By Ken Cross
Davidson continued to play at a high level as they vanquished the Saints Joseph’s 91-62 on Tuesday night thanks to an incredible shooting night by Peyton Aldridge and a stingy 2-3 zone that held the Hawks to 42.3 percent and helped to force 14 turnovers which resulted in 15 Wildcats points.
Aldridge was unstoppable in the paint and on the perimeter as his 29 points allowed him to outscore the Hawks in the first half as Davidson led 51-28 at the break.
“Peyton goes to practice like has played only 10 minutes the last game and he is fighting for a starting spot,” said Wildcats coach Bob McKillop, “That’s the way he practiced yesterday and that’s the way he shot yesterday and he was in the flow of the offense to get his shot and that’s what was impressive.”
Aldridge was 12-of-16 from the field with five triples in that first half as his teammates noticed his rhythm early and looked to feed him the ball on the boxes or make the extra pass and find him on the spot up for the three. He had two different flurries of 10 points – one over the first 6:19 of the contest where he sparked Davidson to an early 17-6 lead. Then, another over 4:20 midway through the half that set up a 37-18 advantage.
“There ware some warmups where you feel on and you come out and don’t make a shot,” he said, “You just try to mentally prepare each way and sometimes you come out and it happens like this.”
Aldridge’s first half output was reminiscent of when Steph Curry outscored Chattanooga at Chattanooga in 2008.
“For Peyton to be talked about on the same sentence with Steph is something he has earned,” acknowledged McKillop.
Defensively, the Wildcats played man and zone in the first half and generally the 2-3 in the second. The zone has become a key part of the story this season for Davidson as they were having trouble matching up with many opponents on a challenging non-conference schedule. McKillop adopted the 2-3 and it has played a key role in pacing Davidson to second place in the Atlantic 10 at 8-3, three games behind 11-0 Rhode Island.
“We were struggling to keep people from beating us and we were struggling playing man at about the 28th minute and then they were picking us apart,” said McKillop, “We didn’t rest in zone. Its a matter of rhythm – how many shots you are giving up, how many fouls you are giving, the kind of shots you are giving up.”
The transition to the zone occurred for the Wildcats in the Diamond Head Classic where they used it to change the rhythm of the Akron Zips and take a 91-78 win.
“Coaches are always of the mindset that they are going to play zone and then a team makes a three and then a team makes another three and that courage evaporates,” said McKillop, “You talk to coaches and they will tell you. Akron came out and they made five, six, seven threes and we stayed with it and they took those same threes as the game wore on and they didn’t make them.”