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Oladipo's late-game plays help Indiana stifle Wyatt, Temple

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

DAYTON, Ohio -- As Khalif Wyatt continued to make shot after shot, knocking in contested 3-pointers and impossible-angle floaters, the questions had already begun.

When was the last time a player carried his team like this? Could this be a Kemba Walker or Stephen Curry-esque ride for Temple?

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The senior guard had scored 31 points in the round of 64 against North Carolina State, and already put up 29 points with seven minutes left against top-seeded Indiana.

Then came the one question Wyatt -- and Temple -- couldn't answer: What happens when he goes cold?

After sinking a 3-pointer to put Temple up three with 6:31 left, Wyatt didn't make another field goal the rest of the game, allowing Indiana to overcome a four-point deficit and win 58-52 on Sunday.

“They just all-out face-guarded me full court,” Wyatt said. “It was just real hard for me to get the ball.”

Enter Victor Oladipo.

The junior All-American changed the game over the final 6 1/2 minutes, making it very difficult for Wyatt to even get a touch. Oladipo followed him everywhere, barely looking at the rest of the Temple offense when Indiana was on the defensive end of the floor. On multiple occasions, Wyatt decided to stand 40-feet from the basket, completely taking Oladipo out of the play. Wyatt was visibly frustrated in the final minute, not able to get any clean looks.

“It wasn't as much about the matchup as it was keeping a chest in front,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “It became about, if he can't catch it, he can't shoot it. He's that good. The game called for that happen.”

“He's one of the toughest matchups I've had this year,” Oladipo added.

But the biggest play Oladipo made was on the offensive end, knocking down an open 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to give Indiana a four-point lead that Temple couldn't overcome.

“I just pretty much shot the ball,” Oladipo said. “It really didn't have anything to do with the moment or the confidence to shoot it. I just caught it and shot it. I didn't think about it.”

With Wyatt not able to get any shots, Temple had an impossible time on the offensive end. Starters Will Cummings, Jake O'Brien and Scootie Randall shot a combined 0 for 21 from the field, leaving head coach Fran Dunphy with very few options once Wyatt was taken out of the game.

For a team known for its long list of offensive weapons and its ability to score in multiple ways, it was Indiana's defense that enabled the Hoosiers to advance to Washington, D.C. Oladipo will get the headlines for his play at both ends of the floor late in the game, but the defense of Remy Abell and Christian Watford also played a major role in stifling Wyatt and Temple.

There were times throughout the game that many were calling for Crean to switch to a junk defense or a zone defense that focused on Wyatt, but the Indiana coach had confidence in his players to adjust individually.

“If you go to a different defense too early, you could be showing panic to your kids,” Crean said. “Most importantly, you could be allowing somebody else to hurt you.”

For Temple, that somebody else never came.

On the other side, Indiana was able to overcome a first-half injury to Jordan Hulls and a subpar game from Yogi Ferrell with contributions from other options. Oladipo had 16 points, Cody Zeller was solid down low with 15 points, Will Sheehey came off the bench to score 10 points, and even Hulls hit big shots.

And that's what makes Indiana scary. People have said the Hoosiers can be beaten if you take them out of their transition game or make them play in a half-court game. They said Indiana is not tough enough to win in a physical bruiser of a contest.

Things were not going Indiana's way Sunday, yet the Hoosiers still found a way to go on a 10-0 run in the final three minutes to get the win.

“That's what we've been doing all year,” Zeller said. “We've been in a lot of close games throughout the Big Ten. That's what winners do. You've got to survive and advance this time of year. We got some big plays down the stretch.”

We might not see a better individual performance than what Wyatt did on Sunday, completely dominating the first 35 minutes and single-handedly keeping Temple ahead of Indiana.

But Oladipo owned the final two minutes.

And that's all Indiana needed.

 
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