HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) -- Here's the scary part for teams that must play Indiana and defend Eric Gordon. He's only played four games in his college career and is bound to get even better.
Gordon scored 31 points -- the third time he's hit for at least 30 -- and the No. 8 Hoosiers hung on in the second half Friday night to beat scrappy Illinois State 70-57 in the Chicago Invitational Challenge."I thought I did pretty good. I had a good feeling offensively, especially in the first half," said Gordon after pushing his average to 28.7 for the unbeaten Hoosiers. "It was really physical, especially in the second half. ... This is the closest game we've had and it was good to grind it out."Gordon, who had 20 points in the first half, finished 11-for-18 from the field, with a pair of 3-pointers and six rebounds. Illinois State even tried a gimmick box-and-one defense in the second half on the young Hoosiers' start."They switched up their defenses a lot and it was good to have Jordan to make plays for us," Gordon said of fellow freshman Jordan Crawford, who scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half and led a decisive run late in the game.The Hoosiers (4-0) have won their first four games for the first time since the 2002-03 team went 8-0. They will play Xavier in the final on Saturday night. The Musketeers (3-1) defeated Kent State 78-65 on Friday.Indiana may have to go without starting guard Armon Bassett, who suffered a foot injury late in the first half and was sidelined the second half."We don't know his status for tomorrow night," Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said.But the Hoosiers compensated because they have several ball handlers, most notably Crawford, Jamarcus Ellis and Gordon.Gordon scored his 20 in the first half on 8-of-11 shooting. He had 11 straight Indiana points during one stretch to help the Hoosiers build a 38-28 halftime lead.But Illinois State (3-1), seeking its first victory over a top-10 opponent since the 1983-84 season, gave Indiana its first real test by hustling and fighting for every loose ball and rebound.Gordon made his first basket of the second half an emphatic one, driving down the lane for a thunderous dunk with 13:05 left, bringing a large contingent of Hoosiers fans at the Sears Center to their feet as Indiana went up by 11.Levi Dyer, who had 18 points, then hit a pair of 3-pointers as the Redbirds ran off nine straight points to cut the lead to 50-48 with just over 10 minutes remaining."Dyer hit some tough shots. For the most part I thought we defended them well," Sampson said. "At the end of the day we're 4-0 and that was our goal."After the Redbirds got back in the game, Crawford scored six points to spark a late 10-2 run for Indiana that put the Hoosiers up by 11 with about three minutes to go.Anthony Slack chipped in 13 points and blocked four shots for the Redbirds."They're one of the best teams in the country and we played them tough," Slack said. "We have a long road to go to get better."The Redbirds will face Kent State on Saturday.Gordon helped the Hoosiers built a 13-point lead in the first half by scoring 11 straight Indiana points. He lost a dribble on a fastbreak but quickly retrieved it and hit a layup. And then moments after hitting two free throws, he sneaked free on an inbounds pass for a layup to make it 25-16.After Illinois State missed a jumper, Gordon went high for the rebound and then took off from one end of the floor to the other, sailing high above the defense for a layup and the Hoosiers had a 10-point cushion. But the freshman sensation wasn't finished, canning a 3-pointer as Indiana went up 30-17.But the Redbirds regrouped and a 3-pointer by Dyer sparked an 8-0 run -- Gordon was resting during most of the brief spurt -- to make it a five-point game.After a timeout, Gordon re-entered the game and fed D.J. White for a dunk and then after an offensive rebound came out long, he picked up the ball and sank another 3-pointer.