The talented Indiana team showed why it was ranked atop the polls for much of the year and why it could be poised for a deep run in the tournament. The Hoosiers, who led by 33 at one point, controlled the ball, played tight defense and shot well. Even when the game was well in hand, Indiana’s intensity barely waned.
“We’ve never seen nothing like that,” JMU senior guard Devon Moore said.
With five players scoring in double digits, the Hoosiers were led by freshman guard Yogi Ferrell, who had 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Ferrell made his first six field goals and didn’t miss a shot until three minutes had passed in the second half.
Indiana spread the ball around, as nine players in all entered the scoring column, including junior Victor Oladipo, the DeMatha product who posted 11 points and pulled down six rebounds.
James Madison benefited from a strong freshman performance of its own. Guard Andre Nation led the Dukes with 24 points, shooting 10 of 16 from the field. Fellow freshman Charles Cooke came off the bench and chipped in 18 points for James Madison.
But many other JMU players struggled to find any kind of rhythm against the polished Hoosier squad. (Moore was held scoreless, for example.) The result was 40 minutes of air balls, missed layups, defensive lapses and rushed shots.
Two nights earlier, JMU had posted its first tournament win in 30 years, knocking off LIU Brooklyn, 68-55, Wednesday in a battle between No. 16 seeds in Dayton. But from the tip Friday, the difference between a No. 16 seed and a No. 1 was apparent.
Indiana scored the game’s first nine points, and nearly four minutes passed before James Madison hit its first field goal. The Hoosiers managed to build an early 23-point lead.
“They threw the first punch. Then they threw another punch and kept going,” Nation said. “We never threw a punch back.”
In the opening half, the Dukes shot 29 percent from the field and were only 3 of 11 from behind the three-point arc. The JMU roster lacks depth at the post position and Coach Matt Brady started the game with a four-guard lineup. The Hoosiers dominated underneath early, outscoring JMU in the paint 20-6 and holding a 22-15 rebounding edge in the first half alone.
The Hoosiers picked up where the left off in the second half, even as they rotated more reserves into the game. Seven bench players saw time on the court, led by Will Sheehey’s 15 points.
“I feel like we clearly lost to a better team today,” Brady said. “Watching them on tape and trying to prepare your team for Indiana is one thing, then trying to be on the court . . . [they’re] really impressive.”
●TEMPLE 76, N.C. STATE 72: After senior Khalif Wyatt paced the Owls to a sizable lead, ninth-seeded Temple survived a late scare to top the No. 8 Wolfpack in the afternoon’s first game.
“We had just enough to survive and move on,” Temple Coach Fran Dunphy said.
Wyatt, the Atlantic 10 player of the year and one of the nation’s most prolific scorers, finished with a game-high 31 points and five assists.
Temple (24-9) led by 16 points but watched as N.C. State ate away at its advantage, buoyed by a pair of late three-pointers from senior Scott Wood. The sharp-shooting Wolfpack, however, missed a couple of late three-point attempts and was sent home early, just one year after reaching the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed.
It was just the third NCAA tournament win for Dunphy, who is making his 15th NCAA tournament appearance as a head coach.
“The whole game was nerve-racking,” Dunphy said. “You knew it was going to come down to the end. N.C. State is too powerful of a team to let it be easy.”
Dunphy said the Owls’ opening half was “about as good as we could play.” At the break, Jake O’Brien and Wyatt had combined for more points (24) than the entire Wolfpack roster (22). And N.C. State reserve Rodney Purvis alone matched Temple’s turnovers (three). In all, the Wolfpack (24-11) turned the ball over 10 times in the opening half, resulting in 15 Temple points.
“We just didn’t guard them for 40 minutes,” Wolfpack Coach Mark Gottfried said. “It’s that simple.”