Kentucky 62, Wofford 56
NCAA Second Round
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The No. 7 seed Wofford men's basketball team had the best season in program history come to an end on Saturday, falling to the second-seeded Kentucky Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, 62-56.
The game came right down to the wire, with Keve Aluma pulling Wofford to within two points with under 40 seconds to play, but Kentucky held on, hitting four free throws to take the game.
"I'm struggling here, pardon me,” said Wofford head coach Mike Young of the game. "I applaud Coach (John) Calipari and the Wildcats. They fought, and they were incredibly well prepared. Needless to say, they have very, very good players."
As a team, Wofford led for nearly 19 minutes, shooting 37.5 percent from the floor and holding Kentucky without a field goal in the last 5:12 of play.
"I see some of the things we led for 18 minutes, they led for 16," said Young. "We had 56 shots, they had 52. We've been so fortunate in a number of situations, we've made our good fortune in a lot of cases. We couldn't get one break today to get us over the hump. But I do, I applaud a really fine Kentucky team."
Nathan Hoover finished his season in strong fashion, leading the Terriers with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Cameron Jackson scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Fletcher Magee totaled eight and Aluma added seven, grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds in the process.
The Terriers complete their season with an overall record of 30-5, setting the program record for wins in a season and regular-season wins (26), while picking up Wofford's first NCAA tournament victory (Seton Hall, 84-68). The 2018-19 season also saw the Terriers register their first-ever Associated Press Top 25 Poll ranking, being ranked No. 24 on Feb. 25 and moving up to No. 19 in the season-ending AP Poll.
Earning the 7 seed Midwest Region, Wofford was the highest-seeded Southern Conference team since 1979 and picked up the league's first NCAA tournament victory in 11 years.
"Yeah, you know, we have been fortunate to be here five of the last 10 years, and that's been remarkable," Young said. "But to come down here this year with really a special team, with great internal leadership and really good players and to beat a very fine Seton Hall team, and then to come back, come back on Saturday and do it again against Kentucky, and we knew it. We knew it. And I think Coach knew it. We knew coming in that we had the look. We had what it took to find a way to win the game. That was the approach. It was always the approach."
Saturday's game also caps off the careers of three seniors in Jackson, Magee and Matthew Pegram. The trio scored over 4,000 points in their careers and guided the 2018-19 team to the program's first NCAA tournament since 2015.
The Terriers came out swinging in the first, with Hoover hitting a jumper off a screen and Jackson rattling home a 3-pointer. Kentucky would even the score at 11 apiece but a 3-pointer from Donovan Theme-Love and a hook shot from Pegram made it 16-11.
After the Wildcats cut the lead to one, Hoover drained a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and Magee found Aluma in transition as the Terriers took a 21-15 lead, forcing a Kentucky timeout. The Wildcats would go on an 11-3 run, taking a two-point lead before Magee knocked down an elbow jumper to knot the game up at 26. Kentucky would hit a pair of free throws and take the 28-26 lead into the break.
Jackson, Hoover and Magee scored on consecutive possessions to open up the second, and a jumper from Magee put Wofford ahead 35-32. Kentucky responded with a 10-2 run to take their biggest lead of the game, making it 45-37. The Terriers would cut the lead in half, but the Wildcats pushed it to nine with 8:42 to play.
It was Wofford's turn to rally, getting free throws from Jackson and a 3-pointer from Hoover to cut the deficit to just three (54-51) with 5:42 to play. After Kentucky responded with a 3 of its own, Storm Murphy connected on second trey of the night to keep the deficit just three.
Aluma came up big on the next two possessions, swatting a shot away and converting a tip-in to make the score 58-56 with 37.9 seconds to play in the game. Wofford would run out of time however, as Kentucky was able to clinch the game from the free-throw line.
"I think we fought the whole game," Pegram said. "Kentucky played a great game. We fought the whole time. We never gave up until the very end, just came up a little short."
"Didn't happen for us today, but certainly this group, this team has done enormous things, great things for not only our basketball program but for our great college and for the wonderful city of Spartanburg," Young said. "This has been all-timers, all-timers and such a treat to have been a part of it."
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNC Greensboro saw its men’s basketball season come to an end on Saturday afternoon, as the Spartans fell to Lipscomb 86-69 at the Greensboro Coliseum in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
While the Spartans fell to the Bisons, the 2018-19 season was UNCG’s (29-7) winningest in program history.
“This has been a historic year for our program,” said head coach Wes Miller. “29-7 is just remarkable and it speaks to what our players have built here year after year over the last four or five years. Listen, only one team in this tournament is going to end the year on a win, only one team in the NCAA tournament’s going to end the year on a win, so most people are going to have nights where the season ends like this.
“I just hate that this team, which is one of the great teams in the history in my opinion of the program and maybe even the recent history of the Southern Conference …I hate that it ended on a night where we didn’t play our best.”
UNCG went into the halftime break down 43-35 after Lipscomb hit its final six shots and 11 of its final 12 attempts in the first half. Overall, the Bisons shot nearly 55 percent from the field in the opening frame and connected on 5-of-11 shots from 3-point range.
While the Spartans led for more than 12 minutes in the first half, twice UNCG went on scoring droughts that lasted three minutes or longer. UNCG started the game up 5-0 in the first minute, including a layup from sophomore guard Isaiah Miller right off the opening tip, but went cold from the field after Miller hit a layup with 14:16 left in the first half. The Spartans would not record another point until 11:19 left when redshirt freshman Kaleb Hunter connected on a layup.
Senior guard Francis Alonso led all players in the first half with 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. Thirty-three of UNCG’s 35 first half points came from their guards, while forward Angelo Allegri made one attempt.
UNCG, however, was unable to mount a comeback in the second half – trailing by as much as 29 before falling by 17.
Alonso finished his final collegiate game with 27 points. In total, Alonso wraps up his UNCG career as the program’s lead in 3-pointers made, minutes played, games played and games started, while he’s second in points scored, field goals made and free throws made.
As for Troy, he ranks top five in program history in both assists and steals. He’s one of only three players in program history to be in the top five of both statistical categories, joining former teammate Diante Baldwin and Courtney Eldridge.
Senior center Lloyd Burgess, who checked in late into the contest, also contributed to the Spartans’ success over the last four seasons, appearing in 55 games with two starts.
News And Notes
--UNCG finishes the season with a 29-7 overall record. The 29 victories set a new program benchmark this season, surpassing the 27 victories collected by last year’s team.
--The 15 home victories this year were also the second-most in program history, behind only the 16 home victories registered by last year’s squad.
--UNCG won 11 road games this season, which marked just the second time in school history the team reached a double-digit win total in road contests.
--UNCG reached the final of the Ingles Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale for the third straight season.
--This season marked the third straight 20-win season, the first such time the program has ever achieved such a stretch.
--This year’s team was the first in program history to reach 20 wins before the month of February, doing so during a victory over VMI on Jan. 31.
--UNCG received the No. 1-overall seed in this year’s NIT after narrowly missing the NCAA tournament as the Southern Conference’s first-ever at-large team.
--On Tuesday, UNCG won its first-ever game NIT game, defeating Campbell 84-69 at the Greensboro Coliseum.