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Southern Conference Tournament 2019: Top two seeds meet in Asheville for title Monday night

Wofford and UNC Greensboro had to battle their way through to the title game

NCAA Basketball: Wofford at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Wofford will face No. 2 UNC Greensboro in the title clash of the 2019 Southern Conference Tournament on Monday night at US Cellular Arena, with tip-off slated for 7 p.m. in Asheville. The game can be viewed live nationally on ESPN.

Here’s everything you need to know from Sunday’s semifinal games:

The first semifinal matchup pitted top-seeded and 22nd-ranked Wofford against No. 4 seed East Tennessee State in a hard-fought semifinal contest before raucous crowd.

When the battle had subsided, the difference between the two teams was pretty clear: Fletcher Magee. Magee is the best at what he does, which is delivering timely daggers. Time again throughout this tournament, Magee has done just that.

His three at the halftime buzzer on Saturday was a razor-sharp blow to VMI, who had battled from a 22-point deficit and cut it to eight. Though he finished with just 11 points in the quarterfinal win, the damage was done to deflate the Keydets as they entered the halftime locker room, and Wofford went on to a convincing 99-72 win.

In Sunday’s semifinal, ETSU had the game within reach just before the half, trailing just 32-30 following a Daivien Williamson triple with 1:53 to play. Cue Magee part right before the half again. Five straight points by Magee in 50 seconds produced that deflating feeling for a foe entering the halftime locker room once again, as Wofford extended its lead to 37-30.

Though the Bucs wouldn’t go as easily into the Asheville night, it would show the difference that Magee makes between two good basketball teams. With ETSU fans ready to erupt again in the second half after an Isaiah Tisdale three-pointer cut the Bucs’ deficit to four, Magee struck again with another three.

The game teetered on the brink of being really interesting several times in the second half, but Magee and Cameron Jackson would not allow the Bucs to get any closer than four points the rest of the way. Magee finished with 26 points, while Jackson added 20 and Wofford came away with the 81-72 win.

In the second semifinal, No. 2 UNC Greensboro and No. 3 Furman battled in another epic matchup. This game had plenty of twists and turns, but ultimately, UNCG emerged with a 66-62 win.

Some might have even called it predictable, as we knew who was getting the ball and what might likely happen down the stretch. The anti-Magee, Francis Alonso, will now get his chance on the big stage. Alonso was part of a 12-0 late in the game that helped turn a 58-53 UNCG deficit with 4:51 left into a 65-58 lead with 1:21 remaining following a steal and monster slam from Isaiah Miller. An Alonso three with 1:47 left broke a 58-58 tie to give the Spartans the lead for good.

It’s a reminder of how good Alonso is in the clutch. He willed the Spartans to a quarterfinal win over Samford with a season-high 31 points.

In Sunday night’s semifinal win over Furman, Alonso finished with a game-high 19 points, while Spartan freshman guard Kaleb Hunter added 10 points off the bench.

Championship Preview:

UNCG (28-5) vs. Wofford (28-4)

--The championship matchup offers a clash between the two top picks in the SoCon preseason, with UNCG being the consensus No. 1 selection, while Wofford was the No. 2.

--UNCG will make its third title game appearance in a row.

--Wofford won regular-season games against UNCG by 29 and 30 points. UNCG won a 56-55 contest over the Terriers in the Southern Conference Tournament contest last season. The Terriers snapped UNCG’s 17-game homecourt winning streak with a 72-43 win over the Spartans back in January, while claiming an 80-50 win over the Spartans at the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium back in mid-February.

-- Wofford is 4-0 all-time in title games, while UNCG is 2-2. The Spartans defeated ETSU 62-47 in the 2018 championship. Wofford will be making its first title game appearance since 2015 season, when it defeated Furman, 67-64, in Asheville.

--Wofford will be vying to become just the third team with a 16-0 Southern Conference regular-season mark to go wire-to-wire in league play to capture the conference regular-season and tournament title undefeated. The 1998-99 College of Charleston Cougars and the 2007-08 Davidson Wildcats are the only other teams to do it. The Terriers have currently won 20-straight vs. SoCon foes since that one-point loss to UNCG in the 2018 SoCon semifinals.

--With seven more three-point field goals, Magee will surpass Oakland’s Travis Bader (504) for the NCAA Division I record for most made three-pointers in a career.

—Both Wofford’s 19-game winning streak and its 28 regular-season wins ties a school record, previously set back in the 2014-15 season.

—Never have two teams met in a SoCon title game with 28 or more wins. The winner will become just the fifth team in the 100-year history of the Southern Conference have finished with 29 or more wins, with the last to do it being Chattanooga in 2015-16.

—A 20th-straight win for Wofford would move the Terriers past the 1999-00 College of Charleston Cougars for the sixth-longest winning streak in SoCon history.