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Oladipo saves Indiana from elimination

First Victor Oladipo stopped Temple’s momentum, then he shut down the Owls’ season.

The national defensive player of the year candidate locked down Temple guard Khalif Wyatt for the for the final three minutes Sunday, enabling top-seeded Indiana to close the game on a 10-0 run that Oladipo punctuated with a 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining, lifting the Hoosiers to a 58-52 victory in an NCAA tournament third-round game at UD Arena.

“I was just open, and I shot it,” Oladipo said of his trey that gave Indiana a four-point lead and essentially clinched a second consecutive trip to the Sweet 16, where the Hoosiers (29-6) will face Syracuse on Thursday in Washington D.C.

“It really didn’t have anything to do with the moment or the confidence to shoot it,” Oladipo added. “I didn’t think about it.”

Temple (24-10) likely will be thinking about it for a long time.

The ninth-seeded Owls led for most of the game and had the Hoosiers on the edge of elimination thanks to another brilliant performance by Wyatt, a senior guard who finished with 31 points for the second game in a row.

But Wyatt scored 20 of his points in the first half, and only two in the final 6 1/2 minutes after Oladipo started face-guarding the Temple star.

“It was real hard for me to get the ball,” Wyatt said. “Oladipo is a really good defender.”

The perimeter pressure opened things up inside for sophomore Anthony Lee, who took advantage of graduate student Jake O’Brien’s foul trouble by scoring 10 points. It would have been 12, but Indiana senior Christian Watford came up with the defensive play of the game when he blocked what looked to be an easy layup for Lee that would have given Temple a four-point lead with a little more than two minutes to go.

“That was a big, big play,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “No question about it.”

It was the closest the Owls would come to scoring the rest of the way.

Oladipo finished with 16 points to lead Indiana, while sophomore Cody Zeller added 15 and junior Will Sheehey chipped in 10. Watford registered nine points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

Postgame pause

While walking off the floor following his team’s 58-52 NCAA tournament victory, Indiana head coach Tom Crean stopped near midcourt where a group of dejected Temple players were huddled and had a few words for the Owls.

“Those young men don’t know me, and I really don’t know them, but I have unbelievable respect for them because I have great respect for their coach,” Crean said. “I just told them that they were as tough a team as we had seen all year, and they played against great teams, and we played against great teams, and they’re as good as any of them. It was an unbelievable honor to go battle with them.”

Honoring history

Five members of the 1966-67 University of Dayton men’s basketball team — Don May, Gene Klaus, Bobby Hooper, John Samanich and head coach Don Donoher — were honored at halftime of Ohio State’s 78-75 victory against Iowa State in Sunday’s first game.

The team, which went 25-6 and finished national runner up, falling 79-64 to UCLA in the championship game, was the impetus for the construction of UD Arena. The building opened for the 1969-70 season, and Sunday it played host to the 100th and 101st games in NCAA tournament history, the most of any venue. Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City is second with 83.

Westward ho

With Sunday’s 78-75 third-round victory against Iowa State, the Ohio State Buckeyes will head to the Pacific Time Zone for the first time in Thad Matta’s 10 years as coach.

The Buckeyes will face Arizona on Thursday in West Region semifinal game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The last time OSU played out west was 2003-04 when it opened the season with a loss at San Francisco before heading on to the Maui Invitational.

The Sweet 16 appearance is the Buckeyes’ fourth in a row, the longest current streak in the nation.

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