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Friday, Feb. 23
The Indiana Daily Student

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Oladipo catalyzes win over No. 10 Ohio State

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Last year in early February, in his team’s first game after a road loss, junior Victor Oladipo set a career high as the Hoosiers returned to their winning ways with a double-digit road victory.

Sunday was eerily familiar.

With 26 points to lead IU, Oladipo reached a new career mark as No. 1 IU triumphed 81-68 against No. 10 Ohio State on Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, for its first win against a top 10 road opponent since 2000.

“Ohio State is really, really good,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “We have, at times, not had the firepower to compete with them. Then last year, we did not have the toughness to compete with them. That’s all part of the growth process, and they’re going with that, and it’s a big deal.”

While IU is now 5-0 against ranked teams this season, the previous four wins had come at home. In fact, Sunday was IU’s first win against a ranked team on the road since 2002 at Iowa.

“It gives us confidence, but we’re a pretty confident team,” senior Christian Watford said. “We know what we got to do to be a great team and we went out and did that.”

Leading IU in scoring, rebounds and steals, Oladipo was consistent throughout, whether igniting IU runs that continued even after the junior guard went to the bench or sinking several free throws to salt away the win.

Even before the win, Oladipo’s name has crept into player of the year discussions in recent weeks.

“It’s nice and all, but I remember where I came from,” Oladipo said. “That’s great that people think of me like that, but I don’t really think of myself like that. I know what I have to do. I just want to win ball games ... When I play at a high level, my team wins.”

The win was no solo act, though. Sophomore forward Cody Zeller and senior forward Watford also reached the 20-point plateau, helping overcome a mere five points of bench scoring, all from junior forward Will Sheehey.

“A lot of good basketball from a lot of guys,” Crean said. “The game plan was followed, and it wasn’t just a coach’s game plan. It was the players that really, really addressed everything throughout the game and kept the confidence up, getting higher and higher.”

The Hoosiers jumped to a 11-4 lead with crisp passing and aggressive play, especially from senior guard Jordan Hulls, who finished with five points.

The senior continued to find himself open with OSU defensive whiz Aaron Craft concentrating on freshman guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, but it did not pay off. Seeking to get the ball away from Craft, Ferrell often zipped it to Hulls, who immediately hoisted several increasingly forced shots.

IU seldom went to Hulls the rest of the afternoon, but those early misses allowed OSU to mount a 9-0 run and take its first lead of the day.

Minutes later, three consecutive makes by IU seemed to end its shooting slump. IU’s ensuing five-point buffer was quickly cut to one, then boosted back to six with IU once again embracing aggressive ball movement.

The team largely traded baskets the rest of the half, though a long offensive rebound followed by a thunderous dunk by Oladipo pushed the IU lead to 8 for the first time. IU held court and entered the break with a 41-33 edge despite only four scorers and no bench points.

The early minutes of the second half were riddled with fouls, including one by junior Deshaun Thomas beyond the arc. He made all three fouls shots and closed the Hoosier lead to four.

Oladipo responded with five points on consecutive possessions, catalyzing a 19-5 run that saw IU dictate its favored fast tempo for the first extended stretch all game.

Whereas quick shots cost IU late in its loss to Illinois, the opposite threatened to derail a late lead Sunday. IU had one shot clock violation late in the game, a near-miss on another as Hulls was forced into essentially a wasted shot and several
instances that saw them abandon the careful shot selection that helped build the advantage.

With a number of OSU fans already giving up hope and leaving, the Buckeyes actually brought the difference briefly back within single digits before free throws, on which IU was 22-for-28 overall, clinched the road victory.

OSU’s Thomas got his usual share of opportunities, taking more than a third of the Buckeyes’ shots and pacing the team with 26 points. For the fourth consecutive contest, he played the entire game.

On Sunday, that was in part due to foul trouble that OSU found itself in almost all game. Craft and senior Evan Ravenel fouled out while two other players had four apiece.

The turnover battle also favored IU, who had 10 to OSU’s 12. IU allowed only 11 points off its turnovers as opposed to 28 against Illinois that were instrumental in the collapse Thursday.

Oladipo admitted that the team watched the last few minutes of the loss several times in preparation for Sunday, more than he would have liked.

“We’re learning from our mistakes and applying it to the next game,” Oladipo said. “If we keep growing inside games, we don’t have to lose the rest of the year.”

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