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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Column: Resiliency pays off in IU win

DAYTON, Ohio — Unbelievable.

It’s the only way to describe the finish between IU and Temple that saw the Hoosiers close out the game on a 10-0 run to win 58-52.

Scratch that.

It’s the only way to describe the entire game between the Hoosiers and the Owls that was played before the eyes of 12,495 of the luckiest people in the country at the University of Dayton Arena.

“I just told (Temple) that they were as tough a team as we had seen all year,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “It was an unbelievable honor to go battle with them.”

In the first half, things were looking pretty grim for the Hoosiers.

Senior guard Jordan Hulls went out with a shoulder injury.

Sophomore forward Cody Zeller picked up two fouls and was forced to watch the remaining six minutes and 51 seconds of the half from the bench.

Worst of all, IU could not stop Temple’s Khalif Wyatt, who put on one of the best shooting displays in the first half the Hoosiers have seen all season, with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting.

Wyatt looked like a man possessed and nothing, or should I say no one, could stop him from scorching the nets in the first half except for the halftime whistle.

“He did a phenomenal job of scoring the basketball, so I was just trying to limit his touches and make him not catch it,” junior guard Victor Oladipo said. “I think I did a pretty good job of that in the second half.”

Then, halftime came and went.

Hulls courageously came back out of the locker room and Zeller got back into the game.

Things were supposed to suddenly change. IU was supposed to regain the lead and pull away.

But they didn’t.

The Hoosiers came out of halftime with the same sloppiness that plagued them in the first half, turning the ball over on their first two possessions.

Things didn’t change quickly or easily, but the perseverance of IU began to show dividends, as the Hoosiers kept battling through the adversity.

It was a fight between two teams that continued to throw punch after punch.
Temple would not crumble under the pressure of having a 1-seed on the ropes.

This is an Owls team that has beaten Villanova, Syracuse, Saint Louis, VCU and N.C. State — all of which are NCAA Tournament teams.

The Owls weren’t just going to give the game to the Hoosiers.

IU knew that they would have to take it from them — and they did.

“I’m proud of their maturity because I don’t think an immature team has a chance to win this game,” Crean said. “So the maturity that they’ve gained is fantastic.”

The biggest play of the game — senior forward Christian Watford’s block of Anthony Lee with 2:18 left and Temple leading 52-50 — was a defensive stand that would have made Colonel Mustard proud.

As a driving Wyatt drew both Zeller and Oladipo, the Temple guard dished it to a cutting Lee, who had nothing but open air and a wide open basket in front of him.

That is until Watford came out of nowhere from behind to soar in and save the day.
“It was a big, big play,” Temple Coach Fran Dunphy said.

Last year, Watford’s most memorable play was an offensive one.

There’s no doubt his block of Lee is the biggest play that he has made this season.
“My motivation is to play with these guys as long as possible, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes in order to keep playing,” Watford said. “I just want to play ’til we can’t play no more.”

With the game on the line, the Hoosiers’ defense tightened up and the Owls didn’t score for the final three minutes and nine seconds, giving Oladipo the chance to hit the dagger 3-pointer with 15 seconds left that effectively put the game away for IU.

Moving forward, IU might be down like they were against Temple, but there is never a doubt that creeps into the minds of these Hoosiers.

“Our guys in the second half, they never wavered on the belief they could and would win the game,” Crean said. “We played defense the way we’re suppose to play it for the entire game.”

IU is now Washington, D.C.- and Sweet 16-bound, an opportunity that would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the resilience that burns within each and every player that has put on the candy stripes this season.

“Yeah, I don’t want it to end,” Crean said. “I really don’t. I love being around these guys. They’re as smart and cerebral and tough minded of any group I’ve ever been around.”

You can believe that.

­— mdnorman@indiana.edu

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