Indiana made the most of its lone non-conference road game during the weekend. Now the Hoosiers look to continue their dominance at Assembly Hall on Monday when they face Tennessee State in the opener of a five-game homestand.
The No. 15 Hoosiers (6-1) played their only true road game so far this season Saturday and emerged with a 64-51 victory over Southern Illinois. Freshman Eric Gordon scored 22 points as he continued to show he’s already one of the nation’s elite offensive players.
Coach Kelvin Sampson was especially pleased, however, with other facets of Gordon’s performance.
“Basketball is a simple game. You have to learn how to play, the speeds you have to play at. I thought he played extremely unselfish tonight,” Sampson said of Gordon, who also had three blocks and two steals. “Not all of his passes led to assists, but it was kind of like a hockey assist - his pass led to the next pass.
“He didn’t play like a freshman is trying to score. He played like a basketball player that has some experience.”
Gordon is averaging team highs of 26.6 points and 1.7 steals while shooting 54.5 percent from the field, including 52.4 percent (22-for-42) from 3-point range. After committing a season-high eight turnovers in an 83-79 victory over Georgia Tech on Tuesday, he had only three Saturday.
The only thing Gordon hasn’t done at Indiana is grab an offensive rebound, with all 26 he’s accumulated coming on the defensive end.
He could get his first during this upcoming home stretch, which is highlighted by a matchup with perennial rival Kentucky on Saturday. The Hoosiers are 4-0 at Assembly Hall this season, averaging 94.3 points and shooting 56.1 percent - 50.6 percent from beyond the arc (39-of-77) . They’ve also made nearly 76 percent of their free throws at home, hitting an average of 22 per game.
Indiana is 19-0 at home under Sampson.
Tennessee State (2-3) has been idle for two weeks since finishing fourth in the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Tigers defeated the host school, Division II Alaska-Fairbanks, 78-64 before losing 87-68 to Colorado State in the semifinals and 74-72 to Akron in the third-place game Nov. 18.
Jerrell Houston scored a season-high 22 points against the Zips, but the Tigers hurt themselves with 17 turnovers that led to 22 points. Houston also had nine rebounds and Bruce Price added 10 points and nine assists for Tennessee State, which rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to tie it before losing on a basket in the final seconds.
Price leads Tennessee State in scoring (16.6 points per game) and assists (6.2), but the Tigers have yet to defeat a Division I team. They’re shooting 40.2 percent from 3-point range, but opponents are scoring 80.8 points per game and shooting 50.3 percent.
Tennessee State has lost 11 straight to ranked opponents since the start of the 1996-97 season, losing by single digits on only two occasions.
This will be the first meeting between the teams.