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 lead against the Wolfpack in Dayton, Ohio. Temple hit five of its first six shots en route to a 12-4 advantage. NC State battled back with a few easy baskets from senior forward C.J. Leslie to tie the game at 17-17. From there, Temple took off the rest of the first half as Jake O'Brien couldn't miss from behind the arc, and Khalif Wyatt had a few steals and timely baskets to lengthen the Owls lead. Temple shot 58% in the first half and was clicking on all cylinders, holding NC State to only 22 points at the break.
NC State came out of the halftime locker room with more energy than it had in the first half. The Wolfpack had a 16-point deficient staring at them, but they chipped away and shot a much percentage from the field in the second half. Junior guard Lorenzo Brown led the comeback with multiple 3-pointers and was constantly setting up his teammates with open looks. The Owls never relinquished the lead however. NC State cut the advantage to two points a few different times but Temple never faltered. The Owls were able to close the game by hitting their foul shots, with Khalif Wyatt icing the game from the charity line.
People were worried about Temple's size and depth coming into the game, but the Owls showed that they were able to handle the Wolfpack's bigs. Getting out to an early lead helped, because NC State was forced to start taking shots from the perimeter. Temple won the turnover battle, which was one of the biggest differences in the game. T.J. Dileo and Wyatt both accounted for three steals a piece and were able to give Temple several transition layups.
Wyatt controlled the game throughout. He did not shoot the ball very well (9-of-22) but had timely baskets and drew a lot of fouls on his drives to the goal. He shot 12-of-14 from the line. NC State coach Mark Gottfried had this say after the game about Wyatt: "Khalif Wyatt is as good or better than all the guards in the ACC. He controlled the game." The Atlantic Ten player of the year did not disappoint as he paced the Owls with 31 points, playing 38 minutes, only coming out once when he suffered a thumb injury.
Temple coach Fran Dunphy had a horrific record in the NCAA Tournament coming in (1-14), but he was able to record his second tournament win. Dunphy said afterwards, "This was a team effort, everyone came to play and was motivated to get the win today. We did just enough to knock off a very good basketball team. I am really proud of my guys". Next up for the Owls is a date with the winner of the James Madison-Indiana game. In all likelihood the Owls will take on the Hoosiers, which poses a serious challenge.
This Also Happened: Temple has nine tourney wins as a 9-seed or lower, tied with Gonzaga with the most since the field was expanded to 64 in 1985.