Illini target Zeller is bigger than life in the land of ''Hoosiers''

WASHINGTON, Ind. – Cult hero though he was, it''s hard to imagine Jimmy Chitwood had it any better than Luke Zeller.

Chitwood, after all, was fictional. Zeller is an actual, factual flesh-and-blood basketball star, a budding hoops legend in a state that loves them.

Head, Williams lead Illini to win

INDIANAPOLIS – Illinois finally wore white, but the Illini escaped their first-round game at the Big Ten tournament black and blue.

In a heated game marked by mad scrambles for loose balls, Illinois beat Indiana today 71-59 to advance to Saturday''s semifinal. It was the UI''s 11th consecutive win.

UI''s DeHeart nabs honor

Illinois sophomore Ryler DeHeart earned his second Big Ten Tennis Player of the Week honors of the season.

DeHeart won his singles and doubles matches last weekend as the top-ranked Illini opened the Big Ten season with a 7-0 victory at Iowa to tie an NCAA record for consecutive dual match wins with 45.

Illini try to get ticket punched

CHAMPAIGN – He ran the 40-yard dash in less than 4.4 seconds. Now Christian Morton just wishes he could speed up the clock.

Morton was one of 13 Illinois seniors and one alum (Terrell Washington) who worked out for scouts from about 20 teams Wednesday. After taking part in the East-West Shrine Game and pro day, Morton will have to wait until the NFL draft April 24-25.

Illini Insider

News-Gazette staff writer Jeff Huth''s weekly review and preview of Illinois sports:

Winning Big Ten tournament hasn''t always helped champs

Nick Smith is a bit of an empiricist.

Here in the age of reason, Smith isn''t so bold as to assert that things he hasn''t experienced aren''t possible.

Lawhead makes most of her shot in split

URBANA – Molly Lawhead was used to playing softball every time her high school team had a game.

As a freshman at Illinois, she is still active every game but not necessarily as a player on the field. When the outfielder from Monticello is not in the lineup, she takes advantage of the time to work on her hitting.

Illini remain No. 1

The Illinois men''s gymnastics team retained its No. 1 ranking in this week''s GymInfo poll despite a loss Saturday to No. 2 Oklahoma.

Based on a formula involving a three-score average, Yoshi Hayasaki''s Illini lead the nation at 220.708. The Sooners have a 220.342 average.

Sneak peek

Want to know who''ll win this year''s Big Ten tournament? Who most certainly won''t? Brett Dawson and Jim Rossow provide the scoop on this week''s action in Indianapolis.

UI''s fortune lies in pitcher''s hands

CHAMPAIGN – It was 37 degrees at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. A sharp wind was whipping its way around Eichelberger Field and Amanda Fortune was sitting in the bleachers, watching the flags behind the center field fence.

"Sometimes, I feel like I''m getting too old for this," Fortune said.