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© Matt Stamey | USATSI

Who is this Fletcher Magee guy, anyway?

© Matt Stamey | USATSI

In the past 12 hours, Fletcher Magee has become one of the darlings of the NCAA Tournament, the plucky David the nation will root for to carry Wofford past the Big Blue Goliath tomorrow afternoon. Who is this guy, anyway? Let’s find out.

He broke the NCAA career three-point record last night

Above all, Magee is a shooter. His seven threes last night took his career total to 509, setting an NCAA Division I record. It was the 15th time in his career he’s hit seven threes in a game. He and Steph Curry are the only Southern Conference players to make at least five threes in an NCAA Tournament game in the past 20 years. Speaking of Steph, Magee is only 11 threes away from breaking his single-season record (162) set back in 2007-08.

He was on Ben Simmons and Antonio Blakeney’s AAU team

Magee was an unranked recruit in the 2015 class, but played AAU with Antonio Blakeney and Ben Simmons, two five-stars Kentucky fans should definitely remember. The three played for Each 1 Teach 1 Elite on the EYBL circuit.

He also played on the FABC All-Star game with Tacko Fall back in 2015:

And yes, I just shared that picture because I’m fascinated by Tacko Fall

He declared for the NBA Draft last summer

After his junior season, Magee explored the NBA Draft waters, working out for several teams before deciding to return to Wofford. Here he is describing his game to Los Angeles Lakers reporters:

He’s struggled vs. ranked opponents

Magee’s averaging 20.6 points off 44.6 percent from the floor and 43.3 percent from beyond the arc, but those numbers are lower when you look at Wofford’s three games vs. ranked opponents:

Opponent Result Points FG FG% 3PT 3PT%
#8 UNC L, 78-67 21 points 7-23 30.4% 3-16 18.8%
#2 Kansas L, 72-47 7 points 1-14 7.1% 0-9 0%
#17 Mississippi State L, 98-87 24 points 7-13 53.8% 4-10 40%

As Todd Harris notes (and logic would suggest), the Terriers as a whole cool down considerably from the outside vs. Power Five opponents:

He’ll have a big cheering section tomorrow

Last night, Magee, an Orlando native, had almost 75 family members and friends in the stands in Jacksonville, a number that will surely grow tomorrow. As Kentucky fans, we’re used to it, but brace yourself because everyone in America will be cheering for him and the Terriers to pull off the upset.

John Calipari on PJ Washington’s injury and timetable to return

PJ Washington sent the collective blood pressure of the BBN skyrocketing when he showed up to tonight’s game in a hard cast riding a scooter. During the telecast, CBS sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl said PJ told her the pain in his foot was a 10/10. Afterwards, John Calipari explained the decision to put on the hard cast, not ruling out PJ’s return for Saturday’s game vs. the winner of Seton Hall and Wofford.

“First of all, the option was a boot or the cast. The cast would speed up the healing so we said put the cast on. Whether they’ll take it off tomorrow to check, I don’t know. If they don’t, he won’t play Saturday and they’ll probably try to take it off Tuesday or Wednesday of next week to see how his foot feels. Everything was negative as far as the X-Rays, but they just want — it was a sprained foot so they just want to keep it calm. That’s what it is.”

There you go.

UPDATE: Calipari told ESPN he doubts PJ will be able to play on Saturday.

Jeremy Enlow/ACU Sports

Scouting Report: Abilene Christian Wildcats, presented by FMC Agricultural Solutions

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Jeremy Enlow/ACU Sports

The best postseason tournament in sports begins today and Kentucky will take the floor in Jacksonville as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest region. It will be the second time in the John Calipari era that the Wildcats are coming from the 2-hole and it was of course the seed UK won the national title out of in 1998.Awaiting the Wildcats for the 7:10pm tip will be the Southland Conference champs. Abilene Christian will be making their first ever appearance in the tournament and they’ll be gunning to make a big splash.

Nuts and Bolts

For 40 years from 1959-2009, ACU was a Division II contender on the basketball court. The Wildcats made multiple playoff appearances over those decades highlighted by an Elite Eight finish in 1966. However, going into the 2013-2014 season, the university decided make up jump into Division I.

The ultimate goal was to have a team good enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament and in just their sixth season at the highest level they have accomplished that feat. Under alum Joe Golding, the Wildcats have had a slow build in Division I but in his eighth season, it appears that Golding has the Wildcats headed in the right direction.

After serving as as assistant coach at Arkansas-Little Rock, Golding landed the job at his alma mater and it was a slow climb. After six straight losing seasons to begin his head coaching career, the now 43 year old head coach has led ACU to consecutive winning regular seasons. This year was the breakthrough with 27 victories and a Southland Conference tournament title.

