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Gordon, Indiana have tense moments before win at Iowa

Jan 3, 2008 - 7:33 AM IOWA CITY, Iowa (Ticker) -- The presence of Eric Gordon signaled an end to Indiana's struggles at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but not without some shaky moments.

Gordon scored 25 points in his first Big Ten Conference contest as No. 12 Indiana overcame an unthinkable surge by Iowa to capture a 79-76 victory on Wednesday.

D.J. White had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Hoosiers (12-1, 1-0 Big Ten), who recorded their eighth straight win by snapping a three-game losing streak here.

In fact, the Hawkeyes (7-7, 0-1) had won 15 of their previous 16 league games here, and nearly pulled off a crazy comeback.

Trailing by 13 points after Gordon split two free throws with 2:10 remaining, Iowa watched Justin Johnson put on a bizarre shooting display that nearly erased the deficit.

"Anytime you are up 12 on the road, you must be doing something right," Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said. "Then, No. 24, it's not like I don't know his name, Johnson, started throwing up threes from everywhere."

The senior guard connected on six 3-pointers down the stretch, including some that were at least five or six feet behind the arc.

"I can shoot open or contested," said Johnson, who is shooting 39 percent from the arc. "We didn't come up with the win, so I don't think the threes mattered."

Finishing with 29 points, Johnson scored the final 19 for the Hawkeyes, including one that cut his team's deficit to 78-76 with 4.8 seconds left.

"You've got a guy making shots, so you keep giving it to him," Iowa coach Todd Lickliter said.

Picking up a loose ball near midcourt, Johnson took a couple of steps toward his basket before heaving an attempt that banked in, sending the fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena into a frenzy.

"What do you do against those shots?" Sampson said. "We were on him, but he shoots well with a hand in his face. He's a good shooter."

Yet, Lance Stemler split two free throws with three seconds left and White grabbed a pass intended for Johnson at midcourt to seal Indiana's win.

Early on, stellar freshman Gordon showed no qualms about starting league play.

The 10th-ranked scorer in the nation at 23.4 points coming in, Gordon had 13 in the first half as Indiana built a nine-point lead with just under 7 1/2 minutes remaining.

However, Iowa rallied, managing to tie the game at 34-34 at the half behind a 13-6 run.

The Hawkeyes managed to pull ahead, 42-38, in the opening minutes after intermission as Cyrus Tate capped an 8-0 run with two baskets, including a dunk.

The Hoosiers tied it at 44-44 on a follow shot by Jamarcus Ellis with 12:40 remaining, and Stemler hit a 3-pointer moments later.

The lead grew to 59-51 after Gordon completed a three-point play with 8:05 to go. He added five more points over the next six minutes before he was nearly overshadowed by Johnson.

"Let's give Iowa credit," Sampson said. "They played well and their kids played hard. From the 16-minute mark to the two-minute mark, we went from being down four to being up by 12, which was a plus-16 swing. We'd like to focus on that."

Ellis had a great all-around game for Indiana, collecting 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals.

Freshman Jordan Crawford added 12 points off the bench for the Hoosiers, who shot 49 percent (26-of-53) from the field and held a 38-18 advantage in points in the paint.

Tony Freeman had 12 points and nine assists for Iowa, which played its first game since freshman forward Jarryd Cole tore the ACL in his left knee.

The Hawkeyes also lost top freshman scorer Jake Kelly to an ankle injury early in the first half.