Gophers hold Big Ten scoring leader to 12 points in the loss

Freshman guard Eric Gordon leads the Big Ten in scoring at 23 points per game, but the Gophers tamed him to 12

Luke Middendorf

Indiana’s freshman guard Eric Gordon came into Thursday night leading the Big Ten in scoring at 23 points per game.

Against Minnesota, however, 2007’s No. 2 ranked recruit in the country barely managed to find double-digits.

The Gophers held the former five-star recruit to just 12 points, not only by the array of defenders that they through at him, but mainly because Gordon was in foul trouble for the majority of the game.

Gordon’s first foul came with 19:24 remaining in the first half on an almost un-noticed reach-in call, while his second and third fouls created nearly more noise in Williams Arena than a Minnesota dunk.

A charging call on Gordon’s drive just two minutes later gave the freshman his second foul of the evening. The foul also gave him a seat on the bench next to head coach Kelvin Sampson.

The 6-foot, four-inch guard wouldn’t return until nearly six minutes later. Then just as the future first-round draft pick hit another one his characteristic NBA-range three-point field-goals, Gordon displayed an uncharacteristic freshman-like mistake by picking up his third foul of the half.

“No matter what you think of Eric, he’s still a freshman,” Sampson said after the game. “And he played like a freshman tonight.”

The pushing foul placed Gordon on the bench for the rest of the first-half, cementing a five-point performance to start the game.

But Gordon would learn from his first-half mistakes to stay at three fouls for the rest of the game. While the freshman only scored seven points in the second-half, his presence alone caused defensive problems for the Gophers.

Because of his tremendous three-point range, the Gophers were forced to defend him closely anywhere on the court. This strategy ultimately allowed a quick first-step by Gordon to get him to the basket.

With five minutes left and a one-and-one free-throw opportunity, Gordon missed his first and only shot. But just two minutes later, the freshman hit both of his free-throw chances to tie the game at 56, still finding a way to play a large role in Indiana’s 65-60 win over Minnesota.

Gordon finished the game going 3-of-8 from the field while also committing seven turnovers in 29 minutes of play, statistics that any opposing coach would take from defending a future All-American.

“I thought we did a good job on Eric Gordon,” Smith said.