Game Particulars: Indiana (18-3/7-1) vs. Illinois (10-13/2-8)
It's not too often that a game pitting a Big Ten front-runner and the league's ninth-place team would generate this sort of fanfare, but there figures to be plenty of drama when the Hoosiers and Illini square off Thursday night at Illinois' Assembly Hall. This contest marks the first – and probably only – trip for Eric Gordon to Illinois, and the always rambunctious Illini crowd figures to be in rare form for this encounter. While the Gordon appearance is the biggest storyline from this game, it's also a contest that Indiana can ill afford to lose as it tries to keep pace with Purdue and Wisconsin in the chase for a Big Ten title.
IU is coached by Kelvin Sampson, who is in his second year as Indiana's head coach and owns a 39-14 record in Bloomington and a 494-271 career mark Illinois, meanwhile, is coached by Bruce Weber, who in his fifth season as the Illini head coach and 10th season overall. Weber owns a 122-41 mark in Champaign and a 225-95 career mark.
The game will be televised by ESPN with Rece Davis (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (color commentary) and Pat Forde (sideline reporter) calling the match-up.
Indiana 2007-08 Schedule
Illinois 2007-08 Schedule
Indiana Hoosiers (18-3/7-1)
PG- Armon Bassett(6-1, 176, So.) – 10.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, 47.5% 3 pt. shooting
SG- Eric Gordon (6-4, 205, Fr.) – 21.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.6 apg, 41.2% 3 pt. shooting
WG – Jamarcus Ellis (6-5, 210, Jr.) 7.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 41.5% FG shooting
F – Mike White (6-6, 232, Sr.) 3.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 39.5% FG shooting
F – D.J. White (6-9, 230, Sr.) – 17.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 62.1% FG shooting
Illinois Fighting Illini (10-13/2-8)
PG- Chester Frazier (6-2, 190, Jr.) – 4.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.1 apg, 32.1% FG shooting
SG – Trent Meacham (6-2, 195, Jr.) – 10.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.6 apg, 39.1% 3 pt. shooting
SF – Rodney Alexander (6-7, 225, Jr.) – 5.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 40.8% FG shooting
PF – Brian Randle (6-8, 220, Sr.) – 10.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 47.5% FG shooting
C- Shaun Pruitt (6-10, 245, Sr.) 12.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 54.6% FG shooting
Indiana 2007-08 Statistics
Illinois 2007-08 Statistics
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
What will the Illinois fans have in store for Eric Gordon, Kelvin Sampson and the Hoosiers?– A year ago the "Orange Krush" was all over Kelvin Sampson during the Illini's 51-43 win over the Hoosiers, hounding the Hoosiers' head coach with a variety of chants related to both IU's recruitment of Eric Gordon as well as his NCAA sanctions. As hard as it may be to imagine for those who were in attendance, the crowd figures to be much worse Thursday night when Sampson returns, this time accompanied by the source of their frustration, freshman guard Eric Gordon. The Illini student section that surrounds the lower bowl of Assembly Hall figure to be organized, creative and merciless on both. Sampson has dealt with it before, so it doesn't figure to have much of an impact on the second-year coach. But what kind of impact it has on Gordon is up in the air.
Even though he scored a game-high 17 points in IU's win in Bloomington last month, he wasn't at his best. He admitted afterwards he was a little anxious for the contest, so one can only imagine the emotions he'll be facing this time around.
Can Indiana quiet the crowd with a good start? - Emotions will be running high, and the Hoosiers would do themselves and Eric Gordon a world of good if they can get off to a good start. While conventional wisdom is that Gordon's nerves will settle once the game tips off, if he misses his first couple of shots it's hard to imagine that he wouldn't be affected. While a fast start would be a good start for the Hoosiers, that didn't happen last month in Bloomington. Illinois hit its first six shots from the floor and raced to a quick 13-4 lead. That start helped Illinois stay in the game until the final second and quiet the Hoosier crowd. If Illinois gets out of the gates in a similar fashion this time around, Indiana could be in big trouble.
How will Illinois go about slowing down Gordon this time around? - Illinois figured to have problems slowing Gordon in Bloomington when defensive stopper Chester Frazier was out with a rib injury. But a variety of players stepped to the forefront and did an excellent job containing the Hoosiers' leading scorer, most notably Calvin Brock and Brian Randle. The 6'9" Randle in particular gave Gordon problems, as he proved capable of stepping out to the perimeter and challenging his shots, while also showing enough quickness to keep Gordon in front of him. Based on Randle's success last time it's hard to imagine Coach Bruce Weber won't look to him at times again, but Frazier still figures to be the player who's matched up against Gordon most often. While he's not much of an offensive threat (he's shooting only 32.1 percent from the floor and 26 percent from 3-point range) he is one of the league's better perimeter defenders.
Can Indiana control the boards? Kelvin Sampson says that rebounding the basketball is critical to a team's success on the road, and that will clearly be the case against the Illini. Weber's team misses shots in bunches, shooting only 43.3 percent from the floor overall and a league-worst 30 percent from behind the 3-point arc. But they are also among the league leaders in offensive rebounding with nearly 13.5/game, so second-chance points is a concern for Coach Kelvin Sampson. With that in mind it will be interesting to see who IU starts at the second forward position next to D.J. White. Lance Stemler is probably the team's best offensive weapon of the available "4s", but rebounding isn't his strength. Mike White is probably the best rebounding option, but he didn't play Sunday against Northwestern. Kyle Taber, meanwhile, started against the Wildcats so he's an option as well. These two teams battled to a 33-33 stalemate on the glass in Bloomington.
"(Gordon) looked a lot more comfortable (against Northwestern). He had such a heavy padding on his wrist against Wisconsin. He still had the pad but it was tapered down some (Sunday), so he was a little more comfortable and could at least dribble with his left hand. I don't think it's going to get any worse unless he re-injures it. As long as it doesn't get any worse, he'll manage."– IU Coach Kelvin Sampson on Gordon's wrist injury
"You just have to follow the game plan. I know there is a lot of history between me and them, but we just have to follow the gameplan to get a win." – Eric Gordon on blocking out the distractions of the Illinois crowd
"They are going to come in hyped, for sure, with the circumstances surrounding the game. It¹s going to be big. Every game I can remember playing against Illinois has gone down to the final seconds. I expect the same (on Thursday), that it will come down to the end." – D.J. White
DID YOU KNOW
Illinois is 0-5 against ranked teams since beating then No. 23 Indiana 51-43 last season in Champaign…Eric Gordon still leads the Big Ten in both free throws made (131) and attempted (154). Michigan's Manny Harris ranks second in makes (104), while Michigan State's Raymar Morgan is second in attempts (139)…D.J. White and Eric Gordon are averaging 39.3 points combined, which is on pace to rank seventh in school history. The highest scoring tandem in IU history is Jimmy Rayl (29.8 points/game) and Tom Bolyard (18.6), who combined to average 48.4 points/game during the 1961-62 season…Eric Gordon's 21.8 points/game ranked 13th nationally…Gordon needs 66 points to set the IU single-season scoring record for a freshman (Mike Woodson, 500 points in 1976-77)…Indiana didn't trail once in the its 75-63 win over Northwestern Sunday, marking the first time that's happened since Big Ten play opened…Illinois has scored at least 70 points and shot at least 50 percent in each of its last three home games…Illini backup guard Demetri McCamey is averaging 11.6 points/game in Big Ten home games, but only 5.6 in conference road games.
Indiana vs. Illinois Gameday
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