Saturday, January 9, 2010

But for Sims

By Lauren Biggers
Davidson vs. Appalachian State

13-for-19 from the field. 5-for-7 from deep. 13-for-13 at the line. 44 points.

I think a year ago, we all know whose line that could be. But not this day. Not in Davidson’s 78-68 loss to Appalachian State.

“He played like a guy who has played in this gym for three years,” said a resolute Coach McKillop in his post-game interview. “He was spectacular.”

“I don’t think anyone has scored 40 on us,” said a resilient JP Koolman in his post-game interview. “But I’ve never seen him play before.”

Well, I have. And he’s been good, but he’s never been 44-points-good.

But the day belonged to Appalachian State’s Donald Sims, doing his best Stephen Curry impersonation. All. Day. Long.

The day (entertainingly, everyone kept saying “tonight” in the post-game) started out (more-than-)OK for the Wildcats, who led by as many as 12 nearly halfway through the first half.

But Davidson just had no answer for Sims. (I miss MAX. especially during in-bounds plays in front of the table).

After Isaac Butts scored the first basket for the Mountaineers, Sims recorded App’s next eight points to single-handedly keep his team in the game so he could single-handedly win it in the second.

Davidson’s scoring was more balanced, with five players with at least five points after the first 20. And that too seemed OK, even good at times, as the Wildcats built their 12-point lead at the 12-minute mark behind back-to-back treys from the youngest McKillop and the WL.

Appalachian State cut it to three behind a 13-3 run, but Davidson scored the next seven to push it back to double-digits. And with just five minutes left in the period, the basketball gods seemed in the Wildcats’ corner.

But for Sims, who scored eight of his 21 first-half points. With the rest of the supporting cast adding four, suddenly we’re all knotted up at 35?

“They made key baskets at key times,” Coach summarizes, succinctly, accurately and painfully. “We missed key baskets at key times.”

That statement pretty much summarizes the second half.

A KOOLman bucket at 15:57 knotted the score at 44, one of four ties in the final period, and Davidson would break through, finally, to lead by one on a layup from Steve Rossiter with 6:58 to go.

But for Sims. Who scored nine of the Mountaineers’ next 10 unanswered points to give App. State a nine-point lead. Who netted 23 second-half points, to seal the game and steal the arena record.

Still doing his best Stephen Curry, Sims was deferential and humble in the post-game.

It was the first time I’ve seen someone score 44 points. It was entertaining, but it was not enjoyable.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Momentum Shifting?

By Lauren Biggers
Davidson vs. Samford

My sister won Bobcats tickets for her company’s corporate suite for tonight’s game versus the Chicago Bulls and elected to invite someone else. And then elected to tell me over e-mail, “Figured you wouldn’t mind.”

As usual, she’s right (don’t tell her I said so). A basketball game is not exactly how I’d chose to spend my day in-between home basketball games (FYI: catch the streaking Wildcat women tomorrow in non-conference action against Longwood at 7 p.m.), leading up to Saturday’s double-header. Thanks, but no thanks. (No offense Bobcats... Sort of?)

I worked 21 games of basketball last week (a PR for sure), but last night’s 66-56 win over the Samford Bulldogs was easily more exciting than the lot.

With the hot-handed Bulldogs connecting on 7-of-10 three-point attempts in the first half, Samford had Davidson on its heels. Eight first-half points from the youngest McKillop had kept the game close, before a layup from J.P. KOOLman tied things up at 14 with just over 10 minutes in the period.

But Samford’s Andy King, Josh Davis and Brian Friday answered with eight quick points on three straight treys and suddenly it’s Samford with a 23-15 lead with 6:38 to go and... GRRR. Getting fouled after a steal, Friday’s second free throw gives Samford its largest lead of the game, and a bit of panic is setting in?

For me, but maybe not these Wildcats. KOOLman and Big Ben Allison combined for five points to cut the Bulldog’s lead to 24-20, but King’s second three of the half deflated the crowd and stalled the would-be momentum.

And so it went. Each time the ‘Cats would score, the ‘Dogs would answer, punctuated by Trey Montgomery's offensive rebound/putback/buzzerbeater to lift Samford to a 33-29 lead at the half.

And it seemed like the second half was just more of the same.

A layup from Jake Cohen at the 16-minute mark made it a one-possession game at 34-31, but Davis scored five straight points to push the margin back to eight. Two straight threes from BMcK, and Davidson’s down just two with 12:01 to go.

Momentum: shifting. But John Peterson answered again for Samford, silencing the crowd with a layup at 11:33 and making it a two-possession game... GRRRR.

But... wait... just... a ... second. Something's happening.

“I know exactly when it happened...” athletic trainer Ray Beltz offers.

When? Because I have a theory, and I want to see if we agree.

“I was in the hallway,” he offers, diplomatically as ever.

9:51. Missed Layup by Samford’s Kaylin Johnson. Block by Ben Allison. Jake Cohen, Johnson, Allison tangled under the basket. Jake Cohen, exit stage left.

Cut to nine straight points from the WILDcats, including a monster breakaway dunk from Allison and back-to-back daggers from Lil McK and JP KOOLman.

Momentum: shifted.

From there on out, it was all Davidson, as the ‘Cats built as much as a 13-point lead. And there’s Samford fouling late en route to the 10-point, 66-56 loss.

And so, no one really knows what the Southern Conference season will hold for these Wildcats (or in general, here's looking attacha, Tar Heels ... GRRR), but it’s time to find out.

Momentum: shifting?
My magic eight ball says too soon to tell, but here's hoping for a fun ride.

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