Giant-killer Wofford, a mid-major team out of the Southern Conference that thumped South Carolina by 20 points earlier this season after shocking North Carolina, 79-75, a year ago in Chapel Hill, heads to Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday night vying for yet another signature victory over a major-college foe.
Tipoff for the clash between the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks (6-0) and unranked Terriers (6-2) is 7 p.m.
“They are good, one of the better teams we play this year,” KU coach Bill Self said Monday of a squad that slugged South Carolina, 81-61, on Nov. 26 at USC and lost at home to North Carolina, 78-67, on Nov. 6, and at Oklahoma, 74-65, on Nov. 18. “They’ll probably be the best three-point shooting team we’ve played all year.”
His squad has made 47 of 107 threes for 43.9 percent. KU’s opponents have made 66 of 177 threes for a 37.3 mark.
Wofford — a team that in the 17-year Mike Young era has shocked the likes of North Carolina, South Carolina, Auburn, Cincinnati, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Xavier and Wake Forest — enters having hit 88 of 224 threes for 39.3 percent.
“Not defending the arc is probably not a remedy for success playing Wofford,” Self said. “They’ve got some guys who can really shoot it. They’ve got guys … what appears to be maybe a marginal shot or bad shot are great shots for them. Whenever one guy (senior Fletcher Magee) has shot 11 threes a game — he has shot 87 and Lagerald (Vick) has been on fire and shot 47 (making 28 for 59.6 percent) … think about that. We’ve got to do a great job of defending the arc.”
Magee, a 6-4 guard from Orlando, Fla., who averages a team-leading 17.9 points a game, has hit 33 of 87 threes for 37.9 percent.
Magee, the reigning Southern Conference player of the year who scored 21 points in this year’s loss to North Carolina, has been referred to as the “best shooter in college basketball” by national writer Jeff Goodman.
“From what I’ve heard he may be right there,” Self said of Magee, who has made 384 of 879 threes (43.7 percent) for his career. “Yes, that’s what I heard, too.”
Junior guard Nathan Hoover has iced 25 threes in 49 tries for 51 percent, while sophomore guard Storm Murphy has made 10 of 26 for 38.5 percent.
“It’s hard when they don’t have just one player they go to,” KU sophomore guard Marcus Garrett said of Wofford, which has four players who have hit 10 or more threes in eight games.
Self on Monday brought up an interesting stat involving his squad’s own three-point shooting (47 of 107).
“It’s so misleading,” Self said. “Lagerald (Vick) is shooting 60 something (percent). I think since the first game we’ve made nine threes as a team and Lagerald has made 28. It’s a pretty big size differential.”
Vick, a 6-foot-5 senior from Memphis, has made 28 of 43 threes since going 0-for-4 in the opener against Michigan State. That’s 65.1 percent. Vick’s KU teammates have hit 9 of 41 threes since the opener for 22 percent.
“That shows us a lot,” Self said. “We’re fortunate to have the record we have. Also I think when other guys start seeing the ball go in the hole, it’ll definitely change our team. I’d say the three-point line is a concern both ways.”
Self said he envisions several Jayhawks eventually joining Vick as three-point threats.
“Charlie (Moore) and Q (Quentin Grimes) you would think would be the ones and Dedric (Lawson) is a guy you’d think would be able to stretch it,” Self said. “We have capable guys. They just haven’t had success knocking them down yet.”
Sophomore guard Moore is 2-for-12 from three; freshman Grimes 9 of 22 and junior Lawson 1 of 7.
Self certainly hopes Vick continues his scoring run. He had 27 points on 7 of 11 three-point shooting in Saturday’s overtime victory over Stanford. He scored 33 points against Louisiana and 32 versus Vermont.
“It is a small sample size,” Self said. “It’s five games but not too many people have had a run like he’s had in five games. I don’t know if I ever coached anybody who has had a better run in five games offensively. It is pretty remarkable. We’ve been behind all five of those games by at least eight points. We needed him to play his best until some other guys can catch up a bit. I’m really happy for him, proud of him. He’s seeing a very big basket right now.”
Wofford’s guards seemingly always see a ‘big basket.’ The Terriers’ accomplishments of the present and past have been duly noted by the Jayhawks.
“Yes I am aware,” KU freshman guard Devon Dotson said, referring to the Terriers’ high-impact victories throughout history.
“I know they beat North Carolina at North Carolina last year (79-75). They’ve had some great games. We know they are a pretty good team. We can’t take ‘em lightly. It should be a fun game.”
After Tuesday, KU will play Saturday against New Mexico State in a 7:30 p.m. tip at the Sprint Center.