BLOOMINGTON – Sometimes Victor Oladipo can anticipate a steal from viewing tendencies on tape. Other times, the Indiana guard will read the passer’s eyes and blast the gap on the way to swiping the ball from an opponent.
Oladipo knocked the ball away from Michigan State’s Branden Dawson 14 seconds into Sunday’s top-15 showdown at Assembly Hall. He raced to the other end of the court and finished with a thunderous dunk.
It was the beginning of a dominating performance for the junior on both ends of the floor.
Oladipo had 21 points, seven rebounds and six steals to lead the No. 7 Hoosiers to a 75-70 victory against the No. 13 Spartans in front of a sellout crowd of 17,472.
I have to bring it every night on both ends of the floor so my team can win, Oladipo said, and I have to keep doing that every night.
With the win, the Hoosiers (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten) moved into first place tie with Michigan in the Big Ten. The Spartans (17-4, 6-2) saw their six-game winning streak come to an end.
This was a game of adjustments, Indiana coach Tom Crean said. The one thing that never needed to be adjusted was our energy, our attitude toward winning and our spirit. They were high level the entire way.
Cody Zeller provided late heroics for the Hoosiers. First, the 7-foot forward drove from the top of the key and made a left-handed layup with 1:38 remaining to give Indiana a 74-70 lead. It was the sophomore’s second field goal of the game. Zeller finished with nine points on 2-of-7 shooting.
The Hoosiers were still hanging on to the four-point advantage when Zeller stepped in front of a driving Adreian Payne and took a charge. The play, with 14 seconds remaining, sealed the victory.
The charge that Cody drew and the play that he ran where he got the layup off the high pick-and-roll, we’ve been sneaking it into our 5-on-0 work. I knew I was going to use it at some point, and he went out there and executed it, Crean said.
That’s a high-level player that can do something like that. He was 30 feet away from the bucket and drove that thing in there for a layup with his left hand. Those are the things that make a difference.
The combination of Gary Harris and Payne kept the Spartans in the game.
Harris, the 2012 Indiana Mr. Basketball from Hamilton Southeastern, didn’t let the loud boos affect his play. He scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half.
The kid is tougher than nails, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. He took a serious beating and made some big shots. We feel very fortunate. We love Gary and he raises his game in big situations.
Harris made five three-pointers. Payne went 3 for 4 from three-point territory and finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.
The Spartans made 11 three-pointers. Indiana had eight. A three-pointer by forward Will Sheehey with 51 seconds left in the first half gave the Hoosiers a 41-38 lead. Kevin Yogi Ferrell extended Indiana’s lead to six at halftime with a three-pointer at the buzzer. Ferrell finished with 11 points.
Indiana never trailed in the second half. But the Spartans got within one point on four occasions.
A dunk by Harris made it 71-70 with 3:32 to go. Indiana held Michigan State scoreless the rest of the game.
This is a big game; it’s definitely going to help us down the road, said Indiana senior forward Christian Watford, who had 12 points. I feel like Michigan State is a great team, they never stop fighting. That’s definitely how it’s going to be in the tournament (and) the Big Ten tournament. Teams are definitely not going to give up. It’s a great team win for us.