With Big Ten play less than a week away, Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson still isn’t completely satisfied with his team.
The 13th-ranked Hoosiers get one more chance to satisfy their coach before facing a league opponent when they host Chicago State on Saturday.
Indiana (10-1), expected to challenge No. 7 Michigan State for the Big Ten title, looks for its seventh straight win in its last game before opening conference play Wednesday at Iowa.
The Hoosiers, whose only loss came 80-65 to Xavier on Nov. 24, have had little trouble with their non-conference schedule so far and shouldn’t have too much of a problem against Chicago State (4-11), which has lost three in a row.
Indiana, which hasn’t won a Big Ten championship since 2001-02, is averaging a Big Ten-high 82.1 points per contest, but has yet to face a single ranked team this season. Its lone loss came 80-65 to Xavier on Nov. 24.
Despite the Hoosiers’ strong start paced by star freshman Eric Gordon—one of the nation’s top scorers at 23.5 points per game—and 6-foot-9 senior D.J. White, Sampson still hasn’t felt his team has played a complete game.
That was the case in Indiana’s 73-46 win over Coppin State last Saturday in its most recent contest. The Hoosiers shot a dismal 28 percent and led by just two points at halftime over their undersized and overmatched opponent.
“We need to put 40 minutes together, start stringing halves together,” Sampson said. “We were really good in the second half Saturday, not very good the first half. But we’re capable of doing that. Sometimes kids have to remember — some kids do, some kids don’t.
“The first half was a lesson for us. I’m not sure that, in some ways, it won’t help us somewhere down the road.”
Indiana, however, responded in the second half by shooting 66.7 percent (14-for-21) and outscoring the Eagles 45-20.
Gordon, who missed all six of his first-half shots, finished with 15 points on 2-for-13 shooting for the worst overall offensive day of his brief career.
White, who’s averaging 16.0 points and 9.2 rebounds, had 21 points and eight rebounds, snapping his run of six consecutive double-doubles in which he averaged 18.3 points and 12.1 boards.
“The first half we started slow and then came together,” White said. “But that’s on us, that’s on me since I’m a captain. We can’t let it happen again.”
The Hoosiers look to finally put forth that total effort Saturday as they look to defeat Chicago State for the second straight season. White had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the Hoosiers’ 90-69 home victory over the Cougars on Nov. 19, 2006 in the teams’ only previous meeting.
Chicago State is coming off a 75-55 loss at Binghamton last Saturday. Junior guard David Holston was held to a season-low 11 points on 2-for-13 shooting, well below his team-leading 22.7 average.
The 5-8 Holston, whose 71 3-pointers leads the nation, had 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting in the Cougars’ loss at Indiana last season.
Chicago State will face its second ranked opponent this season after losing 86-53 at then-No. 12 Michigan State on Nov. 13. The Cougars have lost their last 10 games versus Top 25 teams.