Victor Oladipo's 1,000th career point may turn out to be the biggest basket of Indiana's season.
The All-America candidate reached the milestone on a tip-in with 42 seconds left, accounting for the go-ahead score as the top-ranked Hoosiers ended a 22- year winless stretch at Michigan State's Breslin Center with a 72-68 triumph over the No. 4 Spartans.
Oladipo finished with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting and added nine rebounds and five steals, with the well-rounded performance helping Indiana (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) come up with its first win in East Lansing since Feb. 28, 1991. The Hoosiers had lost in each of their l7 visits to the Breslin Center.
More importantly, the victory put Indiana a game ahead of the hard-charging Spartans for sole possession of first place in the Big Ten standings and solidified its case for a No. 1 regional seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament -- a feat the program last achieved in 1993.
Cody Zeller also eclipsed the 1,000-point mark with a 17-point effort for the Hoosiers, with Jordan Hulls contributing 12 points on a 4-of-6 success rate from 3-point range and Christian Watford chipping in 12 as well.
Gary Harris scored 19 points and Adreian Payne had 17 for Michigan State (22-5, 11-3), with the duo leading the Spartans back from a seven-point deficit early in the second half before MSU ultimately suffered its first defeat since a 75-70 setback to the Hoosiers on Jan. 27.
"Well that was a very disappointing loss. I thought we had our chances but we really didn't play well enough to win the game," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "We just made too many mistakes early. We had some of our key players that weren't into the game. We had some distractions and I think it affected some guys."
The Spartans trailed 45-38 with 16 minutes remaining and 57-51 just past the midway stage of the second half, but bounced back via a 9-2 run in which Payne racked up seven points to move in front with just under 6 1/2 minutes to go.
Layups by Derrick Nix on consecutive possessions gave Michigan State a 66-63 edge heading into the final two minutes, and Harris made it a four-point spread with 1:37 left after sinking 1-of-2 foul shots following a Watford misfire on Indiana's possession.
Watford redeemed himself on the Hoosiers' next trip, though, scoring off the glass and drawing a foul before sinking the bonus shot to bring the Hoosiers within 67-66.
The Spartans' Keith Appling then committed a costly miss on the front end of a one-and-one, and Oladipo put back teammate Yogi Ferrell's unsuccessful drive to the hoop to put Indiana up by one with time winding down.
Harris then had a layup attempt rim out, with the ball going out of bounds with 13.8 seconds left to play. Watford would find a streaking Oladipo on the ensuing inbounds play for a thunderous dunk and a 70-67 IU lead with 10.1 seconds showing.
Michigan State was given one last chance, however, when Harris drew a foul from Will Sheehey on a three-point try with 3.7 seconds left. The freshman failed on his first foul shot, though, before making the second and intentionally missing the last.
"I don't think we fouled Harris. We had no intentions of fouling," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "At that point, we were in a switching defense. We said the word "verticality" and any shot they were going to make was going to have to be earned. We did not want to foul in that situation. I'll have to watch the film, but my initial reaction is that we didn't. It was called and we dealt with it and played it out."
Oladipo would come up big once again, grabbing the crucial rebound and hitting both of his free throws after being fouled to seal the outcome.
The Hoosiers, who entered the showdown second nationally in three-point percentage and went 8-of-18 as a team from beyond the arc, showed off their long-range marksmanship early on. Watford and Derek Elston each buried triples to highlight a 10-3 run that turned a three-point deficit into an 18-14 edge just over seven minutes in.
Indiana added to its lead before the half ended, with four straight points from Oladipo giving his team a 29-22 advantage 4 1/2 minutes prior to the intermission. The Hoosiers were up by as many as eight points in the opening period, though Michigan State closed the half to get within 36-30 at the break following a Harris basket during the latter stages of the frame.
The game marked the first time in the 23-year history of the Breslin Center that both participants were each ranked in the top five ... Indiana now has four 1,000-point scorers on the roster, with Watford and Hulls having previously accomplishing the feat ... Michigan State is 2-5 this season when having a lower field goal percentage than its opponent and 20-0 when outshooting its foe. Indiana shot 44.3 percent for the game, while the Spartans finished at 42.9 percent ... The Spartans fell to 3-19 all-time against No. 1 ranked teams.