ACU hangs their hat on the defensive end. Under Golding, the Wildcats play at a slow pace and lean on their defense to make things happen. Abilene Christian uses a ball pressure man-to-man defense that is very good at forcing turnovers and limiting opponents to just one shot per possession. On the other end, ACU wants to take their time and get a good shot. Despite being an excellent three-point shooting team (38.3 percent), ACU only has 34.2 percent of their field goal attempts coming from behind the arc. ACU wants to attack the basket and use crisp passing in the halfcourt to create open looks.

This will be the first ever meeting between the two programs. Under Kentucky, John Calipari is 9-0 in the Round of 64, but their last game against a 15-seed was a little too close for comfort. Despite a two touchdown lead at half, UK struggled to put away Northern Kentucky on their way to just a nine-point victory.

Out in the desert, Kentucky is a 21-point favorite with a total of 132. That’s a projected final score of 76.5-55.5. On the season, Kentucky is 16-16-1 against the spread while ACU is 15-13-1. UK is just 3-7 against the number in their last 10 games.

Backcourt Breakdown

At point for ACU is senior Jaylen Franklin who is putting up over 10 points and 4.9 assists per game. The Little Rock, Arkansas native has started every game for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-2 guard is an excellent perimeter defender who will give UK’s guards some fits when they put the ball on the deck. He’s limited on the offensive end, but is very good at drawing fouls and going to the line despite shooting under 60 percent at the stripe. He can make plays above the rim.

Next to Franklin on the perimeter is junior Payten Ricks who is this team’s top three-point specialist. The Kansas native has poured in 70 threes on a 40.5 percent shooting clip. Ricks is a really good shooter and you can expect most of his shots to come from three. Off the bench, head coach Joe Golding will use diminutive point guard Damien Daniels. The freshman guard from Kansas brings a scoring punch and is pesky on ball defender.

Just a few weeks ago, ACU was delivered a blow when starting guard BJ Maxwell was dismissed from the team. The off guard was this squad’s second best three-point shooter and a full-time starter. Despite his loss, ACU was still able to win the Southland tournament title.

Frontcourt Breakdown

ACU’s best player is found in the paint in senior Jaren Lewis. The 6-foot-6 forward plays the four for the Wildcats and he can step away from the hoop and space the floor (33.3 percent three-point shooter). He leads the team with 13.7 points per game and is a very solid offensive rebounder. He’ll be at a size disadvantage for 40 minutes, but has the athletic ability to make things happen with his quickness.

Next to Lewis in the post, ACU will use a platoon at the five. Both Hayden Farquhar and Joe Pleasant log time down low and they can both be considered glue pieces. Farquhar is the far more dangerous player with his three-point shooting ability. The majority of his shots have come from behind the three-point line.

On the wing, Trey Lenox plays the most when ACU doesn’t want to go to all in on a three-guard lineup. Lenox is another strong defender who does most of his damage with shots from behind the arc.

Keys to Victory

  • In their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, you can expect for ACU to come out swinging early. It’s hard to not see how excited this team and program is to be here. UK should expect some big swings early. Following the gut-wrenching loss to Tennessee, it will be important for UK to take ahold of this game early and gain some confidence. Get a lead in the first five minutes and the talent should takeover for what should be a comfortable win.
  • Despite not attempting too many three-pointers, ACU is one of the best teams in the country in making them. The Wildcats have four rotation players shooting at least 33 percent from deep. Against a talented defense with all kinds of length, don’t be surprised to see ACU launch at least 25 threes. If they hit 12 or 13 they will be in this game in crunch time.
  • The strength of ACU is on defense and the Wildcats will play man-to-man and pressure the basketball. After a solid performance against Tennessee, Ashton Hagans will be challenged once again. If the freshman point guard is able to handle the pressure, hit lay-ups, and setup teammates that would be a good start to UK’s tournament run.
  • Even if Hagans plays well, UK is going to have some turnovers tonight. ACU’s best offense usually comes off of turnovers and they produce a lot of them. When turnovers do happen, UK must be locked in on transition defense. Don’t give up cheap buckets or transition threes and Kentucky will be just fine for most of the 40 minutes.

PJ Washington ruled out for today’s game vs. Abilene Christian

PJ Washington will not play vs. Abilene Christian. John Calipari just announced that the specialist PJ saw yesterday confirmed he has a sprained foot but no fracture, but put him in a hard cast as a precaution. He has been ruled out for today’s game.

Let’s win it and cut that cast off for Saturday.

Calipari addresses UCLA rumor, plans to retire at Kentucky

BBN, you can exhale. John Calipari isn’t going anywhere.

On Wednesday afternoon, rumors began circulating Coach Calipari showed “serious interest” in leaving UK to accept the UCLA head coaching job. Wednesday night, Calipari took to Twitter to respond to the speculation. He wrote:

“Before I go to bed, let me just say this: I’m coaching at the [University] of Kentucky. In my opinion, there is no better job in the world to coach basketball. My plan and my desire is to retire at Kentucky. I think the university feels the same as I do and we’ve talked openly about it.”

Whew. Rick Pitino, the Bruins’ job is all yours. In the mean time, the BBN should take Coach Cal’s advice: