One of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country and college basketball’s all-time most prolific 3-point shooter suddenly couldn’t make 3s.
They’re out of the NCAA tournament because of it.
No. 2 Kentucky’s defense bottled up the usually-potent No. 7 Wofford 3-point attack to defeat the Terriers, 62-56, on Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville to advance to Kansas City and the Sweet 16, where either No. 11 Ohio State or No. 3 Houston will await them next week.
The story Saturday, though, was Wofford’s inability to dial in from distance. The Terriers came into the game second nationally with a 41.7 percent conversion rate from 3-point range with Fletcher Magee, who has made more 3-pointers in his career than any other player in history, leading the charge. Instead of powering Wofford to an upset, its 3-point shooting was a disaster.
The Terriers were 8 of 27 (29.7 percent) overall while Magee was an inexplicable 0 of 12 from deep.
Wofford’s greatest strength abandoned it at the worst possible moment.
Yet, despite that, the Terriers still had a chance to upend one of the sport’s Goliaths.
Wofford led into the second half and even when Kentucky overtook the Terriers, the Wildcats were never gain more than a few points of separation. The Terriers were within two with 37 seconds left, and looked to be on the verge of getting a stop when Reid Travis’ attempt by the bucket was off the mark, but Wofford was whistled for a foul and Travis sunk two clutch free throws to make it a two-possession game that would prove to be enough of an advantage to get Kentucky to its eighth Sweet 16 under John Calipari.
Travis was a huge contributor for the Wildcats with 14 points and 11 rebounds as a major presence inside with PJ Washington still sidelined with a foot injury. Ashton Hagans was 4 of 11 from the floor, but had 12 points.
It was Kentucky’s defense, though, that kept their season alive as the Wildcats deserve quite a bit of credit in harassing Wofford into their dreadful shooting day.
Nathan Hoover’s offense helped keep the Terriers close as he had 19 points, making 4 of 5 3s, while Cameron Jackson added 11 points as the program made its first-ever Round of 32 appearance.
The Midwest region in Kansas City has its first entrant in what could be a monster few days at the Sprint Center. One of the juicier narrative remains alive with a potential North Carolina/Kansas collision in the Sweet 16, pitting Tar Heels coach Roy Williams against his former program just 45 minutes east of Lawrence with the winner potentially meeting the Wildcats for a Final Four berth. A regional with Kentucky, North Carolina and Kansas is some serious stuff. Of course, Auburn and Washington could still play spoiler, but a blue blood regional is still on the table.