JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – 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.
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.