 11, but Iowa burst out on a 15-7 run over the next six minutes, capped by a pair of Jok triples that boosted the lead to a game-high 19. From there, Gesell, Uthoff and Adam Woodbury seemed to have an answer for every Michigan State bucket. The Spartans got it down to 10 at one point, but six straight Hawkeyes points had it back out to 16 in a blink as Iowa held on for a signature win.

Michigan State didn't shoot all that poorly at 42.2 percent from the field, not that much worse than Iowa's 48.2-percent mark for the game. But the long stretches of offensive ineffectiveness crippled the Spartans, particularly while playing without a go-to scorer in Valentine. Michigan State missed 10 3-point attempts and seven free throws. Eron Harris finished with a team-high 21 points, and Matt Costello scored 17 points. Forbes scored just three points and took only five shots on the night.

It was a heck of a way to kick off conference play for Iowa, which suffered just three non-conference losses to more-than-respectable opposition in Iowa State, Notre Dame and Dayton. But a signature victory over the nation's No. 1 team should vault the Hawkeyes into the top 25 in next week's polls. It was Iowa's first win over a No. 1 team since 1999. The Hawkeyes improved to 10-3 with the win and will face another top-15 team in Purdue this weekend.

Michigan State dropped to 13-1 with the loss. Next up for the Spartans is a date with Minnesota on Saturday.

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.