Kentucky defense locks down Wofford sharp-shooter in second round win


Kentucky freshman guard Ashton Hagans chases after Wofford sophomore guard Storm Murphy during the game against Wofford in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Thursday, March 21: Wofford’s Fletcher Magee goes 7-of-12 from the three-point line against Seton Hall and breaks the all-time record for career three-pointers in NCAA Division 1 history.

Saturday, March 23: Magee goes 0-12 from the three against Kentucky and sets the record for the most three-point attempts without a make in NCAA Tournament history. 

How? Simply put, Tyler Herro, Jemarl Baker and Ashton Hagans. 

The three split the tall task of locking down Magee and held the senior to just 4-of-17 from the floor in UK’s 62-56 victory. Kentucky knew Wofford had some sharp-shooters and focused their game plan on keeping Magee quiet. 

“He’s a great player and can hit any shot on the court. We just caught him on an off day and it was good to go against a great player like him,” Herro said. “My goal was to not worry about scoring. I tried to shut him down. He just missed some shots. All great shooters have bad nights.”

Usually, Herro is the one crediting his teammates for their lock-down defense, but today, the roles were reversed. Hagans talked about Herro’s, and a few others’, ability to guard Magee several times post-game. 

“We’ve just got to take our hats off to Tyler, he helped us out a lot. He did a very good job on the defensive end and that just goes back to him being in the gym every night, working on defense in practice,” Hagans said. “But you know, Jemarl did the same as well. He came in and gave us some big time minutes, Nick was big too.” 

Baker had his career-high in minutes (24) Thursday night against Abilene Christian, and Calipari used up Baker again in the second round. The redshirt freshman came off the bench and scored eight points for the Cats, along with defending Magee. In his 18 minutes of play, he was +17 in +/-.

“(His performance) was amazing. I’m so happy for him, to see him perform like that,” freshman Keldon Johnson said. “Words can’t explain how happy I am for him just to see him break through and just seeing him do good out there.”

Herro said the team’s defensive scheme was a little bit different today because of how Wofford runs its offense and said their game plan was similar to when they played Auburn. He added that he “definitely thought Magee would make more than zero threes.”

Magee said post-game that it was “incredibly disappointing” that none of his triples fell and thinks that if he would’ve made at least three of them, Wofford could have won. 

“They played pretty good defense as far as stopping me and trying to deny me the ball and not come off screens and stuff,” Magee said. “…A lot of teams have done that to me before, and we’ve found ways around it… I think some of it was definitely their good defense, and mainly a lot of it was just me being off my shot.”

Kentucky continues to survive and advance and will move onto the Sweet 16 next weekend in Kansas City.