Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports

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Clutch Genes Prevail Again

The good feeling surrounding Davidson basketball is swelling to immeasurable heights right now. Everybody is talking about how Bob McKillop is doing his best coaching job yet. National media have been catapulting on recent wins to write about how underrated a program this Davidson has and how remarkable the transition has been to the A-10. They’re writing about how this is a team that defies expectations – every single article mentions that this was a team picked 12th in the conference preseason.

But it’s time to forget expectations and legacy and start appreciating them as a basketball team right now. Today’s win against La Salle in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament was not pretty. But the beauty of this win – marked by senior captain Tyler Kalinoski’s buzzer-beater – was in how ugly it was. It was a win that highlighted this team’s strengths, but pointed out its flaws too. In the end, it was Davidson’s ruthlessness in the final minutes that made the difference.

The cynics will say this game showed Davidson’s over-reliance on the three-ball, especially in the second half. but I don’t think that is an issue. It felt like the Wildcats shot the ball poorly, yet they made 14 threes on 40% shooting from deep. They weren’t forced threes – they were all good looks in rhythm with the offense. But don’t forget Barham’s early buckets that kept the game close, or that when given the option to shoot a three on the final possession, Kalinoski drove the ball to the hoop. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking this team is one-dimensional offensively. Anyone who says that clearly hasn’t watched a McKillop offense very closely.

Nonetheless, one of the best aspects of Jack Gibbs, Brian Sullivan and Kalinoski shooting so many threes is that Davidson is never out of the game, not even down 18 in a high-pressure environment like this or down double digits with only six minutes left. The tri-captains are always one or two made shots from catching fire and turning momentum around. For me, aside from the last couple minutes, the biggest sequence in today’s game came right at the end of the first half, when Sullivan made back-to-back triples to cut the lead to single-digits at halftime. Davidson had been getting killed, but those shots gave the ‘Cats life and hope.

What I admire most about this team is the way they elevate their play in the final minutes. That sounds cliche, but think back to all the times Davidson has made plays down the stretch. There were made free-throws against UMass in the first road win. Down 6 with 14 seconds left at George Mason, Oskar Michelsen and Sullivan made threes to send it into OT, where Davidson won without Gibbs and a fouled-out Kalinoski. Down 10 in the first half at GW, and needing one final stop to seal the deal, Davidson got it. There was Gibbs’s contested three at URI to get a one-point lead with 13 seconds left and great ensuing defense. And even in the loss to St. Bonaventure, a perfectly executed play led to a Peyton Aldridge three that gave Davidson a one-point lead with 3 seconds left.

That leads us to today, when Coach Bob McKillop trusted his team enough in the final seconds not to call a timeout. He knew his players would make the right choices and trust the system they are so committed to. It doesn’t matter who gets the shot, because there are no heroes. This time it was Kalinoski, but tomorrow it could just as easily be Sullivan or Gibbs getting the call. How many teams have so many options at the end of a game? And how many teams come through as often as Davidson has this year? I can tell you the answer is nobody. That will prove to be useful in the coming games.

Not to be lost either is Davidson’s defense in the final minutes. Everyone stepped up and guarded. I am continually impressed by how much this team has improved on the defensive end. Sure, the first 36 minutes were ugly, but in the final four, they were locked in.

The night before the team left for Brooklyn, I sat down for an interview with Barham (be on the lookout for related content in Wednesday’s Davidsonian). He talked about how everyone is in complete control in the final minutes. It doesn’t matter how the rest of the game has gone, if you get a shot in the final minute on this team, you’re going to have the confidence to take it.

But it wasn’t all good in Brooklyn today. Davidson got crushed on the boards. Steve Zack had 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Explorers at the center position. In the first half, the Wildcats had no answer for him defensively. It may seem obvious to say Davidson will struggle if they have to face a premier center. But it’s a fact. Barham may be able to guard almost everyone on the court, but he won’t be able to handle a Frank Kaminsky or a Bobby Portis if it comes to that.

Andrew McAuliffe provided some good minutes defensively as a backup big, but he offers next to nothing offensively (in 18 minutes, he didn’t attempt a shot) and extended minutes from him hurt what Davidson does offensively. With him on the floor in the second half, La Salle backed off him and caused issues spacing-wise for Davidson’s normally seamless offense. That was partly the cause for the excess number of threes taken.

