Wofford To Battle Brigham Young in Second Straight NCAA Tournament Appearance

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Wofford To Battle Brigham Young in Second Straight NCAA Tournament Appearance
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NCAA TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND

No. 14 Wofford (21-12, 14-4) vs. Brigham Young (30-4, 14-2)

Mar. 18, 2011, Denver Co., The Pepsi Center (17,500), 7 p.m.

 

Opening Tip:

Wofford will travel west to take part in its second NCAA Tournament, as the Terriers are making their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance after winning their first Southern Conference Tournament title last season.

The Terriers, who were also No. 14 last season, bowed out in the opening round, but not before putting up a valiant effort in the opening round against Wisconsin. The Terriers would eventually drop a 52-49 decision to the Badgers.

This season, the Terriers will face the runner-up in the Mountain West Conference, in the No. 3 seed Brigham Young University. The Terriers will be meeting the Cougars for just the second time in school history, with the only other meeting between the two schools occurring in 1998, as BYU claimed a 73-67 win over the Terriers.

Brigham Young comes into the tournament with the nation’s most prolific scorer in Jimmer Fredette (28.5 PPG). The Terriers just got finished facing the nation’s fourth-leading scorer, Andrew Goudelock (23.8 PPG), in the Southern Conference title game last Monday night.

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Wofford's Noah Dahlman, who's studying to become a school teacher, hopes to provide a few free lessons for BYU's big men on Thursday night

The Terriers have played one team—the Air Force Falcons—from the Mountain West Conference over the past couple of seasons. The Terriers are 3-4 all-time against the Mountain West Conference, with all the matchups coming against BYU and Air Force. All three wins have come against Air Force. 

The Cougars were 76-66 winners over the Falcons on their home floor on Jan. 8th, while claiming a resounding 90-52 win at Air Force on Feb. 9th. For the Cougars, they will be making their 26th appearance in the "Big Dance" and fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars enter the tournament with a 12-28 all-time tournament record.

Last season, the Cougars made it to Round 32 after defeating Florida 99-92 in double-overtime last season. BYU was eventually knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by "Elite Eight" participant Kansas State, 84-72, in the second round.

 

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Wofford was the automatic qualifier out of the Southern Conference, defeating Appalachian State (69-56), Western Carolina (86-72) and College of Charleston (77-67) in the SoCon title game. BYU got in as an at-large qualifier out of the Mountain West Conference after finishing the season with a 30-4 record.

 

SCOUTING THE COUGARS:

By now, unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard of Jimmer Fredette (28.5 PPG, 3.5 PPG). Fredette is the record-breaking guard that has captivated the college basketball world this season by putting up some astounding scoring numbers for BYU, setting new single-season and single-game scoring records.

In addition to his scoring and rebounding numbers, the explosive Fredette is also averaging 4.2 helpers per game. Fredette has scored in double figures in all 34 games so far this season for the Cougars, and he has only been held under 20 points on four occasions this season.

The four teams to actually hold Fredette under 20 points in a game this season are Mississippi Valley State (16 pts.), Creighton (13 pts.), Hawaii (16 pts.) and Fresno Pacific (13 pts.).

Fredette’s season was highlighted by his performance in the Mountain West Conference Tournament semifinals, scoring 52 points in an 87-76 win. In the win over the Lobos, Fredette connected on 22-of-37 shots from the field and was 7-of-14 from behind the three-point line. In a win at Utah in early January, Fredette scored 47 points on 16-of-28 shooting from the field and 6-of-9 from three-point range in the win.

He has scored 30 or more points in 13 games this season, and he has four games in which he has totaled 40 or more points. Fredette was selected as the MWC Player of the Year for his efforts during the 2010-11 season for the Cougars. Fredette also has no limit to his range as a shooter, coming into this contest connecting at a 40.4 percent from long range.

Fredette’s 112 triples for the Cougars this season are a school record, while his 21 career 30-point games also rank as a school record. Fredette brings a streak of 39 straight games in which he has scored in double figures.

As good as Fredette has been offensively this season for the Cougars, it has been Jackson Emery (12.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG) getting the job done on the defensive end of the floor for BYU. Emery enters the 2011 NCAA Tournament holding the school’s single-season record for steals in a season, recording 94 thefts so far.

Emery’s efforts on the defensive end of the floor this season for BYU prompted the league to name the 6'3", 190 pound senior guard as the Moutain West Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Emery also owns the school’s career mark for steals, with 242 thefts so far in his BYU career.

