EAST LANSING — Unfortunately, for Michigan State basketball fans, there won’t be a “R.I.P ta da competition” popping up on your timeline tonight, a phrase that senior Derrick Nix tweets after every MSU victory. However, one thing Spartan fans did get tonight is one of the best basketball games of the season, even if it wasn’t in Michigan State’s favor.
Led by Victor Oladipo’s 19 points, nine rebounds and five steals, the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers ended their 17-game road losing streak against the No. 4 Michigan State Spartans with a 72-68 victory on Tuesday night.
The Spartans (22-5, 11-3) were leading 67-63 with 1:25 left in the game when Christian Watford nailed a jumper in the lane and was fouled by Adreian Payne in the act of shooting. Watford made the free throw to cut the MSU lead to one. After a Keith Appling missed free throw the Hoosiers called a timeout with 1:09 left.
Out of the timeout, with 47 seconds remaining, Oladipo scored a go-ahead putback off a Kevin Ferrell missed layup to give the Hoosier a 68-67 lead. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo followed the Oladipo bucket with a timeout of his own. With 19 seconds remaining, MSU freshman Gary Harris drove hard to the basket and missed a layup on a questionable no-call play to give the Hoosiers the ball back. Indiana head coach Tom Crean drew up an amazing out-of-bounds play to get Oladipo a wide open dunk to extend the IU lead to 70-67 with 10 seconds left.
Harris had an opportunity to tie the game when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Will Sheehey with 3.7 seconds remaining. The freshman missed the first shot, made the second and purposely missed the third in an attempt for the Spartans to grab a rebound, but Oladipo beat them to the punch as he had done all night long.
MSU went 2-of-5 from the charity stripe in the final 1:38 — Harris missed three and Appling missed one.
The Hoosiers (24-3, 12-2) now have sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with tonight’s victory, and they’ve also completed the regular season sweep against the Spartans.
Cody Zeller finished with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting and grabbed five boards. Jordan Hulls went 4-of-6 from downtown for 12 points and Christian Watford added 12 points as well.
Payne led the way for MSU with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and added 7 rebounds. Despite missing key free throws and shooting 1-of-5 from beyond the arc, Harris finished the game with 19 points and three steals.
Michigan State didn’t get very much production from Appling and Branden Dawson, two guys that have been pivotal to the Spartans success thus far.
Appling — MSU’s leading scorer with 14.1 ppg — went 1-of-8 from the field for six points and four turnovers, and Dawson went 4-of-8 for eight points and three turnovers.
With only four Big Ten regular season games left, the Hoosiers control their own destiny as they play Minnesota (away), Iowa (home), Ohio State (home) and Michigan (away).
Michigan State has a grueling end to their season with road games against Ohio State and Michigan coming up, and then home games vs. Wisconsin and Northwestern.