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Olapido, Hoosiers persevere to edge Spartans

The SportsXchange

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Victor Oladipo didn't show any ill effects from the sprained ankle he suffered Saturday in a home win against Purdue.

On the contrary, the Indiana guard looked just like his usual self Tuesday, and he helped the top-ranked Hoosiers seize control of the Big 10 Conference race.

Oladipo scored 19 points, including what turned out to be a basket that put Indiana ahead for good in the final minute, and Indiana earned a 72-68 win over fifth-ranked Michigan State in a battle for first place in the conference.

Indiana coach Tom Crean said Oladipo was nowhere near 100 percent, but lauded how Oladipo persevered to lead the Hoosiers to arguably their biggest win of the season.

"I know his mind was right," Crean said. "That was the biggest thing."

Trailing 67-63 with 1:38 remaining, the Hoosiers (24-3, 12-2) closed the game on a 9-1 run to move one game ahead of the Spartans (22-5, 11-3) in the Big Ten standings.

Following a three-point play by Christian Watford with 1:25 left that cut Indiana's deficit to 67-66, Michigan State's Keith Appling missed the front end of a one-and-one.

On the ensuing possession, Oladipo tipped in a rebound off of a missed layup by freshman Yogi Ferrell to give the Hoosiers a 68-67 lead with 42 seconds left.

Michigan State had a chance to take the lead, but freshman Gary Harris missed a runner in the lane, and the ball went out of bounds off of Michigan State to Indiana, which called a timeout with 13 seconds remaining.

When play resumed, Watford inbounded and threw down the court to a wide-open Oladipo, who streaked all alone for a dunk in to give Indiana a 70-67 lead with 10 seconds to go.

Michigan State had one final chance to tie when Harris was fouled shooting a 3-point attempt with 3.7 seconds left, but he missed the first of his free throws.

Harris made the second to make and intentionally missed the third, but the rebound wound up in the hands of Oladipo, who iced the game by hitting two free throws with 2.3 seconds remaining.

"It was hurting a little bit," Oladipo said of his ankle. "I just had to get my wind back, definitely. I've been staying off of it a lot the past couple of days. I just did a great job of staying focused and doing whatever I had to do to help my team win."

After the game, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo referred to Oladipo as the MVP of the Big 10.

"He's got incredible heart, and he just does what he does," Izzo said.

Indiana, which is trying to win its first outright Big 10 title since 1993, still has tough road challenges looming against Minnesota and Michigan among its four remaining league games.

"Sometimes these games don't live up to the hype," Crean said. "Tonight it did for both teams."

Cody Zeller added 17 points for Indiana, which now has a week off before traveling to Minnesota on Feb. 26.

Harris scored 19 points and junior center Adreian Payne had 17 points and seven rebounds in defeat for Michigan State, which is in the midst of a tough four-game stretch.

The Spartans will play at Ohio State on Sunday, at Michigan on March 3, then at home against Wisconsin on March 7.

Michigan State trailed by as many as eight points in the first half and 36-30 before mounting a rally. The Spartans held a four-point lead with less than two minutes remaining.

Even though Michigan State didn't finish well, Izzo said the poor start was equally to blame for the loss.

"We didn't answer the bell tonight, if you ask me," Izzo said.

NOTES: The game marked the first time that two top-five teams played at Breslin Center since the arena opened in 1989. ... Oladipo scored his 1,000th career point, joining teammates Watford, Zeller and Jordan Hulls in quadruple figures. It's the only time in Indiana basketball history that four career 1,000-point scorers have been on the team at same time. ... After missing four straight games due to concussion-like symptoms, Michigan State sophomore point guard Travis Trice returned and played six minutes. ... Indiana snapped a 17-game losing streak in East Lansing, winning at Breslin Center for the first time since Feb. 28, 1991.
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