Posted March 22, 2013 on AP on Fox
Khalif Wyatt grabbed his left thumb -- the one alarmingly wrapped in black support tape -- pulled it toward his stomach and grimaced. His non-shooting hand dangled uselessly as he set up behind the free-throw line. He carefully placed it on the bottom of the ball, cautiously dribbled a couple times, then put both hands on it and let it fly. Painful, but perfect. Then, he did it five more times. Wyatt scored 31 points and made six decisive free throws in the final 32 seconds Friday, leading Temple to a 76-72 victory over North Carolina State in the second round of the East Region. No one-and-done for Temple this time. The Owls' best player wouldn't have it. ''He's as tough a competitor as I've had an opportunity to coach,'' Temple's Fran Dunphy said. ''He wants the moment.'' The ninth-seeded Owls (24-9) will face winner of the Indiana-James Madison game Sunday, which represents a breakthrough for Temple all by itself. The Owls are trying to shed their reputation as an easy-out team. They'd made the tournament each of the last five years, losing their opening game all but once. They haven't been to the Sweet 16 since 2001, when they reached the regional final. They were having one of their best games of the season, holding a 17-point lead, before Wyatt got hurt, giving them a huge fright. The Atlantic 10's player of the year and top scorer got his thumb caught in a defender's jersey and had it twisted backward. He took himself out of the game -- a sign something was badly wrong -- got it taped and returned to finish the win off. How bad was it? ''It's sore,'' he said, then realized that didn't fully capture the depth of the discomfort. ''It's sore,'' he added. ''It's sore.'' Every shot was an adventure, but he made enough to keep Temple around for more than one game. He hit his last two free throws with 2.2 seconds to go, finishing 12 of 14 from the line overall. ''They trusted me to make the two shots at the end,'' Wyatt said. ''Some of the NC State guys were talking a little bit, but you've just got to block it out.'' Wyatt broke Temple's single-season free-throw record and finished with the most points by an Owl in the NCAA tournament since 1991. ''We've played against really good guards this year,'' NC State coach Mark Gottfried said. ''Khalif Wyatt is as good or better than all of them.'' No. 8 NC State (24-11) trailed most of the game, but cut it to 74-72 on Lorenzo Brown's jumper with two seconds left. Wyatt was fouled on the inbounds play and finished it off. The Wolfpack went to the round of 16 last season and yearned for a deep tournament run in a year dedicated to their most famous finish. Richard Howell had 14 points and 15 rebounds for NC State, which couldn't fully take advantage of its advantage inside. The Wolfpack are commemorating the 30-year anniversary of their national title under coach Jim Valvano. That's when Lorenzo Charles grabbed Dereck Whittenburg's off-target shot and slammed it home at the buzzer for a 54-52 win over Houston, sending Valvano on his joyous ramble around the court. Wyatt cut off any hopes of a last-second win this time. ''He's really crafty,'' NC State's Scott Brown said. ''He was able to draw the foul and get to the line. Anytime you shoot 14 free throws in a game, that's going to help you. He's a good player, and that's what makes them go.'' The Owls were overshadowed on the front line, where NC State had the 6-foot-8 Howell, the ACC's leading rebounder. Temple's top inside threat, Anthony Lee, was limited in practice this week after getting tested for a concussion following the Atlantic 10 tournament. Lee was replaced in the starting lineup Friday by 6-foot-9 Jake O'Brien, making his seventh start. O'Brien, who likes to shoot the 3, played the leading role in Temple's fast start. He finished with 18 points. Still, the onus was on the 6-foot-4 Wyatt, who averages 19.8 points. Wyatt had three driving baskets -- two of them off steals -- and O'Brien hit a 3 for a 33-18 lead with 6:38 left in the half. O'Brien hit yet another 3 with 18 seconds left for a 38-22 lead at halftime. C.J. Leslie and the rest of the Wolfpack walked off the court stunned, the shock showing in their listless stride and blank faces. Wyatt has a knack for wriggling free in the lane and drawing fouls, but his long-range shot has been off. He missed 12 consecutive during a loss to Massachusetts during the A-10 tournament and was only 4 of 23 behind the arc in his last three games. Wyatt still struggled from outside -- only 1 of 7 behind the arc -- but compensated by driving inside for baskets over taller defenders. After Wyatt hurt his hand in the second half, NC State started its best spurt of the game, getting the ball inside four times for baskets -- two each by Howell and Brown -- that cut it to 47-39 with 13:08 to go. The Owls managed to maintain their cushion until the closing minutes. Wood, the ACC's top 3-point shooter, missed his first four shots but hit back-to-back 3s that cut it to 63-60 with 3:08 left. He missed another 3 with 1:11 to go, and Wyatt finished it off with those free throws.

