Oladipo overcomes ankle injury, leads IU to 72-68 win over No. 4 Michigan State

WHAT HAPPENED: Indiana outlasted No. 4 Michigan State 72-68 in a ferocious battle for first place in the Big Ten in front of 14,797 at the Breslin Center. It was the No. 1 Hoosiers’ first win in East Lansing  since 1991, snapping a string of 17 straight losses at Michigan State. It also gives the Hoosiers not only a one-game lead on Michigan State but also the head-to-head tiebreaker, as the Hoosiers (24-3 overall, 12-2 in the Big Ten) have beaten the Spartans (22-5, 11-3) twice this year.

The Hoosiers held the lead from the 14:42 mark when senior forward Christian Watford hit a 3-pointer to make it 13-11 until the 6:30 mark in the second half and were up by as many as eight points, but they had to rally back from four points down with 1:37 to go. Senior forward Christian Watford scored a critical 3-point play with 1:24 to make it 67-66. Michigan State point guard Keith Appling missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:08 left, and on the ensuing possession, IU junior guard Victor Oladipo tipped in a missed layup by freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell to make 68-67 with 43 seconds left. After a missed layup by Michigan State freshman guard Gary Harris, Oladipo scored on a runout dunk off an inbound to make it 70-67. Harris had a chance to tie the game when he was fouled on a 3-point shot by IU junior swingman Will Sheehey, but he missed the first, made the second then had to purposefully miss the third. Oladipo grabbed the rebound and hit two free throws to seal the win.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Victor Oladipo. So many times Victor Oladipo.

The Indiana junior guard went over 1,000 points in his career, and authored the signature moments in his Player of the Year campaign in the game’s last 43 seconds. The tip-in, the runout dunk, the rebound and the free throws effectively won the Hoosier a game they almost let slip away. Playing on an ankle that he said was maybe 85-90 percent, he scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds and five steals. He hit one 3-pointer, but most of his seven field goals were either layups or dunks. He managed to inbound the ball to himself off the back of Michigan State’s Matt Costello and dunk the ball before Costello turned around. His steal and save that turned into a fastbreak dunk with 5:47 to go also qualifies as one of his most astounding players of the year.Those last six points put him over 1,000 for his career.

Sophomore center Cody Zeller also continued his solid play. The Hoosiers established him early and he finished with 17 points and two blocks. He also broke the 1,000-point barrier. Senior forward Christian Watford had a somewhat uneven performance in part because he was shaken up by a flagrant foul called against him for accidentally hitting Michigan State’s Adreian Payne in the face, but he finished with 12 points, hitting two 3-pointers and that critical 3-point play down the stretch.

IU senior guard Jordan Hulls had 12 points on four 3-pointers.  He and Watford were already well over 1,000 points, so with Zeller and Oladipo now over the barrier, this Indiana team became the first IU team in school history to have four players past the 1,000-point mark at the same time.

Harris scored 19 points for Michigan State. Junior forward Adreian Payne had 17 ponts and seven rebounds.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Mostly it was Oladipo and the big play by Watford and Zeller’s strong play and some big shots from Hulls but there were other reasons.

After giving up 11 3-pointers in the first matchup, the Hoosiers seemed to make a concerted effort not to get beat by the 3. They didn’t play any zone and they didn’t double from the wing to the post very much, though they did sometimes double with two post men. The Spartans ended up just 4-for-15 from beyond the arc. Payne was 3-for-3, but the rest of the team was 1-for-12. Indiana played man-to-man the entire time, and sometimes that left Hulls in a very disadvantageous matchup with Harris, but the Hoosiers won most of their other matchups and Hulls scored enough to keep it at just short of a wash.Indiana, meanwhile, shot 8-for-18 from beyond the arc, and those four extra points were the difference.

Freshman guard Yogi Ferrell had his struggles and shot just 3-for-9 while committing three fouls and two turnovers. But he also had five assists, and he combined with Oladipo to take Michigan State point guard Keith Appling out of the game again. Appling wasn’t in foul trouble this time and played 36 minutes, but he was just 1-for-8 from the field and had four turnovers against two assists.

The Hoosiers lost the rebound battle by one and failed to at least match their opponents’ points at the free throw line for the first time since their Dec. 31 win at Iowa, but they only turned the ball over 10 times, also a critical component to the victory.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: So, so much.

Just winning in Breslin is big. The Hoosiers hadn’t beaten Michigan State on its home court since 1991, when very few members of IU’s current team were even alive. That means a lot for Crean personally, as he is both a Michigan native and former Michigan State assistant. His father and mother — who separated during his youth — were both at the game.

