Kentucky Wildcats vs. Wofford Terriers
Game Time: Approximately 3 pm EST on March 23, 2019
Location: VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
TV Channel: Today’s game can be seen on CBS
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel and Jamie Erdahl will be on the call.
Live Online Stream: You can stream the game online or on your mobile device using NCAA March Madness Live.
Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington. You can also listen to the Westwood One call of the game.
Replay: NCAA March Madness and check local listings on CBS Sports Network. Here is a condensed replay of the win:
Odds: Kentucky opened as a 5-point favorite, which is where the line remains as of Saturday morning.
Predictions: UK has a 67.4-percent chance to win, according to ESPN’s matchup predictor. KenPom gives the Wildcats a 67-percent chance of winning while projecting Kentucky as a 4.5 point favorite. KenPom also projects a 72-68 win for the Wildcats.
Kentucky rolled in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, even without All-American PJ Washington. They defeated the Abilene Christian Wildcats 79-44 behind strong efforts from Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, and Reid Travis. Kentucky will now move onto the round of 32 where they will do battle with the pesky Wofford Terriers.
Wofford took care of business on Thursday as well, rolling to a 84-68 victory over the Seton Hall Pirates. This was Wofford’s 21st consecutive victory, but their first ever in the NCAA Tournament.
Wofford won the Southern Conference this season with a perfect 18-0 record in conference. However, they were just 1-4 against teams from Power 5 conferences and 2-4 against teams in the tournament field.
As far as common Power Six opponents go, both the Wildcats and Terriers have faced off against the North Carolina Tar Heels, Kansas Jayhawks, South Carolina Gamecocks, and Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Kentucky is a collective 5-0 against that group, including two wins over Mississippi State. Wofford, however, went 1-3 against that slate with their only victory being a baffling 20-point win over South Carolina back in November.
The 7 seed Terriers are powered by senior guard Fletcher Magee, who as of Thursday became the all-time NCAA leader in three-pointers made. He has made 509 shots from behind the arc in his career, and he has led Wofford in scoring for the last three years.
Keys to the Game
Defend the Three
This has never been more true than right now for this Kentucky team. They were very vulnerable to giving up loads of three-pointers earlier in the season, but the defense has really stepped up since SEC play began. Yes, there have been some random dudes that have gone off against them, but overall the perimeter defense has been strong.
The Terriers’ only hope on Saturday is to get open looks and get hot. They certainly did that on Thursday, hitting 46.4% of their 28 attempts to blow by Seton Hall late. Fletcher Magee hit 7 of 12 from deep on his own.
Wofford thrives off of the three point shot. They have four players that have hit more than 40 three pointers this season, they shoot 41.6% from deep as a team, and they have the all time NCAA three-point king in Magee. If there was ever a team that would test your ability to guard the three, it would be the Wofford Terriers.
Get Easy Baskets
The very last thing that the Kentucky Wildcats want to do on Saturday is to get into a three-point contest with Wofford. The Wildcats are bigger, stronger, and faster at absolutely every position on the court. There is no excuse for settling for perimeter jumpers in this match-up.
Whether or not PJ Washington will play is still a mystery, but it honestly should not matter in this game. Kentucky’s bigs should eat like they never have before. The Wildcats should have complete control of the glass and be able to score at will in the post and by driving the ball.
Avoid Foul Trouble
Being completely over-matched athletically, look for the Terriers to attempt to draw fouls at every opportunity. Yes, they would love to get Reid Travis and the rest of the front court to get in foul trouble. But it would also behoove them to try and get fouled during three-point attempts, especially if they have watched any film on Kentucky from the season.
I am not sure about the stats, but I imagine the Wildcats lead the planet Earth in fouling three-point shooters. Not only would it be easy points for Wofford to try and draw fouls out there, but if they are able to get Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro off the court for any amount of time it would make their jobs much easier defensively.
For what it’s worth, though, drawing fouls from Wofford would be an excellent strategy for the Wildcats. The depth of the Terriers is virtually non-existent, with almost all of the team’s production coming from the starting five, and primarily from just three of those guys.
If you put a couple of Wofford’s starters on the bench with foul trouble, the danger of them getting on a run is greatly diminished.
Players to Watch
His name may as well be “Buckets” Magee. Yes, he has hit 509 three-point shots in his career. He has also made 158 in this season alone, sinking 43.3% of his attempts from deep on the year. When you consider the sheer volume of shots he has taken (365) from there, that is an amazing percentage.
Magee leads the team in scoring with 20.6 points per game, and he is also a 91% free throw shooter. He is the one guy that can keep Wofford in this game. He must be locked down.
If it is possible, Nathan Hoover may be an even better shooter than Fletcher Magee. He takes fewer shots and does not have the same ability to create space, but he has hit 88 three-point shots this season at a clip of 46.1%. Many college players do not shoot that well from the paint.
Hoover has the potential to get hot and do some damage, but allowing him to get some shots up at the expense of containing Magee would be a worthy strategy.
Jackson is the Terriers’ leading rebounder (7.6 per game) and second leading scorer (14.6 per game). He does not shoot the ball very much from the outside, but he does everything else for the team. He hits the glass, scores in the paint, and has the ability to penetrate to get his own shot.
One tricky thing about playing against teams that shoot high volumes of three-pointers is rebounding. The rebounds often bounce longer than expected and they can be harder to read. Keeping Jackson off of the offensive glass will be vital to avoid the Terriers getting a ton of second chance looks.