Illinois seeks healthy guard

   CHAMPAIGN  If the Illinois women''s basketball team is to gain an NCAA tournament berth, it might have to do it without its only experienced guard.

   Junior Shavonna Hunter, who missed Saturday''s loss at Michigan State because of a recurrence of asthma, isn''t expected to start tonight against Ohio State, leaving the UI backcourt in the hands of freshmen Jere Issenmann, Angelina Williams and Tiffanie Guthrie.

UI not amused at sign language

   EAST LANSING, Mich.  Illinois'' jog to its locker room after Tuesday''s game was as hard-fought as its win against Michigan State.

    As the Illini left the court, several students showered them with insults and waved signs that were on display during the game, a 63-61 Illinois win. One that read Lucas is Trash was dangled in front of Brian Cook, who ripped it down.

Hopkins off hook

   The NFL rescinded its $15,000 fine levied against former Illini and Tennessee tackle Brad Hopkins.

Tate: Williams silences critics with masterpiece

   EAST LANSING, Mich.  Take your pick: an inexplicable surge of fresh-legged energy; a desperate need to break out; a determination to show up Michigan State star Marcus Taylor; a secret desire to bring Billy Packer and Dick Vitale back on line; revenge for Michigan State snapping the Illini''s 28-game home winning streak.

   Whatever the reason, Frank Williams rebounded from a series of erratic performan-ces to play the game of his life Tuesday night at the Breslin Center.

Illinois men''s basketball box score

Illinois 63, MSU 61

Fully awake, Illini mauls Izzo´s team

   EAST LANSING, Mich.  The bear is awake.

   In the days leading upto Tuesday night''s Illinois-Michigan State game here, Spartans coach Tom Izzo fretted, worried that this might be the game Frank Williams snapped out of his February hibernation.

Williams finalist for Naismith award

   CHAMPAIGN  Locally, Frank Williams has taken heat for an inconsistent junior season.

   But nationally, Williams'' reputation remains strong.

For Illini men, a win is a win, warts and all

CHAMPAIGN  Say "winning ugly," and Bill Self smiles.

He only hears the "winning" part.

"They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder," Self said. "I don''t think there''s such a thing as an ugly win."

Tate: Positioning for tourney under way

   Illinois'' quest for a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed in Chicago  the perfect route that goes through Madison, Wis.  is no longer within reach.

   But this opens the opportunity to do something that no other Illinois team has accomplished, which is to defeat a team seeded ahead of it.

Illini seek long-range answers

   CHAMPAIGN  Since 1998, only one Big Ten team has beaten Michigan State on its own court.

   Illinois has a chance to do that Tuesday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.