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Temple vs North Carolina State

Wyatt plays through thumb injury, helps Temple hold on

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DAYTON, Ohio -- Khalif Wyatt grabbed his left thumb -- the one alarmingly wrapped in black support tape -- pulled it toward his stomach and grimaced.

His non-shooting hand dangled uselessly as he set up behind the free-throw line. He carefully placed it on the bottom of the ball, cautiously dribbled a couple times, then put both hands on it and let it fly.

Painful, but perfect.

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Then, he did it five more times.

Wyatt scored 31 points and made six decisive free throws in the final 32 seconds Friday, leading Temple to a 76-72 victory over North Carolina State in the second round of the East Regional.

No one-and-done for Temple this time. The Owls' best player wouldn't have it.

"He's as tough a competitor as I've had an opportunity to coach," Temple's Fran Dunphy said. "He wants the moment."

The ninth-seeded Owls (24-9) will face top-seeded Indiana on Sunday, which represents a breakthrough for Temple all by itself.

The Owls are trying to shed their reputation as an easy-out team. They had made the tournament each of the past five years, losing their opening game all but once. They haven't been to the Round of 16 since 2001, when they reached the regional final.

They were having one of their best games of the season, holding a 17-point lead, before Wyatt got hurt, giving them a huge fright. The Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and league's top scorer got his thumb caught in a defender's jersey and had it twisted backward.

He took himself out of the game -- a sign something was badly wrong -- got it taped and returned to finish the win off.

How bad was it?

"It's sore," he said, then realized that didn't fully capture the depth of the discomfort.

"It's sore," he added. "It's sore."

Every shot was an adventure, but he made enough to keep Temple around for more than one game. He hit his last two free throws with 2.2 seconds to go, finishing 12 of 14 from the line overall.

"They trusted me to make the two shots at the end," Wyatt said. "Some of the NC State guys were talking a little bit, but you've just got to block it out."

Wyatt broke Temple's single-season free-throw record and finished with the most points by an Owl in the NCAA tournament since 1991.

"We've played against really good guards this year," NC State coach Mark Gottfried said. "Khalif Wyatt is as good or better than all of them."

No. 8 NC State (24-11) trailed most of the game, but cut it to 74-72 on Lorenzo Brown's jumper with 2 seconds left. Wyatt was fouled on the inbounds play and finished it off.

The Wolfpack went to the Round of 16 last season and yearned for a deep tournament run in a year dedicated to their most famous finish. Richard Howell had 14 points and 15 rebounds for NC State, which couldn't fully take advantage of its advantage inside.

The Wolfpack are commemorating the 30-year anniversary of their national title under coach Jim Valvano. That's when Lorenzo Charles grabbed Dereck Whittenburg's off-target shot and slammed it home at the buzzer for a 54-52 win over Houston, sending Valvano on his joyous ramble around the court.

Wyatt cut off any hopes of a last-second win this time.

"He's really crafty," N.C. State's Scott Brown said. "He was able to draw the foul and get to the line. Anytime you shoot 14 free throws in a game, that's going to help you. He's a good player, and that's what makes them go."

The Owls were overshadowed on the front line, where NC State had the 6-foot-8 Howell, the ACC's leading rebounder. Temple's top inside threat, Anthony Lee, was limited in practice this week after getting tested for a concussion following the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Lee was replaced in the starting lineup Friday by 6-9 Jake O'Brien, making his seventh start. O'Brien, who likes to shoot the 3, played the leading role in Temple's fast start. He finished with 18 points.

Still, the onus was on the 6-4 Wyatt, who averages 19.8 points. Wyatt had three driving baskets -- two of them off steals -- and O'Brien hit a 3 for a 33-18 lead with 6:38 left in the half.

O'Brien hit yet another 3 with 18 seconds left for a 38-22 lead at halftime. C.J. Leslie and the rest of the Wolfpack walked off the court stunned, the shock showing in their listless stride and blank faces.

