OK, let’s start with the obvious. D.J. White is keeping the Hoosiers in this game, with some help from Jordan Crawford, who has played better in big games than Eric Gordon. White, Crawford and Armon Bassett have 22 of IU’s 25 points.
It’s also obvious that the crowd and situation are in Gordon’s head. He got bumped by Chester Frazier before the game even started (bush league move) and has tried to do to much when he has the ball. So far that’s resulted in 0-for-4 shooting with a couple of bad shots, two turnovers and no points. The crowd as a whole really hasn’t been as intense as I expected, but there have been a couple of F&*k Gordon chants from the upper level that don’t reflect well on the Illini fans.
I thought Kyle Taber looked better in filling a role at the 4 spot than Stemler and certainly Thomas in the first half. A zone defense and Taber may be the answers to improving IU’s defense and its play at power forward.
This looks like a game that will go down to the wire. The Illini have lost nine of their last 11 games and three of four at home, but they got the lead tonight with some early good 3-point shooting. They are, however, the league’s worst 3-point shooting team on the season and that started to show as they continued to rely heavily on the 3 as the half wore on. If they’re smart – which is questionable – they’ll work the ball into Shaun Pruitt and try to get D.J. to pick up his third foul early in the second half.
IU shot 45.5 percent in the first half to 37.9 for Illinois, so if the Hoosiers don’t win, I hope we don’t hear the “we missed good shots” excuse after the game.
ILLINOIS 29, INDIANA 23 (1:18)
Not what Sampson wanted. First McCamey gets a transition basket — on a beautiful scoop over Gordon and Crawford — then Lance Stemler takes a 3 and it is dead as soon as it leaves his hand. There’s no rotation on the ball, no loft, no nothing. It just clangs off the rim.
And Calvin Brock makes it hurt more by hitting from the baseline.
ILLINOIS 25, INDIANA 23 (3:07)
Kyle Taber made a play. His feed to D.J. White led to White getting to the free throw line. This guy needs to get more time. Maybe he has untapped potential.
The Hoosiers need to do something to get Gordon going. Find a way to get him an easy basket.
Hey, Dee Brown is here. This is the second or third former player that Illinois has trotted out during a break. Neat tradition.
Maybe Bob Knight will be at the next IU game.
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The Orange Krush — Illinois’ official student section — has published a flier for tonight’s game. It goes by the name of “Hoop Scoop,” and details, mostly, the sordid history of Eric Gordon, Kelvin Sampson and their wrongs against the university.
The “Hoop Scoop” declares Kelvin Sampson enemy No. 1 and Eric Gordon No. 2. “No words could fully describe the intense hard feelings of Illini fans towards this controversial coach and his wishy-washy one-year wonder,” it declares.
It also calls on students to refrain from using vulgarity, saying “We do not want to sink to IU’s level.”
The the back side of the publication — printed on orange paper, what else — it tells “The story so far . . .” of Gordon’s saga. It lists quotes that Gordon gave last summer while he was committed to Illinois but rumors continued that he was talking to Indiana.
“Coach Sampson has been talking to my coach, but I haven’t talked to him that much,” said Gordon. “He recruited me when he was at Oklahoma, so I know him, I think it’s a good pickup for Indiana to have him as their coach, but I’m going to stay with Illinois.”
A chunk of the seats delegated to Indiana for tonight’s game sit right next to the Illinois student section.
That means that Kelvin Sampson’s wife, Karen (one of the nicest, most pleasant people you’ll meet), is already hearing chants about her husband cheating and losing his job.
Obviously, she’s going to hear this sort of thing all night. It just seems a little strange to put her so close to the action.
Meanwhile, the fans are chanting “traitor” and “liar” at Eric Gordon as the Hoosiers stretch on the court.
Jordan Crawford, Indiana’s freshman guard, doesn’t appear to be bothered by his left ankle, which he hurt Sunday.
He’s shooting fine, although he is wearing a black brace.
With A.J. Ratliff at home dealing with family issues, Crawford will need to play 20 minutes tonight.
With almost 90 minutes left before tip-off, there was a growing corps of media, including such recognizable figures as the Jays – Bilas and Mariotti – surrounding the court at Assembly Hall, but few other people. Some arena workers and a stray Illinois player or two getting in some early shooting.
The students were waiting outside in line, ready to make this place explode with noise and the color orange.
We’ll be here all night describing the action on and off the court. We’ll soon be seeing Gordon and the students as warm-ups begin.
INDIANA (14-9, 7-4) drops NORTHWESTERN (4-19, 0-11), 74-58
The Hoosiers have a great opportunity tonight to gain some ground in the Big Ten standings. Two of the three teams tied for first play each other as No. 19 Ohio State visits Purdue. If IU can defend home court against the league bottom-dweller that has yet to win a conference game, they will remain a game and a half behind one or two teams, depending on how Iowa does at home against Michigan State. However, whichever team loses of the Buckeyes and Boliers will then fall to second in the standings ahead of the Hoosiers.
Amy Jaeschke, 26 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks
Nadia Bibbs, 11 points, 12 rebounds, 4 steals
Jamie Braun, 16 points, 3 assists
Amber Jackson, 14 points, 7 rebounds
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