Don’t mess with the A10 or the Pac12! In our preview, we said we did not know if Khalif Wyatt (pictured) had enough help to make a run, but he did not need any Friday as he shook off an injured hand to score 31 points and lead Temple to an upset of NC State. Wyatt also had five assists to set up teammates, and three of Temple’s five steals. Temple led throughout before a late rally made the 76-72 final closer than the game actually was.
Wyatt’s performance was one of the best in the tournament, and he has been playing as well as anyone in the country since disappointing losses to St. Joe’s and lowly Duquesne in early February made it look like Temple would not even get a bid. Wyatt scored 34 and 35 points in those two games, and kept going during a seven-game winning streak that included a 30-point item to defeat VCU 84-76.
Friday he fed Jake O’Brien inside twice to get him involved in the game, the second assist resulting in a 15-13 Temple lead, and NC State would never lead again.
Wyatt hit a jumper with 10:20 left in the first half to make it 22-15. With 8:33 to go, he hit a layup to make it 26-18, then stole the ball right back and laid it in again to 28-18, before finding O’Brien again for a three-pointer to make it 31-18. Temple never looked back again until a desperate rally by NC State in the final minute.
The A10 has been dominant, with LaSalle winning an opening round win, and St. Louis, VCU and Butler dominating in their first games to make the A10 now 5-0 with Temple’s win. LaSalle had taken an early lead on K-State with a chance to make it 6-0.