Tate: UI lineup still a work in progress

CHICAGO – For all the "youthful" talk surrounding Duke, Coach Mike Krzyzewski is much closer to settling on a lineup than Illinois' Lon Kruger.

Four Blue Demons played between 34 and 39 minutes in Tuesday's 72-69 triumph at the United Center.

Opportunity lost

CHICAGO – If Illinois wanted to make a case for the Top 10, Tuesday night was the time to do it.

Dick Vitale was on the mike. A loud United Center crowd was on its side. And Coach K's Duke Blue Devils were on the ropes.

"We missed a great big opportunity tonight," center Marcus Griffin said after Illinois' 72-69 loss.

Top-ranked Huskies rough up Illini Black and blue

STORRS, Conn. – Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma described Tuesday's foul-filled showdown against No. 10 Illinois as "a bunch of rocks falling in the road, trees falling all around you."

So imagine how Theresa Grentz's Illini felt as they slinked out of Gampel Pavilion, handed a 100-79 pounding by the nation's top-ranked team.

Illini freshman finally gets cooking

CHICAGO – The Illinois coaches warned Brian Cook he might get some early playing time before Tuesday's game against Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Apparently, he was ready.

The freshman from Lincoln went in with 9:49 left in the first half and within seconds made an impact. He pulled a rebound out of a crowd at 9:32, had a rebound and basket at 8:11 and hit a three-pointer 20 seconds later.

UI signs Junior Elite gymnast

Kara Kapernekas of Immaculate Heart of Mary High School signed a national letter of intent with the Illinois women's gymnastics team Tuesday.

Williams feels growing pains

   CHICAGO  Maybe in March, Frank Williams doesn''t take the last-second three-pointer with the game on the line. Maybe he penetrates the lane and kicks the basketball to the wing where one of his teammates has an open look.

   Maybe then he''ll feel comfortable as a point guard. Because today he isn''t. When he''s supposed to pass, he''s looking to shoot. When he''s supposed to shoot, he''s looking to pass.

Connecticut''s success deserves admiration

   STORRS, Conn.  All but one of their games this season will be televised. Every seat at Gampel Pavilion for the 1999-2000 season has been sold. And there are enough media at every game to fill the seating area at your local McDonald''s.

   This is Connecticut women''s basketball, arguably the center of the universe for women''s hoops. Storrs, Conn., is roughly 45 minutes from any decent-sized city (Hartford), about three hours from New York and a light year or two from where it was 15 years ago.

Tatelines: ACC looks to recover dominance

CHICAGO – There is growing concern in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The crown jewel of the league – men's basketball – is feared to be ... gasp! ... slipping.

UI's date is official

MIAMI – Sitting in the Raleigh, N.C. locker room at halftime Oct. 16, a bowl game was about the furthest thing from George Welsh's mind.

The Virginia coach watched as his 3-3 team trailed North Carolina State 19-10.

Worthy opponents

CHICAGO – If tonight's Illinois-Duke game is anything like the last one, Dick Vitale may not have any voice left by the end of it.

Four years ago Thursday, with a nation tuned in on ESPN and the Cameron Crazies having conniptions in the stands, Lou Henson's last Illinois team pulled off an unforgettable upset, snapping the Blue Devils' 12-year, 95-game nonconference winning streak at home.