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NCAA tournament: Arkansas avoids upset bid by Wofford, 56-53

NCAA tournament: Fifth-seeded Arkansas avoids upset bid by Wofford, 56-53

Arkansas surely knows about Wofford now.

Michael Qualls scored 20 points, Southeastern Conference player of the year Bobby Portis added 15 points and 13 rebounds, and the fifth-seeded Razorbacks held off the No. 12 seed Terriers 56-53 in the NCAA tournament on Thursday night.

Arkansas (27-8) escaped a back-and-forth game in the West Region that featured 18 lead changes, 10 ties and neither team ahead by more than five points.

The Razorbacks advanced to play fourth-seeded North Carolina on Saturday. The Tar Heels edged Ivy League champion Harvard earlier in the night.

Arkansas at times looked as though it might become the latest No. 5 seed to get upset in the NCAAs, but Wofford (28-7) missed three 3-pointers in the final minute-plus, helping the Razorbacks hang on.

No. 12 seeds went 6-2 against 5 seeds the previous two years.

Karl Cochran and Eric Garcia had decent looks on the final possession, but both were off the mark. Garcia's shot clanged off the rim at the buzzer.

Many picked Arkansas to falter, especially after players and coach Mike Anderson made it clear Wednesday they had done little preparation for the Terriers. Instead, they spent much of the lead time working on getting themselves ready.

It nearly backfired.

Spencer Collins led Wofford with 16 points and nine rebounds. Cochran and Jaylen Allen added 12 points apiece.

The Terriers had no answer for Qualls' athleticism and Portis' inside presence. Qualls made eight of nine shots, including three big dunks, and Portis scored all his points in the paint.

The game was entertaining from start to finish, and included a couple of interesting moments involving shoes.

Moses Kingsley played a possession in the first half without a shoe, which he flipped to the bench. Rashad Madden also lost a shoe in the second half. He seemed to toss his toward the bench and then it got thrown back across the court. Officials called timeout and looked at the replay, but couldn't decide what to do. They eventually tagged Arkansas with a delay-of-game warning.

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TIP-INS

Wofford: Fell to 0-4 in the NCAA Tournament. … The Terriers set school records for wins and conference victories and had been looking for that elusive win on college basketball's premier stage, but came up short. … The Terriers also were oh-so-close in Jacksonville in 2010, leading Wisconsin in the second half before faltering down the stretch and losing 53-49.

Arkansas: Razorbacks coaching great Nolan Richardson was in attendance, sitting a few rows behind the team's bench. … The Razorbacks improved to 2-0 against Wofford. The previous meeting was a 22-point victory on Nov. 9, 2007.

UP NEXT

Wofford's season ended.

Arkansas advanced to play fourth-seeded North Carolina on Saturday.

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