Published January 13, 2015
Khalif Wyatt outdueled Victor Oladipo, but Indiana had the last laugh over the Temple Owls, using a late surge to post a 58-52 decision in third-round action of the East Region.
"It doesn't doanything for me, not right now at least," Wyatt said of putting together his finest performance on a national stage. "They're a really good team. They played really hard. We competed really hard. We battled. A couple plays here and there, we win. It was just a tough-battled game, and they came out on top."
Wyatt led all players with 31 points, but Oladipo hit a three-pointer with 14 seconds to play, the last of his team-high 16 points, to help his top-seeded program advance to the Sweet 16.
Cody Zeller totaled 15 points and six rebounds for the Hoosiers (29-6), who rolled past James Madison in their tourney opener and now face Syracuse in the regional semifinals on Thursday in Washington, DC.
"It's a great feeling," Oladipo said. "I'm just glad that we're going."
Will Sheehey added 10 points and Christian Watford totaled nine with eight boards in the narrow victory.
Anthony Lee poured in 10 points for the Owls (24-10), who got past NC State on Friday but were doomed by poor shooting down the stretch. Rahlir Hollis- Jefferson contributed eight points, seven rebounds in defeat.
"Certainly, I thanked them for all the time and effort they put in, putting up with my BS," Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said of his veteran leaders, including Wyatt. "They're great guys, and they will be successful people as they move forward. Now we have to say good-bye to them, and the cocoon has kind of burst here, their comfort level, and they're out there on their own."
Lee's bucket from right under the basket off a dish from Will Cummings made it 50-46 for Temple as four minutes remained in regulation, but that was the high point for the upset-hopeful Owls.
A Jordan Hulls bucket closed the gap to 52-50 with 2:56 to play, and after Watford stuffed Wyatt in the lane on the next Temple possession, Zeller sank two from the line for a 52-52 deadlock inside of two minutes left.
Wyatt fired away from long distance and missed, and Oladipo made 1-of-2 free throws to give the Hoosiers their first lead of the second half at 53-52 with 1:19 left.
Hollis-Jefferson's airball on a short jumper fell out of bounds and gave the ball back to Indiana, and Oladipo hit the dagger, a long triple from the top of the key to make it 56-52.
Wyatt again failed to find the hoop from beyond the arc, and Watford iced the game with his two free shots.
"I was just being aggressive. My teammates kept (getting the ball) to me, but the last six minutes they just made it really hard for me to catch the ball," Wyatt said of Indiana's late-game adjustments.
Temple missed seven of its first eight shots, but Indiana's poor shooting early kept the contest close in the opening minutes.
The Hoosiers gained separation on a 12-4 run for a 20-11 spread with just under nine minutes played thanks to a Watford jumper, but the Owls struck back with nine straight, evening the score on a Wyatt triple with 6:12 remaining.
Hollis-Jefferson ended the half with a bucket and Temple hit the break up 29-26.
Wyatt began the second half with a basket to give the Owls a five-point edge, and the nine-seed maintained that distance until back-to-back makes from Oladipo pulled the Hoosiers within 33-32 less than 5 1/2 minutes in.
Wyatt's runner from the baseline -- his first points since the initial shot of the half -- and a fadeaway jumper following a Zeller turnover provided a 41-35 edge for Temple just shy of the midway point.
But Hulls and Sheehey hit triples around a Lee bucket to draw the Hoosiers even, 43-43, with 6:49 on the clock, before Wyatt countered on the other end on the next trip down the floor.
"If they were in our league, they'd be fighting for a championship too," Indiana head coach Tom Crean said. "I don't think there's any doubt about that. They're that good."
Indiana trailed at the half for just the fifth time all season, running its record to 3-2 in such games ... Wyatt, who finished 12-of-24 from the field, made only 3-of-12 attempts from long range. He was 8-of-14 for 20 points in the first half alone and his 31 points were the most for any Temple player in the premier March tourney since Mark Macon had 31 in a 75-72 loss to North Carolina in an East Regional Final on March 25, 1991 ... The Owls fell to 0-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament when facing No. 1 seeds ... Hulls, who played just eight minutes in the first half thanks to a a shoulder injury, set a new school record by appearing in his 134th game with the Hoosiers ... Zeller committed a game-high six of Indiana's 12 turnovers ... Scootie Randall had just three points in 38 minutes, but pulled down a game-high nine rebounds for the Owls.