One of college basketball's most efficient offenses met one of its leakiest defenses Saturday night in Davidson's Belk Arena.
The result was a 31-point halftime deficit for The Citadel, and an eventual 80-51 loss to the surging Wildcats in Davidson, N.C.
In losing their third straight game, the Bulldogs fell behind by margins of 11-0 and 30-2 at the game's start, missing 15 of their first 16 shots from the field.
"We've played some good teams this year," said coach Chuck Driesell, whose team is 4-14 overall and 1-6 in the Southern Conference. "But our guys were like deer in the headlights tonight."
Only junior center Mike Groselle put up competitive numbers against the Wildcats, hitting 7 of 10 shots for 22 points with five rebounds. The rest of the team made 11 of 41 shots (26.8 percent), and the Bulldogs were outrebounded by 43-20.
In fact, The Citadel missed 33 shots and grabbed only two of the resulting offensive rebounds.
"They are better than us," Driesell said of the Wildcats (14-4, 8-0), who have won seven straight. "They are a really good team with size, quickness and strength. They made shots and disrupted us. Our guys found out how good they are tonight. I don't know if they really knew. You can watch film all you want, but when you step on the court, it's an eye-opener."
Jake Cohen, a 6-10 junior, scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting for the Wildcats, who shot 53.4 percent. De'Mon Brooks added 15 points and J.P. Kuhlman 11 for Davidson, which scored its biggest win over The Citadel since an 85-49 victory in 2006.
The Citadel missed 12 of its first 13 shots with three turnovers. By the time the Bulldogs made their second basket of the game, a 3-pointer by Ashton Moore with just five minutes left in the half, they had missed 15 of their first 16 shots.
Down by 31 at the break, the Bulldogs could only get as close as 26 in the second half.
"I think we came out in the second half and played with more confidence," Driesell said. "On the scoreboard, we beat them by two in the second half. We had to forget about the first half and show ourselves we could play with these guys."
The Citadel plays Monday at Georgia Southern, a 64-58 winner over the College of Charleston on Saturday.
"We've got to forget about how this game feels and prepare for the next game," Driesell said. "That's critical."