Wofford guard Fletcher Magee talks shooting struggles against Kentucky
Wofford rode Fletcher Magee all season long, through the Southern Conference undefeated, into the NCAA Tournament and to a second round matchup against Kentucky.
The NCAA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made finally ran out of gas Saturday afternoon.
Magee finished 0-for-12 from 3-point range and managed only eight points as Kentucky beat Wofford 62-56 in Jacksonville to advance to the Sweet 16. The Wildcats, the No. 2 seed, will face the winner of No. 3 seed Houston and No. 11 seed Ohio State on Friday for a spot in the Elite 8.
“The worst feeling that I’ve probably ever had as far as during a game knowing that we played so well as a team. We were rebounding, competing on defense so well, I just feel like I let everyone down,” Magee said. “I’ve got to own up to it and just swallow it knowing that I went in there, I prepared like I was always prepare. I was focused. I did everything that I’ve always done. I shot them like I always shoot them and they just didn’t go in.”
Wofford hung tough throughout the game, even with Magee’s struggles. The Terriers led by as many as six late in the first half before Kentucky went on a 10-2 spurt to take a 28-26 lead into halftime.
The Wildcats led for most of the second half and threatened to pull away, leading by as many as nine points with 8:42 left. But Wofford battled back.
The Terriers pulled to within 58-56 with 37 seconds remaining but were unable to get a stop. Magee’s 3-point try to cut the lead to one with nine seconds left was off the mark, and Kentucky made its free throws late to hold on for the victory.
“We won 30 games. We advanced to our fifth NCAA Tournament in 10 years. We knocked off a really good Seton Hall team to advance to the next round, and we went toe-to-toe with the University of Kentucky,” Terriers coach Mike Young said. “So don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it occurred. I will have that feeling someday soon.”
Nathan Hoover led the Terriers with 19 points and was 4-for-5 from 3, while Cam Jackson added 11 points and eight rebounds.
Wofford point guard Storm Murphy had six assists and no turnovers, and the Terriers hung tough with Kentucky on the boards, finishing with 30 rebounds, six less than Kentucky.
But with Magee, the Southern Conference Player of the Year and one of the best shooters in the country struggling, the Terriers were left wondering what could have been.
“They played good defense, but I’ve made a career here on making hard shots, and they were the same hard shots that I’ve always made,” Magee said. “If I would’ve played a little bit below average we still would’ve beat Kentucky. It just took a horrible performance by me and we lost.”
Magee lifted Wofford into the second round with 24 points and a 7-for-12 performance from 3-point range in the first round against Seton Hall before struggling on Saturday. He finished 4-for-17 from the field against the Wildcats.
Magee did hold Kentucky’s best shooter, Tyler Herro, to 2-for-11 shooting, including 1 of 6 from 3-point range. But the Wildcats still had too much fire power. Reid Travis led Kentucky with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Ashton Hagans added 12 points.
“(Magee) didn’t have his best day, but he played his face off and did everything in his power to help our team win,” Young said. “You may have noticed we didn’t go a different direction... I thought he did a fabulous job on Herro. He worked his (tail) off. It just didn’t open up for him today. It’s been a rare occurrence but I hate that it happened.”