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Owls play Hoosiers tough but can't close the deal

Temple comes close to pulling off its biggest NCAA Tournament upset, but top-seeded Indiana escapes.

Temple's Will Cummings (left) covers his face with his jersey as he and his teammates walk off the court. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Temple's Will Cummings (left) covers his face with his jersey as he and his teammates walk off the court. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)Read more

DAYTON, Ohio - Scootie Randall sat at the podium and stared at the box score. He knew full well that no matter how long he peered, the numbers were not going to change. Still, he couldn't divert his eyes.

Randall missed every shot he took, but going 0-for-12 wasn't what was eating him up the most. It was the final score indicating Indiana had beaten Temple, 58-52, to deny the Owls, a No. 9 seed, what would have been the biggest NCAA Tournament upset in school history.

"I've had days like this," said Randall, a senior. "You can't really do too much about it. It already happened. So [I've] just got to move forward."

Owls coach Fran Dunphy was quick to point out that Randall did do many of the little things that kept Temple in the hunt to beat a No. 1 seed for the first time in nine tries. Randall had a game-high nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals.

"He tried his very best," Dunphy said. "Sometimes you try too hard. But he's somebody you're going to stay with and ride. He's [practically] my son. I feel badly that he didn't make a couple of shots. But he had a great year and a great career."

Fellow senior Khalif Wyatt thrived in the pressure cooker that was the University of Dayton Arena, particularly in the first half. Wyatt closed out his career with a second consecutive 31-point effort, though it was different than the 31 he put on North Carolina State just 2 days earlier.

"Wyatt was getting anywhere from 46-47 percent of his points from the foul line," Indiana coach Tom Crean pointed out. "For us to keep him off the foul line was as big a factor as anything else today."

Wyatt was 4-for-4 from the stripe against Indiana. He went 12-for-14 against the Wolfpack.

Temple got down by nine early, but climbed back as Wyatt scored 20 of the Owls' 29 first-half points. Temple held the lead through most of the second half, but just were unable to make enough plays to pull off the upset.

Hoosiers star Victor Oladipo did a commendable job of holding Wyatt to 11 points in the second half. He also put the dagger into the Owls by hitting a three-pointer with 15 seconds left to put the Hoosiers up by four.

"My coach told me at halftime if I don't bring it, we're going home," said Oladipo, the Big Ten defensive player of the year.

Cody Zeller is the other Hoosiers star. He did not have his best game as Anthony Lee, Randall and others frustrated Zeller into 4-for-10 shooting and six turnovers.

"Yeah, they were a tough team," Zeller said. "They weren't as big as some of the Big Ten teams we played against. Toughness makes up for a lot of that. I thought for sure I was going to set a turnover record with all the mistakes I was making."

Lee, who hadn't been right since an elbow to the head on March 15 exacerbated existing sinus problems, had a strong block on Zeller and maintained his aggressiveness despite having four fouls. Lee had 10 points in 26 minutes.

"Before the game I told coach I was ready to play my regular minutes if he felt it necessary for me to do so," said Lee, a sophomore.

These teams scratched at each other like two cats in an alley for 40 minutes, but as the final seconds ticked down, Lee walked over to Zeller and extended his hand in a nice show of sportsmanship.

Almost simultaneously, Crean walked into a huddle of Temple players who were consoling one another.

"I just told them that they were as tough a team as we had seen all year," the Indiana coach said. "It was an unbelievable honor to go to battle with them."

Hopefully, that is the quote Scootie Randall will remember from this weekend in Dayton.

Philadelphia teams are now 7-2 in NCAA Tournament games at this arena. Two of those wins were against No. 1 seeds: Saint Joseph's (a 9-seed) stunned DePaul in 1981 and Villanova (an 8-seed) upset Michigan in 1985.

The Owls had not played particularly well in the NCAA Tournament in five previous trips under Dunphy. But the win over a fine NC State team on Friday and a good showing against Indiana on Sunday should have the cherry-and-white faithful feeling good about the season.

"I couldn't be more proud of how this team competed today," Dunphy said. "It's disappointing we're not going to be moving on. But I would have all good things to say and feel and remember about this group."