Jacksonville, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Wofford Terriers get up-close and personal with the Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday night, as the teams representing the West Region of the NCAA Tournament get together at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
Wofford has been to the tournament three times previously and each time has been one-and-done. This time around the Terriers are hoping to change all that after winning the Southern Conference Tournament for the fourth time in the last six seasons.
The good news for the Terriers is that they are riding an eight-game win streak and have come out on top in 15 of the last 16 contests overall, save for a 56-46 loss to Chattanooga two days before Valentine's Day. Thanks to victories over UNCG, Western Carolina and Furman in the conference tournament, the latter coming by only three points in the title game, Wofford was named a 12 seed in the region, the highest designation the team has received in four trips to the tournament.
As for the Razorbacks, the fifth seed, they are back in the event for the first time since 2008. The program is into the tournament for the 30th time overall, thanks to a solid showing in the SEC this season as it flew under the radar while unbeaten Kentucky grabbed most of the headlines. In fact, it was the Wildcats who ended the run by Arkansas in the conference tournament with a lopsided 78-63 win in the title game last weekend.
The 26 total wins this season for the Hogs are the most in two decades, and are certainly a positive sign for a unit that is seeking to score a second national title more than 20 years after the first.
Not surprisingly, Arkansas won the only previous meeting between the squads by a 67-45 margin on Nov. 9, 2007 in Fayetteville.
The winner of this meeting will go to the third round of the tournament this Saturday to face off against the survivor of the Harvard/North Carolina bout.
The name of the game for the Terriers is defense, having limited opponents to only 59.8 ppg, those squads hitting on just 41.7 percent of their field goal chances and 30.9 percent behind the 3-point line over 34 opportunities. Keeping scores low was made easier as the defense generated close to seven steals per outing.
One of the top thieves for Wofford was Karl Cochran who accounted for 61 steals, all while producing a team-best 14.6 ppg and 91 assists. Tied for first on the glass as well with 5.8 rpg, Cochran's 36 blocked shots were the lion's share for the Terriers. Spencer Collins and Lee Skinner, both of whom started every game like Cochran, were credited with 11.6 and 10.0 ppg, respectively. Not surprisingly, with his dominant play across the board, Cochran was named the Southern Conference Player of the Year.
Fighting Cochran for the spotlight in this meeting will be Bobby Portis, the SEC Player of the Year who scored 17.5 ppg and cleared 8.6 rpg, adding a team- best 49 blocked shots for good measure. Portis, the only player to start every game for the Razorbacks, hit on 54.7 percent of his field goal tries and was 74.6 percent accurate at the free-throw line as well.
Michael Qualls was the only other double-digit performer for the Hogs with his 15.5 ppg, which means he and Portis combined to generate close to half the team's 78.0 ppg. Qualls showed the ability to knock down the perimeter shot, logging 52 triples, but his 33.1 percent accuracy still fell below that of Rashad Madden (.379) and Anthlon Bell (.350), who combined to convert 106 triples when pressed into duty.