Khalif Wyatt’s 31 Points Not Enough as Temple Falls Short of an Upset

Khalif Wyatt walks off after Temple's disappointing loss to Indiana in the NCAA Tournament.It is a quiet day in North Philadelphia. The cloudy, cold, snowy weather is doing a fairly good job at depicting the mood around Temple University’s campus. The Owls faced a difficult loss yesterday in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. March Madness has been living up to its name this year, and Temple’s game against Indiana was no different.

Not many felt that the Owls had a chance to stick with the number one seeded Hoosiers on Sunday afternoon, but Khalif Wyatt and the rest of the Temple Owls had a different mind set. After the first ten minutes the Owls came alive.

After a pair of missed threes by Indiana, Temple began to climb back up the scoreboard, eventually tying the game at 20 with a Wyatt three pointer. The Owls had a chance to go ahead by two in the next possession, but Scootie Randall missed a layup, something that unfortunately plagued the Owls all game.

With baskets made by Anthony Lee and Rahlir Jefferson the Owls went into half time leading the Hoosiers 29-26. Wyatt leading the Owls and dominating Indiana with 20 of the Owls 29 first half points

Although the game was close and the Owls never had a bigger lead than 6 at any point, Temple held their lead for the majority of the second half. In fact, Temple had led Indiana up until a minute and fifty-one left in the game. Indiana’s Cody Zeller hit two free throws to tie the game at 52.

Wyatt’s 31 points were not enough to hold off the regular season Big Ten Champions. Down by one, Hollis-Jefferson’s missed jumper led to an open Victor Oladipo three point shot to give the Hoosiers a two possession lead. Wyatt would then miss a three pointer to put them within one and two made free throws by Indiana’s Christian Watford would seal the win for the Hoosiers, 58-52.

Zeller’s 15 points and Oladipo’s 16 points helped fuel Indiana’s win. Will Sheehey also had ten points off the bench for the Hoosiers. Indiana as a team went 4-13 from behind the three-point line. Oladipo’s only made three pointer was the most important of those, a clutch trait that the Owls just seemed to lack in the final minute of the game.

In fact the Owls were 0-6 shooting and committed three fouls in the last two minutes and 30 seconds of the game. One of those missed shots was a Randall layup, which would have increased their lead to four points.

That was the story of Randall all game long. Playing 38 minutes, third most behind Wyatt and Hollis-Jefferson, Randall went 0-18 shooting. His only points came off of four free throw attempts, in which he only hit three of them.

Social media did not slack off, attacking Randall’s game and blaming him mostly for the loss. They might not be too far off though. There were a few times where Randall had missed opened layups and important shots that could have helped keep the Owls ahead of Indiana.

The blame cannot be placed solely on Randall. The team could not get the ball in the net inside the last three minutes. Also a costly foul by Wyatt with a minute and 19 seconds left helped give the Hoosiers their first lead of the second half.

The Owls played a great game of basketball. They certainly left everything they had out on the court and came extremely close to upsetting a number one seed. It would have been great to watch that upset happen, but discipline and maturity helped the Hoosiers come back and walk away with the win. But there is always next year.

Unfortunately there is no “maybe next year” for Temple’s stand out star Khalif Wyatt, who will graduate in May.

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Matthew Regan

Matthew Regan was born and raised in Philadelphia. Naturally he grew up as a fan and has endured through all the troubles and bright spots that came along with being a Philly fan. Although he tends to have a different view than others he is always an interesting read. You can follow him on twitter at @MattRegan5