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White, Gordon help Indiana avoid upset

Jan 20, 2008 - 11:41 PM BLOOMINGTON, Indiana (Ticker) -- D.J. White stepped up late to help Indiana avoid becoming the latest upset victim.

White scored 22 points and sparked a key second-half run as the 10th-ranked Hoosiers posted an 81-65 victory over Penn State in a Big Ten Conference contest on Sunday.

Star freshman guard Eric Gordon hit four 3-pointers in the first half en route to 25 points for Indiana, which extended its home winning streak to 27 games.

White scored nine points during a decisive 16-4 second-half run that broke open a tie game and put Indiana ahead for good.

"It was a stretch where we needed to pick it up," White said. "We came out of a timeout and it was a tie game and we needed somebody to step up. The guards, Jamarcus (Ellis), Eric, Armon (Bassett), did a good job of finding me in open spots. That is what good guards do and I think we have good guards and they just find me at the right time."

White's huge effort helped the Hoosiers (16-1, 5-0 Big Ten) avoid becoming the fifth team ranked in the top 15 to fall this weekend.

On Saturday, top-ranked North Carolina fell to Maryland, No. 4 UCLA was upset by Southern California, ninth-ranked Texas A&M was beaten by Kansas State and No. 15 Mississippi lost to Auburn. Earlier Sunday, No. 13 Marquette dropped a road game at Connecticut.

"I thought the two kids (D.J. White and Eric Gordon) played really really well for them," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "Obviously and then (Armon) Bassett made shots and I think he fed off those two guys."

It did not come easy though, and surprisingly the Hoosiers struggled with a Nittany Lions team that was playing its first game without leading scorer Geary Claxton.

"In the first half I thought Penn State's kids came out and really played with great emotion. We kind of expected that," Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said.

A senior, Claxton was averaging 17.7 points before tearing his ACL in an 80-55 loss to No. 17 Wisconsin on Tuesday.

"Their best player (Claxton) is a great kid," Sampson said. "We are talking about an all-conference kid."

Battle helped make up for the loss by scoring a season-high 20 points, but Penn State (10-7, 2-3) was hurt by poor free-throw shooting and inability to hit shots down the stretch.

It went just 9-of-14 from the line and was 2-of-8 from the field over the final five minutes.

"This is the first time without him (Claxton). ... I thought Talor (Battle) played well tonight and I thought Jamelle played well offensively," DeChellis said. "We need to find another guy and we have to get somebody else some shots. And if we make those shots then we have a third guy who can score. Hopefully that is going to be a different guy on any given night."

Penn State tied the game at 54-54 on a basket by Jamelle Cornley with 11:21 left but Indiana responded with a 16-4 run to put an end to the upset bid.

White scored nine points during the run and Bassett hit a clutch 3-pointer from the left wing to stretch the lead to 70-58 with 4:41 remaining.

Indiana later added an 11-2 run for good measure.

Bassett ended up with 17 points off the bench and Ellis chipped in 12 and eight assists for the Hoosiers, who shot 57 percent (29-of-51), including 11-of-23 on 3-pointers.

Cornley scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Nittany Lions, who held their own on the boards with the Hoosiers, trailing just 29-27.