for this game

Freshman sensation Gordon sharp as Indiana downs Illinois State

Nov 24, 2007 - 8:07 AM HOFFMAN ESTATES, Illinois (Ticker) -- Super freshman Eric Gordon is thrusting himself to the top of this season's first-year crop and taking Indiana along for the ride.

Gordon scored 31 points and the Hoosiers held Illinois State to 36 percent shooting en route to a 70-57 victory in the third round of the Chicago Invitational Challenge.

Indiana (4-0) will face Xavier, which defeated Kent State, on Saturday in the championship round.

"For the most part, I thought we defended them well," Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said. "(Illinois State coach) Tim (Jankovich) did a good job of junking the game up. Their box-and-one had us off-balance a little bit. There were parts of the game that weren't very pretty, but I don't care about that. We're 4-0, and that's what our goal was."

A highly touted recruit from nearby Indianapolis, Gordon poured in 20 points in the first half to clinch his fourth 20-plus point output in as many games this season. The 6-4 guard got off to a slow start in the second half, but turned it on at the end to help the Hoosiers pull away.

Up 19-16 with 8:34 remaining in the opening half, Gordon scored Indiana's next 11 points to stretch the lead to 30-17.

The Redbirds responded with an 8-0 run to cut it to 30-25, but the Hoosiers closed the half strong to go into the locker room with a 38-28 advantage.

Indiana earned its biggest lead of the night early in the second half when junior swingman Jamarcus Ellis scored the first four points to extend the advantage to 42-28.

Illinois State (3-1) refused to go away, chipping the deficit to 50-48 on Anthony Slack's layup with 10:28 left in the game.

Levi Dyer knocked down a pair of 3-pointers during the spurt for Illinois State, which has not beaten a team ranked in the top 10 since the 1983-84 season.

But Gordon scored seven points over the next 5 1/2 minutes to extend the lead back to 61-52 and help the Hoosiers hang on for the win.

"I thought we handled the street fight a lot better the last 10 minutes," Sampson said. "These kind of games tell you things. The most important thing about this game is that we won it. Don't ever lose sight of how important that is."

Freshman Jordan Crawford scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half for Indiana, which dominated the battle of the boards for a 41-28 rebounding advantage.

"I saw that they were running a box-and-one trying to stop (Gordon) and a lot of teams are probably going to try that," Crawford said. "Coach has always told me on the road I need to help my team and thats what I tried to do."

Dyer finished with 18 points and Slack added 13 for the Redbirds, who will face Kent State on Saturday.