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Wofford’s 3-point shooting goes missing as Kentucky advances to Sweet 16

Wofford v Kentucky

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - MARCH 23: Ashton Hagans #2 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots against Storm Murphy #5 of the Wofford Terriers during the first half of the game in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Vystar Memorial Arena on March 23, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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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.