Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wofford looking straight at final non-conference tilt against Duke

The national spotlight, harsh as it is, will descend upon the Terriers tomorrow afternoon, whether they like it or not. All those instances which developed Wofford as a program seemed to be leading up to this moment -- a team from a small school, enrollment 1,600, in the suburban town of Spartanburg, S.C., going into the famed home stadium of a perennial powerhouse like Duke -- that will unfold before the nation's eyes.

If the contest goes the way everyone expects it to, we likely won't be talking about this one when March rolls around, as the league tournament rush becomes predominant for squads like Wofford. Yes, but if the Terriers are somehow able to pull out a massive upset of the Blue Devils, which currently sit at a second-place position in the national rankings, we'll hear more -- much more -- about it.

That's what makes a game like this tricky. As fans, it would be hard to justify true disappointment if the visitors come up short. Likewise, it would also be difficult to contain excitement if the Terriers prevail.

Duke, which boasts an 11-0 record, is coming directly off of an 86-69 victory over the Mid-American Conference's Toledo Rockets. The Rockets proved to be more than most expected, keeping it close throughout the first half and only suffering a four-point disadvantage at halftime. However, the Blue Devils -- spurred mainly by center Jahlil Okafor, a freshman who dropped twenty-seven points in the victory -- took control in the second half and neutralized the Toledo charge.

And just like that, the next team on Duke's schedule is none other than Wofford.

The Terriers have been enjoying quite the season themselves, standing at 9-3 -- a continuation of the best start since the school joined the NCAA Division I -- and already having wins against schools like N.C. State and Iona, that mean much to this outfit, to show for it.

An integral part of that team endured a scare during the first half of Wofford's evening matchup with West Virginia last week. Before the Mountaineers secured a tidy 77-44 triumph, Eric Garcia sustained a fractured jaw that needed surgery upon his arrival home. The operation, however, went well, and the sophomore, albeit with a tied-up jaw, expects to be back on the court soon.

Following the West Virginia loss, Wofford players were the beneficiaries of four restful days set aside for them to spend with family. They hit the court once again on the evening of Dec. 27, and are focused on this looming contest, which will serve as the final chance to work out any kinks before the squad is fully thrust into the SoCon fray. 

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