|College Basketball: Kentucky at Indiana Preview, Matchup, Picks & Odds|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Saturday, 08 December 2007 02:56|
Bring on The Hoosiers
As one of the most highly touted freshmen in a season with a number of standout first-year players, Indiana's Eric Gordon has not disappointed.
Luckily for the 15th-ranked Hoosiers, it looks like Gordon will get a chance to continue his stellar play on Saturday against Kentucky.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Indiana -8 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 71% of bets for this game have been placed on Indiana -8 (View College Basketball bet percentages).
Despite leaving his last game after sustaining a back injury on an awkward fall, Gordon is expected to play as the Hoosiers host Kentucky in search of their 23rd straight win at Assembly Hall.
Gordon bruised his lower back in a 84-72 victory over Tennessee State on Monday. He left the game with six minutes left in the first half, finishing with eight points for his first college game with fewer than 20.
Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said Thursday that Gordon's sore back likely won't keep the guard out of Saturday's contest.
"He is better," Sampson said. "Tuesday was a day off, so no one practiced. (Wednesday) he did a lot of shooting."
That's good news for the Hoosiers (7-1), who have ridden Gordon to their best start since 2002-03, when they won their first eight games.
Gordon ranks among the country's top scorers with 24.3 points per game, and is shooting 53.4 percent from the field, 50.0 percent (22-for-44) from 3-point range and 83.8 percent from the foul line - all in the Big Ten's top five among qualifying players.
However, with Gordon sidelined on Monday, the Hoosiers needed a new source of offense. They found it in D.J. White, who scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
"My teammates did a good job getting me the ball early," White said. "I had to step up. Our leading scorer, our playmaker got hurt, and we all knew we had to step up and play."
White has delivered four consecutive double-doubles, taking over the conference lead despite failing to record one his first four games.
"D.J.'s gotten better every game," Sampson said after White went 11-for-16 from the field. "He's starting to play. Our kids did a good job getting the ball to him. Even the five shots he missed, he got open looks."
Monday's win was the 22nd straight for Indiana at Assembly Hall, where the Hoosiers are 20-0 under Sampson. Indiana is shooting 54.3 percent from the field at home, including 46.2 percent from behind the arc.
Kentucky has won 11 of its last 13 games against Indiana to take a 28-22 advantage in the series, including a 59-54 victory last season at home. The Wildcats, though, are just 2-7 all-time at Assembly Hall, where they haven't won since a 68-66 victory on Dec. 6, 1980.
They've lost four in a row there since that win, but haven't visited Assembly Hall since Dec. 18, 1990. From 1991-2005, the teams alternated playing at neutral sites in Indianapolis and Louisville, Ky., with each school's fan base filling half the venue.
This year's visit will be especially meaningful for Joe Crawford, who leads the Wildcats (4-2) with 18.3 points per game. Crawford, the older brother of Indiana guard Jordan Crawford, will be facing his freshman brother for the first time in college.
"I think about it everyday, and we talk everyday," Joe Crawford said. "He's pretty confident going in."
The Wildcats have reason to be confident as well, after playing No. 1 North Carolina tough before falling 86-77 last Saturday. Crawford had a game-high 21 points.
"We have a lot of improvement to make and I think we're making it. We're on the right track," first-year Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said.
The Wildcats hope their experience against the top-ranked Tar Heels proves to be a valuable learning experience for the matchup with Indiana.
"It's our second big game in a row," Crawford said. "It's important for us to be recognized as a top-20 team. We're just working hard everyday and we're going to go out there and try to do that for 40 minutes."
Gillispie and Sampson met four times from 2004-06 when Gillispie was with Texas A&M and Sampson was with Oklahoma. Sampson's Sooners were undefeated in those games.
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