DAYTON, Ohio – Big players come up with big plays at big moments.
And so there was Victor Oladipo draining a three-pointer with 14 seconds left to boost top-seed Indiana to a 58-52 victory over Temple Sunday.
The Hoosiers (29-6) advanced to next Thursday's Sweet 16 in Washington D.C. against Syracuse (28-9).
Oladipo's big shot came on a play set up for Cody Zeller as IU clung to a 53-52 lead. But Zeller was defended well and he got the ball to an open Oladipo at the top of the key. Oladipo drained it with 14 seconds left.
“When the game is in movement and we hit Cody in the post, people get open,” Oladipo said. “I was just moving without the ball. Cody found me and I just shot it. I didn't think about it. That's when I struggle, when I think about shots.”
Oladipo finished with 16 points along with eight rebounds. Zeller had 15 points and six rebounds.
Temple (24-10) was led by Khalif Wyatt's 31 points. He was held to 11 in the second half.
“It became about, if he can't catch it, he can't shoot it,” coach Tom Crean said. “So let's do everything we can to not let him get it off.”
Temple morphed into Wisconsin and a Big Ten brawl broke out. The Owls controlled pace and the boards. They got brutally physical inside. They not only shut down IU's fast break, they thrived with their own break. IU blinked, then blinked again. An early nine-point Hoosier lead became a five-point second-half deficit.
“This was as tough a team,” Crean said, “as we've faced all year.”
Indiana's response – get the ball to Zeller and Oladipo, and defend as if their next five meals depended on it.
“In the second half, our guys never wavered in the belief they could and would win,” Crean said. “We played defense the way we're supposed to play it. We made life harder for as good a player (Wyatt) as we've faced all year.”
Wyatt had the early edge on his matchup with Oladipo. Wyatt drove and shot his way to 13 of Temple's 17 points. Crean also tried Christian Watford, Will Sheehey and Remy Abell on Wyatt. Nothing worked. By halftime, he had 20 points and the Owls had a 29-26 lead.
Wyatt was 8-for-14 in the first half. The rest of the Owls were 4-for-20.
IU lost guard Jordan Hulls to a right shoulder injury after an early collision with Temple's Scootie Randall. He only played eight first-half minutes. He returned in the second half with a black shoulder wrap and a bandage.
The Hoosiers also lost Zeller to foul trouble. That 1-2 blow stripped the Hoosiers of much of their first-half offensive punch. The Owls' tough-minded defense capitalized. They outscored IU 20-8 in the final 11 minutes of the first half to take that three-point lead.
Guard play was crucial. In the first 20 minutes, Hulls, Oladipo and Remy Abell combined for six points, one assist and four turnovers.
That wasn't good enough. So the Hoosiers did what they had to do.
Hulls returned in the second half and IU kept getting the ball inside to Zeller. The Hoosiers needed five minutes to close within a point. They needed another nine to forge a 43-43 tie on a Sheehey three-pointer. Wyatt negated that with his own three-pointer seconds later.
IU pushed to the brink of the lead, and then pushed beyond when Oladipo forced Wyatt into a miss, got the rebound, got fouled and made a free throw for a 53-52 lead with just over a minute left.
Oladipo then hit the three-pointer that clinched it. Christian Watford, who had a monster block and rebound off to keep IU within three points in the closing minutes, added two free throws.
"We competed like crazy," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "We were very, very tough minded. It's disappointing we couldn't be moving on."
In the early game at Dayton, Ohio State advanced to the Sweet 16 by beating Iowa State 78-75 on Aaron Craft's last-second three-pointer. It was the Buckeyes' 10th straight win.
Deshaun Thomas, the former Bishop Luers standout, led Ohio State with 22 points and five rebounds.
Ohio State (28-7) advanced to Los Angeles as part of the West Region. It will play Arizona.