GAME NOTES: The red-hot Davidson Wildcats will try to pad their lead in the Southern Conference South Division standings when they host the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Belk Arena.
These teams met up two weekends ago in Boone, where Davidson cruised to a 79-56 road win. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 39-32.
Winners of seven straight, the Wildcats entered the weekend with a two-game lead over College of Charleston for the top spot in the South Division. The latest in their string of victories came Thursday night against Western Carolina, 73-59. The victory improved Davidson's record to 8-1 at home this season and 11-1 in league play.
Meanwhile, Appalachian State is seeking a third consecutive victory. The Mountaineers were also in action on Thursday night, as they escaped Statesboro with a 91-86 overtime win against Georgia Southern. That contest began a stretch that will see the Mountaineers on the road four times in a span of five games.
The Mountaineers struggled out of the gate against GSU, as they shot just 40.7 percent from the floor in the first half and trailed, 37-27, at the break. However, they scored the first five points of the second half and went on to shoot 57.7 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes. With ASU up 73-72 with three seconds on the clock, the Eagles' Marvin Baynham was sent to the foul line but could only make one of two, thus forcing overtime. Trailing 86-83 with less than a minute to play in the extra session, the Mountaineers closed out the contest with an 8-0 run as they went a perfect 8-of-8 at the charity stripe. Nathan Healy finished with a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds in the victory. He averages a team-best 15.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this season to pace four double-digit scorers for ASU. Jay Canty is second on the squad with 14.5 ppg and 6.2 rpg.
Davidson continues to lead the nation in free-throw shooting (.809), and that was once again on full display Thursday night against Western Carolina as the Wildcats went 20-of-24 at the charity stripe. While the Cats are not a particularly potent offensive squad (72.0 ppg), they have a penchant for drawing contact and can really wear down opponents with their efficiency at the foul line, particularly late in games. Jake Cohen leads the team with 14.0 points to go along with 5.8 rebounds per game, while De'Mon Brooks is averaging 13.6 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds. Against WCU, Cohen scored a season-high 24 points and pulled down 12 boards. JP Kuhlman added 13 points and dished out seven assists, and Davidson held the Catamounts to 37.7-percent shooting from the floor to win handily.
The Wildcats are on quite a roll right now, but the Mountaineers are also playing well over the past week. Still, Belk Arena has proven to be an awfully tough venue for visiting teams.
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