By LARRY VAUGHT
Think about this — Kentucky missed its last six shots and seven of last eight and did not have a field goal the final 5 minutes, 12 seconds. Yet the Cats still beat Wofford 62-56 in the NCAA Tournament second round because of its defense that forced Wofford to miss six of last seven shots.
Welcome to the survive and advance mentality of March Madness.
Wofford star Fletcher Magee, the all-time NCAA leader in 3-pointers made, went 0-for-12 from 3-point range in large part because of the harassing defense of UK freshman Tyler Herro. That energy took a toll on Herro’s offense as he was 2-for-11 from the field but he still had nine points, six rebounds and four assists. He also went 4-for-4 at the foul line, including two with 4.2 seconds left, to secure the win.
“My hope is they got wore down,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said of Wofford. “We knew they would not let down because that is how they play.”
Kentucky got 14 points and 11 rebounds from Reid Travis — playing in his first NCAA Tournament. Ashton Hagans had 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and one steal. Hagans was just 4-for-11 from the field as Wofford let him fire away from outside before he started concentrating on going inside.
“They were collapsing inside but I still had to drive and finish or kick it out to a teammate,” Hagans said.
Kentucky played again without leading scorer/rebounder PJ Washington, who is out with a sprained foot. CBS-TV sideline reporter Jamie Erdhal at Friday’s practice that he heard something “pop” in his foot with about two minutes left in the game against Tennessee last Saturday. He finished the game but during the NCAA selection show the foot began to swell while he was at Calipari’s house. He told her he’s hoping he can play next week when UK plays in the Sweet Sixteen Friday in Kansas City.
Calipari would have not part of it being a “relief” to be in the Sweet Sixteen, especially with Washington not playing.
“If winning is a relief, it is time to retire,” Calipari said. “I may not be showing it right now but I was dancing in the locker room. I am ecstatic that we won. I just want my team in the hunt and playing their best.”