Adreian Payne didn’t have the boot on his right foot during practice Thursday, but that doesn’t mean his status has changed since missing his second straight game Wednesday.

The senior forward has been dealing with issues in his foot for most of the season, starting with plantar fasciitis and turning into a sprain. He will have more X-rays today to see how much progress has been made and will be put to the test to see how much pain still exists.

“Then it’s gonna be … if he has pain in there or not,” coach Tom Izzo said. “They haven’t had him do anything. In fact, today is the first time I’ve seen him without a boot on. He did shoot a little bit of layup shots, but they told him, don’t take (the boot) off, ever. When you have the boot on, I don’t think you feel anything, but it doesn’t seem to be painful.

“He’s still very questionable for Saturday.”

Saturday would be when No. 4 Michigan State puts its unbeaten Big Ten mark on the line at Illinois, a place it hasn’t won since 2009.

And while it seems likely the Spartans will be without Payne, they are looking better throughout the rest of the lineup, the biggest plus being that junior Branden Dawson appears to have more energy.

Dawson didn’t in the victory over Northwestern, scoring six points and grabbing 11 rebounds in 24 minutes. Izzo said Thursday’s practice was one of Dawson’s best.

It was a significant turnaround for Dawson, who was diagnosed with a virus Monday.

“I’m feeling a lot better,” he said. “I’m starting to be myself again and I’m starting to come along. My teammates have been helping me out. I’m just more myself and feeling much better.”