Oladipo leads Indiana past Michigan St. in Top 5 matchup
Victor Oladipo overcame a leg injury in the Hoosiers' prior game to pace IU in a four-point victory over the Spartans in East Lansing.
East Lansing, Mich.
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"He makes them better," Izzo said.
Oladipo shook off a sprained left ankle with a spectacular performance to lift top-ranked Indiana to a 72-68 win over the fourth-ranked Spartans on Tuesday night.
"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 highly anticipated game that matched the pregame hype.
"Oladipo is just a refuse-to-lose guy," Izzo said. "Winning time, he made the plays."
Oladipo's go-ahead putback, dunk and free throws in the final minute gave him 19 points to go with nine rebounds, five steals and a block. Not bad for a guy who didn't play after halftime of his previous game, just 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 top seeding next month in the NCAA tournament.
"It was a huge win for us," Oladipo said. "We've come a long way."
The Hoosiers had lost 17 straight — since 1991 — on the road against the Spartans.
"Most of those guys weren't alive," Crean said of his players. "It didn't affect them."
Michigan State (22-5, 11-3) blew chances 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 opportunity to win.
"Games aren't lost with free throws at the end," he said.
This one was won by Oladipo
Trailing by three with 3.7 seconds left, Gary Harris was fouled on a 3-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.
Indiana got the rebound — Oladipo grabbed it, of course — and he hit two free throws to seal the win.