Douglas County Museum still not out of woods

TUSCOLA – Members of the Douglas County Museum can breathe a sigh of relief now that their membership drive raised enough money to pay the utility bills.

But fear of losing the museum has not lifted completely. Now members have to worry about how to pay for next winter's bills.

Smith energy helps Illinois

CHAMPAIGN – Flick his ear. Make fun of his voice. Untie his shoelace when he's not looking.

But don't mess with Jamar Smith's jump shot. The jumper that is so sweet and smooth you'd swear it was coated in caramel. Problem is, the Illinois sophomore has been missing more jumpers than he's been making. So as he struggled through an 0-for-7 shooting night Wednesday, Smith approached coach Bruce Weber.

Masar invited to U.S. camp

CHAMPAIGN– Junior forward Ella Masar has accepted an invitation to the U.S. under-21 training camp.

Tate: Whew! Get used to furious finishes

CHAMPAIGN – This is what it's going to be like all season: intense dogfights grinding into a pressure-packed final minute.

And Bruce Weber's Illini, numbed by injuries and uncertainties, will have to meet the late-game demands in order to extend the season into the NCAA tournament. Wednesday's 74-70 scorcher with Iowa was just the first step. Next come road trips to Michigan State and Minnesota, then Wisconsin and Indiana at the Assembly Hall. No letup.

UI recruit Tisdale sidelined for season

RIVERTON – Illinois basketball recruit Mike Tisdale had surgery on a broken finger Wednesday night and will miss the rest of the boys' basketball season.

The Riverton High senior injured his right pinkie during Tuesday's win against Divernon.

Asmussen: Just another wacky one in crazy rivalry

CHAMPAIGN – Decades from now, when Bruce Weber and Steve Alford are retired and golfing at Del Boca Vista, Illinois and Iowa will still be playing wacky basketball games.

Warren Carter IV will be a forward at great grandpa's alma mater in 2070 and Illinois and Iowa will still be playing nutty games.

Randle gets going at the right time

CHAMPAIGN – Hands crossed behind his back, Brian Randle stood in a line with the rest of his teammates. Illinois and Iowa were set to tip off in a matter of minutes.

"It was during the (national) anthem," Randle said, when he looked into the stands and found five additional family members from Peoria. It was a big deal to have them in attendance. He couldn't recall a time they saw him play in high school, and they definitely had not seen him play at the Assembly Hall.

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Weber hopes lightened mood helps lift team

CHAMPAIGN – With a grin stretching across his face, he steps back and lofts a three-pointer at the basket. The ball rattles through. His team celebrates.

Now, if Shaun Pruitt launches a three-pointer tonight against Iowa, there's a good chance coach Bruce Weber will find a place for the 6-foot-10 center on the bench.