Indiana has gone from good to great, and Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo thinks he knows the way the Hoosiers have done it.
”He makes them better,” Izzo said.
Oladipo shook off a sprained left ankle with an impressive performance to lift top-ranked Indiana to a 72-68 win over the fourth-ranked Spartans.
”I’m not going to lie, it hurt a little,” Oladipo said. ”But I wanted to win.”
It looked like a victory meant more to him than any other player in the long awaited game that matched the pregame hype.
”Oladipo is just a refuse-to-lose guy,” Izzo announced. ”Winning time, he made the plays.”
Oladipo’s go-ahead putback, dunk and free throws in the last minute gave him 19 points towards go with 9 rebounds, 5 steals and a block. Not bad for a guy who didn’t play after halftime of his previous game, just 3 days earlier, due to the injury.
Hoosiers coach Tom Crean insisted that the junior shooting guard ”wasn’t even close” to 100% healthy.
”There’s without doubt his foot hurt,” Crean said. ”That mind was right, and that was the most important thing.”
Indiana Hoosiers (24-3, 12-2 Big 10) broke a 1st-place tie in the conference – with 4 games left in the regular season – and moved a step closer towards earning top seeding this month in the NCAA tournament.
”It was a huge win for us,” Oladipo claimed. ”We’ve come a long way.”
The Indiana Hoosiers had lost 17 straight – since 1991 – on the road against the Michigan State.
”Most of those men were not alive,” Crean announced of his players. ”It didn’t affect them.”
Michigan State (22-5, 11-3) blew possibilities at the line, but Izzo thought a lot of little and big plays earlier in the game were as much to blame for the missed chance to win.
”Games aren’t lost with free throws at the end,” he announced.
This one was won by Oladipo. Baseball lines
Trailing by 3 with 3.7 seconds left, Gary Harris was fouled on a 3-point attempt. He missed the 1st one – setting off sighs in the sold-out arena – and after making the 2nd, he deliberately missed the 3rd.
Indiana Hoosiers got the rebound – Oladipo grabbed it, naturally – and he hit 2 free throws to seal the win.
”We were right there,” Harris said somberly. ”And, we could’ve won.”
Keith Appling had missed the front end of a one-and-one with a little more than a minute left.
”I’d say I was more upset than surprised,” he revealed.
Cody Zeller had 17 points – nearly doubling what he had in the previous matchup against Michigan State – while Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford scored 12 each for the Indiana Hoosiers.
Oladipo and Zeller went over the 1,000-point mark of their careers in the game, joining Hulls and Watford in the club, to give the storied program 4 players with that many points on the same team for the 1st time.
”They’ve got lots of weapons,” Izzo announced. ”They’ve got a lot of experience.”