for this game

Gordon provides lift as Indiana sinks Michigan State

Feb 17, 2008 - 6:01 AM BLOOMINGTON, Indiana (Ticker) -- While coach Kelvin Sampson's future may be bleak, freshman Eric Gordon's never looked better.

Gordon scored 28 points to rally No. 12 Indiana to an 80-61 victory over No. 9 Michigan State in the Big Ten Conference on Saturday.

Despite an injury to second-leading scorer and top rebounder D.J. White, Indiana (21-4, 10-2 Big Ten) shook off the allegations swirling around Sampson to post its first victory over a ranked team this season.

"Obviously, to beat a team like Michigan State the way we did tonight, you have to do some things pretty good," Sampson said. "I thought our execution on offense was at a really good level. Our defense was outstanding."

Freshman Jordan Crawford and Jamarcus Ellis scored 12 points apiece for Indiana, which had lost two of its three previous home games, including Wednesday's 68-66 loss vs. Wisconsin.

With the school under investigation for five major NCAA violations, Sampson may be out of a job within a week after allegedly providing "false or misleading" information to the school and investigators.

Sampson, who had denied the allegations, said it was hard not to ignore the situation but admitted he derived a great deal of satisfaction from his team's performance.

"I can only control things I can control and that is what I focused on," Sampson said. "But, you know, the game is about these kids. I think basketball is so much bigger than one person. The game will always be about the players. I am happy for them."

Gordon certainly showed it would take more than an NCAA probe and a school investigation to take him out of his game.

The 6-4 freshman sensation was at his best when White suffered what appeared to be a knee injury around the 5:00 mark of the opening half.

Gordon scored 19 points in a 10:00 span bridging halftime, capping the flurry with a 3-pointer to make it 55-41 with 14:19 to play.

"We were better off with (D.J.) White in the game," a flustered Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "It seemed like when he went out we were 11 up and when he came back they were cutting it a little bit. He went out again we were still three up and (freshman DeAndre) Thomas just killed us in there."

White was injured with 5:00 to play in the first half. He crashed to the floor holding his left knee and didn't return.

Sampson said White will undergo an MRI exam on Sunday, although a team doctor did not think the injury involved damaged ligaments.

"D.J. was afraid a little bit at halftime," Sampson said. "He said, 'Coach, it doesn't feel right.' The doctors said we should hold him out and I said, 'Absolutely.' That kid is too valuable."

In finishing 9-of-15 from the floor, Gordon led a sizzling shooting effort by the Hoosiers, who hit 54 percent (31-of-57) for the game.

The Spartans, who led by 11 points in the first half, never got the deficit under double digits thereafter.

"Once we got them stretched we had Eric (Gordon) and Jordan (Crawford) and Armon (Bassett) running in and out of screens," Sampson said. "And we took advantage of being in the 1-and-1 with Eric. Once we got to the bonus, we wanted him to drive it and get to the free throw line."

Drew Neitzel scored 21 points for Michigan State (20-5, 8-4), which suffered its second successive loss and third in four games.

With the cloud hovering over Sampson, the atmosphere was subdued early and Michigan State quickly pounced on the Hoosiers.

Neitzel scored 10 quick points, including a 3-pointer, to spark the Spartans to a 15-4 lead just 6 1/2 minutes into the contest.

Gordon and Thomas each had four points in a 10-0 run as the Hoosiers pulled even at 20-20 and then used the long ball to surge ahead.

"Defensively, I don't think we could have done a better job the first 12 minutes," Izzo said. "We played our tail off, we covered everything. Then boom, boom, boom - two or three turnovers led to dunks or layups."

Indiana's next five baskets were from the arc, including back-to-back ones by Ellis, to assume a 35-26 lead with 3:30 to go.

"We are family," Crawford said. "You can't get between the family. Coach comes in, works us out and we practice just like we have been doing all season."

After two free throws by Gordon capped a 33-11 burst, Chris Allen hit a pair of 3-pointers to get Michigan State within 41-33 at halftime.