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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Column: IU-Temple Breakdown

IUBB Press Conference pre Temple NCAA game

Head Coach
 
Fran Dunphy is no stranger to being an underdog in the NCAA Tournament.
 
Before coming to Temple, Dunphy coached at Pennsylvania for 17 years, where he led the Quakers to nine NCAA Tournaments and 310 wins.
 
At Temple, Dunphy has now led the Owls to six consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, while amassing a 232-158 record as the successor to legendary Temple Coach John Chaney.
 
“Watching his teams now, you just see there's no – they're not going to get surprised,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “They're not going to beat themselves. They're going to have an answer for everything. You can just see that in the quality of their play.
 
“Again, I think that all stems from him and from what I observe,” Crean said.
 
Leading Scorer
 
In Temple’s opening game of the NCAA Tournament against N.C. State, senior guard Khalif Wyatt took over with 31 points and four assists, including shooting 12-of-14 from the free throw line.
 
Down the stretch, Wyatt iced the Wolfpack by shooting 9-of-10 from the free throw line in the final 3:17 of the game – all of which occurred after he injured his left thumb earlier in the game.
 
With his twelve made free throws, Wyatt has now made more free throws (200) in a single season than any other Temple player of all time.
 
In comparison, Wyatt has taken and made more free throws than every player on IU’s roster besides Cody Zeller, who is 185-of-245 on the season.
 
Dunphy said Wyatt’s poise at the free throw line is important, but his ability to get the free throw line is the most extraordinary part of his game.
 
“He's got great body control, and he knows how to lean in to get shots off but also to draw those fouls,” Dunphy said after Temple’s 76-72 victory over N.C. State. “When he's on the line, you're feeling very comfortable, I will tell you.”
 
Wyatt, who was named Atlantic 10 Conference player of the year for averaging 20.4 points per game and 4.1 assists, will be vital to Temple’s success because his ability to score loosens up defenses for his teammates – even if his thumb is not at one-hundred percent.
 
“I think, as he goes, we go many times,” Dunphy said. “He's not only a great scorer but he's such a terrific play maker. He'll be a little tender probably on that thumb, but as we went through our workout today, he rested when he needed to and caught the ball pretty well.”
 
“So I don't think it's a huge concern.  Even if it were, he's not going to let me take him out of the game.  He wants to play,” Dunphy added.
 
Scoring is in Wyatt’s DNA, which makes him a scary player to face in a win-or-go-home situation.
 
“You can tell that there’s no moment that’s too big for him,” Crean said. “The bigger the stage, it doesn’t make any difference, I would think, just to have the success that he’s had.”
 
Matchup to Watch
 
All season long, junior guard Victor Oladipo has drawn the assignment of guarding an opponent’s best scoring threat. Sunday afternoon will be no different, so expect to see Oladipo as the primary guy trying to shut down Wyatt.
 
“I know, if (Oladipo’s) guarding me, I know he's going to be up for the challenge, and he's going to play hard,” Wyatt said. “I've just got to let the game come to me and just go out there and play my game, let my teammates get me shots, set screens, just work without the ball and stuff like that.”?
“He's a good defender, but, I mean, not the first good defender,” Wyatt added.
 
Here’s how Oladipo and Wyatt stack up against one another statically and physically:
 
Oladipo (6-foot-5, 214 lbs.): 13.5 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game, 75 steals, 73 assists, 91-of-120 free throws, 59.4 field goal percentage and 28.0 minutes per game.
 
Wyatt (6-foot-4, 215 lbs.): 20.2 points per game, 2.9 rebounds per game, 56 steals, 135 assists, 200-of-240 free throws, 41.3 field goal percentage and 33.2 minutes per game.
 
My Take
 
Stopping Wyatt from dictating the game will be priority number one for the Hoosiers, but as Crean said Saturday, if you focus your preparation too much around stopping only one player, other people will beat you.
 
Besides Wyatt, Temple is led by seniors Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Scootie Randall, who combine to score 20.6 points per game and average 6.1 and 6.2 rebounds per game, respectively.
 
Both Hollis-Jefferson and Randall are good rebounders that rarely come off the floor, but against the Hoosiers, the tandem will be giving up some size as both forwards measure in at 6-foot-6.
 
Winning the rebounding battle could be the biggest key for IU to be successful because it is an area in which Temple has not had great success all season.
 
Entering Sunday, the Owls are averaging 34.2 rebounds per game, while allowing opponents to average 35.8 rebounds per game.
 
Despite getting out-rebounded in most games, Temple poses a threat to IU on the offensive glass, according to Crean.
 
“They can rebound misses,” Crean said. “Big, big thing is going to be not allowing them to extend possessions the way that they do with the rebounding. They do an excellent job of that.”
 
IU’s senior forward Christian Watford, sophomore forward Cody Zeller and Oladipo will have their work cut out for them on the defensive glass.
 
“(Zeller) gets a lot of rebounds, and everyone on their team crashes the boards as well,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “We have to just battle again and try to stay physical with these guys.”
 
Offensively, IU needs to build on what they did against James Madison Friday.
Freshman guard Yogi Ferrell (16 points, eight rebounds and six assists) and senior guard Jordan Hulls (10 points and three assists) had great games against JMU, but consistency is needed to advance in the tournament.
 
Look for Ferrell and Hulls to continue to push the pace and to create open looks for teammates.
 
“I think the problem is there's not a weakness they have,” Dunphy said. “I think, if all they did is shoot threes, you can control that a little bit, but each one of those guys that can make a three can also drive off the dribble and help and kick for their teammates. That's a huge concern for us.”
 
Because of the Hoosiers’ depth, IU should be able to bring some fatigue to the game, which Dunphy said was a concern for his Temple team that only played seven players Friday.
 
“We’re going to have to do a really good job of resting on offense sometimes because we’re not going to be able to rest on defense because they’re at you the whole game,” he said. “Am I concerned about the conditioning piece? Yeah, sure, but not as much as I am about how talented they are.”
 
The most talented team doesn’t always win in the NCAA tournament – such as New Mexico – but IU is focused on the mission and will be able to pull this one out.
 
Hoosiers win 73-60 and advance to the Sweet 16 in Washington D.C.

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