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Victor Oladipo’s poetic milestone gives Indiana the Big Ten lead

Feb 19, 2013, 9:56 PM EST

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First, it was Duke’s rise to No. 1 after their terrific run through the non-conference schedule.

Then, it was the cavalcade of suitors for the top spot — Louisville, Duke again, Kansas, even Florida tossed themselves in the mix — that took turns using a few first-place votes as motivation for a losing streak.

Next came Michigan, as their ascendence to the top of the Big Ten standings, mowing through the weaker part of their Big Ten schedule, was halted when the Wolverines were knocked off in Bloomington.

And finally, it was Michigan State, who one writer (ahem, me) called the best team in the Big Ten after their deconstruction of Michigan last Tuesday night.

Through it all, Indiana has been there, winning games, producing two players worthy of all-american consideration and, after a thrilling, 72-68 win over No. 4 Michigan State in East Lansing, proving themselves quite worthy of their current No. 1 ranking while taking over sole possession of first-place in the Big Ten.

It hasn’t quite happened how we all predicted it would.

Cody Zeller, the consensus Preseason Player of the Year, has been excellent. But he’s also been overshadowed by Victor Oladipo, Indiana’s hyper-active defensive stopper who just so happens to show out in the biggest games of the season. On Tuesday night, Oladipo finished with 19 points, nine boards and five steals while playing a major role in Keith Appling’s devolvement into ‘overwhelmed freshmen’ mode and scoring the game-winning bucket — his 1,000th point as an Indiana Hoosier — on a tip-in with less than a minute left that gave the Hoosiers a 68-67 lead.

It’s fitting, really.

Poetic, even.

Oladipo was never supposed to be this good. He’d spent the last two seasons making a name for himself as a good defender that threw down some great dunks and couldn’t be trusted to shoot outside four feet. This season, he’s not only become Indiana’s best player and one of the team’s emotional leaders, but he’s developed a knack for making big plays in big moments and playing his best basketball in the games with the most on the line.

So of course, the guy that turned himself from a 20.8% three-point shooter into a 52.4% three-point shooter — a player who should have been complimented if he was even considered an NBA Draft afterthought that is now a virtual lock for the lottery — reached a scoring milestone on a hustle play that gave Indiana the lead for good in a game that puts them on the inside track for a Big Ten title.

And that’s precisely where Indiana sits right now.

They have a one-game lead over Michigan State in the Big Ten standings that, essentially, doubles as a two-game lead when it comes to seeding. The Hoosiers swept the Spartans meaning they have the tie-breaker for the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament. And if things go as expected, it would mean that Indiana would avoid having to play Michigan or Michigan State until the Big Ten title game.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

What matters right now is that Indiana went on the road and beat the latest Flavor of the Week.

Any doubt about the Hoosiers that had crept into your mind after the Illinois, or after the Wisconsin loss, or the Butler loss, or at any point during the season can be put to rest.

It may not be how they drew it up, but who are we to argue with the results?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. xli2006 - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    For what was maybe one if the hardest fought showdowns of the year… That was one of the most poorly officiated games I’ve seen in years. The refs should be embarassed for how they handled several stretches in the 2nd half.

    Luckily the team that played better, won.

    MSU will be a force in March with a solid frontcourt and one of the top Freshman in the nation w/ Harris… but IU is making a very strong statement winning another Top 10 road game in the past 10 days. 6-0 against ranked teams and 4-0 vs Top 10.

  2. phillyhoosiers - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    Shockingly, Teddy V was officiating the game. Is there a worse official in sports?

  3. creek0512 - Feb 19, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    TV Teddy with 2 inadvertent whistles and a mountain of ghost calls to get himself some attention.

  4. esqjeff44 - Feb 20, 2013 at 1:47 AM

    Several blown calls– some going both ways– as an Indian fan, I was shocked when they gave Zeller the “and one” while driving to the hoop and clearly getting fouled before the shot. The call on Sheehy at the very end of the game was terrible too. And what’s with the clock– I have seen this earlier this season– I don’t know the answer to this– but is seems a home town boy is handling the clock at the end of the game.

