College Basketball

Davidson starts strong in Atlantic 10

Davidson’s Wildcats apparently are heeding coach Bob McKillop’s warnings as they’ve opened their first season in the Atlantic 10 with three victories in four games.

Davidson (12-3, 3-1), ranked fifth nationally in scoring (83.7 points per game) and eighth in assists (17.6), also leads the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7).

“Every possession counts, you can’t get any clearer than that,” McKillop told reporters earlier this week. “How you treat your possessions results is the difference in success or failure. There’s no time to take a possession off, you can’t do it. You’ll pay the price.”

The Wildcats lead the Atlantic 10 in just about every offensive category in addition to scoring, assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, including scoring margin (14.8), free-throw percentage (74.3), field-goal percentage (47.8), 3-point percentage (40.0), rebounding offense (39.3).

Three Wildcats rank in the top seven in the league in assists, including conference leader Jack Gibbs (4.9), Tyler Kalinoski (4.1) and Brian Sullivan (3.5). Jordan Barham is second in field-goal percentage (63.8), Gibbs leads the league in free-throw percentage (91.8) and Sullivan is tops in assist-to-turnover ratio 3.7.

That last statistic – assist-to-turnover margin – is a key indicator of how well a team takes care of the ball and how efficient it is offensively.

“That’s been one our objectives since day one, and it gets more painfully evident as we’ve gone through this A-10 schedule,” McKillop said.

Davidson stays on the road Saturday with a game against Richmond (9-8, 2-2). The Wildcats, who won 71-63 Wednesday at Massachusetts, have already beaten the Spiders once this season, 81-67 at Belk Arena.

Around the A-10

• The Atlantic 10 announced its basketball legends class of 2015 this week. Representing Davidson were Fred Hetzel (1962-65) and Jennifer O’Brien (1996-2000).

• Richmond’s Kendall Anthony needs three 3-pointers to break the Spiders’ career record, held by Jonathan Baker (241).

• Dayton and George Washington are undefeated at home this season. Dayton is 9-0 at UD Arena and GW is 7-0 at Smith Center. Dayton, tied for first in the league with Virginia Commonwealth with a 4-0 record, visits Davidson on Tuesday.

Around Conference USA

• Louisiana Tech ran its home winning streak to 21 games with a 74-71 victory against Alabama-Birmingham on Thursday. The Bulldogs (13-4, 4-0), who are tied for first place with Western Kentucky, have the seventh-longest active homecourt winning streak in the country.

• First-year Rice coach Mike Rhoades put his team through a unique training system last summer. The Owls, who play Charlotte on Saturday at Halton Arena, worked on their strength and conditioning with three days of Navy SEAL training on their campus in Houston. They were up 5 a.m. each day, going through military-style drills in a swimming pool, then on intramural fields and around campus – all in the predawn dark.

• UAB players are wearing different-colored shoes this season to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. Blazers coach Jerod Haase came up with the idea for his players to wear one green and one white shoe in each game.

• Charlotte, which had the lowest attendance in Halton Arena history last season, isn’t faring any better this season at the gate. The 49ers, who hired an outside agency to help with ticket sales this season, are averaging 4,480. That includes 3,694 Thursday against North Texas. Charlotte averaged 5,111 last season.