December 29, 2008 3:55 pm ET by Kyle Whelliston
Davidson at College of Charleston (Southern)
Carolina First Arena - Charleston, SC
9:00 PM EST
As the egg nog wears off all across Hoops Nation, it's time to start operating the heavy machinery that will move us from non-league to conference season. Thanks to the result of a few summer phone calls, there's an ESPNU broadcast tonight that will make this transition all the more easier. As an added bonus, you will get the benefit of hearing Mark Adams calling the game, and you don't know how lucky you are for that.
Davidson (8-2, 1-0 SoCon) has had nine long days to stew about its nationally televised implosion in Indianapolis, a 76-58 pounding by Purdue that was a whole lot more devastating than first glance might indicate. Stephen Curry went 5-for-26 with six turnovers, and head coach Bob McKillop admitted afterwards that he was asking too much of his triple-superhero. Now comes the response to adversity, the true test of greatness. What will the Wildcats do? Early indications indicate that Curry might be relieved of the bulk of his point-guard duties, but that may prove a devil's bargain. Davidson's hidden strength has been the same weapon of the most advanced mid-majors, that of ball control. With Curry manning the point, only three teams in America have yielded turnovers at a tinier rate than 15.1 percent. (Davidson is also 16th in flat turnovers per game at 11.4.) But it'll be hard to make the NCAA's again, much less the Elite 8, if the team's porous perimeter defense isn't shored up -- the Wildcats are allowing 37.4 percent from 3, and it's killing them.
Meanwhile, Bobby Cremins' bunch has been dealing with various defensive issues of its own (72 PA, 45.5 percent FGA), but the good is certainly outweighing the bad. First of all, the long-awaited new arena is beee-autiful. The Cougars are 10-1 (2-0 SoCon) to open the season, with five double-figure scorers, an 81 point average and a turnover rate just behind Davidson's (16.4 percent, 9th in D-I). Two of those scorers are seniors, including 6-7 60-percent shooter Jermaine Johnson, but there's excellence up and down the age line, including sophomore Andrew Goudelock (17.5 ppg), whose stellar freshman season last year was overshadowed by certain other SoCon achievements up north. Probably the worst thing you could say about CofC is that its schedule has been a tad soft... there are RLU's against South Carolina and TCU and a gift-wrapped giveaway to Temple (all at home), but the team's strength of schedule is still 309 of 343 teams. A win tonight, which would be Davidson's first SoCon drop since Jan. 20, 2007, would more than make up for that stigma.
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