Temple's Wyatt says thumb OK, ready for Indiana

Temple star guard Khalif Wyatt says his injured left thumb should not be a problem when the Owls play top-seeded Indiana in the NCAA tournament. The Atlantic 10's player of the year got hurt in the second half of Friday's win over North Carolina State. He came out briefly to get his thumb taped and scored 31 points as the Owls advanced to face the Hoosiers. Wyatt said Saturday...

Temple star Wyatt says thumb is OK

Temple star guard Khalif Wyatt says his injured left thumb should not be a problem when the Owls play top-seeded Indiana in the NCAA tournament. The Atlantic 10's player of the year got hurt in the second half of Friday's win over North Carolina State. He came out briefly to get his thumb taped and scored 31 points as the Owls advanced to face the Hoosiers. Wyatt said Saturday...

NC State falls to Wyatt, Temple 76-72 in NCAAs

No raucous celebration to end this season. North Carolina State finished it with a dud. The Wolfpack couldn't stop injured Khalif Wyatt, who scored 31 points despite a sore thumb and made six decisive free throws in the final 32 seconds Friday, leading Temple to a 76-72 victory in the second round of the East Regional. The Wolfpack (24-11) returned four starters from a team...

Indiana wins the game, but Khalif Wyatt wins Twitter

Terrific matchup of Victor Oladipo on Khalif Wyatt. One of best perimeter defenders in nation against one of best contested shooters. — Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) March 24, 2013   Just a quick observation while writing: Khalif Wyatt is having his way with Victor Oladipo. Surprising. — Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 24, 2013   Honestly think...

Temple’s Khalif Wyatt: Oladipo ‘not the first good defender’

DAYTON, Ohio — In a lot of ways, Temple’s Khalif Wyatt and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo are spitting images of one another. Both were under recruited and overlooked by most of the country when they were in high school, and both have blossomed into two of the best players in college basketball. Wyatt, the player of the year in the stacked Atlantic 10 Conference, was rated as just...

Temple facing Indiana team with few weaknesses

Temple coach Fran Dunphy can't find any weaknesses in Indiana. He'd better hope his players can. The Owls face a daunting task Sunday when they face the top-seeded Hoosiers in the NCAA tournament, with the winner advancing to the round of 16. With an abundance of size, speed and depth, Indiana is a nightmare matchup for any team, and Dunphy is concerned the Big Ten power...

Temple Holds Off NC State To Advance

Score: No. 9 Temple 76, No. 8 NC State 72 Stars: Temple: Khalif Wyatt 31 Pts, 5 Ast. Jake O’Brien 18 Pts, 5 Reb. NC State: CJ Leslie: 20 Pts, 5 Reb. Story: Temple won its second NCAA tournament game in the last three years, beating a very talented NC State team that featured five players averaging in double figures during the regular season. The Owls jumped out to an early...

Back Again

Khalif Wyatt knows the record. So does Fran Dunphy. The Temple men’s basketball team is 1-6 in the NCAA Tournament the last six years, the only win coming two seasons ago when Juan Fernandez beat Penn State with a last-second shot. Now the Owls have another chance to make a run, though it will be challenging.

Sweet Victory

Like it or not, the storyline heading into Temple’s NCAA Tournament opener against North Carolina State wasn’t Khalif Wyatt, or the five Owl seniors, or the program’s sixth straight tournament appearance. No, it was all about Coach Fran Dunphy. Specifically, Dunphy’s 2-14 record in the NCAAs – including a 1-5 record on North Broad Street. Consider the narrative changed.

Temple-Indiana Preview

Temple coach Fran Dunphy isn't the sugarcoating type. He's a non-nonsense guy from Philly. He calls it the way he sees it. So Dunphy wasn't about to pretend he isn't nervous about the Owls facing top-seeded Indiana, a team with size, speed, power, depth, two All-American candidates and 3-point shooters at every position, a program primed to make another run to a...

Saturday Q & A

Read the complete transcript of Temple's Saturday afternoon media session leading into Sunday's NCAA Tournament game against Indiana. Coach Fran Dunphy was joined on the dais by seniors Khalif Wyatt, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, and T.J. DiLeo.

Temple-NC State Preview

One-and-done. Temple knows that's become its reputation when it comes to the NCAA tournament, leaving the Owls with an overriding goal for their trip to Dayton. They want to leave town with no clean clothes after a weekend-long stay. The ninth-seeded Owls (23-9) are in the tournament for the sixth straight season. In four of the last five, they were knocked out in their opening...

What to Expect: Temple

DAYTON, Ohio — Indiana will look to punch a ticket to the Sweet 16 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. when it takes on Temple Sunday afternoon in a round of 32 NCAA Tournament game at the University of Dayton Arena. The game will tip at approximately 2:45 p.m. on CBS with Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Tracy Wolfson on the call: The Atlantic 10 made a statement that it belonged...
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