Indiana junior swingman Victor Oladipo fed off the energy of the sellout crowd at Assembly Hall on Sunday, and it showed in his play. Oladipo scored 21 points, pulled down seven rebounds, had six steals and blocked three shots to help the seventh rated Hoosiers hold off 13th ranked Michigan State, 75-70, in a matchup of Big Ten heavyweights in Bloomington.
IU won it’s third straight after a home loss to Wisconsin and raises its overall mark to 18-2 , 6-1 in the Big Ten. Michigan State falls to 17-4, 6-2 in the conference.
Oladipo was modest in his own self-assessment after turning in the yeoman’s effort. “There are still things I need to improve on, even today,” he remarked. “So I have to keep getting better.” Oladipo hit 8 of 12 shots from the field and four of six from the foul line.
Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean was more straightforward. “He (Oladipo) was a tremendous difference from the start of the game. He had a knowledge base that he put into his game as to how he was going to defend.”
Oladipo’s performance overcame another sub-par outing from preseason Player-of-the-Year candidate Cody Zeller. Zeller finished with nine points, only two of them baskets. But, he sealed the Hoosiers victory by taking a charge with 14 seconds remaining.
Senior forward Christian Watford helped to pick up the scoring slack. Watford contributed 12 points and six boards, while freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell enjoyed another solid game, adding 11 points.
Michigan State was led by former Hamilton Southeastern star and the reigning Indiana Mr. Basketball Gary Harris. Harris pumped in 21 points, including five three pointers. Adrian Payne chipped in with 18, and Gary native Brandon Dawson added 12 points and eight rebounds.
Indiana now takes to the road Wednesday for an intra-state battle with arch rival Purdue.