Over the past three seasons, Jake Cohen and De’Mon Brooks had been the commanding presence in the paint that made Davidson’s inside-out game work.
That responsibility is now in junior Jake Belford’s hands, and he showed what he is capable of Tuesday during the Wildcats’ 86-51 victory against Campbell at Belk Arena.
Belford scored a career-high 20 points and also had two blocks (also a career best) as Davidson opened its season with back-to-back wins for the third time in four years.
“I’m a little more ahead of schedule than I was at this time last year,” said the 6-foot-9 Belford, who battled with preseason injuries last season. “But we prepared to get the ball inside. The guards got the ball inside, and I did what I was supposed to do.
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“I’m just trying to fill a spot. Having that inside presence is very important. We were so successful because we had that inside-out game going and some balance.”
Behind Belford and Jordan Barham (14 points), the Wildcats outscored the Camels (1-1) 52-44 in the paint and outrebounded them 38-27.
“Jake has a terrific basketball IQ and is very skilled,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “Sometimes, he puts both of those things together, and he gets performances like he had tonight. That’s why he’s in the starting lineup – because he’s capable of doing that every night.”
With the Wildcats’ inside game working so well, that made life easier for Davidson’s outside shooters – 10-of-21 on 3-pointers and overall shot a season-best 56.3 percent from the field (36-of-64).
“That’s pretty good, especially when you’re playing against a matchup zone,” McKillop said. “Our guys are understanding how the inside-out also gives us great opportunities on the arc, as well. We do shoot the 3-ball pretty well.”
Although Campbell didn’t shoot that badly from the field (46.9 percent, 23-of-49), the Wildcats’ defense held the Camels – fifth in the nation in 3-point attempts last season – to 1-of-10 on 3-pointers.
However, Campbell also hurt themselves by turning over the ball 18 times – leading to a 25-8 scoring advantage for Davidson – and missing 12 of 16 free throws.
Kyre’ Hamer had 16 points, D.J. Mason 15 and Curtis Phillips 10 for the Camels.