Today officially felt like March. The madness has arrived. But one thing we can all be sure about is that amidst the madness, Davidson will be as cool as the other side of the pillow. Nothing can faze this team. I am glad VCU beat Richmond because I think Richmond would have posed a much tougher matchup. Shake Smart had no answers 8 days ago when these sides met in Davidson, but expect a closer game this time with Treveon Graham more involved. With another shootaround to get used to the Barclays Center rims, I think Davidson will get another win. But it should be a good one. And hey, at least I won’t have to watch this one while in class.



Davidson States Intent, Destroys VCU

(Written for The Davidsonian in my capacity as sports editor.)

In what was perhaps the biggest home game in the history of Belk Arena, Davidson (22-6, 13-4 in A-10) put on a show in front of a capacity crowd and nationally televised audience, throttling conference-power VCU (21-9, 11-6 in A-10) 82-55. It was the Wildcats’ strongest statement of intent yet that this is a team that deserves a bid to the NCAA Tournament. As the clock wore down, fans got a chance to salute this team one final team for an incredible season.

Picked 12th out of 14th in the Atlantic 10 by the coaches preseason, and thought by many to be too small and not tough enough to even win a game in the new conference, the Wildcats are now one win away from winning a conference championship. A win on the road at Duquesne on Saturday night would seal it. Bob McKillop and his bunch of “Southern Conference quality players” have sure quieted all the doubters. A media room that was three people strong at the start of the year is now filled with national reporters who can’t help but take notice.

“I don’t remember where we picked them in the opening poll, but it wasn’t twelfth” VCU coach Shaka Smart said postgame, “Coach [McKillop] has done a great job. He has these guys playing with a very good fluidity. The way they pass the ball and share the ball and get each other shots is really impressive.”

Never trailing, Davidson used two large runs in the first half to build a 20-point lead before Shaka Smart’s disbelieving eyes. The Wildcats were knocking down shots and feeding off of the energy from the sold-out crowd as they forced turnovers and got out in transition from the get-go. Davidson kept the lead around 22 for much of the second half as they kept VCU from gaining even the slightest bit of momentum. The Wildcats held VCU to a lone three pointer, and forced 16 turnovers.

On his senior night, Tyler Kalinoski ’15 showed why many believe he should win the Atlantic 10 player of the year award with a stellar performance. Ever composed, Kalinoski was a steady outlet against VCU’s press and was everywhere on the defensive end, grabbing loose balls and even stepping in for a charge. And offensively, he was as good as ever, knocking down tough shots and finding cutters in the lane. On his final night in Belk Arena, Kalinoski finished with 22 points, 4 assists and 2 steals. After bloodying up his jersey, the senior completed the game with number 20 on his back. But it’s safe to say Wildcat fans will never forget number four and all he did for leading the program through this tough, transitional phase.

Davidson held Treveon Graham, the presumed favorite for Atlantic 10 player of the year, to a single rebound and a single turnover on the stat sheet in the first half. Graham’s first points didn’t come until two minutes after halftime. The VCU senior finished with 4 points on 2-7 shooting. After showing his versatility by guarding big men for much of the conference season, Jordan Barham ’16 was locked in defending Graham on the perimeter, shutting him down.

Barham did a little bit of everything tonight. When he wasn’t nose-to-nose with Graham on the defensive end, he was finishing plays at the rim and soaring for rebounds. Tonight, he grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds to go along with 13 points on 6-9 shooting. Barham’s improvement this year has been huge for this team, as he has given the team a vital second option on both ends of the floor.

Jack Gibbs ’17, the reigning A-10 player of the week, also baffled the VCU defense. He was at the center of just about every big play, whether it was knocking down shots or creating just enough space to thread the ball through to a cutter. Gibbs filled out the stat sheet with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 8 asssists.

Gibbs’s backcourt mate Brian Sullivan ’16 continued his hot streak of play with another stellar showing from behind the arc, scoring all 11 of his points in the first half. He has now hit three or more triples in six of the last eight contests. But beyond his marksmanship, the junior deserves credit for his ball-handling and his defensive work tonight. No matter the stage, Sullivan wants the ball. But he has become so much more than just a shooter this year.

