Davidson at Chattanooga (Southern)
UTC Arena - Chattanooga, TN
7:00 PM EST
When the Wildcats barely escaped
the Mocs at home in the SoCon season opener on Dec. 13, bailed out of a 100-95 shootout by Stephen Curry's 41 points, this date immediately grew a red circle. For one, it was the first game of highly touted Chattanooga freshman Chris Early's
collegiate career (he was a top 150 recruit before being dismissed
from Oklahoma), and his 9-point night on 3-for-4 long-distance shooting was indicative of a bright future. Add some injury returnees, and Moc boss John Shulman had his player's mindset just where he wanted it: improve the defense, and this team had a chance to knock off the kings of the league in six weeks' time.
And that's something they've done. Chatty is leading the SoCon in field goal D at 38.7 percent, and after being outboarded by 10 at Belk, they've dominated the boards in truly striking fashion: the team's 37.2 per game is the country's 14th best average. But the real reason why the Mocs have struggled to a 5-4 conference record can be traced back to everything else breaking. While the offense has occasionally scaled the near-triple digit heights of that first Davidson game (most notably this impressive win
over onetime MAAC aspirant Niagara), it's been prone to horrid shooting nights. And oh, the turnovers... in nine SoCon games, the Mocs are averaging 14.9, second from the league's bottom. As for that Early guy, early results may have been misleading. He hasn't converted a field goal
since Jan. 12, a four-game stretch in which he's gone 0-for-12.
Davidson (16-3, 9-0) has other problems -- namely, how to distribute the visitor's ticket allocation to tonight's game. As roles are defined and a supporting cast congeals behind Stephen Curry
, the Wildcats are putting on some awe-inspiring offensive displays of late. Senior big man Andrew Lovedale
has been inconsistently inconsistent: on sometimes, not so much other times, and iffy on so-called high-percentage shots. But his defense is not to be missed, and the margin for offensive error is being wiped out by the pride of French Canada, William Archambault
, who has been a real parlez-vous ass-kicque
for opponents of late. The 6-6 junior is putting in 50 percent-or-better shooting nights on a regular basis now, and can reliably be counted on to hit key 3's whenever the team needs them. Now all he needs is his own YouTube video.Basketball State Preview/Box