Thursday, January 17, 2008

From The Greenville News

Wildcats roll past Paladins
By Willie T. Smith III

The Davidson Wildcats have been the gold standard in Southern Conference men's basketball in recent years.

Wednesday night the Furman Paladins found out why.

Davidson bested the Paladins in almost every statistical category to claim a 73-51 victory.

"I said this when I became the head coach at Furman and I still talk about this," said Furman coach Jeff Jackson. "We would like our program to be like their program where we have that type of physicality, that type of player."

The Wildcats led virtually from the beginning in claiming its 17th straight regular season league victory and 20th including last season's SoCon tournament. They improved to 9-6 overall and 7-0 in league play.

Davidson placed four players in double figures and all but one of the 11 athletes traveling with the team scored.

That was important on a night when Davidson's star player, sophomore Stephen Curry, a 2007 Freshman All-American, was not at his best. One of the top outside shooters in the nation, he made only one of eight from 3-point range although he paced his team in scoring with 14 points.

It didn't matter, however, as the Wildcats had everything else working their way.

The loss dropped Furman to 2-15 overall and 1-7 in the conference.

Despite hitting only eight of 28 3-point shots the Wildcats connected on 51.8 percent of its field goals, thanks to several uncontested lay-ups.

One of the few positives for the Paladins was the play of freshman forward Noah States, who collected the first double-double of his college career with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Alec Opacic was also a factor inside collecting 14 points and seven rebounds.

Furman out-rebounded the Wildcats 34-33, marking the second consecutive game it has accomplished the feat. Prior to that it had lost the inside battle in 17 consecutive games.

"The last two games Noah has only been able to play about 13 minutes in each because he has been in foul trouble," said Jackson. "Tonight he stayed out of foul trouble and made his presence felt."

Despite his performance States came away impressed with Davidson.

"They didn't lose any seniors last year and they're the team to beat in the SoCon," said States. "We tried to come out and play really physical against them, but you just have to play physical under control."

It took the Wildcats about three minutes to get their bearing. When they did, however, they wowed Furman with inside power, outside shooting prowess and relentless defense.

Davidson connected on 14 of 25 field goals, including six of 15 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes to claim a 37-20 halftime advantage.

Furman made only eight of 27 field goals, including two of nine from long range in the initial period.

The Paladins return to action Saturday when they host The College of Charleston at 5 p.m. The game will be televised by CSS. A SoCon game between the Furman women's team and Tennessee-Chattanooga will precede that contest, beginning at 2:30 p.m.

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