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White helps Indiana top Minnesota in home finale

Mar 6, 2008 - 5:19 AM BLOOMINGTON, Indiana (Ticker) -- D.J. White made sure that his career at Assembly Hall ended on a great note.

White scored 17 points as 17th-ranked Indiana used a late run to capture a 69-55 victory over Minnesota in the Big Ten Conference on Wednesday.

Freshman star Eric Gordon finished with 20 points for the Hoosiers (25-5, 14-3 Big Ten), who rebounded from a tough 103-74 loss at Michigan State on Sunday.

Winning for the fourth straight time at home, Indiana pulled even with Purdue for second place in the conference with a game to play. The Hoosiers travel to Penn State for their regular-season finale on Sunday.

Feeding off the emotion for the ceremony held for himself and three other seniors, White scored 13 points in the first half - including a last-second 3-pointer - to lead Indiana to a 31-27 edge at the break.

It was the first career 3-pointer for White, who had missed his previous two attempts this season.

"I knew it was good as soon as it left my hands," White said. "You all might not believe me, but I knew it was good."

"You know, it looked good from the moment it left his hand," Indiana interim coach Dan Dakick said. "It had the perfect angle on it and it looked good. It was just a matter of if it was going to get there. And when it went in it was, by far, the most difficult three we took in the half. We had some pretty good looks and couldn't make them and D.J. throws one in."

White's effort in the opening 20 minutes proved even more important as Gordon - the Big Ten's leading scorer - was limited to just 13 minutes, scoring six points.

"I thought he looked tired after the first few minutes so I wanted to get him out," Dakick said. "I didn't want to go to the end of the game having him played every stinking minute. I think I've got to be careful with that."

Gordon benefited from that extra rest down the stretch, especially on the defensive end as he helped slow down Minnesota second-leading scorer Lawrence McKenzie when the game was on the line.

"Eric did an unbelievable job at the end of the game," Dakick added. "We moved him over to McKenzie and I think McKenzie had like two points that last eight minutes of the game and I think in part because he was fresh."

Despite losing their previous two road games, the Golden Gophers managed to tie the contest at 48-48 when McKenzie split two free throws with 7:58 remaining.

That would be the closest that Minnesota would get to tasting a victory, as Indiana responded with a 16-2 run to pull ahead 64-50 on a pair of free throws by freshman Jordan Crawford with 2:09 left.

Gordon had five points during the run.

The Golden Gophers proved to be their own worst enemy, committing three of their eight second-half turnovers during the Hoosiers' run. Overall, Minnesota turned the ball over 16 times.

"It's kind of the same MO we've had in the past," Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. "We play well and then we'll shoot ourselves in the foot by turning it over like we did and not playing with the poise that we need. We cut it to two and proceeded to turn it over and take some bad shots, and that will beat you every time."

The Big Ten's second-leading scorer and top rebounder, White raised both of his arms in celebration when he left the game to a standing ovation with 1:08 left.

"It was emotional ... my last time here, great fans, a great crowd," said White, who also pulled down five rebounds and blocked two shots. "I am going to miss it a lot, playing in front of 17,000 every night that care so much about this program. I will miss it."

Gordon finished 12-of-14 from the free-throw line, and heard a chant of "One more year" from the crowd when White mentioned him in his postgame speech.

However, all indications are that Gordon, who reached 20 points for the 18th time this season, will leave school early for the NBA.

Jamarcus Ellis had an all-around strong effort for Indiana, scoring 10 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and collecting four steals.

McKenzie finished with 22 points and Dan Coleman added 14 and eight boards for the Golden Gophers, who shot 39 percent (19-of-49) in losing their third straight conference road game.