Not only is Emery a menace to foes on the defensive end of the floor, he’s also dangerous on the offensive end of the floor. He enters the 2011 NCAA Tournament having recorded 25 double-figure scoring games this season, including scoring in double digits in 11 of his past 12 outings.

Additionally, Emery has scored 20 or more points in four games this season for the Cougars. His top performance of the 2010-11 season came in a win at Buffalo as he scored 23 points, recorded six steals, six rebounds and six assists in a 90-82 win over the Bulls.

Like his backcourt mate Fredette, Emery is a prolific perimeter shooter, having canned 86 three-pointers on the season. Coming into the NCAA second-round game with Wofford, Emery is connecting on 36.4 percent from long range this season.

Rounding out the starters in the backcourt for the Cougars will be junior Charles Abouo (7.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG) and freshman Kyle Collinsworth (5.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG). Abouo might be the most athletic performer in the starting lineup for the Cougars, and the 6'5" sophomore junior swingman is a player that came to the BYU program winning the Utah 3A State Player of the Year award after leading Brewster Academy in Logan, UT., to 31-4 records—he isn’t used to losing.

Abouo isn’t known for his scoring prowess, but he serves as the "glue" for this BYU starting five. He does all the little things and is the player that would lead in the "hustle stats" category if they were tabulated. Though he’s not known for his offensive game per se, Abouo can score the basketball if called upon to do so. He has totaled eight double-figure scoring games this season for the Cougars, including scoring a season-high 25 points in a 102-78 win over Wyoming.

Abouo’s physicality and leaping ability has allowed him to be strong on the offensive glass this season. 6'6" freshman guard Kyle Collinsworth rounds out the talented foursome in the backcourt for the Cougars. Collinsworth is the ultimate role player and can be called upon to come up with clutch plays at key moments in a game, both on the offensive end of the floor as well as the defensive end.

Collinsworth is a solid defensive player for the Cougars, as he enters BYU’s second-round contest against the Terriers having posted 31 steals and 15 blocked shots this season. Collinsworth enjoyed his most productive outing of the season against Colorado State as he tallied a season-best 16 points. He has scored in double figures in 10 games this season for the Cougars.

Rounding out the starting five for the Cougars for Thursday afternoon’s NCAA Tournament opener is All-Mountain West Conference Honorable Mention honoree junior forward Noah Hartsock (8.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG). Now that Brandon Davies has been suspended for the remainder of the season, Hartsock now becomes the main force for the Cougars in the low-post heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Though the Cougars aren’t known for their physical nature as a ball club, Hartsock is a player that is a physical performer in the low post, but he needs to step out of foul trouble because of BYU’s lack of depth without Davies to call upon. Hartsock comes into the contest as the Cougars’ leading rebounder this season, and he is connecting on 48.9 percent from the field so far.

Hartsock also has excellent low post moves and comes into the contest having posted his best career effort against Fresno State, scoring 21 points and grabbing five rebounds in a win over the Bulldogs. Hartsock has been strong on the defensive end for the Cougars as well, having blocked a team-best 54 shots this season.

Hartsock has 15 double-figure scoring performances for the Cougars this season. The Cougars, like the Terriers, aren’t the deepest team in the world, but they have a couple of good players coming off the bench. One of Hartsock’s most memorable moments came back on Nov. 26, as his shot at the buzzer delivered a victory for the Cougars over South Florida.

The top player coming off the Cougars' bench is sophomore forward Stephen Rogers (4.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG), who transferred into BYU from Mesa Community College prior to the 2010-11 season. Rogers, a 6'8", 195 pound native of Mesa, AZ, turned in his best performance in a win over Fresno Pacific, tallying 16 points. He also scored 15 points in a win at TCU back on Feb. 19th.

Two other Cougars that will likely log a significant amount of action off the bench on Thursday night will be senior forward Logan Magnusson (1.9 PPG, 2.4 RPG) and junior center James Anderson (1.1 PPG, 1.4 RPG), while sophomore guard Brock Zylstra (1.2 PPG, 0.9 RPG) adds depth in the backcourt.

BYU enters the contest averaging 81.6 PPG and shooting the basketball at a 45.2 percent clip. BYU also connects on 8.3 three-point field goals per game, which is among the best in the nation this season. Defensively this season, the Cougars are holding opponents to 67.5 PPG and 41.3 percent shooting from the field. The Cougars are averaging 38.7 RPG coming in, while opponents are averaging 35.4 RPG.

 

SCOUTING THE TERRIERS:

Two-time defending Southern Conference champion Wofford comes into this contest looking to gain from its NCAA Tournament experience of a year ago, which saw the Terriers take No. 3 seed Wisconsin to the wire before dropping a 53-49 decision to the Badgers.

