No. 21 Arkansas 56, Wofford 53

Michael Qualls pours in 20 points, Bobby Portis fights through a sub-part start to get 15 points and 13 rebounds and Alandise Harris' has a game-winning three-point play late as No. 21 and fifth-seeded Arkansas (27-8) rallies past 12th-seeded Wofford 56-53 Thursday night in an NCAA Tournament game at Jacksonville. Fla.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - On a day when a couple of Cinderellas took advantage of their trip to the Big Dance and the first 10 games saw the underdogs beat the spread, favorites Arkansas and North Carolina did something that Baylor and Ipwa State couldn't get accomplished.

That was simply to Survive and Advance.

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

The Razorbacks are now 10-4 in games decided by five points or less, including this one as they scored 9 of the game's last 12 points and survived two 3-pointers in the last few seconds that could have sent the game to overtime.

"Our guys have done a good job and we've got some guys that bring good leadership to our basketball team," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "They don't get rattled, they don't get panicked and so the experiences of so many close game helps. They call us the Cardiac Kids.

"I am sure Razorback Nation back home are like 'what are they trying to do to us?'," Anderson added. "What we are trying to do is find a way to win the game."

The Razorbacks (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.

"It was a game played at their pace and we were fortunate to be on the winning side," Anderson said. "As I was telling our guys back there, they just ran out of time - thank Goodness they ran out of time. It was a game that went back and forth. I think the largest lead was like three points. But we executed when we had to. My hat's off to our guys."

Arkansas advanced to play fourth-seeded North Carolina on Saturday at 7:40 CST.

The Tar Heels edged Ivy League champion Harvard 67-65 earlier in the night after blowing all of a 16-point lead with 16 minutes left.

Qualls was a bit miffed about a question that had to do with Arkansas getting to play such a program with a glorious tradition as Arkansas. "Arkansas is a big-time program, too," Qualls said. "I look forward to it. I'm not sure, but i think Harvard put up a good fight against them.

"You know the dance is the dance," Qualls added. "You never know. It's just the best team that game. We're going to come out, we're going to bring our hard hats and just be prepared for North Carolina."

Alandise Harris had 8 points and 7 rebounds, but none of his points were bigger than his old-fashioned 3-point play that came with teh game tied 53-53 with 1:40 left in what would be the last points of the game.

"I just ran the floor hard and called for it and Ky (Rashad Madden) found me and I just went up strong and finished," Harris said.

The best season in Wofford history ends at 28-7 despite a valiant effort from the Terriers and head coach Mike Young.

"A great college basketball game," Young said. "Hats off to Coach Anderson and his team. I'm so very disappointed that we didn't win, but you know Arkansas is Arkansas.

"They are very, very good and Michael Qualls is terrific and they chased us off some things as I thought they would," Young added.

"But again, I'm just so darned disappointed that we don't have the opportunity to come back over here on Saturday and play again," Young said. "We knew we had a great team coming in. Arkansas is just a little bit better."

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

Spencer Collins led the Terriers with 16 points and nine rebounds.

"I thought the threes were going to go in, but unfortunately they rimmed out," Collins said. "Shots go in, shots don't go in. We had a couple of good looks at it. They were wide open. But like I said earlier, unfortunately for us, they just didn't go in for us at the right time."

Qualls admitted it was a nerve-wracking and wild last few seconds.

"You know I was actually just trying to run to the open man," Qualls said. "It was crazy. It was crazy out there. When the first shot went up, he had a good look at it, so they had another good look so I almost had a heart attack out there. "But it is what it is," Qualls added. "The worst case scenario we would have gone to overtime, would have had to handle business."

Karl Cochran, Wofford's star player and leading scorer, was hounded into a 4-of-19 night from the field and just 2-of-12 from the 3-point line.

"You know length and athleticism is a tricky thing and they've got a lot of it," Young said of Arkansas. "...They did a nice job of extending his cut with a person guarding the screener.

"He's been a tremendous, tremendous player for us," Young said. "He will be the first to tell you that he missed some that he typically gets down for us, but we're sure not here without that guy."

As has Portis for Arkansas, who had been brilliantly consistent all year but has struggled with his shot in his last three games.

Still after hitting just 3 of his first 10 shots, he hit his last two and added some free throws and still ended the day with 15 points and 13 rebounds on the night for yet another double-double.

"It was kind of a next share defense so it was kind of tough on Bobby and us to get those entry passes in there," Qualls said. "Bobby is a big target so we just kept cutting and kept moving."

The natiional narrative has been that Arkansas can't win unless it forces a bunch of turnovers and gets the game at a up-tempo pace, but neither of those happened on Thursday night.

The Razorbacks forced just seven turnovers, but forced Wofford into a 18-of-57 shooting night (31.4 percent) while shooting 22-of-48 (45.8 percent) themselves on a night when the smaller Terriers out-rebounded them 37-35.

"They're good at what they do and for our guys to have played against them the way they were playing and find a way to win, that speaks volumes of these guys and I couldn't be any prouder of these guys," Anderson said.





Arkansas junior guard Michael Qualls roars in for a dunk.





Qualls pushes Alandise Harris in the chest after Harris put in what turned into a game-winning basket that turned into an old-fashioned 3-point play.





Moses Kingsley gets loose for a dunk





The Razorback mascot entertains the fans.


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