Indiana's defense spells doom for Temple, 67-58 NCAA TOURNAMENT

March 21, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Temple may have been the best defensive team left in the NCAA tournament, but in yesterday's East Regional second-round game, Indiana reminded observers that the man-to-man alignments of coach Bob Knight are very much alive and grinding.

Great Indiana defense explains only part of yesterday's 67-58 victory over Temple at USAir Arena, where the schools met for the first time since 1934.

The Hoosiers (21-8), who held Temple to 22 field goals in 67 attempts (32.8 percent), covered other bases.

They worked their motion offense diligently to create outside shots against Temple's matchup zone, then converted enough chances to maintain a lead for nearly the final 30 minutes. They made their clutch free throws, scoring nine of their final 11 points at the foul line. And they got a terrific game from sophomore forward Brian Evans, who slowly is healing from a separated shoulder he suffered in December.

Evans hit two three-point baskets to get Indiana rolling early, then continued to hurt Temple (23-8) in all phases of the game. He wound up with 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, all team highs.

"Coming into the game, our coaches told us where we would be able to get our shots from the perimeter," Evans said. "We got good penetration from our guards, and I was able to step into the open areas and hit my shots."

The Hoosiers almost always thrive in March. Indiana has been to the NCAA tournament 18 times in Knight's 23 seasons there. On Friday in the regional semifinals, Knight and the Hoosiers will make their 14th appearance in the Sweet 16 round in Miami against Boston College.

Yesterday's victory was especially sweet for Indiana, which owns its first three-game winning streak in a month. The Hoosiers have been inconsistent, partly because of a lack of quickness, partly because of injuries to Evans and Damon Bailey, who suffered an abdominal muscle pull four weeks ago and still is bothered by it. Yesterday in the second half, they lost freshman guard Sherron Wilkerson to a broken leg.

Still, Indiana, which was out-rebounded, 43-36 -- including 22-8 at the offensive end -- had enough depth and balance to offset Temple's dynamic backcourt trio of Eddie Jones (game-high 24 RTC points, seven rebounds), Aaron McKie (18 points, nine rebounds) and Rick Brunson (seven points, 11 rebounds). And the Owls again could not get production from the frontcourt, which managed only nine points. Center William Cunningham scored eight points, none after halftime.

"It's no secret that three guards have carried this team. It's unbelievable that three guys won 23 games for this team," said Temple coach John Chaney, who saluted Knight after coaching against him for the first time.

"It's very difficult to exploit a team that plays the best man-to-man defense in the country. No one executes the man-to-man better than they do. It was a great pleasure to go against one of the masters in this business. We certainly didn't have all the answers today. We only had three."

Said Knight: "This is the kind of game I really enjoyed preparing for, because I enjoyed watching [on tape] what I was preparing for. I love playing against Temple. I wish we played them every year."

Each coach praised the other for the way he emphasizes defense, although yesterday, what put the Hoosiers over the top was the three-point shot.

Indiana made 10 of 20 three-pointers, including six in the second half to halt several Temple rallies.

With the score tied at 36, Todd Leary and Pat Graham made three-pointers to help the Hoosiers take a 46-41 lead with 8:45 left. Leary then took a no-look feed from Bailey and hit a three-pointer from the corner to make it 53-45 with 6:15 left.

After McKie scored five straight points to close the gap to 53-50, Leary made another three to extend Indiana's lead to 56-50 with 4:31 remaining.

* Doctors examined and X-rayed Wilkerson and determined he has a spiral tibia fracture. "We'll take him back home, and they'll do some surgery on it, probably tomorrow," Knight said.

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