Through the first 18 minutes of the second half, No. 1-seeded Indiana looked to be firmly on the brink of a staggering upset and elimination from the NCAA Tournament. Then, after Indiana had taken their first lead of the entire half on a free-throw with 1:19 remaining, Victor Oladipo converted the game-clinching three with just 14 seconds remaining to extend Indiana’s lead to 56-52, and they would never relinquish it. The performance wasn’t pretty (at all), but the Indiana Hoosiers escaped from Dayton, Ohio with a 58-52 victory over the Temple Owls.
In the first half, the story was undoubtedly the play of Temple’s star guard Khalif Wyatt. Wyatt scored 20 of the first 24 points of the day for the Owls, finishing the half having shot 8-14 from the field while the rest of the team shot just 4-20. His play singlehandedly kept Temple in the game in the first half, and he nearly outscored the entire Indiana team (20 points to their 26) for the opening frame. Wyatt cooled off a bit in the second half, finishing with 31 points on 12-24 shooting, but he was certainly the best player on the court during the game.
In contrast to some of the other low-scoring games during the tournament, I wouldn’t characterize this game as “ugly”, as both defenses played extremely well, and it was more about defensive dominance than offensive incompetence in this one. With that said, Temple was negatively affected by the offensive play of their non-Wyatt guards, as Scootie Randall (the team’s 2nd-leading scorer) and Will Cummings combined to shoot a staggering 0-for-17 from the field on the night.
For the Hoosiers, it was a lackluster game from their most-hyped player in Cody Zeller (4-10 FG, 6 turnovers), but their best player all season has been Victor Oladipo, and he finished with a team-leading 16 points on 7-12 shooting to go along with 8 rebounds. In addition, one of the biggest plays on the night was made by senior leader Christian Watford, who came from nowhere to block a dunk attempt with 2:21 to play, setting up the sequence of possessions that allowed Indiana to grab the lead and the win.
Fran Dunphy and Temple should be commended for an incredible effort in this game, as they possessed only 1 of the best 6-7 players on the court at all times (in my estimation), but they persevered in a big way, playing stellar defense to lead for the majority of the night. In the end, Indiana was just too much, and one of the best players in the country (Oladipo) was able to deliver the biggest shot of the game.
The Hoosiers move on to encounter Syracuse in the Sweet 16, and that is a wildly intriguing match-up of long-time powerhouses. They’ll certainly need more from Cody Zeller (and really, Yogi Ferrell) to have a chance against the Syracuse zone, but it’ll be a totally different gameplan against a multi-faceted Syracuse team. It is on to Washington DC for the No.1-seeded Hoosiers, and they’ll hope that this was their “close call” on the way to the Final Four.
Be sure to stay tuned to FanSided.com and BustedBrackets.com throughout the entire tournament as we keep you up to date with the latest results.