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Notebook: Oladipo comes up big at end

DAYTON – Indiana guard Victor Oladipo was at the free-throw line with 1:19 to play in Sunday's NCAA tournament third round game against Temple at University of Dayton Arena.

He had the chance to give the No. 1 seed Hoosiers their first lead since 3:30 remained in the first half against No. 9 seed Temple, but his first shot missed and the Owls called a timeout to try to ice him.

No luck.

Oladipo made his second free throw then drained a three-pointer with 15 seconds to play to propel Indiana to a 58-52 win and into the Sweet 16 for a second year in a row.

"Victor has been in to shoot the ball every day for the last two years in Cook Hall," Indiana associated head coach Tim Buckley said in the locker room Sunday. "With his routine and getting ready to shoot threes and shoot free throws, that's why when he missed the first free throw, we knew he'd make the adjustment to make the second free throw to put us in position to finish the game like we needed to.

"He's been in Cook Hall every day for the last three years, but the last two years, he's really focused on his shooting and ball handling. It really came to the forefront here at the end of the game. I've seen him make that shot so many times, I wasn't surprised it went in. He really prepared himself for that moment."

Oladipo wouldn't have had a chance at his moment without a defensive play by Christian Watford that was as important as his buzzer-beating three-pointer that toppled Kentucky last season.

Watford blocked Temple forward Anthony Lee's layup attempt with the Owls holding a 52-50 lead with 2:20 to play then grabbed a one-handed rebound on Lee's second attempt to start the final 2:14 sequence in which the Hoosiers scored the final eight points.

"That was a big block," Indiana guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell said. "Honestly, I didn't think Christian had that in him. But I know Christian, man, and him being a senior, he's going to give it his all. That big block, that was the biggest play of the game. With that point, they would have gone up (four) at least. That block and rebound sealed the game for us."

Playing hurt

Indiana senior guard Jordan Hulls set the record for most games played in the program's history by making his 134th appearance.

But it wasn't the easiest game for Hulls to get through.

He injured his right shoulder in the first half and had to go back to the locker room with 6:58 to play in the half.

"When it happened it hurt pretty bad," Hulls said. "It was pretty sore."

Hulls returned to play in the second half wearing a shoulder harness and with a bandage on his right shoulder.

After going 0 for 2 in the first half, Hulls hit 2 of 5 shots in the second half. He sank a three-pointer that cut Temple's lead to 41-40 with 8:49 to play and a jumper to knock IU's deficit down to 52-50 with 2:55 to play. Hulls' two-pointer started the 10-0 the Hoosiers closed the game with.

"In the second half, it didn't really bother me too much," Hulls said. "I was able to hit some shots."

The previous record was held by Randy Wittman and Jeff Newton, who both played in 133 games.

Wyatt's big game

Temple guard Kahlif Wyatt had one of the best halves of the NCAA tournament in the loss to IU.

The senior hit 8 of 14 shots and had 20 points in the first half as the Owls held a 29-26 lead at halftime.

Wyatt opened the second half with a layup to push the lead to 31-26, but he only got nine points after that. He finished with 31 points on 12-of-14 shooting for the game.

"He plays at his own pace, and nothing, nothing speeds him up," said Oladipo, who started the game guarding Wyatt before IU started rotating different defenders on the guard.

"It doesn't matter who you put on him. He's going to play at the same pace. That's why he's such a good guard. He does a great job of creating space for himself and getting his angles to the rim essentially. So he's a great player, and he's going to be a great player in the future as well."

The numbers

  • Oladipo led IU in scoring with 16 points. Cody Zeller had 15 points, and Will Sheehey added 10
  • Lee was the only Temple player besides Wyatt to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points.
  • Indiana evened its all-time series with Temple at 5-5 with Sunday's win as the Hoosiers improved to 4-1 all-time in UD Arena in the NCAA tournament.
  • The Hoosiers were held to just 26 points in the first half which ties for the second-fewest this season.
  • This is the first time Indiana has reached back-to-back Sweet 16s since they made four straight from 1991-94. This is also Tom Crean's first back-to-back Sweet 16 appearance.
  • The Hoosiers averaged 7.4 three-pointers made per game on the season. Sunday, they only made four.
  • Indiana is 1-3 this season when scoring fewer than 60 points.

Naismith finalists

Oladipo was named one of four finalists for the Naismith men's college player of the year Sunday.

The junior guard is joined on the final ballot by Michigan sophomore Trey Burke, Creighton junior Doug McDermott and Georgetown sophomore Otto Porter Jr. McDermott was a finalist last year.

The winner of the Naismith Trophy will be announced April 7 at the Final Four in Atlanta.

Up next

Indiana will face No. 4 seed Syracuse (28-9) in the East Regional semifinals Thursday in Washington D.C. The Orange reached the round of 32 with a 66-60 win over No. 12 seed California (21-12) on Saturday.

The Hoosiers were quickly getting ready to get to work on the Orange.

"As soon as you guys (the media) leave (the locker room) and I can get changed, we will start watching film," IU associate head coach Tim Buckley said in the locker room after the win over Temple.

"I'm so excited to not be able to sleep the next three of four nights and devour film. I know everyone else on our staff and in our program is excited about that too."

The Orange are led by C.J. Fair, who averages 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds. Brandon Triche averages 13.8 points, and Michael Carter-Williams averages 11.8 points.

Syracuse's zone defense has limited opponents to 59.4 points per game, while the Orange average 71.5 points.

"We haven't seen a lot of (Syracuse's zone defense), so it is going to be intense film study," Buckley said. "Fortunately for us (coach Tom Crean's) background in the Big East with Syracuse, he's probably had ways he's approached it before. I was with him the one year (2007-08 season) at Marquette, his last year, so at least we have a little bit of a reference point."

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