Men's basketball: Indiana follows Oladipo’s lead to top Michigan State
Indiana’s Victor Oladipo is fouled by Michigan State’s Gary Harris after Oladipo collected a rebound off a missed free throw by Harris in the final seconds of the game.
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Victor Oladipo shook off a sprained left ankle with a spectacular performance to lift top-ranked Indiana to a 72-68 victory over No. 4 Michigan State last night.
Oladipo’s go-ahead putback, dunk and free throws in the final minute gave him 19 points to go along with nine rebounds, five steals and a block. Not bad for a guy who didn’t play after halftime of his previous game, three days earlier, because of the injury.
Hoosiers coach Tom Crean insisted that the junior shooting guard “wasn’t even close” to 100 percent healthy.
“There’s no doubt his foot hurt,” Crean said. “That mind was right, and that was the biggest thing.”
Indiana (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) broke a first-place tie in the conference — with four games left in the regular season — and moved a step closer toward earning a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Hoosiers had lost 17 straight — since 1991 — on the road against the Spartans.
“Most of those guys weren’t alive,” Crean said. “It didn’t affect them.”
Michigan State (22-5, 11-3) blew opportunities at the line.
Trailing by three with 3.7 seconds left, Gary Harris was fouled on a three-point attempt. He missed the first one — setting off sighs in the sold-out arena — and after making the second, he deliberately missed the third.
Oladipo grabbed the rebound and he hit two free throws to seal the victory.
“We were right there,” Harris said. “We could’ve won.”
Keith Appling had missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with a little more than a minute left.
“I’d say I was more upset than surprised,” he said.
Cody Zeller had 17 points — nearly doubling what he had in the previous matchup against Michigan State — and Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford scored 12 each for the Hoosiers.
Harris, Indiana’s Mr. Basketball last year, missed a layup in a crowded lane with 16 seconds left and finished with 19 points. Adreian Payne scored 17 and the rest of their teammates struggled offensively.
Appling, Michigan State’s leading scorer, was limited to six points and 1-of-8 shooting.
“My quarterback struggled a little bit,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
Branden Dawson and Derrick Nix had eight points each. Some of Nix’s contributions offensively late in the game looked like they were going to help the school win its second game in the regular season against a No. 1 team.
Nix made a go-ahead shot — after grabbing rebounds off two of his misses — to put Michigan State ahead 64-63 with 3:08 left and scored again in the post on its next possession.
Harris made 1 of 2 free throws with 1:38 remaining to give the Spartans a four-point lead.
Watford responded with a three-point play on the ensuing possession to cut Indiana’s deficit to a point.