Big Ten

Without James Blackmon Jr., Hoosiers beat Rutgers for sixth straight win

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Without James Blackmon Jr., Hoosiers beat Rutgers for sixth straight win

James Blackmon Jr. sat out Wednesday afternoon's game with a knee injury, but it didn't factor too much in the final result, as Indiana dispatched of Rutgers in New Jersey, 79-72, to earn its sixth straight victory.

Blackmon's absence was noticeable early, as his nearly 16 points a game were visibly missed while the Hoosiers struggled to keep the Scarlet Knights down. Indiana blew a 12-point lead as Rutgers closed the first half on a 16-4 run, scoring the half's final nine points to tie the game at 34 at the break.

Omari Grier was huge in the first 20 minutes, scoring 15 of Rutgers' 34 first-half points.

The Knights hung around for a little bit at the outset of the second half, even leading four minutes in. But the Hoosiers sprinted out on an 11-0 run, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Ryan Burton and Yogi Ferrell, that returned Indiana to a double-digit advantage. The Hoosiers' lead didn't dip below six the rest of the way.

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Indiana struggled to take care of the ball, turning it over a whopping 23 times leading to 37 Rutgers points. But the Hoosiers splashed in 10 3-pointers and shot 47.5 percent from the field, including 50 percent in the second half.

Yogi Ferrell scored a team-high 20 points, but it was reserve forward Max Bielfeldt who starred, posting a double-double with a career-high 18 points and 14 rebounds. His production was huge as big man Thomas Bryant was limited to just three points as he was in foul trouble throughout the game. Troy Williams scored 10 points.

The win gave the Hoosiers a quality start to Big Ten play and sent them to 11-3 on the season, including wins in each of their last six games. Next up is Nebraska on Saturday.

The loss sent Rutgers to 6-8 on the season. The Knights have dropped 16 straight Big Ten contests and next face Wisconsin on Saturday.

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.