The NBA came back after it’s brief All-Star hiatus, and the Big Ten featured a crucial conference matchup that came down to the wire. In case you were (foolishly) doing something else, here’s what you missed:
No. 1 Indiana held off No. 4 Michigan State in East Lansing.
It had been 17 years since Indiana had gone into East Lansing and emerged victorious, so something something turning the tables or whatever. Though Michigan State dominated in the paint at times, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo made key play after key play to secure the win, including two clutch free throws to put the Hoosiers up four points with 2.8 seconds to play. Indiana escaped with a 72-68 victory, but not before a nerve-wracking final five minutes in which the lead changed hands multiple times and both teams handed each other the game on a silver platter. Michigan State trailed by three points with 3.7 seconds left when Gary Harris launched a three to tie the game. It was well short and a forced launch as the game clock wound down, but Indiana’s Will Sheehey, who stepped out to contest the shot, was called for the foul.
For the record, he did not committ a foul. He stood still with his hands directly in the air, and it was Harris who leaned in to initiate contact. Still, the referees went for it. Harris then stepped to the line with three free throws to tie the game, but couldn’t: he missed the first, made the second, and intentionally missed the third. Except the Spartans couldn’t corral that final rebound, and instead ended up fouling Oladipo, who iced the game.
Joe Johnson won the game for Brooklyn in the final moments, again.
Say what you will about Joe Johnson’s max deal, but the man has proven his late-game mettle this season. First, he nailed a three-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining in regulation to send Brooklyn’s game with Milwaukee to overtime; then he sank a mid-range jumper off a crossover to win the game 113-111 in overtime, snapping Brooklyn’s 13-game losing streak against Milwaukee. Brandon Jennings still had a good game for the Bucks, scoring 34 points on top of 6 rebounds and 7 assists, while Johnson’s 24-5-5 led the way for Brooklyn. It was an especially crucial win for the Nets, though, as they’re locked in a tight battle with Chicago and Indiana as they jostle for position in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee, meanwhile, is still clinging to the 8th seed.