Wofford celebrates first win over Top 25 opponent at North Carolina's expense

Wofford players including Fletcher Magee, far left, and Nathan Hoover (10) celebrate after beating North Carolina 79-75 an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Ellen Ozier)

Wofford’s first-ever victory over a Top 25 opponent was a memorable upset.

The Terriers caught college basketball’s reigning national champions napping and pounced.

Guard Fletcher Magee erupted for a game-high 27 points and forward Cameron Jackson added 18 as Southern Conference upstart Wofford shocked fifth-ranked North Carolina 79-75 on Wednesday night at the Dean Dome. The Terriers opened a 14-point lead midway through the second half and then withstood a flurry of late surges by the Tar Heels.

Four times in the final six minutes did North Carolina manage to scratch close enough to tie or take the lead with a single shot. Each time the Tar Heels failed, the last two times coming when point guard Joel Berry received a charging foul down three in the final 70 seconds and then when forward Luke Maye rushed a potential game-tying 3-pointer one possession later.

North Carolina’s loss to Wofford is especially difficult to fathom when both teams’ results so far this season are taken into account.

The Tar Heels (10-2) were coming off an impressive road win at Tennessee and in home games this season had beaten every opponent by 10 or more points. The Terriers (8-4) were projected sixth in the Southern Conference before the season and had suffered losses by 21 against rebuilding South Carolina, by 14 against floundering Cal and by 20 against five-loss UNC Asheville.

Wofford’s lone claim to fame this season was a three-point victory over shorthanded Georgia Tech two weeks ago, but a home win over the Yellow Jackets wasn’t enough to suggest the Terriers posed any threat to North Carolina. Only after Wofford closed the first half on an 8-0 run to take a 34-33 lead did there appear to be any reason for the Tar Heels to worry.

Things got more serious at the start of the second half when Wofford began scoring in bunches. Magee lit up the Tar Heels from the perimeter and Jackson gashed the young North Carolina frontcourt in the paint, scoring repeatedly in the low post with his back to the basket.

North Carolina clamped down on defense to get back into the game, but the Tar Heels simply couldn’t score efficiently enough to regain the lead. Maye started 1-for-11 from the field, senior Theo Pinson was a ghost the whole night and North Carolina didn’t dominate the offensive glass like it usually does.

Twenty-three points from Berry was a bright spot. So was 10 points in 17 minutes from a returning Cam Johnson.

But overall North Carolina wasn’t good enough and the Tar Heels suffered a disappointing home loss as a result.

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Jeff Eisenberg is a college basketball writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!