I’m not sure what I took last night but I woke up this morning with the strangest memory of Saint Louis somehow beating Davidson, scoring 96 points en route to their second strange home upset this season.
Wait, what? That actually happened?
Cats fans of course are wishing this morning that was indeed a bad trip and not the actual bad trip to the Gateway City that it turned out to be.
A game after handing George Mason their first Atlantic 10 win of the season, in a road game no less, Saint Louis blitzed last season’s regular season champ, dropping their highest point total ever as an Atlantic 10 team, their highest point total ever in Chaiftez Arena and the most points they have scored in a game since the 90-91 season when they were members of the Midwest Collegiate Conference.
Savor that last paragraph for a few seconds…
It was the third time Davidson has surrendered 96 or more points over the past two months and the second time within conference play.
Defensive struggles aren’t exactly new to the Cats as an Atlantic 10 team, but due to the losses of one particular key player — A-10 Player of the Year, Tyler Kalinoski — as well as injuries to others throughout this season, Davidson has gone from bad to worse defensively, dropping from 197th in adjusted defensive efficiency last year to 278th this season.
The Cats went from the 11th best team at defending the three last year to now 280th, allowing teams to go off for a 36.7% clip from distance.
Last year that might have been easier to overcome thanks to a Wildcat offense that connected on 38.7% of their long-balls, but this season that number is down to a mediocre 34.3% due to a slight dip in long-range production from Jack Gibbs (down to a very respectable 37.1% from a red-hot 42.4%) as well as the graduation of 41.5% three-point shooter, Tyler Kalinoski.
Even with the dip Davidson’s offense has still been one of the best in the country (81.7 points per game). Their margin for error however doesn’t quite fit like it used to thanks to the nation’s 330th worst scoring defense (out of 351 teams).
Here’s the good news: Bob McKillop ain’t a rookie coach, even if he physically looks the part.
At 3-3 Davidson is just one-third of the way through their conference season and within reach of last season’s 5-4 start, a mediocre beginning they eventually turned into the regular season championship after winning their last nine contests. Davidson’s first three losses during that stretch included two top-100 road Ls and a loss at kenpom No.163 Saint Joseph’s.
What worries me about this year’s Cats however is how they have looked in defeat, with an average margin of defeat of 18.5 points.
They’ll have next to no time to turn that around with a four-game stretch that includes trips to Richmond, GW and Duquesne with a home contest against the conference’s current No.1, VCU, sandwiched in between.