BLOOMINGTON -- Victor Oladipo is the Big Ten's best.
For a week at least.
Indiana's junior guard, whose NBA prospects seem to rise with every game, won his second Big Ten player of the week award. He only played once last week, but it was a monster effort -- he had 19 points, nine rebounds and five steals in the Hoosiers' 72-68 win at Michigan State.
Oladipo had six points in the final minute to help IU win in East Lansing for the first time since 1991.
“I'm happy for Victor,” coach Tom Crean said. “There are a lot of deserving guys.
“There were a lot of excellent games (last week), as there usually are. He did some major things, especially at the end of the Michigan State game. Our entire team played at a really high level in what was one of the better environments I've ever been a part of. That's what you get in this league. You get some incredible games and you have to have high-level performances to win.”
Oladipo has had high-level performances in nearly every game. He has emerged as a national player of the year candidate and a possible lottery pick in the next summer's NBA draft if he gives up his final year of college eligibility. He averages 14.1 points and 6.0 rebounds. He has a Big Ten-leading 64 steals.
Opposing coaches such as Minnesota's Tubby Smith are impressed. The Hoosiers play at the Gophers' Williams Arena tonight.
“(Oladipo) has always been athletic,” Smith said. “That's what you have to have. You have to have guys who grow and improve. He's a guy who has committed to being better. He's got an all-around game. He plays hard. He plays smart. He's a very unselfish player.”
Oladipo won for the second time this season. The only other Hoosier to win this award this season is sophomore forward Cody Zeller.
IU (24-3 overall, 12-2 in the Big Ten) hasn't played in a week since winning at Michigan State last Tuesday. That gave Oladipo time to heal his lightly sprained ankle suffered in the first half of the Feb. 16 Purdue win.
“I was more careful than was required,” Crean said. “He looks fine. There's no question about it. I'd pull him in and out of things (in practice). It didn't stop him from being in the gym extra. I know (the ankle) is a lot better than it was.”
The Hoosiers remain a target after earning the No. 1 ranking for the fourth straight week. They received 64 of 65 first-place votes in this week's AP poll, with No. 2 Gonzaga getting the other one. They got 28 of the 31 first-place votes in the USA Today coaches' poll, with No. 2 Gonzaga getting the other three.
“They have a lot of weapons and a lot of ways they can play to hurt you,” Smith said, “but you have to focus on Cody and Victor when you prepare for Indiana.”