Indiana holds off Michigan State, 75-70

By Max McCombs

After several games in which Indiana slowed down to the paces of its opponents, Sunday’s against Michigan State saw the Hoosiers return to their customary speedy ways.

For much of the afternoon, though, the Spartans stayed with the Hoosiers step-for-step.

When the second half slowed to a physical dogfight, though, No. 7 IU still emerged with a 75-70 win against No. 13 Michigan State.

Junior guard Victor Oladipo led the charge for IU the entire game. He led IU in scoring, steals and blocks, and tied for the lead in rebounds

His contributions often transcended the stat sheet, though, as he dived for loose balls and chased down Spartans to deny them apparent breakaway baskets.

IU was able to dictate the pace virtually from the beginning. Even though slumping sophomore forward Cody Zeller lost the tipoff to MSU center Adreian Payne, Oladipo stole the ball on MSU’s first possession, taking the ball the length of the court himself and finishing with a dunk that brought Assembly Hall to its feet.

Minutes later, he would replicate the feat almost identically, from the perimeter steal to the thundering jam.

Payne hit a pair of surprise 3-pointers to keep IU from pulling away early, even giving MSU the lead briefly. He would later hit a third on the afternoon. Before Sunday, the 6-10 center had made three 3-point shots all season.

IU eventually staked a 28-19 lead, but it was a quickly nullified by a 9-0 MSU run that included a dunk off of a stolen in-bounds pass.

IU played both man-to-man and zone defenses during the game,

switching between the two as frequently as each possession. The strategy

was especially flummoxing early on for the Spartans.

With 1:06 to play in the half, the game was again tied, now at 38-38, before 3-pointers by Sheehey and Ferrell, his coming with just two seconds to go, gave IU a six-point lead at the break.

With fewer turnovers in the second half, fast breaks became less frequent and the game slowed somewhat, further preventing IU from running up the score in transition. Instead, its lead never eclipsed seven points.

Oladipo simply adapted to the slower pace. The IU offense had by no

means been a one man show in the first half, but when his supporting

cast’s shots stopped falling in the second period, the offense came to run primarily through the junior guard. He scored 13 points in the second half through all manner of shots.

While the Spartan’s leading scorer, guard Keith Appling, was kept scoreless in the second half and fouled out with 5:17 to go, one-time IU recruiting target Gary Harris stepped up with 14 second half points. He was serenaded by bitter IU fans with chants of “Gary sucks” and “IU reject” all afternoon.

Harris kept the Spartans squarely in the contest all afternoon, twice pulling his team to within a single point.

In the game’s final minutes, after Oladipo’s moments of dominance,  it was a pair of plays by Zeller, who had nine points but largely continued to struggle, that clinched the game for IU.

With 2:09 left and IU leading 72-70, MSU center Derrick Nix was called for a travel. Seconds later, Zeller drove the length of the floor, ending with a finger roll layup at the other end to double the lead.

The score still 74-70 with 14.3 seconds left and MSU getting desperate, the Spartans fed the ball inside to Payne. As he worked toward the basket, Zeller took a charge to give the ball back to IU and effectively clinch the win and a share of the conference lead.

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