RECAP: Defense Drives Davidson to Win over Missouri

Photo courtesy of Lake Norman Citizen
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Davidson’s offense has started quick while at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.

It just happened that today, they dominated on the defensive end as well.

Davidson, by holding the Missouri Tigers to 55 points on 36.1 percent shooting, advanced to the consolation championship of the Tire Pros Invitational with a 15-point victory.

“[We are] delighted to have a victory against a Southeastern Conference opponent. This is a challenging tournament and we accepted the opportunity to come here” said Wildcats head coach Bob McKillop.

“We wanted to be pushed, we wanted to be challenged, we wanted to find out how good we are.”

A 10-0 Davidson run before the first media timeout supplied a 14-4 lead for the Atlantic 10 representative. Back-to-back deep triples by Jack Gibbs and a Jordan Watkins‘ three-pointer increased the advantage to 17 at the 12:21 mark.

Missouri finally found offense in the form of Reed Nikko. The freshman from Minnesota, scored four of his career-high ten as a part of a 14-2 spurt to pull within 5. Momentum had finally shifted.

But, not for long.

“We harped on defensive intensity last night and this morning,” said Wildcats’ senior Jack Gibbs, who scored a game-high 25 points. “If they’re making shots, it’s tough to get our offense going.”

With 4:34 remaining in the first, Davidson’s defense returned to fuel the offense. The “intensity” caused four turnovers and helped the Wildcats lead, 37-23, going into halftime.

In the second half, the Wildcats comfortably led by up to 18 points and never relinquished their double-figure advantage.

Missouri’s explosive guard duo of Terrence Phillips and Frankie Hughes never found their stroke as they did the day before against Xavier (43 points). The two future stars were held to a combined 3 points on 1-for-19 shooting from the floor.

“Jack (Gibbs) and Rusty (Reigel) and Jordan (Watkins) and Jon Axel (Gudmundsson) did a terrific job of what we call playing with a picket fence – we made the shooters catch it with a picket fence in front of them,” said McKillop of his team’s defense on Phillips and Hughes. “That was very fruitful in making their looks not as clean as they were yesterday.”

Jack Gibbs and Peyton Aldridge were the only players, on either side, to score 20 plus points. Aldridge complemented Gibbs with a 21-point, 7-rebound performance.

Following a blowout loss to Clemson in Thursday’s quarterfinal, Davidson is 1-1 during their time in Lake Buena Vista and 2-1 on the season. Missouri drops to 1-2.

“It gives the team confidence because there is a lot of young guys playing a lot of different roles and that’s a big step early in the year. We just had to bounce back from yesterday and the team did a good job with that,” said Aldridge.

Davidson will face the winner of tonight’s consolation semi-final between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Tulane Green Wave.

– P. Wesner