The Terriers are not a particularly deep team, but they are a team that has four veteran senior starters and have rebounded to play some of their best basketball during the latter part of the season. At one point this season, Wofford stood at just 6-9 through its first 15 games, but rebounded to win 11 of its last 17 games, including riding an eight-game winning streak heading into the NCAA Tournament.

With that eight-game winning streak, not only has Wofford won back-to-back Southern Conference titles, the Terriers have also established back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1963-64 and 1964-65 seasons. Obviously when you talk about Wofford basketball, you have to begin the discussion with senior forward Noah Dahlman (20.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG).

Dahlman was the Southern Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Performer for the second-straight season and was the SoCon’s Player of the Year last season. Dahlman enters his second-straight NCAA Tournament having scored in double figures in 80 straight games. He is a player that has the fundamentals and is strong on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

Dahlman has enjoyed some outstanding games this season for the Terriers and has of course scored in double figures in all 33 games for Wofford this season. His best performance of the 2010-11 season came against Elon in an early December Southern Conference win, as Dahlman scored a game and career-high 37 points.

Dahlman also enters the NCAA first-round contest with 15 20-point games this season and has a couple of double-doubles. Dahlman is coming off a nice title-game performance against the College of Charleston, as he posted 20 points and had nine rebounds, just missing a double-double performance. He connected on 7-of-15 shots from the field and was 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the win.

Part of Dahlman’s effectiveness has been his tremendous ability to find points around the basket. He comes into the contest ranking third in Southern Conference history in career field goal percentage, having connected on 59.9 percent of his shots over his outstanding four-year career.

This season, Dahlman has connected at a 61.2 percent clip to rank sixth nationally coming into the contest. Joining Dahlman underneath the basket for the Terriers will be Tim Johnson (8.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG), who despite being undersized, led the Southern Conference on the backboards once again in the 2010-11 season.

Johnson, a 6'6", 228 pound senior, is a player that brings a physical presence in the paint for Wofford, and he’s a player that knows the intricacies of rebounding, using his physical frame well to box out and get rebounds. Johnson is not necessarily known as a scorer, but he has scored in double figures in five games this season. On the boards, Johnson has been in double figures in rebounds in 11 games this season and has a team-leading four double-doubles this season.

Johnson’s most recent double-double performance came in the final regular season game for the Terriers, as Wofford was able to get a 79-65 win at Furman to clinch a bye for the SoCon Tournament. In the important road win, Johnson totaled 11 points and pulled down 10 boards to help Wofford position itself for a second-straight NCAA Tournament berth.

In the season-opening loss at Minnesota, Johnson pulled down 13 rebounds and scored 10 points in the losing effort for the Terriers. The Terrier backcourt has been outstanding down the stretch this season and is one of the reasons Wofford finds itself in a second straight NCAA Tournament.

Leading the way in the backcourt this season has been Cameron Rundles (14.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG). Rundles is a player that took over for Junior Salters in the starting lineup this season and has been a player that has stepped up and been a real impact player for the Terriers.

Rundles has excelled as a perimeter shooter this season and enters the NCAA Tournament as Wofford’s most prolific perimeter shooter, having gathered 74 triples,  connecting from long-range at a 43.6 percent (71-of-174) clip and has been one of centerpieces of the Terrier offense.

He has had several outstanding performances for the Terriers, however. Rundles recorded his top performance of the season in the win over George Mason, as he scored 26 points in helping the Terriers to one of their biggest victories. Rundles' 26 points was a career-high. 

In a late season win at Chattanooga, Rundles was simply on fire as he connected on 7-of-14 shots from the field, including going 5-of-7 from three-point range to help lead the Terriers to a 97-58 demolition of the Mocs. He enters the tournament having posted 25 double-figure scoring games this season, including having totaled double digits in each of the last 10 games for the Terriers.

He has eight 20-point scoring performances this season, with his last coming in the SoCon championship game win over the College of Charleston, as he posted 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range. Rundles, a native of Minneapolis, MN, transferred into the Wofford basketball program from the University of Montana three years ago.

Rundles was the Big Sky’s Freshman of the Year in 2007. Another key piece to the Terriers’ SoCon championship puzzle each of the past two seasons has been Jamar Diggs (12.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG). Diggs might be the best all-around performer the Terriers have when you take into account his production on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

He is likely the SoCon’s top defensive player and will draw the unenviable task of marking BYU’s sharp-shooting guard Jimmer Fredette in Thursday night’s second-round contest with the Cougars. Diggs is a defender that is comparable to former San Antonio standout defender Bruce Bowen. He’s rangy for his 6'2" frame with long arms.

