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Illini senior point guard Khalid Lewis returns to practice after quarantine for mumps but will not play vs. Ohio State

Illini senior point guard returns to practice after quarantine for mumps but will not play vs. Ohio State

After missing Wednesday's game against Michigan with the mumps, Illinois senior point guard Khalid Lewis returned to practice but likely will not play against Ohio State (9-5, 1-0 Big Ten) on Sunday. Lewis had been quarantined most of last week with a case of the mumps.

"He's feeling a little bit better," Illini head coach John Groce said. "He worked out this morning. When you've been couped up for a day, you don't have quite the energy level. He's lost a little bit of weight. At this point, our plan is not to use him tomorrow so we can continue to bring him to full health before we demand a lot out of him physically from an energy perspective. How long will that take? The docs seem to think a few days.  Hopefully, we'll be able to get him back to full strength, at least close to it, by the time we play again (Thursday against Michigan State)."

Lewis, who is averaging 3.7 points and 3.2 assists, had taken over a majority of the point guard minutes. Over his past seven games, Lewis has 26 assists to just six turnovers and is averaging 22.7 minutes per game.

But his absence on Wednesday forced junior Jaylon Tate (2.4 points, 2.5 assists) to play a career-high 34 minutes. Groce said Tate, who missed four games after suffering an open dislocation of his pinky finger in the first game of the season, still isn't playing at 100 percent of his offseason level of play but he's getting closer.

"He did some good things Wednesday night," Groce said. "I thought he was one of our guys who had consistent energy, had a consistent voice throughout. We need him to make a few more toughness plays and help us with defensive rebounding and some physical things in and around the paint. But I think he handled the ball well. I thought he made good reads. He took care of the ball."

Thorne progressing

Illinois senior center Mike Thorne Jr. is "feeling a little bit better," Groce said on Wednesday.

The fifth year transfer, who had surgery remove a torn meniscus in his knee in late November, has started workouts in "incremental steps," Groce said. The medical staff will see how his knee responds to workouts and monitor swelling and soreness. 

But Groce said they are unsure on a timeline for a return, if he can return.

"We don't know how that will work out yet," Groce said. "There are still a lot of things to tackle before his return."

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