“[My players] shock me everyday,” Coach McKillop said after the game, “They shock me the way they come to practice and want to get better. They’re not content. There’s no fat about winning. There’s a quiet confidence with a balance of humility, which is quite a combination.”

Against VCU’s famed “havoc” style of game, the Wildcats looked quite composed for much of the night. It was Davidson winning every loose ball and running the fast-breaks. The Rams were unable to put Davidson’s guards under continued pressure despite running a full-court press the entire game. VCU piled up fouls inside out steals. Davidson’s turnovers mostly came in the half-court, which while undesirable, didn’t let VCU get out in transition.

In the first half, Davidson came out on fire, feeding off the unbelievable energy inside the building to build a 14-2 lead just after the first media timeout, forcing four early turnovers and hitting their first five shots. After the Rams settled down for a few minutes, Barham and Sullivan knocked down two consecutive triples to bring the house down as Smart called a timeout with Davidson leading 29-13. Another Sullivan three with 5:40 left extended the lead to 21, capping a 13-2 two run. At the half, Davidson led 40-21.

Davidson outrebounded VCU 41-32 on the night, getting big minutes from Andrew McAuliffe ’17. Also notable was the return of “speedo guy.” Luke Burton, an Atlantic 10 champion swimmer in the 200 backstroke brought free throw antics to a new level in the first half, stripping to a speedo behind the basket. VCU was just 2-7 from the line in that half, and 12-24 overall. Burton’s antics were all the rage in the media room postgame.

This was VCU’s third loss in a row and sixth in the last ten games since star guard Briante Weber injured his knee at the end of January. They’ll be dancing in a couple weeks, but the Rams’ lackluster play and Shaka Smart’s disillusioned look during the post-game press conference showed that this is a team that is nearly crisis mode.

For Davidson, Ali Mackay ’15, a senior from Scotland, got the start in his last ever home game as McKillop continued the tradition of starting seniors on senior night. He also exited to a large hand in the final minute.

When asked, “Could you have scripted this final game any better?” Kalinoski could only laugh, adding with great humility, “I don’t think so.”

Davidson will close the regular season on Saturday with a trip to Duquesne with a conference title on the line. Tipoff is at 7pm. Don’t miss it.

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Primer & Predictions for the Atlantic 10 Stretch Run

(Written for The Davidsonian in my capacity as sports editor.)

A year ago, the Atlantic 10 saw six of its teams included in the NCAA Tournament field, but this year, the conference is looking at between one and four bids. The bubble is chalk full of A-10 teams. The issue is part a drop-off in talent from last year and part a jump in parity. Top to bottom, the A-10 has become one of the best leagues in the country, but the selection committee usually doesn’t favor parity. Teams need to separate themselves in the end.

With George Washington losing five of their last six games, the Atlantic 10 has become a five-team race. The top five teams are all within a game of each other, and each team has five games to close out the regular season. VCU, Dayton and URI all sit at 10-3 in conference play, while Davidson and UMass lie a game behind.

So where does each of these teams stand as they head into the stretch run? Let’s take a look:

VCU (20-6, 10-3 in A-10)

Remaining Games: UMass, @Richmond, Dayton, @Davidson, George Mason (Predictions: win, loss, win, loss, win)
State of the Team: After losing defensive star and emotional leader Briante Weber to a season-ending knee injury, things looked bad for the Rams as they dropped three of four. But they appear to have righted the ship. Despite likely Conference POY Treveon Graham struggling to find his game after a series of ankle issues, VCU has found ways to get important wins over the last week with a more balanced approach. JeQuan Lewis has stepped up on the offensive end in an increased role, and while he is certainly not Weber on the defensive end, he still ranks 20th in the country in steal percentage. One has to figure Graham will break out soon too and explode for a couple 30-point games. Their remaining schedule is brutal though. Only George Mason at home in the regular season finale looks to be an easy win.
What they need to do to get into the NCAA Tournament: The Rams are pretty safely in the field of 68 at this point, as their win over Northern Iowa is looking even better now. But seeding wise, they’ll need to prove that the post-injury drop-off isn’t as drastic as it seemed two weeks ago. With a strong finish to the regular season and a couple wins in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, my guess is they’ll be looking at a 6 or 7 seed. But should they lose three of these last five games and go winless in Brooklyn, the Rams could find themselves uncomfortably back on the bubble. However, with two straight losses in the final over the last two years, Graham will be out to win this Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Predicted Finish in Atlantic 10: 13-5, tied 2nd overall.

