The ball was in his hands with IU down a point against No. 1 Kentucky with five seconds left. He had a chance to be a hero. He had a chance to give IU its first win against a No. 1 team since Kirk Haston's game-winning shot to beat No. 1 Michigan State in 2001.
But the ball rolled off his foot. Kentucky sophomore Doron Lamb took the ball the length of the floor and was fouled, seemingly ending IU’s chances of pulling off the improbable upset.
Then destiny struck in favor of the Hoosiers.
All was forgotten when IU junior forward Christian Watford hit a game-winning three to give IU the 73-72 win.
“We drew up a play at the end, and I kind of turned the ball over, and I kind of dropped my head a little bit,” Oladipo said. “Christian was the first one over there telling me to get back on defense and to go to the next play.
“It’s funny how God works,” Oladipo said. “He’s my brother and he’s my roommate, so I look up to him. I was just glad it happened to him, and hopefully he can continue to do this during the season.”
An emotional Oladipo went from the goat to celebrating the victory on the scorer’s table, surrounded by thousands of IU students on the Assembly Hall floor. But before he embraced his fellow student body, Oladipo had to find a special someone.
“I went up to go see my mother. She’s my everything,” Oladipo said. “She’s the reason I’m in this world.
“From the jump, I didn’t know if I was going to play basketball,” Oladipo said. “She wanted me to, and she’s the reason I played today. She’s my biggest fan, and she’s the number one woman in my life. Without her, I wouldn’t be successful, and I was just glad she was here.”
Oladipo’s mom made the trip halfway across the country to witness her son pull off the historic upset. He admitted coming in that his mom’s presence was going to be special.
“It’s crazy because I had a good feeling when she told me she was coming to this game,” Oladipo said. “I didn’t know what it was. It was just a surreal feeling when she told me she was going to this game of all the games in the season because it’s hard for her to get up here. I’m just so happy she came to this one.”
For Oladipo, it was a game in which he wasn’t the leading scorer. He shot a mere 33 percent from the floor (4-of-12). His last touch was a turnover that prevented IU from taking a lead in the final seconds.
It wasn’t a career game. But Oladipo said this is exactly what he signed up for.
“This is the reason I came to Indiana,” Oladipo said. “I’m from Maryland and people always ask me why I came to a farm town or something like that. It’s not a farm town first off. It’s Indiana, man. I know it’s kind of getting old, but it’s the truth.
“Did you see how many people were in there today?” Oladipo said. “I was looking up and I couldn’t even see my mother. I couldn’t see nobody. It was crazy. It was so loud my head still hurts. I need ibuprofen or something. It’s crazy, but this is the reason I came to Indiana.”
An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Kirk Haston. The IDS regrets this error.
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