Men’s basketball: Indiana has huge challenge in Michigan State
By Andy Proffet Post-Tribune correspondent February 18, 2013 6:46PM
BLOOMINGTON, IN - FEBRUARY 16: Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Hoosiers shoots the ball during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Assembly Hall on February 16, 2013 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 154060830
Updated: February 18, 2013 10:24PM
BLOOMINGTON — Indiana didn’t need Victor Oladipo in the second half of Saturday’s win over Purdue.
The top-ranked Hoosiers almost certainly will need him when they face Big Ten co-leaders Michigan State tonight, and Tom Crean said on Monday’s Big Ten coaches’ teleconference that Oladipo is expected to play against the Spartans.
“We practiced some yesterday and he went through that, and he’s doing a great job with rehabilitating it and spending a lot of time with (trainer) Tim Garl,” Crean said.
“I don’t anticipate that he won’t be ready to go tomorrow night.”
Oladipo sprained his ankle late in the first half against Purdue and sat out the second half while fellow junior Will Sheehey had the best shooting performance ever for a Hoosier, hitting all nine of his field goals. And Sheehey’s defensive effort helped make up for Oladipo’s absence as well.
But Michigan State is not Purdue.
The Hoosiers and Spartans are tied for the Big Ten lead with 11-2 conference records — two full games ahead of Michigan and Wisconsin. IU’s 23-3 overall record has them ranked No. 1 in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls, while the Spartans (22-4) are fourth and fifth, respectively.
Oladipo was a major factor in Indiana’s win over Michigan State on Jan. 27, scoring 21 points in the 75-70 win.
The Spartans, however, have won five straight since then, and are undefeated at home this season. And an Indiana team hasn’t won in East Lansing since Feb. 28, 1991, a span of 17 games.
But Michigan State coach Tom Izzo knows all too well that this is a different Indiana team.
“I think they’ve kind of been the premier team in the league all season,” Izzo said.
“He’s got veterans that are key players,” Izzo said. “He’s got a stud inside (in Cody Zeller).”
Zeller had a relatively tame stat line in the first game against the Spartans, with just nine points and seven rebounds. But he took a charge with 14.3 seconds left that helped seal the victory.
And he’s scored in double figures in every game since, including a season-high tying 24 points on Feb. 10 at Ohio State, which was Indiana’s first road win against a Top 10 team since Dec. 5, 2000.
Add in Christian Watford’s streak of 16 straight games with double-digit points, and there’s hope for the Hoosiers.
But the Spartans are on a roll as well, and considering the reaction Gary Harris received from Indiana fans in his first game in Bloomington, there’s no reason to expect the Big Ten Freshman of the Week to not have another big game. He scored 21 in IU’s hostile environment.
Keith Appling scored just three points against the Hoosiers in January but leads the Spartans with a 14.1 ppg. average.