Dayton (20-5, 10-3 in A-10)

Remaining Games: @Duquesene, George Mason, @VCU, URI, @LaSalle (Predictions: win, win, loss, loss, win)
State of the Team: Dyshawn Pierre has stepped up his game this year to move alongside streaky Jordan Sibert as Dayton’s top threats, and the two of them have Archie Miller’s squad peaking of late. However, they have proven very little about their ability to beat the top end of the conference. Against these other four top teams, Dayton is 0-2. Yes, you read that correctly; Dayton has had a very kind schedule thus far. So the road trip to VCU will be a daunting task for a team whose only road win since January 10 came at Saint Louis. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lose three in a row to end the season. The trip to Duquesne this weekend could also prove a tougher test than many might think.
What they need to do to get into the NCAA Tournament: The sheer win-total for Dayton will look rather impressive at the end of the year, so as long as they win at least three of these games and win a game or two in Brooklyn, they should be in the field barring lots of upsets in other conference tournaments. Their win against Ole Miss is a good boost to the resume, and their credentials are also bolstered by their run a year ago, as silly as that may be. My guess is they’ll get in as a 10 seed, but I don’t think they’ll win a game.
Predicted Finish in Atlantic 10: 13-5, tied 2nd overall.

Rhode Island (18-6, 10-3 in A-10) 

Remaining Games: @George Mason, Davidson, @LaSalle, @Dayton, St. Joe’s (Predictions: win, win, loss, win, win)
State of the Team: URI has flown under the radar this year, but after a big win against UMass Wednesday night, they’re riding a surge of momentum. Hassan Martin has become arguably the best interior defender in the conference, and his offensive game only continues to get better. E.C. Matthews and Jared Terrell have provided some excellent guard play, and the two seem to have a knack for picking up their play when the other is struggling. Like Dayton, URI hasn’t really been tested (they’re only 1-2 against these other four top teams), but a tricky win at Richmond earlier this month spoke volumes about this team’s potential. The home game against Davidson will be a massive test of the Rams. A win in that game, and I think they can win the regular-season title outright.
What they need to do to get into the NCAA Tournament: This is a young squad that lacks the experience and the non-conference wins, but they would be hard to leave out were they to win the regular season title. I think they need five or six more wins, including in the conference tournament, to get in. But a key is a signature win that they currently lack. That could come at Dayton or in a conference semifinal. While I think they get in, I currently have them as my favorite for the conference tournament, which would give them an automatic bid of course.
Predicted Finish in Atlantic 10: 14-4, 1st overall.

Davidson (18-6, 9-4 in A-10)

Remaining Games: Fordham, @Rhode Island, GW, VCU, @Duquesne (Predictions: win, loss, win, win, win)
State of the Team: Few outside of Davidson, NC expected the Wildcats to be in this position, but here we are in late February and Davidson has a legitimate chance to win an Atlantic 10 title in their maiden season in the conference. As many teams have found out, Davidson is more than just a three-point shooting team. On Wednesday night, they found a way to beat GW on the road despite shooting under 25% from deep. With star point guard Jack Gibbs returning from injury, this team could be peaking at just the right team. The trip to Rhode Island and the home game against VCU are the two big ones. I don’t like the matchup with URI’s defense on the road, but if Brian Sullivan, Tyler Kalinoski and Gibbs are all on their games, Davidson can run the table in conference play.
What they need to do to get into the NCAA Tournament: Having joined the A-10 in part in hopes of earning an at-large bid, it would be a bitter pill to swallow if the Wildcats just barely missed the tournament after a season as impressive as this one. However, should Davidson win four of these last five and make a semifinal appearance in Brooklyn, the selection committee might just send an invitation to Coach McKillop’s squad. Davidson’s offensive numbers (7th most efficient offense in the country and the only team to score over 70 against likely #1 seed UVA) could help counteract the unimpressive non-conference schedule.
Predicted Finish in Atlantic 10: 13-5, tied 2nd overall.

