for this game

Indiana shakes off Sampson affair, edges Northwestern

Feb 24, 2008 - 5:52 AM EVANSTON, Illinois (Ticker) -- As if being without Kelvin Sampson for the first time was not bad enough, Indiana had to deal with Kevin Coble.

Armon Bassett scored 24 points and freshman Jordan Crawford had 21 as No. 14 Indiana escaped with an 85-82 victory over Northwestern in the Big Ten Conference on Saturday night.

The Big Ten's leading scorer, Eric Gordon chipped in 18 points as the Hoosiers (23-4, 12-2 Big Ten) won their first game under interim coach Dan Dakich.

Indiana was playing just a day after the school announced that it had parted ways with the embattled Sampson, reaching an agreement on a $750,000 buyout just over a week after the NCAA cited the coach with five major violations.

A number of players, including top big man D.J. White, were not happy with the decision, opting to skip Dakich's first practice on Friday.

While the entire roster made the trip to Northwestern, a number of players had their former coach on their minds, writing the initials "KS" on their sneakers.

Despite the distractions, Wildcats coach Bill Carmody expected a tough matchup, especially after the Hoosiers' performances against the other top teams in the Big Ten.

"I know they're going through this situation, but I saw them play against Michigan State when it was in full boil and against Purdue, who is a very good team, and they looked awfully good to me," Carmody said. "Even against Wisconsin, they got beat on a banker at the end. Once you throw it up there, the guys play. I thought they did that tonight and I thought they played well."

However, it was a "KC" that made the biggest mark on the game, as Coble scored a career-high 37 points to give the Wildcats (7-18, 0-14) a chance for their first league win.

"He played very well," Carmody said of Coble. "I just took him aside and I said 'You really haven't been playing that well. Let's see what you can do out there tonight,' because he really hasn't. He's been off and he's capable of good games and he certainly produced this evening."

Coble, who went 12-of-16 from the field with five 3-pointers, scored 10 straight points for his team late, including a shot from the arc that gave Northwestern a 78-77 lead with 2:54 to play.

Nikola Baran then drew a charge on Gordon, but the Wildcats missed an ensuing 3-pointer by Craig Moore.

Gordon, who finished 13-of-16 on free throws, made a pair from the stripe with 1:50 left to return the lead to Indiana. After Moore missed another shot from the arc for Northwestern, Bassett added two foul shots to open an 81-78 edge with 33 seconds to go.

The Wildcats immediately cut that deficit to a point on a driving layup by freshman Michael Thompson with 13 ticks left, and got a major turnover when Gordon traveled on the ensuing inbounds when he caught the ball and tried to spin away from a defender at the same time.

However, Thompson had a layup attempt partial blocked by White, who was fouled after he grabbed the rebound.

"I had Mike (Thompson) driving to the basket, down two, and if he didn't like what he saw, he could've thrown it back out top for the three," Carmody said. "But he went in there and it's a good shot. He just missed it with a big guy on him.

"Each time we seemed to come up with a big play, a defensive play here and made some shots, but weren't able to get that last one."

White made both free throws with 5.3 seconds left for the 85-82 advantage and Thompson's last-second 3-pointer hit the front of the rim.

White finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana, which avoided its fourth loss in its last five trips here.

Behind White, the Hoosiers finished with a 35-18 advantage on the boards.

Bassett went 7-of-12 from the field with four 3-pointers and Crawford handed out five assists for Indiana, which shot 56 percent (23-of-41) and converted 30-of-37 free throws.

Thompson scored 15 points and Moore added 12 for Northwestern, which remained without a win in the Big Ten since February 10, 2007 despite shooting 49 percent (28-of-57), including 11-of-26 (42 percent) on 3-pointers.