College of Charleston faces Davidson in SoCon showdown
College of Charleston guard Anthony Stitt and forward Willis Hall both did their best to diminish the importance of tonight’s showdown with Davidson.
Davidson at College of CharlestonWHEN: 7:30 p.m.WHERE: TD ArenaTV: WMMPRADIO: WTMZ 910-AMRECORDS: College of Charleston 18-7, 10-3 in SoCon; Davidson (17-7, 12-1).NOTES: The top two teams in the SoCon South Division. The division winner receives a bye in next month’s SoCon tournament in Asheville, N.C. … Davidson leads the all-time series with the Cougars, 51-14, in the all-time series with College of Charleston. The Cougars and Wildcats have both protected their home court in the annual rivalry series over the last three years. The Wildcats beat the Cougars, 77-68, on Jan. 19 at Belk Arena. … The Cougars are currently rated No. 142 in the latest NCAA RPI Report released on Feb. 11, while Davidson is a league-best No. 110. …. The Wildcats lead the nation with a team 81 percent free throw percentage. … Senior guard Nik Cochran, who has the best free-throw percentage among NCAA leaders shooting 94.6 percent.
During Wednesday’s weekly gathering with the media, Stitt and Hall spoke about tonight’s game with Davidson as being a big game, but only because it was the next Southern Conference game on the schedule. Not because a division title and possible regular season crown were on the line.
But when pressed, both players admitted there is something a little special about the matchup (7:30 p.m.) at TD Arena. There were less than 400 tickets remaining Wednesday night.
“Whenever we play Davidson and Wofford, teams that have been historically good in our conference, it always seems like there is a really good atmosphere and energy surrounding these types of rivalry games,” Hall said. “The games are usually very important and mean a lot, especially in the standings and getting closer to late February and tournament time where games mean more.”
The numbers are hard to ignore.
The Cougars (18-7 overall, 10-3 SoCon) have won six straight games. They are playing their most consistent basketball of the season as they try to avenge a 77-68 loss to the Wildcats last month.
The Wildcats (17-7, 12-1 in SoCon) are the hottest team in the league, riding an eight-game winning streak. With five SoCon regular season games remaining, the Cougars must win tonight to have any hopes of a division title or a regular season championship. A SoCon regular season title guarantees a bid to the National Invitation Tournament.
The Cougars and Wildcats are the top two SoCon teams in scoring defense and scoring margin. The Wildcats are the slightly better offensive team, while the Cougars hold a rebounding edge.
“They’ve got two senior guards that run their teams and a couple of good post players,” Stitt said. “They’re balanced, all five guys can score and they don’t turn the ball over.”
Sound familiar? It does to Davidson coach Bob McKillop.
“(Charleston) has an outstanding frontcourt, they have an outstanding backcourt,” McKillop said. “You can point to any number of players and make an argument for them being an all-conference player.”
The teams exchanged basket-for-basket in their first matchup. A four-minute stretch in the first half when Davidson went on a 12-4 run proved to be the difference in the game.
“We have to come out and play our best game,” said Cougars forward Trent Wiedeman. “We have to play hard for the full 40 minutes and not have stretches where we let up like we did in our last game at Davidson.”
Charleston coach Doug Wojcik said 3-point shooting will be a key factor in the game. The Cougars have the SoCon’s top 3-point shooting defense (29.5 percent), while the Wildcats lead the SoCon with 103 made 3-pointers in league play.