Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Westside

March 25, 2013

Watford’s block is his biggest play yet

(Continued)

Watford flushed that notion instead.

He came from the weak side and got behind Lee as the Temple forward briefly lost momentum on his lunge toward an open hoop. Watford came from behind Lee and swatted his two-handed attempt with his right paw.

Few rejections have been so momentous.

“Cody and Victor blitzed on a high ball screen,” Watford explained. “I was on the weak side, and I was kind of pushed up too much, and Wyatt put enough air on the ball for me to get it. I got in at the end and challenged the shot and I blocked him.”

Temple never recovered. Lee rebounded the block, but Scootie Randall would subsequently miss the last of his 12 shots without a make.

Twenty-one seconds later, a pair of Zeller free throws tied the game. With 1:19 left, an Oladipo free throw put the Hoosiers in front.

Watford made his presence felt again when he defended Temple’s Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and forced him to shoot an air-ball with 46 seconds left at the death of the shot clock.

Oladipo provided the dagger with 14 seconds when Zeller passed out of a double-team and found the junior wide open at the top of the key for a 3-pointer to put the Hoosiers up 56-52.

IU’s victory pulled from the jaws of defeat defined the survive-and-advance cliché. Watford’s block came when IU’s lump was deepest in its throat.

During the postgame press conference, I asked Watford whether his block was bigger — given the moment, given what was at stake and given that he’s a senior — than the shot he hit against Kentucky in 2011.

Before Watford opened his mouth, I had my answer. Teammates Zeller and Oladipo, sitting to Watford’s right, were already nodding their approval.

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