Indiana knows Eric Gordon might only be around for one season before he heads to the NBA. If that’s the case, the freshman guard looks determined to make what would be a brief time in Bloomington memorable.
Gordon and the eighth-ranked Hoosiers (2-0) look to continue their fast start Tuesday when they host UNC Wilmington in the Chicago Invitational Challenge.
One of the top recruits in the country, the 6-foot-4 Gordon set a school record for points by an Indiana player in his first game with 33 in a win over Chattanooga last week. He followed that up with a game-high 21 in a 100-49 rout of Longwood on Sunday.
Gordon is best known for a quick first step that allows him to blow by defenders on the perimeter, but in the first two games of his college career, it’s been his shooting that has defined him. He’s 12-of-19 from 3-point range and the Hoosiers have followed his lead, shooting 58 percent from beyond the arc.
As talented as Gordon is, the Hoosiers appear to be much more than just their precocious freshman.
Sophomore point guard Armon Bassett has averaged 17.0 points to go along with 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. Senior D.J. White, who averaged a team-high 13.8 points last season, is scoring 14.5 per game so far. That’s also the average for Jordan Crawford, another standout freshman.
“We continue to get better,” Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said. “We have so many new players, they’re going to make mistakes. We just have to be patient. But you can tell every time we hit the court we’re improving.”
Sampson isn’t satisfied even though his team has won its first two games by an average of 36.5 points. With five freshman and two junior college transfers, the Hoosiers coach feels the young squad has a lot to learn.
“Jordan is making mistakes, Eric, (transfer) DeAndre (Thomas), all of our new guys,” Sampson said. “They make mistakes. A lot of them are playing a different defense than they have ever seen, but their attitudes are good.”
Whether the Hoosiers were familiar with Sampson’s style of defending or not, they have apparently been quick studies. Indiana is holding opponents to 36 percent shooting and limited Longwood to 26 percent from the floor - 17 percent in the first half.
Indiana will be looking to win its 20th straight regular season game at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers tied a school record by going 15-0 at home last season.
UNC Wilmington (1-1) won its opener in overtime against the College of Charleston before losing 89-73 at Illinois State on Sunday.
The Seahawks led by as many as 10 points early in the second half, but the Redbirds grabbed the lead with 10:55 remaining and never looked back on their way to the 16-point win.
UNC Wilmington, from the Colonial Athletic Association, is led by seniors Daniel Fountain (21.5 points per game) and Vladimir Kuljanin (19.5 ppg, 14.5 rpg). Another senior, guard T.J. Carter, was the MVP of the CAA tournament in 2005-06.
The Seahawks struggled in coach Benny Moss’ first season on the bench in 2006-07, finishing 7-22. Two seasons ago, UNC Wilmington made it to the NCAA tournament, losing to George Washington in the first round.
Indiana and UNC Wilmington have met twice, with the Hoosiers winning both times. The most recent matchup came in the second round of the 2002 NCAA tournament, with Indiana winning 76-67 on its way to an appearance in the national title game.