Home Sweet Home
By: Will Chukerman
After beating Michigan State last night, Indiana did something it hasn’t done in the entire history of the program, and that’s beating three top-5 teams in the regular season.
The Hoosiers home magic continued as they rolled over the Spartans 70-55. Cody Zeller led the team with 18 points to go along with four other Hoosiers in double figures.
From the get go, the momentum was on the home team’s side and they never relinquished it.
The closest the Spartans got in the second half was six points and that was in large part due to potential Big Ten player of the year, Draymond Green, who led the team with 29 points.
The Spartans shot 39 percent from the field due to Indiana’s suffocating defense, which saw the Hoosiers force 13 turnovers.
Even with 29 points, Green had to work for all his buckets with no point coming easy.
After seeing his playing time decrease, starting with the Northwestern game, Christian Watford has picked up his play the past two games both offensively and defensively.
Watford had a double-double with 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, but what stuck out most, was his strong defensive play on Keith Appling and then switching over late in the game to Green.
Appling was held to 6 points on 2-of-6 shooting and often times had trouble facilitating the offense with the long-armed Watford guarding him.
All season long Watford has made it a goal of his to show people he isn’t just a one-dimensional player, working hard all year to improve his game in all facets.
Back on December 18th in East Lansing—the last time these two teams played—Derrick Nix had 14 points with Zeller only having 4. Their roles were reversed as Zeller dominated Nix on both sides of the floor.
This time it was Zeller being the first big down the floor, making every low post opportunity a challenge, and most importantly, it was Zeller’s team who came away with the win.
Nix had 5 points on 2-of-7 of shooting in 26 minutes of action.
Another driving force in the Hoosiers victory was Victor Oladipo, who fed off the energy of the crowd from the opening tip.
Oladipo was constantly attacking the basket, getting trips to the foul line to lead the team with 7 makes on 8 attempts.
Continuing his strong play off the bench was Senior guard Verdell Jones III.
With 12 points and 4 rebounds, Jones continued to give the team strong minutes off the bench. Many seem to believe that this is a better role for Jones as he was asked to do too much as a starter.
Another key to the game was Indiana’s sharp shooting from beyond to arc and from the free throw line. The Hoosiers shot 45.5 percent from downtown and 86.4 percent from the charity stripe.
Tuesday night’s victory was also the first time Tom Crean beat his mentor Tom Izzo as a head coach—his first win in eight tries.
Postgame, Crean stated that this win means even more because as a program, Indiana compare itself to Michigan State, who has been the class of the conference for the last 15 years.
The Spartans came into this game with a chance to win the Big Ten title and improve their stock as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Now, they will need a victory against Ohio State on Sunday to clinch outright.
With last night’s victory, the Hoosiers have once again showed the college basketball world how good they can be by shutting down a Michigan State team playing their best basketball of the season.
From the opening tip, the Hoosiers were in control of the game and the few times the Spartans went on a run, IU bounced right back and put the lead back over double digits.
In a week postseason play begins, and it seems to be, that Indiana is peaking at just the right time.
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