BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Victor Oladipo wasted no time getting Indiana’s fans riled up Sunday.
They responded to his energetic play with loud, boisterous support for the next two hours and he responded to their cheers by delivering a performance to remember.
The junior guard finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three blocks, leading the seventh-ranked Hoosiers to a 75-70 victory over No. 13 Michigan State on a day Oladipo was already thinking about doing more.
“There are still things I need to improve on, even today," Oladipo said. “So I have to keep getting better."
This one will be hard to top.
Indiana (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten) has won three straight since a Jan. 25 loss to Wisconsin. It has won back-to-back games over the Spartans after ending a six-game losing streak in the series. The Hoosiers picked up their ninth win in Assembly Hall over a Top 25 foe during the past 24 months, and their latest victory helped break up a three-way logjam atop the Big Ten. Indiana was awaiting the result of the Michigan-Illinois game to see if it would share the conference lead with the Wolverines or have it all to themselves.
How much did this win mean to coach Tom Crean?
After shaking hands with his old friend, Tom Izzo, Crean walked to the corner in the south end of Assembly Hall, raised both arms and thanked the students for their constant noise. A few minutes later, he was thanking others.
“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," Crean said. “If you’re not cerebral like that and at the same time, quick, it’s hard to defend like that. But he’s been good. We knew he was going to play well on the offensive end and to take away things on the defensive end, too. And we don’t win this game without Will Sheehey, we really don’t."
The impact of Oladipo was evident in the box score and beyond.
He was eight of 12 from the field and four of six from the line with more offensive rebounds (four) than defensive. Crean also credited him with 15 first-half deflections, something Crean said he’s never seen before. And when Oladipo wasn’t making plays, there were plenty of others willing to help.
Cody Zeller made only two baskets and finished with nine points but scored on a layup with 1:38 to go to make it a two-possession game. He also took a charge with 14.3 seconds left that essentially sealed the win.
Christian Watford finished with 12 points and six rebounds, Yogi Ferrrell had 11 points and a key 3-pointer just before halftime and Jordan Hulls had 10 points and four assists. Most of it was the result of Oladipo and the threat he posed on every possession.
“That’s just Victor," Watford explained. “We feel like we’re a great team when Victor does this. He brings a lot of energy. Not only that, he gets us open by the way he attacks the basket. He did a great job today."
In other games on Sunday:
No. 2 Michigan 74
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Trey Burke scored 19 points and Michigan never trailed after the opening minutes in a win over Illinois.
No. 17 Creighton 81
Southern Illinois 51
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Doug McDermott had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Creighton shot 63 percent, bouncing back from a pair of road losses with an easy victory at struggling Southern Illinois.
No. 25 Miami 71
Florida State 47
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Trey McKinney Jones scored 15 points for Miami, and the Atlantic Coast Conference leaders won its seventh game in a row by beating Florida State.
BOULDER, Colo. — Askia Booker scored a career-high 20 points as Colorado took advantage of California’s poor first half.
SALT LAKE CITY — John Gage made all four of his 3-point attempts and scored a career-high 19 points to help Stanford rout Utah.