DAYTON, Ohio – A year can change a lot of things when it comes to expectations.
In Portland in 2012, Indiana enthralled its fan base with a third round victory over VCU that put them into the Sweet 16. It was a monumental accomplishment for the program, who was advancing farther than they had in a decade.
Expectations changed a year later much closer to home. Now as the top seed, a Sweet 16 was a small step toward a bigger goal that lie on the road to Atlanta.
But that doesn’t mean its going to be any easier-as Temple proved in 40 intense minutes of basketball at the UD Arena Sunday.
Yet in the end they survived a challenge from the ninth-seeded Owls to advance to the Sweet 16 with a 58-52 victory. The Hoosiers advance to the East Region Semifinals on Thursday where they will face fourth-seeded Syracuse, who beat California in their third round game on Saturday.
The Hoosiers ended the game on a 10-0 run to erase a four-point deficit in the final 3:09 of the game.
Victor Oladipo scored a team-high 16 points for the Hoosiers, hitting a free throw and a three-pointer in the final minute to put Indiana ahead for the first time in the second half and secure a second straight appearance in the Sweet 16.
Early on it appeared that Indiana had carried their momentum from a spirited win over James Madison into their match-up with the Owls as they jumped out to an early nine point lead. But behind Kalif Wyatt-the Atlantic 10’s conference player of the year-Temple chipped away at the lead for the rest of the half.
Rahlir Hollis-Johnson’s jumper with 1:14 left to go in the half gave Temple a 29-26 lead they would carry into halftime.
The Owls weren’t about to go away once halftime was complete and they built as much as a six-point lead when Wyatt hit a jumper with 10:04 to go. But Indiana was able to forge a tie on a number of occasions following and got it even with 1:51 left on a pair of Cody Zeller free throws. Oladipo split a pair of free throws with 1:15 left to give the Hoosiers their first lead of the half at 53-52.
Oladipo stepped up then with just under 20 seconds left when he stepped up and hit a three-pointer with time winding down on the shot clock to push the lead to four points. Wyatt’s attempt for Temple on the next possession was off the mark and Christian Watford came up with the rebound.
His two free throws put the game away and helped Indiana advance to the Sweet 16 in Washington DC.