Indiana vs. Illinois State Gameday

The Hoosiers continue play in the Chicago Invitational Challenge Friday night with a battle of unbeatens as they face off with Illinois State. After playing three consecutive home games, the Hoosiers will finally get their first taste of playing on the road this season at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

Game Particulars: Indiana (3-0) vs. Illinois State (3-0)

The Hoosiers continue play in the Chicago Invitational Challenge Friday night with a battle of unbeatens as they face off with Illinois State. After playing three consecutive home games, the Hoosiers will finally get their first taste of playing on the road this season as the game will take place at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. The winner of the game will go on to face the winner of the Xavier/Kent State game the following night.

The Hoosiers have won their three games this season by an average of 32.3 points per game and dusted off their best competition of the season so far this season, UNC-Wilmington, by 24 points. Eric Gordon scored 30 in the game and continues to shine as one of the nation's top players. Indiana will face an even stiffer challenge tonight, though, as the Redbirds come into the game with their own swagger at 3-0, their best start in a decade. Most recently the Redbirds defeated the same competition IU did, UNC-Wilmington, by the score of 89-73. Guard Osiris Eldridge led the Redbirds in that game with 30 points. Illinois State also has home victories over Missouri-St. Louis (70-37) and Southeast Missouri State (90-71).

IU is coached by Kelvin Sampson, who is in his second year as Indiana's head coach and owns a 24-11 record in Bloomington and a 479-268 career mark. The Redbirds are led by Tim Jankovich, who is in his first year leading the program. The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. on Friday with Mark Neely (play-by-play) and John Laskowski (color commentary) calling the match-up.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Indiana (3-0) PG- Armon Bassett (6-1, 176, So.) – 17.7 ppg, 3.6 apg, 11-15 3-pointers

SG- Eric Gordon (6-4, 205, Fr.) – 28.0 ppg, 4.3 apg, 61% FG shooting, 58% 3-pt FG shooting

WG – Jamarcus Ellis (6-5, 210, Jr.) - 5.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 4.7 apg

PF –Deandre Thomas (6-8, 210, Sr.) – 10.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 18.7 mpg

C – D.J. White (6-9, 230, Sr.) – 13.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 67% FG shooting



Illinois State (3-0)

PG- Boo Richardson (5-8, 160, Sr.) – 2.3 ppg, 4.0 apg, 21 mpg

SG – Dom Johnson (6-0, 185, Sr.) – 9.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.8 apg

WG- Osiris Eldridge (6-3, 190, So.) – 21.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.3 spg, 59% 3-pt shooting

F – Anthony Slack (6-7, 210, Sr.) – 14.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 79% FG shooting

F – Dinma Odiakosa (6-8, 240, So.) – 6.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 16.3 mpg



WHAT TO WATCH FOR How will IU respond to their first road trip? -- Not only will IU be facing their best opponent of the season, but they will be doing it on the road. Granted, it's a neutral floor in Chicago, but it's still miles away from the friendly confines of Assembly Hall. With so many young and new players on this team, Coach Kelvin Sampson will be anxious to see how they respond to the environment. Not because it will be hostile (IU fans should still outnumber Redbird fans by at least 2 to 1), but because the lighting, rims, and floor will be different than they are used to this season.

Key for IU will be a quick start. The longer they allow a team like Illinois State to stick around the more confidence the undefeated Redbirds will develop. While not nearly as talented as IU, Illinois State still has more than enough firepower to make things uncomfortable for IU, especially if IU doesn't crank up their defense early. The Hoosiers don't want to dig a hole early and are hoping to show they can bring their ‘A' game on the road with them.

How will the Eric Gordon vs. Osiris Eldridge match-up unfold? -- This might seem like a silly question with an easy answer as Gordon is light-years ahead of Eldridge in the talent department. But to dismiss Eldridge that quickly would be foolish. Over his last two games the 6-foot-3 sophomore has averaged 29.0 points per game and is coming off a season in which he was named Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year so clearly the kid can play. His confidence has been building with every game and he has publicly talked to the media about how much he is relishing this marquee, one-on-one match-up. It's highly doubtful Eldridge will be able to slow down Gordon on offense, but the real question is how much will the Hoosiers' defense slow down him? IU is still looking for that player that is going to be their lock-down defender and will consistently guard the opponent's top scorer. Most believe that player is Gordon. This is a great opportunity for the freshman to cement his status as the team's best perimeter defender.

Will IU finally own the boards? -- It's the dirty little secret about this IU basketball team that no one has been talking about during their flashy 3-0 start—the simple fact that IU has been outrebounded in every game but one this season. The one game they did enjoy a healthy advantage of the glass was against Longwood, a team that had nobody taller than 6-foot-7. Against more traditional line-ups the Hoosiers rebounding has been pretty poor.

The Redbirds will field a team that can work the glass and once again outrebound the Hoosiers if their collective team effort doesn't improve dramatically. The only player that has done met expectations or exceeded them on the glass this season is JaMarcus Ellis, who is averaging a team-high eight rebounds per game. No other Hoosier is averaging more than 3 this season. That means underachievers D.J. White and DeAndre Thomas have to start blocking out and making their presence known in the paint. They are the bigger, more physical players and it's time they assert their control on the offensive and defensive glass. This game will be an important measuring stick to see if the Hoosiers emphasis on rebounding has led to results.

Quotables "The thing that jumps out at you about Illinois State is how athletic they are at all five positions. They have a terrific, terrific guard in the Eldridge kid. He had 30, 17 in the second half against Wilmington. He's 10-17 from three (this season) and really attacks." -- IU Coach Kelvin Sampson on Redbird leading scorer Osiris Eldridge

"I've known Tim their coach for a long time and he's really gone in their and changed the mentality of his kids. He has them fighting and scrapping, they use their length, they set a ton of ball screens, and they get out and really extend on the wings and try to take you out of your offense. So it's going to be another tough challenge against a team that has a chance to have a great year." -- Sampson on Illinois State's strengths

"There's been a lot of variables for (D.J.'s rebounding numbers). He has been guarding the four and a lot of those guys have been shooting threes. We've been shooting 58 percent from the field. He's playing just a little bit over half the game right now. D.J. has always guarded the five and I think that's really affected his numbers, but I have no doubt that when we start…this weekend would be a great time…he's going to be playing against bigger guys." -- Sampson on White's rebounding statistics this season

"I think we are giving up too many points even though we are scoring a lot of points. We are just working on defense and trusting each other with help side defense." -- D.J. White on what his team has been working on recently.

"I'm just trying to feed off D.J. I ask him a lot of questions in practice and try to pick his mind apart and see where he is at so I can learn to be better." -- DeAndre Thomas on his chemistry with White




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