UMass (16-10, 9-4 in A-10)

Remaining Games: @VCU, St. Joe’s, Fordham, Richmond, @GW (loss, win, win, loss, win)
State of the Team: After non-conference play filled with tough losses and a loss to St. Bonaventure in the A-10 opener, things looked bleak for the Minutemen. But since that loss, UMass has been as hot as anyone in the conference. Trey Davis becoming a more consistent scorer was exactly what this highly balanced team needed. Cady Lalanne’s interior play has also done wonders for the Minutemen, especially on the defensive end. If UMass can find a way to steal the game at VCU tomorrow, watch out. This is a team that knows how to win and has a kind final stretch of games.
What they need to do to get into the NCAA Tournament: They need to win the conference tournament. Or maybe they can run the table in conference play and lose in the final. Going 7-6 in non-conference play made their path much more difficult. However, a win at VCU would certainly grab the attention of the selection committee. Don’t sleep on UMass, but similarly, don’t hold your breath for a tournament bid.
Predicted Finish in Atlantic 10: 12-6, 5th overall.

This is set up to be a wild couple of weeks in the Atlantic 10. Check back here for further coverage and follow me on Twitter (@Klaus_Faust) for updates.

Who do you think will win the conference? Please comment below and discuss.

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Barham’s Huge Second Half Sees Davidson Squeak by GW on the Road

(Written for The Davidsonian in my capacity as sports editor.)

Boosted by the return of leading scorer Jack Gibbs ’17, Davidson (18-6, 9-4 in A-10) ground out a 65-63 against George Washington (17-9, 7-6 in A-10) for a huge resume-boosting win. The Wildcats trailed by 8 at the break, but a huge second half from Jordan Barham ’16 helped Davidson come back despite 8-33 shooting from deep.

On the road in Foggy Bottom, Davidson faced one of its toughest tests of the season against a talented George Washington squad that badly needed a win. After starting 6-1 in the A-10, the Colonials had lost four of five to push them to the edge of the bubble and were pumped up in front of their home crowd.

George Washington used a 13-0 run to take a 24-16 lead late in the first half as Davidson went over seven minutes without a point, and went up by 10 soon after. John Kopriva stepped outside to knock down a couple of triples while his frontcourt mate Kevin Larsen banged inside to great effect. The Wildcats found it difficult to create any sort of offense in the halfcourt, and were guilty of trying to force the ball inside because outside shots weren’t falling. Davidson missed 13 of their last 14 threes in the half. But despite the offensive struggles which produced their lowest scoring half of the season, Davidson only trailed 31-23.

Davidson took the lead almost immediately after the break by opening the second half on a 10-0 run, with eight points coming from Jordan Barham ’16, who sat almost the entire first half with two fouls. His insertion into the game relieved the pressure on Davidson’s shooters as he opened up the drive. Barham was tremendous in the second half as he pounded smaller defenders on the block. He finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds, with every point and all but one of the rebounds coming in the second half.

The game stayed close throughout the second frame. Up two with 22 seconds left, Davidson committed a backcourt violation, a play on which Brian Sullivan ’16 appeared to hurt his knee. The ensuing possession saw the Colonials miss a deep, contested three at the buzzer, with good defense provided by Gibbs on the perimeter.

Tyler Kalinoski ’15 and Sullivan combined to go only 3-19 from three. Kalinoski went 1-9 from the field in the first half, but in usual fashion, he made a couple of big shots in the second half, while finding many other ways to contribute. He finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals. And Sullivan too overcame his struggles to make a three that gave the ‘Cats a 63-57 lead with 2:20 to go.

Just before the first media timeout, Gibbs entered the game for his first action since January 17. Playing off the ball, the sophomore captain knocked down a three shortly after walking on the court and followed up with another from the corner not a minute later. Some wondered whether he’d need time to reacclimate, but Gibbs wanted to make sure there would be no such issue. His minutes were certainly limited, but he was on the court in the final minutes and finished with 11 points.

The game featured a stark contrast in playing styles. Where Davidson got the ball up the court quickly and looked for quick threes, the Colonials wanted to slow the pace and get the ball inside late in the shot clock. But the pace settled more in George Washington’s favor.

