EAST LANSING, Mich. - A five-game winning streak has No. 5 Michigan State knocking on the door to sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
All the host Spartans have to do is knock off No. 1 Indiana on Tuesday. Michigan State has not lost since dropping a 75-70 decision in Bloomington, Ind., on Jan. 27 and is tied with the Hoosiers atop the conference. Indiana has won three in a row to hold onto the top spot in the country.
The Hoosiers began the season relying heavily on All-American Cody Zeller, but have since become a much more well-rounded offensive squad. Victor Oladipo is one of the most explosive perimeter players in the Big Ten and players such as Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls and Will Sheehey have all carried the offense in stretches. The Spartans have held their last four opponents to an average of 57.8 points and sit second in the Big Ten in scoring defense.
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ABOUT INDIANA (23-3, 11-2 Big Ten): The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten in scoring offense and have gone for 80 or more points in four of their last five victories. Sheehey played the hero with a school-record 9-for-9 shooting performance in an 83-55 victory over Purdue on Saturday, but it was Oladipo who took the lead in the first meeting with Michigan State. The junior guard collected 21 points, seven rebounds and six steals as the Spartans collapsed on Zeller.
Indiana will play three of its last five games on the road leading up to the Big Ten tournament, but should have some confidence after knocking off Ohio State in Columbus on Feb. 10. In addition to leading the conference in scoring and 3-point percentage, the Hoosiers are also at the top in field goal percentage defense, limiting foes to 38.1 percent shooting.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (22-4, 11-2): The Spartans have not lost since falling at Indiana and sit tied with the Hoosiers, two games ahead of Michigan and Wisconsin in the Big Ten. Michigan State is right behind Indiana in field goal percentage defense and has steadily improved on the other end of late.
Keith Appling is shooting 28 percent over the last two games but Derrick Nix, Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne have stepped up in the frontcourt. Payne and Dawson combined for 30 points and 17 rebounds in the first meeting with the Hoosiers while Appling was limited to 19 minutes because of foul trouble.
The Spartans will play a brutal schedule the rest of the regular season, with trips to Ohio State and Michigan and a visit from Wisconsin still on the way.
Michigan State freshman G Gary Harris has gone 22-for-39 from 3-point range over the last seven games.
Oladipo had a streak of 12 straight games with at least one 3-pointer snapped on Saturday, when he did not record an attempt from beyond the arc against Purdue.
The Hoosiers are 20 games over .500 for the first time since they were 22-2 on Feb. 14, 1993.
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