Wyatt has a knack for wriggling free in the lane and drawing fouls, but his long-range shot has been off. He missed 12 straight during a loss to Massachusetts during the A-10 tournament and was only 4 of 23 behind the arc in his last three games.

Wyatt still struggled from outside -- only 1 of 7 behind the arc -- but compensated by driving inside for baskets over taller defenders.

After Wyatt hurt his hand in the second half, N.C. State started its best spurt of the game, getting the ball inside four times for baskets -- two each by Howell and Brown -- that cut it to 47-39 with 13:08 to go.

The Owls managed to maintain their cushion until the closing minutes. Wood, the ACC's top 3-point shooter, missed his first four shots but hit back-to-back 3s that cut it to 63-60 with 3:08 left.

He missed another 3 with 1:11 to go, and Wyatt finished it off with those free throws.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Scoreboard
Temple #9 «383876
North Carolina State #8 225072
TEMPLE:K. Wyatt 31 Pts
TEMPLE:S. Randall 8 Reb
TEMPLE:K. Wyatt 5 Ast
NCST:L. Brown 22 Pts
NCST:R. Howell 15 Reb
NCST:L. Brown 9 Ast

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PLAYERS OF THE GAME
TempleNorth Carolina State
TEMPLE
Khalif Wyatt
NCST
Lorenzo Brown
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
31252249
Temple Owls
R. Hollis-Jefferson, F404-104-943212
S. Randall, G-F381-32-48335
K. Wyatt, G389-2212-1425131
J. O'Brien, F327-90-050318
W. Cummings, G221-20-20123
T. DiLeo, G221-12-21134
A. Lee, F81-31-22013
D. Pepper, GDid Not Play
J. McDonnell, FDid Not Play
N. Pendergast, FDid Not Play
D. Dingle, G-FDid Not Play
Q. DeCosey, GDid Not Play
D. Watson, F-CDid Not Play
Totals 24-5021-3322131576
 48.0%63.6% 
North Carolina State Wolfpack
L. Brown, G399-153-449422
S. Wood, F382-74-512310
R. Howell, F377-100-0150314
C. Leslie, F368-123-752520
T. Warren, F332-50-04144
R. Purvis, G131-30-04052
T. Lewis, G40-00-01000
J. Vandenberg, CDid Not Play
J. Lewis, GDid Not Play
S. Battle, GDid Not Play
T. de Thaey, FDid Not Play
C. Cannon, FDid Not Play
J. Robinson, GDid Not Play
Totals 29-5210-1634142472
 55.8%62.5% 
American Athletic
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Cincinnati0-04-0161
UCF0-03-076
So. Florida0-04-158
Connecticut0-03-15
Tulane0-03-1300
Tulsa0-03-1258
Houston0-02-1127
Temple0-03-262
E. Carolina0-03-3351
Memphis0-01-1156
SMU0-02-367

ACC
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Miami (Fla.)0-06-015
Duke0-05-023
Virginia0-05-042
Louisville0-04-057
N.C. State0-04-055
Georgia Tech0-03-024
Notre Dame0-04-1114
Syracuse0-04-1144
N. Carolina0-03-135
Clemson0-03-2346
Pittsburgh0-03-2119
Wake Forest0-03-298
Va. Tech0-02-2288
Boston College0-02-353
Florida St.0-02-3140
 
Other games
ALBA 61 Final
DUKE 73
MISS 57 Final
WISC 46
UOP 49 Final
UM 78
CIN 63 Final
CREI 67
LAS 63 Final
KSU 61
JMAD 62 Final
IND 83
COLO 49 Final
ILL 57
FGCU 78 Final
GU 68
IONA 70 Final
OHST 95
NOVA 71 Final
UNC 78
NWST 47 Final
FLA 79
OKLA 55 Final
SDSU 70
ISU 76 Final
ND 58
WKY 57 Final
KAN 64
MINN 83 Final
UCLA 63