#527 Appalachian State University Mountaineersvs.#528 Davidson University Wildcats
Written by Chris Kubala
NCAAB: Saturday, November 12, 2016, John M. Belk Center, Davidson, North Carolina, 8 pm ET
Line: N/A; Over/Under: N/A
A matchup of smaller but still talented schools from the Tar Heel State is on the docket for college hoops action. The Appalachian State Mountaineers are on the road as they travel to face off with the Davidson Wildcats Saturday night. Davidson has won five straight in the series and 14 of the last 18 meetings. That includes a 78-66 home win in the last meeting between the schools on January 11, 2014.
Appalachian State posted a fifth straight losing campaign in 2015-16 as they finished the year 9-22 overall. The Mountaineers scuffled in the Sun Belt as well, finishing 9th in the conference with a 7-13 mark. Appalachian State struggled on the offensive end last season. They put up an average of 70.5 points per game, which was 244th in the nation. The Mountaineers shot just 40.1 percent from the field (329th in the nation) as a team. Appalachian State averaged 8.3 three pointers per game and knocked down 35.6 percent from beyond the arc. Ronshad Shabazz is the Mountaineers’ leading returning scorer with Frank Eaves graduating. He averaged 11.9 points a game as a freshman last season.
The Mountaineers were just 298th in scoring defense as they allowed 77.4 points per game. Their opponents shot 46.2 percent from the floor, which was 318th in the country. Appalachian State gave up 5.9 three pointers per game as opposing teams knocked down 38.6 percent from beyond the arc. Appalachian State was 337th in the nation in three point defense. Griffin Kinney, big man Jake Wilson, Emarius Logan and Tyrell Johnson all are going to need to take on bigger roles offensively for the Mountaineers to have any success this season.
Davidson has won at least 20 games in each of the last five seasons and coach Bob McKillop hopes the team reloads for another run. The Wildcats finished 20-13 overall last season and went just 10-8 in the Atlantic 10. That conference mark dropped the defending champions to sixth in the conference. Davidson lost in the first round of the NIT, 84-74, to Florida State, ending their season. The Wildcats were 40th in the nation as they put up an average of 79.6 points per game. Davidson shot 44.2 percent from the floor (175th in the country) on the year. The Wildcats knocked down 9.6 three pointers per game (23rd) but they hit only 35.5 percent from beyond the arc. Jack Gibbs is the leading returning scorer for Davidson. He put up an average of 23.4 points per game, which led the Atlantic 10.
The Wildcats have issues defensively as they enter this contest 308th in the country allowing 78.1 points per game. Davidson saw their opponents shoot 45.9 percent shooting from the floor, which was 300th in the country. The Wildcats gave up 7.6 three point field goals per game on 34.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Peyton Aldridge is a solid secondary option after he put up 15.5 points plus 6.5 boards a night. Jake Belford, Nathan Ekwu, Oskar Michelsen and Jordan Watkins are all experienced players in the rotation coming back.
A lot in this contest hinges on the shoulder of Gibbs as he is considered a game time decision for this one. Davidson still has good pieces to fall back on with guys like Aldridge that can put the ball in the hole. Appalachian State lost their best scorer from last season to graduation and there is a lot of youth on the Mountaineers’ roster. That doesn’t necessarily bode well against a veteran, proven, experience team like the Wildcats, especially on the road. Look for Davidson to come up with the victory here, with or without Gibbs.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.