Top-seeded Indiana breathes sigh of relief in 58-52 win over Temple
BY TOM WITHERS March 24, 2013 9:07PM
Temple v Indiana
Updated: March 24, 2013 11:57PM
DAYTON, Ohio — Indiana’s season — the one that’s supposed to end with confetti falling and nets coming down — was minutes from ending in shock and disappointment. The Hoosiers were on the brink.
As the clock ticked down, Indiana coach Tom Crean wouldn’t allow himself to thing about defeat, so his mind wandered elsewhere.
‘‘That’s when you just pray,’’ he said.
Victor Oladipo made a three-pointer with 14 seconds left, and the top-seeded Hoosiers shut down Temple star Khalif Wyatt in the final three minutes on their way to a 58-52 victory Sunday against the ninth-seeded Owls in a third-round game in the East Regional.
Trailing by four with 2:56 left, Indiana (29-6) closed the game with a 10-0 run to advance to the Sweet 16.
After stopping to tell Temple’s players they’re as good as any in the Big Ten, a rumpled Crean was overcome by yet another emotion.
‘‘That was relief,’’ he said.
The Hoosiers will play fourth-seeded Syracuse in the regional semifinals Thursday in Washington in a rematch of the classic 1987 title game won by Indiana.
Wyatt scored 31 points to lead the Owls (24-10), who for 37 minutes gave the Hoosiers all they could handle before collapsing when it mattered most.
‘‘We competed really hard,’’ Wyatt said. ‘‘We battled. A couple of plays here and there, we win. It was just a tough game, and they came out on top.’’
Oladipo, who drew the assignment of chasing Wyatt around the floor and needed plenty of help from his teammates, scored 16 points and Cody Zeller 15 for Indiana, which was lucky to leave Dayton with its hopes for a sixth national title intact after being scared silly.
‘‘If they were in our league, they’d be fighting for a championship, too,’’ Crean said. ‘‘I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. They’re that good.’’
After Oladipo’s three-pointer gave the Hoosiers a 56-52 lead, Indiana had to buckle down on Wyatt. Wyatt was way off with a three-pointer from the right wing with six seconds left, and the Hoosiers’ Christian Watford grabbed the rebound and was fouled. With his hands on his hips, Wyatt walked dejectedly up the floor. Watford made both free throws, and the heartbeats of the Indiana players finally slowed.
‘‘It’s a great feeling,’’ said Oladipo, who is from suburban Washington and will play before many family members and friends in the Sweet 16. ‘‘I’m just glad that we’re going.’’