But this was one of the biggest remaining regular season hurdles for the Hoosiers in their hopes of setting up the best possible path in the NCAA Tournament. This gives the Hoosiers a one-game lead plus the head-to-head tiebreaker with Michigan State in the Big Ten championship race. They haven’t claimed a share of one of those since 2002 and they haven’t won the title outright since 1993, so that in itself would be a major accomplishment for this team.

But even more important than that, whoever wins the Big Ten will probably earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA’s, and namely, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest and therefore a chance to play the regional semifinals and finals in Indianapolis, by all intents and purposes a pair of home games. As it stands, the Hoosiers would be the overall No. 1 seed if the season ended today, and they are running out of chances to lose that spot.

Tom Crean

Sometimes these games don’t live up to the hype. We played Michigan at home a few weeks ago for College Gameday and it did. Without a doubt, tonight it did. We knew that it would be a battle and I’m sure they knew it would be a battle. We told our guys that this would be the most physical game of basketball up to this point of the year. There might be more coming down the road, but we had to make sure that we did our part, because we knew that Michigan State would do their part. When you play in games like this, it is not just about how tough you are, but also how smart you are and I thought our guys did an excellent job of that tonight.”

“People asked if Victor Oladipo is 100 percent, and there is no way of knowing that Victor Oladipo wasn’t close to 100 percent tonight. He wasn’t close. The way he played was excellent, but the way he finished this game when he was winded and there’s no doubt that his foot hurt. he might tell you different, but I’ve been around him long enough to know when he is right. and I knew that his mind was right, though.”

“Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls are high-level seniors. Statistics aside, they made leadership decisions and plays throughout the game. When you have a mature team, a smart team, and a team that is invested like they are, we have a lot of conversations in timeouts, and during the game, Ive grown to be a tremendous listener.

On Michigan State’s last possession

“I don’t think we fouled (Gary) Harris. We had no intentions of fouling. At that point, we were in switching defense. We said the word “verticality,” and any shot they were going to make was going to have to be earned. We did not want to foul in that situation. I’ll have to watch the film, but my initial reaction is that we didn’t. it was called and we dealt with it and played it out.”

On Oladipo

“I don’t think that we ever felt that he wouldn’t play. His attitude was great. He was rehabbing at such a high level. Being able to play and being able to play at a level of effectiveness, those are night and day things. I think what he did tonight was that he has tried the best the last few days to be himself, but he really hasn’t been. It’s not bad, but his maturity and level of toughness went up another notch. There is no way that he felt good and there is no way that he had the normal level of conditioning, but he has such mental toughness.”

On Watford

“Christian was just a grown man the whole night. Airballing and having 15,000 people yell t him didn’t affect him one bit. We just kept coming. We had the foul situations and the flagrant, which I just trust, because those are high-level officials. He didn’t let any of that affect him. He just kept playing, and the pass he made at the end of the three-quarter court was something we drew up and he had the sense to get it inbounds. To have the presence of mind to get it inbounds and find Victor running up the court was phenomenal. Christian made big plays all night like he has all season long. he drew a very tough assignment in guarding Derrick Nix.”

Tom Izzo

“I thought we had our chances but we really didn’t play well enough to win the game. We just made too many mistakes early. Wehad some of our key players that weren’t into the game. We had some distractions, and I think it affected some guys. We bounced back in the second half and played a little better. Give Indiana credit. For me, the MVP of this league, Oladipo made very play when he needed to The tip-in was phenomenal. He did the job and the things he has to do offensively and defensively.

On Oladipo’s dunk and tip-in

“With the dunk, there was a mistake in the switch. The play that was the killer was the tip-n. What happened is he’s got incredible heart and he just did what he does. I can give you our scouting report right now — cut him out, cut him out, cut him out — and he went and got it.”

Victor Oladipo

“I probably was 85-90 (percent), but plus the adrenaline and the fans, 100 percent.”

“There was no question (I would play). Maybe from everybody else and maybe from coach and them, but you would’ve had to kill me in order for me to miss this game.”

“I was just being aggressive, not even that much, just finishing plays out. Doing whatever I needed to do in order to help my team win. Whether it was crashing the glass like I did or getting big stops or getting big free throws.

“The tip-in, Yogi had a wide-open layup, but at the end of the day, he missed it. No player is ever over until the ball goes through the hoop. I was just crashing just in case. Luckily, the ball went to me and I tipped it in.”

“On the runout, everybody went to Jordan. That’s how much attention he attracts. Christian found me, and that’s all she wrote to be honest with you.”

