Cats Outlast Patriots
For an ugly game, the Davidson-George Mason game this Wednesday was pretty riveting. The atmosphere in Eagle Bank arena was impressive, and George Mason mounted a big come back only to miss a tying shot in the final seconds. Both teams played with the defensive hustle and passionate grit that have long encapsulated college basketball.
Of course, the defining feature of the game was miserable shooting. The two teams combined to go an astonishing 6 of 49 from three point range. Genuinely, a lot of credit goes to the defenses here. Justin Kier and Javon Greene are both great defenders, and Kier’s start to conference play has been a revelation. Davidson’s zone defense looked as good as it had all year tonight. The Cats allowed little penetration while still frustrating Patriot shooters and boxing out down low. Davidson’s guards racked up ten steals as well.
Though 4 for 29 is certainly an aberration, Davidson’s mediocre shooting this year has not turned around. The Wildcats have almost always been built around shooting: from Steph himself to the 2015 and 2018 squads that both hit 39% from deep. This year the team was hovering under 34% before the George Mason game. Kishawn Pritchett in particular seems unable to find his stroke, while Jon Axel Gudmundsson and Kellan Grady have both seen their percentages tick down. Luke Frampton is dangerous from anywhere but he has yet to find consistency and is still fine tuning his off ball movement.
Despite its loss, George Mason further established itself as a likely top-half of the league team in the A-10 despite a weak start to the season. If Otis Livingston gets going, this team could be a threat in Brooklyn. For Davidson, this was a big win on a poor shooting night and Grady and Gudmundsson continue to make enough plays down the stretch. But neither team will achieve what it wants to this season if it can’t find a way to drain some threes.
The Big Four Survive
Both VCU and Dayton fell behind by double digits to LaSalle and George Washington, respectively. Saint Louis took the Davidson path of opening up a lead midway through the second half, only to hold on because of a missed three by their opponent in the final few seconds. Losses for any of these teams or Davidson would have all but killed off each team’s minimal shot of making the tournament as an at-large. It is good news for the conference that each team has found a way to win its first two games of the conference season. The first meeting between these squads will occur when VCU takes on Davidson in North Carolina this Saturday. It’s an absolutely huge matchup for early January, and the only scheduled meeting between the two teams.
The Biggest A-10 Game of the Night may not have involved an A-10 Team
Former A-10 member Temple played a whopping five A-10 squads out of conference this season. The Owls narrowly beat LaSalle, UMass, St. Joseph’s, and a Kellan Grady-less Davidson team in overtime and fell to VCU. So the A-10 benefits if Temple turns out to be good. Last night, they beat previously undefeated Houston in their biggest win of the season (only SLU matched up against Houston). Temple playing well this season will helps the A-10 as a whole, and especially VCU. The conference needs all the help it can get this year if it is going to get two bids; Temple thriving is a definitely a nudge in the right direction.