WIth minutes remaining in the game, things did not look pretty for the Hoosiers. Fran Dunphy had his Temple squad controlling the East region’s #1-seeded Indiana Hoosiers - and had them right where he wanted them.
Khalif Wyatt, the Owls’ leading scorer, was scoring at will. Indiana coach Tom Crean tried Will Sheehey on him; he tried Remy Abell on him; he put Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Victor Oladipo on him most of the game. Nobody could keep Wyatt in check.
That was the case up until about six minutes remained in the game. Wyatt was leading all scorers with 31 points. Wyatt finished with 31 points. The Hoosiers shut him down in the final minutes and pulled out the 58-52 victory, advancing to the Sweet 16 regional in Washington, D.C.
Oladipo scored 16 points - including a big-time three-point basket in the final seconds - and pulled down eight rebounds, to lead Indiana. Cody Zeller added 15 points and six rebounds, while Sheehey contributed 10 points off the bench.
Christian Watford joined Oladipo in the big-play category with an outstanding block that helped Indiana gain momentum down the stretch. Senior guard Jordan Hulls of the Hoosiers called it the “biggest play of the year.”
That was the moment Hoosiers fans were waiting for. The momentum-changing play of the game. It was long overdue after Temple controlled the pace of the game for 35+ minutes. The Owls forced Indiana into a half-court game, something the Hoosiers don’t particularly enjoy. Crean prefers an up-tempo transition game with points coming in bunches.
The style of play on Sunday, countered with Wyatt’s elite scoring ability, helped Temple maintain the advantage for most of the contest.
A Hulls mid-range jump shot, followed by the Watford block and two free throws by Zeller tied things up at 52 apiece with less than two minutes to play. One-for-two at the line from Oladipo and the game-clinching three-pointer made it an 8-0 run for Indiana with the game ultimately out of reach for Temple.
Wyatt then forced a long three, Watford controlled the rebound and was fouled. He sank both free throws as the Hoosiers ended the game on a 10-0 run en route to their second consecutive Sweet 16 berth in as many tournament appearances under Crean.
Indiana lost the battle of the fifty-fifty balls and the turnover differential but managed to win the war of the game. They will face Syracuse on Thursday. Tipoff TBA.
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