AUDIO: Tom Izzo

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: Victor Oladipo

AUDIO: Jordan Hulls

AUDIO: Cody Zeller


  1. What we saw last night was that IU has a TEAM and a COACH. The team made the plays they had to make and answered each run MSU made on them. Coach Crean and staff made a great game plan. They made great game adjustments. This game worried me what with MSU’s 17 game win streak at home, their dominance over IU at home for the past 20 years, etc. IU came out extremely well prepared. Every dog has his day and IU had theirs. I wonder what Derrick Nix thinks of IU’s players now? Like I said, every dog has his day but Appling didn’t show up…again. Nix said Dawson can match Oladipo…apparently not; and perhaps Nix has a new respect for Cody Zeller. Zeller gets beat up every night and yet he hangs in there and plays his game and contributes to the team. GREAT game IU. Lets get some rest and come back hitting on all cylinders…again! Go IU!!

  2. Nice win IU. want some one sided story reading go check the East Lansing Journal and their writer named Couch. Despite two MSU losses to IU he still claims MSU is the better team. He even claims this despite what Izzo said. and of course there is no mention of Nix’s contact with Cody last night , or the mystery timing issues last night either.

  3. This was as much a mental game of limiting mistakes and taking whatever opportunity the opposing team gave in small cracks of their defense as being WOW’d by the physical athleticism of the players. IU has grown considerably this season in how they play as a unit and try to keep the game within the confines of what the team as a sum of its parts and the individual parts can do best.

    Still room to grow. The five, Watford, Hulls, Oladipo, Sheehey and Elston are playing at the top of their mental and physical games, this is self evident, there is a grit and determination. Zeller is not all there yet but as Magic Johnson said on the television he is the best all around big man in college and still has a lot of ceiling left. He still comes short on his lift with contact near the rim but that is beginning to improve. What is bigger and very foreboding for the rest of IU’s competitors is that Zeller keeps expanding his game, this is the first game where his perimeter shot was a weapon not an occasion. Defensively his perimeter game continues to evolve where that too is going to be a force to contend with.

    Yogi was maddening in not being able to finish at least two and possibly three baskets on drives to the rim. If I am preparing for IU I would try to force Yogi to be the final option on the clock, though that too could a trap as Yogi is still a freshman and still learning.

    Bigger, IU played through BS ref’s, I have an and well deserved disrespect for Valentine’s work, he simply is not a good referee. But this crew allowed more non calls than I have seen in a long time…BS to them, as for the homer time keepers, WOW how bad and obvious can you get…sorry guys I know it is a volunteer role but the conference should be more in charge of this neutral chore.

    And yet I thank those human failings as IU fought through this and now is in a new plain of development. As I stated they win that game and they should sweep the final four games of the B10 regular conference. Already planning a gathering in the vacation home for the weekend of March 16-17 IU should make for a wonderful finale to a great conference season.

  4. I had to watch it again at 1am. Same bat channel, same bat teams same bat results, it was awesome. Scary having to play at Minn after this one.

  5. Didn’t Zeller shoot & hit numerous perimeter shots vs Ohio State. He’s been taking more over the past 4-5, starting & I counted the 1st 3 games he did this, he was 1-14, then the OSU game he shot out from outside. I’ve posted numerous times this is an extremely weak portion of his game, that he was so one dimensional, get the ball, drive to the basket, Butler defended that very well. He can start shooting & hitting better from the perimeter, it will be very difficult to defend him.

  6. Hearing Magic – my all-time favorite NBA player and Laker hero – talk about Oladipo the way he did, I had to pinch myself.

    This team continues to get stronger and stronger in the face of greater and greater odds. First time in my career as a Hoosier fan that I have seen them pull out these types of road wins. I admit (are you out there, psych?) that I whined like a girl after the Illinois loss and predicted a 24-7 finish. But Crean is even better than I thought he was, and has made me look the fool.

  7. Don’t pinch yourself too hard or you might turn into a mini Greg Kelser and wake up from claims you won a college championship all by yourself.

  8. This Bob Nemanich? Yikes. Laffy suing a blog suddenly doesn’t look so ridiculous.

    Nemanich said Knight’s beef with IU has no bearing on the lawsuit he and others filed in April 2001. They contend that Brand and University trustees violated the state’s Open Door Law by holding two secret meetings the day before Knight was dismissed.

    IU attorneys have argued the meetings were legal because at no time were a majority of the trustees together.

    No court date has been set. Depositions are scheduled for Nov. 7.

    Nemanich said he spoke with Knight Friday, the day after the coach’s attorney informed Nemanich of IU’s offer. He said Knight rejected the offer, and the fans agreed it was unacceptable(courtesy: Indiana Daily Student)

  9. Yes, the high praise that Magic and the other two announcers had for VO was great, but a bit surprising given the venue. I especially appreciated when Magic made a point of telling the T.V. audience that VO would graduate this May after only three years. It was clear that he wanted to emphasize that point and praise VO for something other than just his basketball ability. And in so doing, he made sure the younger members of his audience got the message. Good for Magic and even better for VO.

    Either VO’s stock has had a meteoric rise in recent weeks or Magic embellished where VO will go in the NBA draft. “The first five picks!” I hope he’s right, but I think that might be too optimistic.

