Who’s Next? IUBB Beats Another Top-5 Team
By: Greg Murray
On December 10, Indiana beat No. 1 Kentucky on a last second 3-pointer.
On December 31, Indiana held off No. 2 Ohio State in a New Year’s eve thriller.
The dream then continued Tuesday night, as the Hoosiers played arguably their best game of the season from start-to-finish knocking off No. 5 Michigan State 70-55.
For the first time in Indiana basketball history, the Hoosiers have taken down three top-5 ranked teams in the regular season.
“This program has been through a lot,” said sophomore Victor Oladipo. “This program deserves a lot more than it’s been getting these past couple years. I feel as though we deserve it.”
The Hoosiers came out aggressive from the opening tip, but none more than Oladipo. Vic drove right to the basket on multiple occasions, allowing him to score layups as well as get to the foul line. In the first half alone, Oladipo was 7-8 from the charity stripe, leading to 11 points.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” Oladipo said. “I felt like I could go right past a lot of the guards that were checking me.”
Indiana’s up-tempo play in the first half gave them a 14-point lead at the break. For Michigan State, they relied on their senior captain Draymond Green to keep them in the game. While the rest of the Spartans were struggling from the floor, Green stepped up his game scoring Michigan State’s final 14 points to end the half.
The second half started in a similar fashion, as Green took advantage of the smaller Victor Oladipo and converted on post moves in two of the first four possessions. This immediately caused coach Tom Crean to call a quick timeout and make a key defensive adjustment. It was Christian Watford that stepped up for Indiana, as he asked to switch defensive roles to try and slow down Green.
“I asked for it,” Watford said. “I was doing a pretty good job on Appling using my length, but I wanted to make stuff tough for him (Green).”
Christian Watford had a solid offensive output, tallying 10 points including two triples from beyond the arc. But what set him apart from his norm was his exceptional play on defense. Not only did he halt Michigan State and Draymond Green’s momentum, but he also cleaned up everything on the glass. Watford finished the game with a career-high 14 rebounds.
For Green, he still finished with an outstanding night, racking up 29 points to go along with eight rebounds. If nothing else, he solidified himself as the Big Ten Player of the Year with the way he kept the Spartans in the game.
Michigan State lost their first chance to clinch the Big Ten regular season championship. They now have one game remaining, against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday. Unless the Buckeyes lose Wednesday night at Northwestern, that contest will reveal the Big Ten champion.
For the Hoosiers, their Big Ten tournament seeding will also come down to one final regular season game on Sunday—this one against in-state rival Purdue. Although the Hoosiers won the first meeting in West Lafayette back in early February, Indiana will have to win again to secure the five seed in Indianapolis.
As always that game will be broadcasted live on WIUX. Join Scott Agness and Jimmy Cavanaugh for the call on 99.1 fm or wiux.org/stream
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