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Davidson pulls away from The Citadel on McKillop’s day

By Bill Kiser
Correspondent
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/01/18/42/fW9qf.Em.138.jpeg|200
    TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    Davidson coach Bob McKillop walks off the newly-named court following a Saturday ceremony before his team's matchup against The Citadel at Davidson College.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/01/18/42/1snmvB.Em.138.jpeg|451
    TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    Davidson forward De'Mon Brooks (24) puts up a shot over Citadel defender Matt Van Scyoc (30) in the first half at Davidson College Saturday.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/01/18/42/kBrEk.Em.138.jpeg|461
    TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    Davidson guard Tom Droney (23) drives in to score over The Citadel's Marshall Harris III (10) in the first half at Davidson College Saturday.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/01/18/42/Bs7l5.Em.138.jpeg|162
    TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    Davidson's Jake Belford, left battles The Citadel's Ashton Moore for a loose ball in the first half at Davidson College Saturday, February 1, 2014.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/01/18/42/sIuJt.Em.138.jpeg|229
    TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    Fans cheer for the Wildcats at the newly-named McKillop Court inside Belk Arena at Davidson College.

DAVIDSON Davidson threw a pre-game surprise at Wildcats coach Bob McKillop by naming the basketball court at Belk Arena after him on Saturday.

However, The Citadel nearly spoiled the celebration.

After a slow start in the first half, Davidson turned things around over the final 20 minutes to pull away from the Bulldogs for a 62-43 victory over the Southern Conference’s last-place team.

De’Mon Brooks scored 23 points and Jake Belford came off the bench to add 11 during a key stretch in the second half as the Wildcats (12-11, 8-1) won their fifth straight.

“I’m very pleased with the way our guys fought out of a very challenging situation,” said McKillop, who has compiled a school-record 464 wins in 25 seasons as Davidson's coach – most of those coming on the now-renamed McKillop Court.

“At halftime, I told our guys to look at this game like it was the first round of the Southern Conference tournament. I said ‘Now, it’s going to be tight; let’s see how we handle tight.’ Our guys were absolutely superb.”

The Wildcats shot 50 percent (23 of 46) from the field – the fourth straight game they’ve been at 50 percent or better – and hit 9 of 22 3-pointers. They also outrebounded The Citadel 31-21.

Yet less than 48 hours after a dominating 43-point win over SoCon frontrunner Chattanooga, Davidson looked anything but superb against the Bulldogs (4-20, 0-9), who have now lost 12 straight.

The Wildcats shot just 39.1 percent (9 of 23) in the first half, and were 3 of 12 on 3-pointers. That – along with 43.5 percent shooting (10 of 23) by The Citadel – kept the game close.

The Bulldogs even led five times in the period, the last at 18-17 on P.J. Horgan’s layup with 3:57 left.

Davidson eventually broke away in the final 2 minutes, with Brooks’ buzzer-beating jumper capping a 7-2 run to put the Wildcats ahead 24-20 at the break – their lowest-scoring first half this season.

“They tried to slow us down and mixed up a couple different defenses on us,” Brooks said. “We came out a little hesitant, trying to read those defenses, but we made the adjustments.

“We came out in the second half playing more aggressive, more our style of game.”

Ahead 36-34 with 9:02 left, Belford kicked off a 24-6 run with a 3-pointer. He added two more 3-pointers – the last giving Davidson its first double-digit lead – and a pair of free throws before Brian Sullivan's 3-pointer put the Wildcats ahead 60-40 with 2:01 remaining.

“They were stopping us from doing everything we wanted to do,” Belford said. “Once we relaxed and started taking things step by step, shot by shot, we started putting it together.”

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