Bloomington, Ind. - It took Eric Gordon less than a minute to score his first points as an Indiana Hoosier, and not much longer for his team to blow away North Alabama in the team's exhibition opener.
Paced by six players in double figures and 60 percent shooting overall, No. 9 Indiana blitzed North Alabama 121-76 Sunday afternoon at Assembly Hall.
It didn't take Gordon or the Hoosiers long to get going. Fifty-one seconds into his highly-anticipated IU debut Gordon gathered the ball at the top of the key blew by a defender and laid it in for his first bucket. That was just the start for Gordon as well as an Indiana team that scored from behind the arc (12-of-22 on 3s), in transition (18 fast-break points), around the bucket (60 points in the paint) and generally at will against an out-manned North Alabama squad.
"We played hard and we competed, but their size, strength and athletic ability wears you down," said North Alabama Coach Bobby Champagne, whose team was led by Casey Holt's 19 points.
Gordon would eventually score 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting despite having to leave for a portion of the game after chipping his tooth.
While Gordon might have been the player most of the announced crowd of 17,109 came to see, the biggest performance was turned in by fellow freshman guard Jordan Crawford. Crawford scored a team-high 30 points on 10-of-11 shooting, including a perfect 6-of-6 effort from behind the 3-point arc. Three of those 3-pointers came during a 2:07 stretch midway through the second half when Indiana turned a 14-point lead into a 25-point cushion, 79-54.
"I don't know if I've had a freshman have 30 right out of the gate," said IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.
Crawford and the rest of Indiana's newcomers also showed off plenty of athleticism as well, coming away with a series of highlight reel fast-break dunks and transition buckets. A few of those plays also went awry, though, prompting Sampson to joke that Crawford will have to keep those sort of plays in check.
"I just remind him, he's playing for Indiana, he's not playing for the And-One all-stars," said Sampson. "But Jordan has that in him. He's a very talented young man. When he learns to defend and lock down and guard…a lot of people saw tonight what we've been seeing. He has a chance to be really good."
Crawford was quick to deflect the praise for his Indiana debut, instead crediting the double teams that D.J. White commanded as well as the play of sophomore Armon Bassett, who added 18 points and five assists.
"(The basket) felt pretty big, but I got a lot of open shots," said Crawford. "It wasn't just me, it was them helping me out."
White finished with a double-double (13 points and 11 rebounds), but it might have been his team-high six assists and zero turnovers that impressed Sampson the most.
"It shows he's getting better at handling the double teams," Sampson said.
The only player who didn't get in the mix was Mike White, who Sampson said afterwards might redshirt. While freshmen are allowed to play in exhibition games without losing the possibility of saving their freshman seasons, upperclassmen forfeit the chance to redshirt if they play in an exhibition game. Sampson said they'll decide within the next seven to 10 days whether or not the senior will sit out this season and come back for the 2008-09 campaign.
"We haven't decided yet," Sampson said. "Mike has to feel comfortable with it. Ultimately it's his decision….we'll do what's best for Mike and what's best for the team."
Other than Mike White, everyone on the IU roster got in the mix. JaMarcus Ellis showed off his versatility and tenacity with 10 points, four assists and six steals, while Brandon McGee chipped in 12 points, six rebounds and two assists in only 12 minutes of action. DeAndre Thomas (seven points, three rebounds, three steals) and Eli Holman (five points, six rebounds, three blocks) also showed enough to suggest they'll figure into the team's plans on the frontcourt as well.
North Alabama's coach was among those who came away impressed with IU's effort.
"They might be better than (the No. 9 national ranking) if they shoot the ball as well as they did today," Champagne said. "I think we were guarding them and they were still knocking down 3s. They are a very good team…they are bigger, stronger and more athletic than us, but they came out and played like they needed to play today."
As dominating as Indiana's effort was, Sampson figures to find plenty of things to work on before the team takes the court again next Saturday against UNC-Pembroke at 8 p.m.
"Maybe in the 40 minutes tonight, I'm not sure if we had 10 good minutes of defense," Sampson said. "There's always a breakdown somewhere. An open shot. Not rotating and taking the baseline away, not stepping in and taking charges, not communicating on a ball screen.
"We have enough mistakes tonight to last us this week, and be able to come out and have a better performance defensively."
D. White 5-9 3-6 13, Stemler 1-3 0-0 2, Bassett 7-11 2-3 18, Ellis 4-8 1-2 10, Gordon 10-16 2-2 24, Thomas 3-5 1-2 7, Finkelmeier 0-1 0-0 0, Crawford 10-11 4-4 30, McGee 3-7 5-7 12, Holman 2-4 1-1 5, Taber 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 45-75 18-27 121.
NORTH ALABAMA 76
Gay 7-15 1-1 17, Morris 2-3 4-4 8, Beckwith 4-18 2-2 12, Johnson 4-8 0-0 8, Holt 7-14 2-4 19, McCants 0-2 0-0 0, Deegan 1-3 0-0 2, Chesney 0-4 3-4 3, Collins 1-2 0-0 3, Stojnic 1-2 0-0 2, Hunter 1-2 0-0 2, Fraise 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-75 12-15 76.
Halftime Score: Indiana 55, North Alabama 39. 3-Pointers: Indiana 12-22 (Crawford 6-6, Bassett 2-4, Gordon 2-4, Ellis 1-2, McGee 1-4, Stemler 0-1, Finkelmeier 0-1. North Alabama 8-30 (Holt 3-8, Beckwith 2-9, Gay 2-6, Collins 1-2, Johnson 0-2, Chesney 0-2, Deegan 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 48 (D. White 11), North Alabama 34 (Johnson 6). Assists: Indiana 24 (D. White 6), North Alabama 10 (Johnson 4). Blocks: Indiana 8 (Holman 3, D. White 3), North Alabama 4 (Beckwith, Holt, Stojnic, Fraise). Steals: Indiana 13 (Ellis 6), North Alabama 9 (Johnson 3, Holt 3). Turnovers: Indiana 16, North Alabama 19. Officials: Tom O'Neill, J.D. Collins, Mark Massariu. Attendance: 17,109
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