StLou's Previews: Davidson Wildcats

Davidson Wildcats

The Hoos come off of the exam break to host one of the most consistent mid-majors over the last decade, A-10 heavyweight Davidson. The Wildcats put a scare into UNC a couple of weeks ago, and under legendary coach Bob McKillop, have their sights set on an upset in Charlottesville too.

Game Details:

Date/Time: Saturday, December 16th, 2:00 EST
Location: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
TV: WatchESPN 

What 'They' Say

Vegas: No line yet
TAPE: Ranks Davidson #83, predicts a 71-53 UVA win, 95% confidence
KenPom: Ranks Davidson #78, predicts a 66-52 UVA win, 90% confidence


Depth Chart:


PG #3 Jon Axel Gudmundsson, 6-4 190, SO
33.3 mpg, 17.1 ppg, 5.4 apg, 44% 3P%
SG #31 Kellan Grady, 6-5 195, FR 
30.3 mpg, 15.4 ppg, 2.6 apg, 39% 3P% 
SF #20 KiShawn Pritchett, 6-6 225, SO 
20.1 mpg, 5.6 ppg, 3.4 apg, 35% 3P% 
PF #15 Oskar Michelsen, 6-9 220, SR 
15.3 mpg, 6 ppg, 2 rpg, 44% FG% 
C #23 Peyton Aldridge, 6-8 225, SR 
35.9 mpg, 21.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 45% FG% 

Key Reserves


#2 Jordan Watkins, 6-1 165, SR
10.6 mpg, 3 ppg, 1 apg, 33% 3P%
G #32 Rusty Reigel, 6-2 210, SR 
22.9 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 1.9 apg, 60% 3P% 
F/C  #0 Dusan Kovacevic, 6-10 245, SO 
10.7 mpg, 3.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 41% FG% 
F/C #22 Will Magarity, 6-11 250, SR 
13 mpg, 4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 53% FG% 


The ABC's of Davidson:

A) They take immaculate care of the ball. Ball movement is a staple of McKillop's teams. They only turn the ball over on 12% of their possessions, which is best in the country. Additionally, they're using that efficient ball movement to be 3rd in the nation in assisted field goals... over 70% of their field goals come off an assist. Patient, disciplined ball movement is a key to beating the pack line, so Davidson is equipped to provide a unique challenge.

B) Despite the two-big lineup, they sure do stretch the floor. All five members of their starting lineup are legit deep threats. JAG is 18-41 (44%) from three on the year, Grady is a fair 39% on 44 3PA, Pritchett is 35% on 20 attempts, but noteworthy are their starting bigs Aldridge who's 35% on 52 3PA this year and Michelsen who's 48% (12-25) this season. Backup guard Rusty Reigel is 60% on about 2 attempts a game. And they absolutely leverage this advantage, 54% of their shots are from behind the arc, 3rd nationally.

C) Their offense is their calling card, their defense is underwhelming. There isn't a single defensive phase where the Wildcats stand out. Their overall raw efficiency, 102.3, is 163rd nationally, squarely middle of the pack. They don't turn teams over (229th in TO%). They give up 36% shooting from deep (206th nationally) and 51.3% inside the arc (216th). They basically never block shots, instead staying home on box-out assignments so that they can at least clear the glass (62nd nationally at 74.7%, their lone positive defensive statistic.

Their season to date:

Davidson is 4-3 on the season. Their best win is over Kenpom #194 UNC-Wilmington. Their three losses are at Nevada, at Appalachian St, and most recently on a neutral floor against UNC, 85-75. 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Be prepared to pull Salt and replace him with Hunter in the post rotation. This is just a bad matchup for Jack. I expect he'll start, but as soon as Aldridge or Michelsen start getting and/or burying good looks from 3, making Salt look out of place defending away from the paint, Tony has to be ready to go with more mobile options, a rotation of Wilkins, Diakite, and Hunter, to challenge Davidson's pair of efficient stretch-bigs.

