JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Kentucky ended Wofford’s season in the NCAA Tournament with a stifling defensive effort on Fletcher Magee, carrying the Wildcats to the regional semifinals with a 62-56 victory Saturday.
Reid Travis scored 14 points, including two huge free throws with 17.8 seconds left to help seal the victory for second-seeded Kentucky (29-6). The graduate student, a transfer from Stanford and one of the one of the few experienced players among coach John Calipari’s latest group of fabulous freshmen, also grabbed 11 rebounds to help hold off the upstart Terriers.
Wofford (30-5) certainly had its chances, holding the Wildcats to 40 percent shooting (21 of 52) and holding their own on the boards.
But Magee simply couldn’t make a shot in his final college game. Two days after setting the NCAA Division I record for career 3-pointers, he stunningly went 0 of 12 beyond the arc. After the final attempt ricocheted wildly off the rim, skipping out of bounds in front of a stunned Wofford section, Magee rubbed his head in seeming disbelief.
It was only the second time all season that Magee failed to make at least one shot from long range, following an 0-for-9 performance in a loss in Kansas in early December. He made seven 3s on Thursday in Wofford’s victory over Seton Hall — the first NCAA Tournament win in school history.
The rest of the Wofford roster went 8 of 15 from 3-point range. Nathan Hoover made four of them to finish with 19 points and Cameron Jackson had 11 points, the only other Terrier player in double figures. Magee finished with 8 points on 4-of-17 shooting overall.
Kentucky’s length, athleticism and effort certainly had something to do with Magee’s dismal showing. Tyler Herro had a tough shooting game himself, but he did a yeoman’s job on the Wofford gunner. Ashton Hagans and Jemari Baker Jr. also stepped up at times to keep an eye on Magee.
Hagans added 12 points for the Wildcats, who fell behind by as many as 6 points in the first half before going on a late spurt that sent them to the locker room with a 28-26 lead. The Terriers briefly recaptured the lead early in the second half, but Kentucky went ahead for good with 14 1/2 minutes remaining and doggedly protected their advantage the rest of the way.
The Wildcats managed to win twice in Jacksonville without their leading scorer and rebounder, sophomore PJ Washington, who watched the games from the bench wearing a hard cast on his sprained left foot.
Wofford: It was a groundbreaking season for the Terriers, whose 21-game winning streak was snapped by the Wildcats. They certainly proved worthy of the No. 7 seed, the highest for a Southern Conference team since 1979, but simply couldn’t overcome a horrendous performance by their best player.
Kentucky: The Wildcats head to the regional semifinals with all eyes on Washington, who will likely have his cast removed the middle of next week and hopes to be back on the court next weekend. His presence would certainly bolster a team that managed to advance to the round of 16 without him.
Wofford: Will have to replace key seniors Magee, Jackson and backup big man Matthew Pegram. Still, the future looks bright for the tiny school from Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Kentucky: Faces either Houston or Ohio State next Friday in the regional semifinal at Kansas City, Missouri. The Cougars play the Buckeyes on Sunday.