Rushed Reactions: #1 Indiana 58, #9 Temple 52Posted by IRenko on March 24th, 2013
I. Renko is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Dayton after Sunday’s Third Round game between #1 Indiana and #9 Temple. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.
Three Key Takeaways:
- Victor Oladipo Won This Game — The stat sheet won’t tell you what Victor Oladipo means to Indiana, because it offers no metrics, advanced or otherwise, for heart and soul. Oladipo took this game over down the stretch at both ends of the floor. Indiana had used a number of defenders to try to slow Khalif Wyatt (more on him later), but it was Oladipo’s shut-down, ball-denial, in-your-grill defense in the closing minutes that prevented Wyatt from carrying his team across the finish line. With the game tied at 52 and under two minutes to play, Oladipo harassed Wyatt into a missed three, grabbed the rebound, and drew a Wyatt foul while pushing the ball up the floor. On the next possession, Oladipo denied Wyatt the chance to even get the ball, forcing Temple to burn a timeout and the entire shot clock before Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson missed a jumper. Oladipo then promptly ran down to the other end of the floor and drained his one and only three-pointer of the game to clinch the win for Indiana.
- Indiana Scored 58 Points — And Won — Indiana scores north of 1.15 points per possession, but they looked largely ineffective against Temple for two reasons. First, Temple’s tough interior defense. The best way to slow the Hoosiers is with physicality, and the Owls brought plenty today. They bodied Cody Zeller and Christian Watford in the post, swarmed Oladipo on his drives, and pushed the Hoosiers around on the glass. Zeller and Watford combined to shoot 6-of-17, Zeller committed six turnovers, and the Hoosiers rebounded less than 20 percent of their own misses. Second, the Hoosiers went cold from three-point range, missing eight of their first nine long-distance attempts. They got hot late just in time to push themselves over the top, but credit Temple for nearly stopping the nation’s most efficient offense in its tracks.
- A One-Man Offensive Band — This game was an almost comical display of the extent to which Temple relies on Khalif Wyatt offensively. The confident point guard has a tendency to rise to the occasion against the best of competition, and today was no exception. Relishing the role of the villain, taking on not just the quiet and unassuming Oladipo but a boisterous crowd full of Hoosier fans, Wyatt did his best to carry the Owls to the upset. Despite being the obvious focal point of Indiana’s defense, he managed to pour in 31 points — 60 percent of Temple’s total — on 12-of-24 shooting. The rest of the Owls’ offense was dreadful, shooting 9-of-38 from the floor. Scootie Randall was the worst offender with an atrocious 0-of-12 night, and the team as a whole missed several makeable shots.
Star of the Game: So maybe the stat sheet does tell you a bit about how good Oladipo is. He led Indiana with 16 points on 7-of-12 field goal shooting and added eight rebounds and an assist.
Quotable: “I haven’t always been great after the end of the games, but … I just told them that they’re as tough a team as we played all year.” — Indiana coach Tom Crean, on his post-game conversation with Temple’s players
Sights & Sounds: Indiana’s iconic candy-striped warmup pants aren’t just for the players. The stands were littered with Indiana fans sporting the the traditional gear, some in especially creative form. The best-dressed man in the building was sitting behind the Indiana bench, wearing a candy-striped blazer.
Wildcard: On the whole, Indiana’s starting seniors, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, had quiet games, but both came up with huge plays down the stretch without which Indiana would have lost. After injuring his shoulder and failing to score in the first half, Hulls hit two big jumpers, a three and a two, at the tail end of the second half to ignite the Hoosiers’ stagnant offense. And with 2:18 left, Watford sailed in from seemingly nowhere for an epic block of what should have been an easy Temple layup. After the game, Watford said it was a bigger play than last year’s game-winning three-pointer against Kentucky.
What’s Next? Indiana heads to Oladipo’s hometown of Washington, D.C. to take on Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen.