Wizards

No. 7 Hoosiers hold off No. 13 Spartans 75-70

201301271258466889052-p2.jpeg

No. 7 Hoosiers hold off No. 13 Spartans 75-70

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana was playing for so much more than the Big Ten lead against Michigan State.

Tom Crean was facing an old friend and former boss in Tom Izzo. Cody Zeller was trying to rebound from the worst offensive night of his career. And Victor Oladipo, well, he just wanted to show a national television audience what the Hoosiers could do.

Oladipo and No. 7 Indiana didn't let anyone down.

The junior guard scored 21 points, had seven rebounds and six steals, leading No. 7 Indiana past No. 13 Michigan State 75-70.

``For us to get this win in this environment, for us to make the plays that we made, especially at the end, for us to make the defensive stops that we made to get the buckets that we needed to get, I thought was huge,'' Crean said.

Zeller made only two baskets Sunday, two more than he had in Wednesday's win over Penn State, and still played a key role. The second basket came on a layup with 1:38 left, which gave Indiana a two-possession lead. Zeller then took a charge with 14.3 seconds left, which essentially sealed the game.

But the Big Ten's preseason player of the year was overshadowed again by Oladipo.

Not only did he put up big numbers on the stat sheet, he opened the game with a steal and dunk, consistently came up with big plays and had 15 deflections in the first half, a number Crean said he had never seen from a player before.

How good was he? Even Izzo was impressed.

``Oladipo just plays so hard,'' the Spartans coach said. ``He's the Ray Lewis of college basketball.''

The Hoosiers (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten) are hoping Oladipo can deliver the same result as the Ravens star linebacker did with Crean's brother-in-law, John Harbaugh: Playing for a championship.

And if Oladipo keeps playing like this, he just might.

Oladipo was 8 of 12 from the field and 4 of 6 from the free-throw line, had three blocks and was helping to open things up for everyone else when he wasn't putting the ball in the basket or poking it away.

Christian Watford finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Yogi Ferrell had 11 points, and Jordan Hulls made three 3-pointers, finished with 10 points and four assists and closed out the game by making 1 of 2 free throws.

Indiana has now won three in a row since losing to Wisconsin, has won two straight over the Spartans and has nine wins over ranked teams at home over the past 24 months and is back in the driver's seat in the Big Ten.

``It just shows we can run,'' Oladipo said. ``Transition is a big deal on our team, and for me to get those steals and start our break, that was huge for us. My guys did a good job of playing defense and running on the break.''

The Spartans were led by Gary Harris. The 2012 Indiana Mr. Basketball made five 3-pointers, finished with 21 points and was resoundingly booed in his first trip back to his home state. Adreian Payne added 18 points and doubled his season total by making three 3s. The only other Spartan in double figures was Branden Dawson, another Indiana native who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

But this was no typical game for the Spartans (17-4, 6-2).

They allowed Indiana to shoot 50.9 percent from the field, committed 19 turnovers and essentially fought to a draw on rebounds. Keith Appling fouled out with a little more than five minutes to go, and during the final three minutes, when the Spartans have been so good, they struggled to get anything right.

``Down the stretch, we were really sucking air and that caused us not to jam or step up or switch,'' Izzo said. ``Indiana's a good basketball team, though. I still think, top to bottom, they're the best team because of depth.''

Indiana left no doubt about it Sunday.

After Michigan State took a 31-30 lead late in the first half, Indiana answered with a 3 from Will Sheehey and another 3 from Hulls. Ferrell's 3 to close the half gave Indiana 44-38 lead.

Oladipo's two free throws with 16:28 to go extended the lead to 50-43, but when it looked like the Hoosiers might pull away, Harris dashed those hopes by making back-to-back 3s over the next 50 seconds to get the Spartans within 50-49.

Indiana never led by more than six the rest of the way, but with Oladipo leading the defense, Michigan State never managed to tie the score or take the lead, either.

The Hoosiers final sealed it in the final 98 seconds with Zeller's layup, the charge and Hulls' free throw.