After shortening the rotation to only eight players in recent weeks, Coach Bob McKillop used 10 players tonight in the first half. In addition to Gibbs coming back into the rotation, Ali Mackay ’15 saw early minutes as Davidson tried to counteract George Washington’s advantage inside. But with Gibbs returning in an off-the-ball role, Jordan Watkins ’18 didn’t lose much of the playing time he’s earned in Gibbs’s absence, although Watkins appeared to hurt his shoulder on a foul in the second half.

Davidson will look to extend their winning streak against pesky Fordham on Saturday night in the last home game before the students go on March break.

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Davidson Cruises by George Mason, Moves to Within One Game of First Place in A-10

(Written for The Davidsonian in my capacity as sports editor.)

Davidson (16-6, 7-4 in A-10) wrapped up its three-game homestand with a 92-71 win  over George Mason at Belk Arena. Brian Sullivan ’16 led all scorers with 19 points, all of which came in the first half, in a foul-filled encounter in which the Wildcats never trailed.

Davidson came out firing in a big way. On their first five possessions, Davidson hit four threes and a long two, for a 14-4 lead. Sullivan, who had eight points in those opening three minutes, also became the 47th player in program history and the 3rd transfer to reach 1,000 career points with a three late in the first half.

Sullivan and Coach McKillop insisted as the junior captain struggled with his shot for much of non-conference play that the shots would start falling. He was picking his game up in other areas, but the shots just weren’t going. That has since turned around, as Sullivan has found his touch. Coupled with his improved defense and ball-handling – he also had 7 assists tonight – he’s been the Wildcats’ most dynamic player in recent games.

Tyler Kalinoski ’15 scored only four points in the first half, but in his usual fashion, he picked up the scoring load in the second half, finishing with 16 points and 5 rebounds. Kalinoski’s second half surge helped the Wildcats take control as they led 75-47 midway through the half.

George Mason made it a more physical game than Davidson usually plays, with a lot of men attacking the boards and a full-court press most of the game. Wanting to use their size advantage in nearly every matchup, Paul Hewitt’s Patriots attempted to slow the pace and make it a half-court game. The end result was a foul-filled game that never picked up much of a rhythm. And despite the constant pressure, the Wildcats finished with only 2 turnovers in the first half. McKillop won’t be happy with the sloppiness of the second half, but the 5 second half turnovers all came with the Wildcats up big.

Davidson got going whenever the pace quickened and the guards could get out in transition, often utilizing Jordan Barham ’16 as a trailer on the break to great effect. Barham was excellent overall, finishing with 18 points and 6 assists on 5-7 shooting (he also went 5-5 from the stripe). While Davidson knocked down shots, George Mason had trouble getting shots to fall, shooting only 1-7 from deep and a dreadful 10-21 from the free throw line. This has been an issue that’s plagued them all year.

George Mason’s star forward Shevon Thompson is quite simply the best rebounder in the Atlantic 10. He also has developed a post-game this year that made him a much more complete player than many thought when he arrived from junior college this fall. Last time out against Davidson, Thompson had 15 points and 15 rebounds. Tonight, he had 14 points and 12 rebounds, but Davidson was able to force his catches away from the hoop, and made him work for every shot, and he picked up a fourth foul with 15:15 left, forcing him to watch much of the second half from the bench.

With Peyton Aldridge ’18 in foul trouble, Ali Mackay ’15 came in late in the first half and provided a burst of energy. The senior from Scottland has rarely seen the court in meaningful minutes this year, but tonight he made his impact felt, exemplified by a play at the end of the first half. George Mason missed a jump shot with 7 seconds left, which Nathan Ekwu ’18 corralled. Mackay proceeded to beat everyone down the court – collecting a pass from Sullivan at a full sprint, which he calmly turned into a layup as the buzzer sounded. The shot put Davidson up 50-30, and ensured that all the momentum was with the Wildcats as they sprinted into the locker room.

On the whole, this was an impressive performance from a Davidson team that has struggled at times with physical teams like George Mason. With three of the five teams ahead of Davidson in the Atlantic 10 standings losing tonight, Davidson moved to within one game of first place in the conference (there is a four way tie for first now). McKillop will consider this a successful night.

Davidson will look to build off of this two-game win streak when they travel to Philadelphia for a Valentine’s Day contest at La Salle at 2 pm. As high-scoring point guard Jack Gibbs ’17 nears his return, the Wildcats need to keep the momentum going in hopes of earning the at-large NCAA Tournament bid they so crave.