Men’s Basketball: White, Gordon pace IU

Andrew Simon

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Eric Gordon and D.J. White have a lot in common.

The Indiana stars were both named midseason candidates for the Wooden and Naismith awards. In Big Ten play, they both sit atop the conference in scoring, with Gordon first at 21.8 points per game and White second at 17.5.

In Sunday’s 75-63 victory over Northwestern, they had something else in common: Both dominated offensively.

Gordon, the freshman phenom, burned the Wildcats from beyond the 3-point arc despite playing with his injured left wrist heavily wrapped. White, the steady senior, punished NU in the paint.

“I know (Indiana coach Kelvin) Sampson doesn’t think this is a two-man team, and it’s not, but those two guys killed us today, ” NU coach Bill Carmody said.

Although the Cats enjoyed one of their better offensive performances of the season, the Hoosiers’ lethal inside-outside combo nearly outscored them all on their own. With Gordon pouring in 29 and White adding 26, the duo fell only eight points short of NU’s total.

It took little time for Gordon to show the Cats why he was one of the most hotly pursued recruits in the country and was named a first-team preseason All-American by The Sporting News. Early in the first half, the 6-foot-4 guard knocked down a trio of 3s in less than two minutes, making up for the fact that his wrist prevented him from driving aggressively to the basket.

Gordon, who was shooting 39.7 percent from 3-point range going into the game, connected on 7-of-8 attempts against NU. And he had a simple explanation.

“I’m just on,” he said.

While Gordon was busy bombing the Cats from long range, his 6-foot-9, 251-pound teammate was wreaking havoc on the interior.

With spindly 190-pounder Kevin Coble representing NU’s biggest starter, White had little trouble cleaning up on the offensive glass, scoring down low and getting to the free-throw line.

White scored 16 of his 26 points on dunks and layups, with eight coming at the charity stripe. He also padded his conference-best rebounding average by pulling down 13 boards, including six on the offensive end.

“I’ve never had a kid that consistently rebounds at the level he rebounds at every game,” Sampson said. “I think he’s special…. D.J.’s having just a sensational senior year, and he keeps it all in perspective. He’s matured, and he’s a blessing on this team.”

That blessing was more of a curse for the Cats, who had to choose between going out to pressure Gordon beyond the perimeter or collapsing into the key to swarm White.

“It’s tough,” Coble said. “You pick one, the other’s going to hurt you.”

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