  10. Pre-game, Ken Pomeroy had IU winning 71-69. Starting to believe this guy. Not bad for an ex-weatherman.

    Vitale has his leading candidates for Coach of the Year. Leading the 20 or so potentials is the Miami coach. Of course Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is listed. Of course Tom Crean is not listed. Last year Vitale had a political fund raiser at his home for a local politician. This guy has been under investigation for 2 yrs. Seems as if all his employees at his car dealerships gave maximum $$’s allowed to his campaign. And maybe they were reimbursed. And Vitale noted that this guy is the “type of person America needs in Washington. So acknowledgement by Vitale may be a kiss-of-death..?

    And who knew that Zeller could turn Nix into such a touchy feely type of guy.

  11. Watching the replay on ESPN. I couldn’t watch and listen last night, had to turn the sound off and turn the radio on. They weren’t too bad. Very complimentary of I.U.. Pleasantly surprised actually. Thanks for your great coverage! Look forward to it everyday especially when they have a long layoff. Great game Hoosiers! Love you guys!

  12. i’m probably the only one who thinks this but it appears nix faked getting punched in the cajones by zeller to draw a foul or worse early in the game. then it appears zeller retaliates by doing the same thing. there only appears to be incidental contact in the groin area and no forceful or intentional contact in either case. my take, anyway.

    after watching replays, it doesn’t appear as if oladipo’s run out on the sideline inbounds play near the end of the game was a diagrammed play. looks like victor was winging it. no screen was set on harris. if coach were to design a runout, zeller would be the obvious choice against full denial defense as nix could never run with cody. i guess crean learned his inbound d from his mentor alright. just like crean blew it against illinois. should have used a matchup 2-3 in that last second baseline inbound.

  13. coachv, actually it was Watford and VO that noticed the play before that MSU was doubling up on Hulls on the inbounds and VO was open at the opposite end. This was mentioned in the huddle and Crean agreed. The reason for the hesitation on the inbound was Watford had to wait to see if Appling was going to double Hulls, which he did and that gave VO the green light to break to the other end. That is why you see Harris trailing VO, he broke off of the double team on Hulls after he saw where Watford was looking. Most well coached defensive teams will put a guy back to avoid that type of thing. Izzo must have missed that one.

  14. Tsao, I think IU fans have been enjoying their team for a while now. What you’re noticing is that we now believe this team is capable of something very special. We’re feeling something that we have not felt for a long, long time. There’s a new level of optimism, and higher confidence. I think last night’s game eliminated a lot of doubts and established a new level of excitement. If nothing else, I’ve noticed a complete cessation of criticism directed at Tom Crean and a delightful silence from the trolls.

  15. Podunker, your’s is a brilliant, reasobable argument. And, it will seem strange to you that I agree with a lot of it. But, I do think that the mistakes officials make are random- in other words, not with the intention of hurting any one team and certainly, not designed to favor any team. If they were, we do not have a rules problem, we have a human resources problem and at that point it becomes it belongs to the B1G.

    My reaction is to what seems like constant and usually baseless moaning, the immediate and arguable screams that comes from the worse of sources, poorly informed fans and rabid fanaticism. I was just looking at a couple of calls from last night, the foul that were called against Watford (when he unintentionally but clearly hit (Nix?), the foul called against Sheehey (who had as much of a nightmare last night including some pretty dumb fouls as he had an absolutely great, historically relevant game against Purdue) and the foul where Nix-we thought- wanted to put a limit to the number of future Big Handsomes by chopping at his Little Handsomes). Watford’s foul was clear and according to the rules,* if it was above the shoulders (it was), flagrant, (I believe most refs would have called it- it was just dumb); and I did not have a clear idea of a foul after seeing Cody smacked. The refs re-viewed it, seemed to look at it two, three times and came away saying there was no foul. That has to be enough.

    Or we could get to a point that I’ve actually witnessed. A penalty shot awarded in a soccer match (Boca vs. Newells in Rosario, Argentina. The home team (Newells), had among the spectators the city’s chief of police. In front of 47,000 fans watching, he came down the steps, through a gate, walked on the field to the center and…arrested the referee for ‘sporting fraud’.

    We’re a great basketball state- the best-, a great basletball school- legendary’ and have an incredible tradition and fame- unequaled in history; they make movies about us…, do we really want a Third World reputation?

    I’d rather just say, ‘It’s Indiana’. Thanks for your comment. You are Super Hoosier Fan. I think when we come up with a mascot it should look like you.

    But, the

  16. iu92

    plausable enough but leaving victor unguarded? he’s more clutch than jordy at the line this year. still, easier to just run cody deep against nix.

    more importantly, how do you what is said in the huddle and can i get your tickets for any game you can’t make?

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