Hoosiers stymied by Musketeers, 80-65

The Indiana players may have had a holiday break from their classes, but they got schooled Saturday night in Chicago. The Hoosiers learned a hard lesson about tough defense as they were held in check for 40 minutes by an aggressive Xavier defense in a 80-65 loss.

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Indiana's youth finally met its match Saturday, and it met it at half court before the opening tip of the final of the Chicago Invitational Challenge.

The Hoosiers lost here 80-65 Saturday night to a Xavier team that paraded out three seniors for the opening tip to just one senior for the Hoosiers.

The difference in experience turned to be, well, the difference maker.

As the night wore on, Xavier's (4-1) experience won out and the Hoosiers (4-1) lost for the first time this year.

Indiana easily suffered through its worst shooting night of the year, shooting only 38.5 percent on 25-of-65 shooting. When you take into account IU's lone senior D.J. White was 7-of-9 from the field, it means IU's four-man guard rotation of Eric Gordon, Armon Bassett, Jamarcus Ellis and Jordan Crawford shot only 32 percent. From behind the 3-point arc, the Hoosiers were only 1-of-15. The Hoosiers had been shooting 51.5 percent from 3-point land.

"Our kids kept fighting; we just gotta get tougher," IU coach Kelvin Sampson said after the loss. "I think our immaturity and our inexperience really hurt us in certain situations."

Indiana's shooting ills aside, on the boxscore the game was not as one-sided as it looked. IU actually out-rebounded Xavier 42-41, had only one more turnover than the Musketeers (12-11) and scored 20 second-chance points to Xavier's 21.

"It just shows you how little stats mean sometimes," Sampson said.

What did mean a lot was a 13-5 run by the Musketeers to end the first half, turning what was a one point game with 5:21 left in the first half, into a 40-29 halftime deficit for the Hoosiers.

Indiana never recovered.

"We're not quite where they are as a team yet," Sampson said. "We have good parts. This game's about how good your team is and we're not as good as a team right now as Xavier is."

That was especially apparent in the first half, even before Xavier's run, when everything that could go wrong for Indiana did go wrong.

It started with Eric Gordon and the Hoosiers being ice cold. The Hoosiers shot 37.5 percent for the half on 12-of-32 shooting. Gordon was worse. Indiana's leading scorer in the season's first four games, Gordon missed his first four shots and was a paltry 1-for-6 from the field with four points, two assists and two turnovers with 7:09 left in the opening half.

That's when things got just downright bad.

Sixteen seconds after picking up his second foul of the game on a charging call that had the Hoosier fans that filled the lower level of the Sears Centre up in arms, Gordon picked up his third foul, catching Xavier's Stanley Burrell on the arm as the Musketeer senior made a layup. Gordon went to the bench. He would make only three more buckets the rest of the night.

The IU freshman did finish the game with 20 points after going 12-for-12 from the free-throw line and was the Hoosiers' leading scorer for the fifth time this year.

But Gordon and the rest of the Hoosiers wasted an outstanding first half by senior D.J. White.

A night after scoring four points in 29 minutes of play against Illinois State, White scored 10 points in the first 20 minutes against Xavier. He also grabbed seven rebounds.

But it was all for naught as DeAndre Thomas spent most of the first half on the bench with two fouls and Lance Stemler was only able to add two points and three rebounds to the cause.

"We've got to find another post guy that can be more productive," Sampson said.

On the night White finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

"This is a learning experience for the young guys," White said after the game. "And us old guys also."

The Hoosiers return to action on Tuesday in Bloomington when they take on Georgia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Game time is 7 p.m.




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