``He (Oladipo) was a tremendous difference from the start of the game,'' Crean said. ``If you're not cerebral like that and at the same time, quick, it's hard to defend like that. But he's been good. We knew he was going to play well on the offensive end and to take away things on the defensive end, too.''

Quick Links

Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

A couple of weeks ago, John Wall was spotted at a Washington Mystics game with no brace to support his Achilles injury, a sign that his rehab from the injury was moving in the right direction. 

On Monday night at the 2019 NBA Awards, the Wizards point guard gave affirmation that he is indeed continuing to get healthier and stronger.

"I feel great, man," Wall told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the red carpet. "I'm doing a great job with my body, taking care of that."

Specifically, Wall has been able to slowly increase what he can do on his legs. The recovery and rehab for an injury as severe as his is a long road, and the point guard is making sure not to speed up the process and risk hindering the progress. However, he's about to reach a pretty big milestone in the journey during the coming weeks.

"I'm about to start jogging in like two weeks. Just riding the bike, I get to do exercises standing up now, so I don't have to sit down. I'm able to move, do ladder steps, doing those types of things," Wall said. "Just taking my time and progressing and letting everything heal the right way so I don't force myself back and get another injury."

As Wall continues to work to get back on the court, he's had plenty of motivational factors pushing him through some grueling months. His recent string of injuries have left some wondering if he'll still be an elite player when he finally.

He's heard those comments and he's using them to his advantage.

"I'm one of those guys that's very driven by all the hate and all the negative talk I'm getting. Keep it going," Wall said.

"Everybody said I can't be myself, I won't be nowhere near as good again. That's all the other stuff that's going to fuel me. I don't get upset about it, you're entitled to your own opinion. Please keep it going."

The haters have given Wall some extra juice, but so has his son Ace. Spending the offseason getting right has allowed Wall to work in another area of life: fatherhood.

The newest addition to his family has taken his desire for greatness to new heights.

"I've always had that drive that I want to be the greatest. To have a son like that, that's watching everything I can do. Even though he doesn't understand what's going on, he's putting memories in his head," Wall said. 

"So that gives me extra, extra motivation to another level I never thought I could. Like I said before, that's the best blessing a man could ever ask for is to have a son."

While Wall's offseason has been a busy one as he juggles rehab and being a dad, he's still been very involved in everything going on inside the franchise.

He's already chatted with first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura, and is excited for what is to come for the Wizards. Wall is also hoping that Hachimura will help improve his Japanese so that he can grow a larger following internationally. 

As the calendar slowly turns to July, both Wall and the Wizards' offseasons will ramp up. It's been an up and down time for both lately, but he's excited about the future.

"I think it's good," Wall said about the Wizards situation. "We added some pieces. See what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

While he was putting together the best season of his career, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal was also making a profound impact off the court and those efforts have earned him a significant honor, the NBA's 2018-19 Community Assist Award.

The news was revealed at Monday's NBA Awards in Santa Monica, CA as Beal got the nod over nine other finalists. He is the second Wizards player to win the honor in just the last four years following John Wall in 2015-16.

Beal was involved in a variety of charitable efforts this past season. He has partnered with the Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Northeast Washington to help underprivileged youth. He visited the school in December and gave out shoes.

During the All-Star break in February, as he made his second appearance in the annual showcase, Beal handed out meals at a food bank alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This past year he also gave out Christmas presents in the Washington area and took a group of kids on a tour of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Beal was named a finalist for the Community Assist Award in April along with Jarrett Allen (Nets), Mike Conley (Jazz), Khris Middleton (Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Dwight Powell (Mavs) and Pascal Siakam (Raptors). Part of the criteria was based on fan voting through social media that was held from April 24 through May 25.

Beal, 25, continues to ascend on the court as well. This year he posted career-highs in points (25.6/g), assists (5.5/g) and rebounds (5.0/g). He nearly made All-NBA in late May with the most votes of any guard that was left out.

In Beal and Wall, the Wizards have quite the combination. Both have been All-Stars on the court and now both can say they won the NBA's top honor for charity work as well.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS