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IU's Oladipo doesn't dodge responsibility

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Junior has ups, downs against Minnesota

Sunday, January 13, 2013 - 12:13 pm

BLOOMINGTON -- Indiana's Victor Oladipo didn't buck the responsibility. His standards are too high to do anything else.

Oladipo is considered one of the nation's best perimeter defenders. He leads the Big Ten in steals and America in offense-disrupting impact. He is, by any standard, the last guy you want guarding you.

And yet, three times Saturday he committed a major defensive sin: he fouled a Minnesota three-point shooter.

The result -- nine Gophers free throw attempts and six makes.

Those were huge in Minnesota's rally from a 23-point halftime deficit. It could have cost IU in what became an 88-81 victory.

The junior guard knows it.

“The first two (fouls), we work on that all the time,” he said. “It was just me being undisciplined. I can't do that. As the leader on defense, I cannot make those mistakes. I feel like I almost blew the game for us.”

In so many ways, Oladipo was his usual defensive force. He had three steals and double digit deflections. He harassed Gophers all over the court.

But Oladipo picked up five second-half fouls to foul out, and his last one, during Andre Hollins' missed three-pointer with 19 seconds left, enabled Minnesota to get within three points.

“That's nine free throws I just let them have,” Oladipo said. “The last one I have to be more disciplined and stay down."

In other words, he must balance the passion that fuels his big-play-making ability with the poise to reign it in when necessary.

“I was making dumb, little mistakes toward the end of the game," he said. "I shouldn't be doing that. I'm a junior now. I can't make dumb mistakes like that.”

Even a mistake-burdened Oladipo was more than the No. 8 Gophers could handle. He had 20 points, six rebounds and two assists along with those three steals. He went 8-for-10 from the field, not surprising given he entered the game ranked fourth nationally in shooting (67.2 percent). He was a high-energy presence that fueled the Hoosiers' 52-29 first-half dominance.

“Victor did a great job on the ball getting steals, starting the fast break, doing things on defense that led to our offense,” teammate Jordan Hulls said.

Still, Oladipo expects more from himself, especially with the game on the line, which is among the reasons why he has developed into a potential NBA first-round draft pick.

“My teammates look up to me, especially on defense. When I make mistakes, it's not good for our team. I have to go back to the drawing board, look at the tape and correct it.

“I've got to be way more disciplined that that. I'll work on it and I'll be good.”