2) Stake a claim to the paint on offense. Davidson hasn't had a lot of success defending the paint against the better teams on their schedule this year. Nevada went 21-34 (62%) from 2 in their win, led by downhill-oriented former NC State forwards Caleb and Cody Martin, who combined for 38 points. Both Nevada and UNC were able to get Michelsen in early foul trouble (2 fouls in 11 minutes vs Nevada, 3 fouls in 11 minutes vs UNC), and remove his stretch-dimension from their offense. When Salt is in the game early, he can earn his keep by going hard to the rim working to draw fouls. Our traditional bigs should also use their length advantage to challenge on the offensive glass (UNC managed 19 against them). Solid work in the paint in the first half could open up the perimeter in the 2nd.

3) Disrupt passing lanes. Virginia has been unusually effective this year generating turnovers, 32nd nationally in steal rate and 58th in turnover rate. Davidson's offense is incredibly dependent on half-court ball movement to set up shots, as opposed to players being individual creators. We will be the most disruptive defense they've seen this year by a wide margin, and forcing them into double digit turnovers, which both Appy State and Nevada were able to do, will limit just how effective their offense can be. 

What I Want To See

Updated on December 15, 2017 by Seattle Hoo

As I focus on the seniors in this game, here are some things I will be looking for:

Isaiah Wilkins:

 post offense - bring back the other moves.  Last season we saw a nice up-and-under:

The jump-hook sets this move up nicely.

And a baseline spin move:

And this one, too

In addition to the jump hook he has relied upon exclusively this season. It worked great against the 6-3 guards in Rhode Island, but the Lehigh defender stoned him twice. He needs those other moves to be effective in the post.  With deft use of the three moves, Isaiah should be able to put together a credible post game. Now is the time to work it out for the ACC.

Pick and roll - Davidson made some really poor mistakes defending the pick-and-roll plays against uNCheat. Zay has been successful running this play, particularly with Kyle Guy. Run it and put their big men in position to make mistakes.

Face up - Zay has used the dribble a few times this year.  He said he worked on it in the off-season.  Come on, Zay, bust it out!  Bust a move!  You can take these guys off the dribble. Luke Maye abused them for 150 points, surely you can take them!

Offensive rebounds - Davidson is not a good rebounding team. The Cheaters rebounded half their misses - and they don't have Meeks-Hicks-Bradley this year. Zay should go to the boards hard and have a chance to keep a ton of balls alive.

Defense - Zay will most likely have the assignment on 6-8, 225-pound senior forward Peyton Aldridge.  Aldridge is difficult to defend because he likes to shoot the three and work in the post.  In the post, don't let him turn off his left shoulder.  On the perimeter, Aldridge is not a high-percentage 3-point shooter, but he is high volume.  Cheat up on him hands high and make him drive around you.

Devon Hall:

Go to the rim.  Go to the rim.  And go to the rim some more. Davidson has no rim protectors, and was poor at stopping ball in transition against the Cheaters. Get up a head of steam and go to the rim.  Cheatolina got to the rim virtually at will in both broken court and halfcourt situations.

On defense, Devon will probably guard the freshman Grady, who is the best triple-threat on their team. Or he might end up on KiShawn Pritchett, who at 6-6 is a tough matchup for Kyle Guy. Davidson will be tough for Guy because all their starting guards are bigger. Most likely, the Hoos will simply pass Davidson's guards off to each other, and communication will be crucial. It will be up to Devon to make sure they are all talking to each other. 

Nigel Johnson:

This game is a good opportunity to create a lot in transition and halfcourt dribble penetration. Davidson has no rim protectors and as noted before did not stop the ball in transition against Cheatolina. Nigel needs to be aggressive with the dribble, and he will be able to create a lot.

Defensively, Nigel needs to stay aware.  He cannot lose sight of his man or cutters. Davidson runs a lot of different actions and they run them well. Any loss of focus or misplacement in defense and they will make you pay.


Tony Bennett's teams don't lose after exam breaks. We've come off extended layoffs in recent years to beat the likes of West Virginia and Villanova. Davidson, while certainly a worthwhile opponent (our 6th Top-100 squad in the last 8 games), shouldn't score the upset. Their offense is designed to use ball movement to break down undisciplined defenses; that doesn't really describe Virginia in the least. Challenge their ball movement, don't let their stretch bigs get warmed up, and attack the paint and Virginia should open up a solid halftime lead and nurture it throughout the second half. I don't see the deep bench getting run before the last minute or two, so this may not yet be a Free Huff kind of game, but still a comfortable victory at the end of it.

Hoos Win - 70-55.