Game of the Week: No. 7 Indiana 75, No. 13 Michigan State 70
Michigan State donned its new Nike pro combat jerseys for the first time this season, but it was the team in the timeless crimson and cream garb that ultimately captured victory in the heated clash between the two elite Big Ten pugilists.
The talented, battle-tested squads traded jabs in the conference's main event of the week in front of a raucous 17,472 at Assembly Hall, with Indiana nursing a slim lead for the entirety of a tightly-contested second half. Still, the Spartans remained within striking distance, and cut the Hoosiers' lead to 71-70 on a transition dunk by freshman guard Gary Harris with 3:33 remaining.
But MSU faltered in winning time and the Hoosiers leaned on the lanky shoulders of sophomore forward Cody Zeller, who was largely controlled in the paint by MSU's bigs throughout the contest. Zeller put together a string of critical plays, including a key block followed by a tough layup in traffic to stretch IU's lead to 74-70 with just over a minute to play.
The seven-footer finished with nine points and eight boards on just 2-of-7 shooting (28.6 percent), and his late game heroics were set up by an outstanding performance by junior guard Victor Oladipo, who paced head coach Tom Crean's bunch with 21 points.
"It was winning time and Cody answered the bell," said Crean, who was an assistant at Michigan State from 1995-99. "He rang the bell; to get that drive and make that play in the heat of the game, that's where his mental toughness is.
"He's so non-statistic driven, and that's why he's such a winner because he just does what it takes."
The Spartans were led by Harris's 21 points, and junior center Adreian Payne added 18 points and nine boards, but the defending regular-season conference champs were held scoreless over the last 3:32 minutes of regulation. Junior point guard Keith Appling was neutralized by a combination of stingy defense from Hoosier senior point guard Jordan Hulls and foul trouble, contributing just three points in 19 minutes before fouling out with 5:17 left in the second half.
"I learned that our guys are fighters," MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. "But I also learned that when we get tired, we forget assignments and we need to get tougher mentally. Down the stretch, we were really sucking air.
"It's disappointing. We had a chance but we just didn't do some of the things we needed to. We did some really good things and we did some really poor things. Our whole plan was to keep them out of the lane and not turn the ball over, and we didn't do either one of those things very well. We got tired, but we were doing so well down the stretch, and with three minutes left we had a chance."
The Hoosiers, who are now 67-48 all-time against Michigan State, maintained a share of the top spot in the conference standings and improved to 18-2 overall (6-1 Big Ten), while the Spartans dropped to 17-4 (6-2 Big Ten).
Honorable Mention Game of the Week: Purdue 65, Iowa 62 (OT)
Purdue toppled Iowa 65-62 in overtime Jan. 27 behind 17 points and 12 rebounds from junior guard Terone Johnson.
The Boilermakers never trailed in the extra session and took a 61-59 lead with 1:27 left on a bucket by freshman guard Ronnie Johnson, who finished with 15 points and four assists.
"I think a lot of guys have grown up from putting their heads down," Terone Johnson said. "We went on runs in the first half and second half where we could have put them away, but they kept coming back and ended up taking a lead at the end."
Purdue led 19-16 at halftime, but both teams bounced back from the ugly first half. The Boilermakers held an 11-point lead with eight minutes left to play, but Iowa stormed back to take a a 54-52 lead in the final minute before Terone Johnson hit a layup with 33 seconds on the clock to knot the score and send the game into overtime.
Junior guard Roy Devyn Marble led the Hawkeyes with 12 points, but only shot 2-of-11 from the field (18.2 percent) in 34 minutes.
"The first half was kind of ugly, nobody really hit shots, both of us shot low percentages, so we just kind of had to keep with the game," said PU senior guard D.J. Byrd. "When they took that lead in the second half, I just kept saying, 'It's not over, there's still time left, whether we have to do this in overtime or whatever.'"
Player of the Week: Junior guard Victor Oladipo, Indiana
Oladipo was a monster in all facets of the game for the Hoosiers, averaging 20.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 steals, 3.0 assists and 1.5 blocks while shooting 63.2 percent in two Indiana victories last week. He turned out a signature performance in a key 75-70 triumph over Michigan State Jan. 27, pouring in 21 points while registering seven rebounds, three blocks and a career-best six steals.
Oladipo has stuffed the stat sheet all season, averaging 13.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.4 assists.
Results from Jan. 21- Jan. 27:
Ohio State 72, Iowa 63
Michigan State 49, Wisconsin 47
Illinois 71, Nebraska 51
Indiana 72, Penn State 49
Northwestern 55, Minnesota 48
Michigan 68, Purdue 53
Ohio State 65, Penn State 51
Wisconsin 45, Minnesota 44
Nebraska 64, Northwestern 49
Indiana 75, Michigan State 70
Purdue 65, Iowa 62
Michigan 74, Illinois 60
Big Ten teams in the AP Top-25:
11. Ohio State
13. Michigan State
Also receiving votes: Wisconsin (45)
Non-conference, yet relevant, fact of the week:
NC State, which Michigan defeated 79-72 earlier this season, dropped 91 points on North Carolina in an eight-point win Jan. 26. It was highest offensive output by the Wolfpack against the Tar Heels since 2002, and the 91-83 triumph ended a 13-game skid against their bitter in-state rival.