Will Wade’s Chattanooga Mocs entered Thursday night’s matchup at Davidson on a 10-game win streak, with forward Z Mason (18.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg) leading the way for a team with four double-digit scorers and nine players averaging at least 11.5 minutes per game. It’s been quite the start for the first-year head coach, who’s still working to install the style of play he wants his Chattanooga program to be known for.
Chattanooga wasn’t expected to be a contender in the Southern Conference right away but there they were, walking into Belk Arena with an unblemished league mark with a chance to make a statement against the program that has set the standard in the SoCon for much of the Bob McKillop era.
Unfortunately for the Mocs, it would be Davidson that made the statement.
De’Mon Brooks got the job done on both ends of the floor, scoring 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds while also being the primary defender assigned to Mason in the Wildcats’ 94-51 victory. Mason accounted for just seven points on 2-for-9 shooting, and as a team the Mocs were limited to 32.7% shooting from the field and failed to make any of their 13 three-point attempts.
Add in Davidson’s shooting nearly 60% from the field with four players scoring in double figures (Jordan Barham scored 16 off the bench), and the end result was the Wildcats using their best showing of the season to move into a tie for first place in the loss column (Chattanooga’s 8-1, Davidson’s 7-1).
“Without doubt, our best performance of the year,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “Our consistency, from opening tap to the end of the game, both offensively and defensively, were very evident. It’s very gratifying to have this kind of success tonight.”
The Wildcats got off to a slow start in non-conference play, with a knee injury that sidelined Brooks for six games doing Davidson no favors. But after closing non-conference play on a five-game losing streak, Davidson’s won seven of its first eight games in SoCon play. And with four players scoring in double figures the Wildcats have the look of a team that has solidified its rotation after losing three starters from last season’s NCAA tournament team.
Davidson’s win over Chattanooga is big for another reason: due to imbalanced scheduling Thursday’s meeting was the lone regular season contest between the two teams, meaning that the outcome could impact seeding in the conference tournament. However with that event being more than a month away, it’s more important for Davidson that they’re executing well on both ends of the floor.