JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the eighth time in John Calipari’s 10 seasons, Kentucky basketball has advanced to the Sweet 16.
The No. 2 seed Wildcats moved on to the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend with a 62-56 win over No. 7 seed Wofford Sunday, snapping the Terriers’ 21-game winning streak.
Kentucky took control of the game with a 13-2 run just less than four minutes into second half, but Wofford pulled within two points at 58-56 on a Keve Aluma layup with 37.9 seconds left.
Reid Travis hit two free throws on the next possession, and Wofford star Fletcher Magee missed his 12th 3-point attempt of the game to end the Terriers’ chance of a comeback.
Playing again without leading scorer PJ Washington, Travis recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman point guard Ashton Hagans joined him in double figures with 12 points to go with four assists.
Magee, the NCAA’s Division 1 career leader in made 3-pointers, scored just eight points on 4-of-17 shooting. He missed 12 of his 3-point attempts in the game. The Terriers were able to keep things close thanks to Nathan Hoover’s 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Washington watched from the sideline with a hard cast on his sprained left foot for the second consecutive game.
Here is what we learned from the win:
► Big-game Baker: At one point in the first half, Calipari was cycling through bench players at almost every dead ball, hoping to find someone who could help improve the offensive flow and defend Wofford’s numerous jump shooters. He finally found the answer in Baker, who contributed five points and steady defense in six minutes. Kentucky outscored Wofford by 10 points in Baker’s first half minutes, and trailed the Terriers by eight points while he was on the bench that half. Baker himself fell victim to the Calipari hook after one turnover, but when he returned to the court for the second time he was up to the challenge. With Keldon Johnson battling foul trouble, Baker continued to play a pivotal role in the second half, including in the run that gave Kentucky control of the game. Baker finished the game with eight points.
► About that trash talk: Kentucky may have won the game, but Wofford can take heart in holding its own in the paint battle despite UK sophomore forward Nick Richards declaring before the game Kentucky’s post players were “just better” than Wofford’s big men. Travis led the way for Kentucky despite battling cramps in the second half, but the Terriers held close in points in the paint (18-13) and actually outscored Kentucky in second-chance points (10-8). Kentucky recorded a 35-30 advantage in rebounds. Richards finished the game with three points and three rebounds.
► Check the rims: Neither team was particularly effective from 3-point range. Kentucky shot 23.1 percent (3 for 13), and Wofford shot 29.7 percent (8 for 27). The difference was Kentucky proved Calipari’s philosophy of making sure his offenses aren’t reliant on the 3 a prudent one again while Wofford was unable to overcome its normally elite shooters having a cold night.