Oladipo sparks Big Ten-opening win

Sophomore forward Cody Zeller finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, collecting his third double-double of the season.

When plays didn’t go IU’s way late, Victor Oladipo was there.

With just under two minutes to play and IU clinging to a three-point lead, the junior guard was instrumental in extending a key possession that helped lead to IU’s 69-65 win over Iowa (11-3, 0-1 Big Ten) Monday.

After senior forward Christian Watford missed a three-pointer from the corner, the ball caromed toward Iowa guard Roy Devyn Marble. Oladipo, who finished the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds, leapt toward Marble and clawed the ball away from him. Sophomore forward Cody Zeller jumped on the ball, and IU (13-1, 1-0) retained possession.

Senior guard Jordan Hulls whipped a pass in to Zeller on the extended possession, and Zeller’s hook shot was too strong and sailed over the basket — right into Oladipo’s hands.

"Rebounding is one of my strengths," Oladipo said after the game. "I just saw Cody shooting and I saw it coming off the rim and I was in the right place at the right time. It's big plays like that are going to help us win down the road."

Oladipo came down with the ball and put it back up, extending IU’s lead to 65-60, which it never relinquished, resulting in IU’s first win in Iowa City since Jan. 2, 2008.

“We feel very good about our toughness inside of this game," IU head coach Tom Crean said. "This was truly one of those 15-round, heavyweight fight games the Big Ten is full of, where you can’t necessarily land the knockout punch, and you just want to make sure it doesn’t get landed on you.”

The game resulted in Oladipo’s first ever double-double in college, and was the second time he has collected 10 or more rebounds. He also had 10 rebounds against Penn State on March 8 of this year.

Junior guard Victor Oladipo tallied his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in Monday's win against Iowa.

In the eyes of Crean, however, Oladipo's night wasn't limited to a double-double.

"Victor ended up with a triple-double for us, because he had 12 deflections also. It's under his average, but on the road, that's a big deal."

While Oladipo had a historically good night for himself, Hulls had a career-low shooting night. After shooting 6-for-9 in Friday night’s win over Jacksonville, Hulls missed all 10 of his field goal attempts Monday. It was the worst shooting night of his career, eclipsing a March 5, 2011 game against Illinois during which he went 0-for-7 from the field. That night, he was still able to make four free throws, but Hulls was unable to get to the line Monday.

Despite the lack of success shooting, Hulls was still able to find teammates for open shots. He led the team with six assists without a turnover.

"Shooters keep shooting and we have that mentality that the next one's going in," junior forward Will Sheehey said. "Jordy will have 0-for-10 tonight, but next game, he'll go 10-for-10."

Zeller led the Hoosiers in scoring, capitalizing on a hot streak to begin the second half, during which he scored seven points in just over two minutes. He finished with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, also managing 10 rebounds. It was his third double-double of the season.

After the game, Zeller said the loud crowd of 15,400 fans helped bring him into the game.

"I love playing in big crowds, whether they're cheering for you or against you," Zeller said. "It gets your adrenaline flowing, and you want to play on the biggest stages."

IU came into the game averaging 89 points per game — the most in the country — but due to a shooting percentage of 40 percent (26-for-65), scored 20 points below its average.

Defensively, IU was able to limit a Hawkeye team averaging nearly 77 points per game to just 65. A large blow to Iowa’s scoring was the defense IU — namely Oladipo — played on Marble. Entering the game, Marble averaged 15.7 points per game. Monday, however, Marble hit just one field goal, which came with 15:32 left in the second half, and he finished with 14 points due to free throws. Marble made 12-of-13 free throws despite a 1-for-14 field-goal shooting performance.

The victory was IU’s first true road win of the season, as well as the first true road game. The Hoosiers are again on the road a week from Monday at the Bryce-Jordan Center against Penn State. The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m. next Monday, Jan. 7.

"Excellent win for us," Crean said. "Not a textbook win, but very few of them are at this time of year. We'll look back at this one and know that this really helped us, because I think that Iowa's going to have a great season."

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