Anthony Bellino (@Bellino_Anthony)
Temple gave top-seeded Indiana everything they could handle and then some in their third round matchup. Unfortunately for the Owls 31 points from their star guard Khalif Wyatt just wasn’t enough in the end.
The Hoosiers took a one-point lead with 1:19 remaining on a Victor Oladipo free throw and never looked back from that point. Oladipo followed that free throw up by hitting a backbreaking three-pointer with just 15 seconds remaining en route to a 58-52 victory to advance to the Sweet 16. Indiana held Temple scoreless for the last 3:09 of the game including a huge block by Christian Watford on Anthony Lee when the Owls led by two.
Indiana boasted one thing the Owls couldn’t, two projected NBA lottery picks in Oladipo and big man Cody Zeller. Oladipo who killed the Owls down the stretch both offensively and defensively finished the game with a team-high 16 points to go along with eight rebounds. Zeller, who got to the line as many times as the entire Owls team, eight, finished with 15 points and six rebounds for the winners. Temple was whistled for 18 team fouls while Indiana was called for just eight. The Hoosiers got a huge boost off the bench from forward Will Sheehey who finished with 10 points, three rebounds and an assist.
Wyatt, the Atlantic 10 Conference player of the year had yet another great game when his team needed it the most. Wyatt was 12-of-24 from the field (31 pts) and the rest of the Owls team finished 9-of-38 (21 pts) including a dismal 0-of-21 from the field from Jake O’Brien, Scootie Randall and Will Cummings. The trio missed both three-pointers and layups and seemed out of rhythm on the offensive end. As a team Temple was 3-of-24 (12.5%) Randall had a game-high nine rebounds in the loss but simply couldn’t find his stroke going 0-of-12.
Temple trailed by nine early in the first half but Wyatt put the entire team on his back. Wyatt scored 20 of his game-high 31 in the first half, most of which came with Oladipo, who many consider the best wing defender in the nation on him. Oladipo though got the last laugh holding Wyatt scoreless for the final 3:09 after he scored Temple’s final two points.
The only supporting cast Wyatt had all afternoon was Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Anthony Lee. Hollis-Jefferson finished with eight points, seven rebounds and two assists. Lee, who played only eight minutes in the win over North Carolina State played 26 against the Hoosiers and finished with 10 points and five rebounds; in hindsight Fran Dunphy probably wanted Lee on the court more with the way he played defensively, but the sophomore was plagued with foul trouble for much of the second half.
Temple won both the turnover and rebounding battle against the Hoosiers, they even outscored Indiana 30-24 in the paint; the Owls simply couldn’t close down the stretch against the top-seed in the east bracket. After a Lee layup put Temple up by four with 4:01 remaining Temple was outscored 12-2 for the remainder of the game.
Temple’s season ends with a record of 24-and-8. With the Loss the Owls haven’t made it out of the round of 32 under Dunphy, as a program Temple hasn’t been to a Sweet 16 since 2001.