Khalif Wyatt went for 31 points in Temple’s win over No. 8 NC State to advance to the Round of 32. Against No. 1-seeded Indiana Sunday, he had an encore performance with a Sweet 16 berth on the line.
Wyatt scored 31 points against the Hoosiers on 12-of-24 shooting, but the Owls got little production offensively from anyone else in a 58-52 loss to Indiana at Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio. The loss ends Temple’s season and see the Hoosiers advance to the Sweet 16.
Wyatt has been big for Temple in previous nationally televised games. Remember Dec. 22 against Syracuse at what ultimately amounted to a home gave for the Orange at MSG? He scored 33 points in a four-point win. How about just over two weeks later in early January against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse? His 26 points kept Temple in it until the final minutes.
It was a repeat performance from him Sunday, even in a loss.
Indiana tried a few different defenders on Wyatt, including Remy Abell and one of the nation’s best defenders in junior Victor Oladipo. If Wyatt was able to touch the ball in the first half, it didn’t seem that he could be contained for any extended period of time. Instead, Indiana did a good job in the second half of working to deny him the basketball and forcing other Temple scoring options to make shots.
There were two separate major stretches where Indiana’s defense forced a drought. The first came from the 19:34 mark of the second half, right when it appeared Wyatt would continue his offensive dominance, until the 10:34 mark. During that span, though, Indiana was unable to capitalize and still trailed by three points.
It was the second drought that allowed Indiana to regain the lead. After hitting a three-pointer with 6:30 to play to put his team up three, 46-43, Wyatt did not his a field goal from the floor for the remainder of the game. Indiana went on a 15-6 run to close out the game and advance.
Aside from some inside and second-chance looks from forward Anthony Lee, there were no other real options for Temple. Scootie Randall was 0-of-12 from the floor. Jake O’Brien, who was so key in the Round of 64, was 0-of-4. Wyatt had nearly 60 percent of the total offense, but the Owls were helped by the fact that they pulled even on the boards with Indiana and had 11 offensive rebounds.
Credit goes to Temple for grinding out a game and forcing Indiana into a style with which it was not comfortable. Of Indiana’s six prior losses this season, three times they failed to score 60 points, but a lack of scoring down the stretch sunk the Owls Sunday.
The Atlantic 10 was 6-0 through the first two rounds of this NCAA tournament, but is now 0-4 in the Round of 32.
For more on Temple-Indiana, check out CSNPhilly.com.