He also has a physical nature to him, much the same as Bowen, and is one of Wofford’s most explosive athletes. He’s the complete package as a defender and comes into the NCAA showdown with the BYU Cougars having faced some of the nation’s better scorers in his own conference over the past two seasons, including College of Charleston’s Andrew Goudelock, who ranks fourth in the nation in scoring average this season (23.8 PPG).

Though Goudelock ultimately finished with a game-high 25 points in the SoCon championship game, he had to work extremely hard for his points in the title game. Fredette may have a big night scoring the basketball for the Cougars, but he will have to work for every point he scores.

Diggs is also a solid scoring threat on the offensive end. Diggs posted his best game for the Terriers (24 points) in a 88-56 home win over Chattanooga. So far this season, Diggs has tallied double-digit scoring efforts in 25 games while posting four 20-point scoring efforts on the campaign. Diggs is not known for his perimeter shooting but does possess the ability to step out and hit the long-range shot.

He has connected on 42.7 percent of his downtown efforts this season. Diggs also distributes the basketball extremely well, entering the contest with 101 helpers on the campaign. Giving credence to his ability as a defender, Diggs leads the team in both steals (57) and blocked shots (25) this season. The fact that a guard leads the team in blocked shots on the season is a stat rarely seen.

Rounding out the starting five for the Terriers heading into Thursday night’s NCAA second-round game with the BYU Cougars, is junior point guard Brad Loesing (6.2 PPG, 3.2 APG). Loesing is a player that isn’t noticed much in the headlines when mentioning the Terriers accolades over the past couple of seasons, but his distribution and leadership from the point guard position have been every bit, if not more important, as those headliners.

Loesing comes into the NCAA Tournament having started all 68 games for the Terriers at the point guard position over the past couple of seasons. That in itself gives you a gauge of how important Loesing is to this team. In his 98 career games as a Terrier, Loesing has started 97 of them and was named to the SoCon’s All-Freshman team back in 2008-09.

He leads the Terriers in assists coming into Thursday night’s contest with BYU, having dished out a total of 107 assists on the season. Loesing has posted double-figure scoring games in seven contests this season, scoring a season-high 14 points against both Georgetown and Clemson. He is a player that can step up and hit the perimeter jumper, having connected on 44.8 percent (30-of-68) of his long-range efforts this season.

He recorded a season-high eight assists on a couple of occasions this season, posting eight helpers in an early December loss at South Carolina. He also posted the same total in a late January win at Appalachian State. Wofford does not have a deep bench, but look for Terry Martin (5.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG) and Kevin Giltner (6.4 PPG, 1.3 RPG) to see the most extensive action off of the bench for Wofford in Thursday night’s NCAA second-round contest.

Giltner can be a prolific scorer for the Terriers and excels as a perimeter shooter. He’s a 6'7" post player that plays like a guard. He’ll force BYU’s bigs to come out and guard him on the perimeter. So far this season, Giltner is second on the team with 52 triples and is connecting from long range at a 41.6 percent (52-of-125) clip. Look for Nathan Parker (2.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG) and Drew Crowell (1.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG) to also see action in the post against the Cougars.

As a team, the Terriers enter the contest averaging 73.8 PPG and shot the ball at a 47.9 percent clip through the first 33 games of the season. Defensively for the season, Wofford yields 67.8 PPG and holds opponents to a 44.7 percent shooting clip. The Terriers are shooting the three-pointer at a 40.7 percent clip this season, while holding opponents to a paltry 35.1 percent from long-range entering the matchup. The Terriers’ 40.7 percent from downtown this season ranks as the top mark among the 12 SoCon members.

 

FINAL PREDICTION:

Much has been made about Jimmer Fredette and how he can change a game with his ability to pull up and shoot from anywhere. Wofford knows that he (Fredette) will score his points on Thursday night. But, Mike Young’s Terriers have played tenacious defense all season; Fredette will have to work for his points.

I remember thinking how much I disliked Wofford’s matchup last season heading into the NCAA Tournament because of the size of Wisconsin’s post players. If you look at the teams that have given the Terriers the most issues this season, it has been teams that have size in the low post.

Two teams coming to mind that challenged the Terriers in that area are Furman and Georgetown. Had BYU’s Brandon Davies not gotten suspended, I probably would pick the Cougars. However, as good as Fredette is, one player has rarely been able to beat the Terriers. Consequently, I don’t expect that to be the case on Thursday night at the Pepsi Center, as Wofford shocks BYU.

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