    • gostlcards5 - Feb 20, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      (from an IU fan also)
      The and-1 call on Zeller was possibly the worst call of the game. No way the bucket should have counted.

      On the Sheehey foul, I completely agreed with the call, he went up straight with his arms during the fake, then left his feet (about 2″, but he did) when the MSU kid (Harris, I think it was) went up for the 3-pt shot. It was a bad play by Sheehey, who I’ve been continuously critical of for a lot of similar bad plays in the past few weeks. At least last night he wasn’t doing all that stupid “look-at-me” crap, flexing, trash-talking, etc. Let’s hope Crean has that nipped in the bud.

      Totally agree on the clock, too. That was some bush-league garbage by whoever was handling it.

      The other thing that suprised me was that they did not have another angle on the play where Nix intentionally hit Zeller in the crotch. It just seemed funny, because they had multiple angles on the play where Watford elbowed Payne in the nose (which again, was one of the calls that the refs got right after the fact).

      • stlouis1baseball - Feb 20, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        I can’t agree with you 5. At least on Sheehey’s “foul.” Went straight up…and did not leave his feet. Horrible call at an even more horrible time. It seemed like they were trying to get Michigan St. back in the game during the last 5 minutes. And the nut check Nix gave Cody? Unreal.
        To stop the game (IN MID PLAY)…review the tape and….no call.
        I rewinded it three times and forced the wife to review it with me.
        Also several blown calls on out of bounds plays (even Tirico was on them about).
        As a consolation…the and one on Zeller was bad as well. But certainly not the worst. IMO.

  5. davidly - Feb 20, 2013 at 5:18 AM

    So the “Flavor of the Week” is now the Who Jours?

  6. jpopejoy - Feb 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    IU wins that game by double digits w even mediocre officiating. This team’s mental toughness blows me away. Wo question the number one team and would likely beat Miami by double digits

  7. jonrox - Feb 20, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Looks like Zeller actually pulled Nix’s arm into his groin, and then faked the injury.

    http://michiganstate.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1474716

    • stlouis1baseball - Feb 20, 2013 at 2:26 PM

      Are you sure you aren’t thinking about Nix faking his injury by flopping when Zeller took him to the hole? Hell…Nix even laughed when Valentine blew the whistle. Nix absolutely knew he was busted.
      Yet…he nut checks him (like a chicken shit) and ultimately gets away with it.

    • stlouis1baseball - Feb 20, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      LOL! That’s laughable Jon. Of course…we are gonna’ have to take it with a grain of salt considering the source of your link. Nevertheless, you can clearly see Nix’s wrist break when he gives him the nut check. Pulls his arm into his groin. Hahahaha!

      • jonrox - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        Would you have made a different response if I had just linked you to the youtube video? The MSU rivals page isn’t the only source that’s talking about the Nix-Zeller scuffle today. Every source I’ve read has concluded that Zeller’s elbow to Nix was probably clean, and Zeller conclusively grabbed Nix’s arm and faked a groin shot in a cheap display of bad sportsmanship.

        Did you even watch the video?

    • stlouis1baseball - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:17 PM

      Yes I watched it. Hence my reference to Nix’s wrist. Zeller might have grabbed his arm.
      But he didn’t make Nix flip his wrist (resulting in a nut check). Again…look at the grin on Nix’s face. That is more telling than anything else. And I have never seen anyone use the words bad sportmanship and Cody Zeller in the same sentence. They just don’t go together.

  8. critter69 - Feb 20, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    “It hasn’t quite happened how we all predicted it would.”

    Dauster?

    Would that be a ‘royal we’, actuallly meaning ‘ME, ME, ME’?

    I say that as not everyone predicted as you did, and some of us don’t consider Duke that much of a powerhouse, either.

    And just because you are a ‘reporter’, how does that give you any indication that you speak for everyone?

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