After a whiteout Friday in Boone filled with sleet, freezing rain and occasional snow, Appalachian basketball will do their best to whiteout Davidson on Saturday afternoon. In an interesting twist, Appalachian marketing thought it was wise to distract Davidson with a whiteout, encouraging fans to wear white. Unfortunately, Davidson just played Western Carolina on the road, who also hosted their own whiteout, which went unsuccessful as the Wildcats won by five points. Not to mention, one of Davidson’s primary colors is white, so this has backfire written all over it.
Davidson is easily the class of the Southern Conference, and has played a tough schedule outside of league play. The Wildcats lead the South division with a 7-1 record , and are a whole two games in front of second place Charleston. In the North, Appalachian is sitting in fourth place, but the race is much tighter. Two games separate first and last in the North. Each game a team in the North plays against the South is very important to get a win. Otherwise, teams in the North have done a good job protecting their home court against each other. The Mountaineers are only a half game out of a top four seed in the SoCon Tourney.
Davidson and Appalachian sometimes bring out the best in one another. These games are always tightly officiated, and the intensity level is always high. Davidson may say that they get everyone’s best shot, but outside of Western Carolina, Davidson is the one team that Mountaineer fans want to be beat more than any other in the league. The series between the two teams has been close through the years, but Davidson has been successful in the Holmes Center, posting a 7-2 record. Appalachian has won three of the last four in the series, which included a sweep three seasons ago. The Wildcats have won three games in a row coming into Saturday, which is their longest winning streak of the season. The usual suspects who never seem to graduate lead the Wildcats in scoring. De’Mon Brooks leads the team with 13.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Jake Cohen chips in 13.2 points and 5.4 rebounds a game while Nic Cohran scores 10.3 per game. The Wildcats have hit 150 three pointers this season, with four players having hit 21 or more threes on the season. Davidson is also proficient on the free throw line, leading the country in that category, shooting 79.8% on the season.
Appalachian has found itself in a rather precarious situation. Maybe the Mountaineers were looking ahead to playing Davidson. Against Georgia Southern on Thursday night, Appalachian looked the team from November and December rather than the team of the first three weeks of January. Appalachian might be without Jay Canty and Mike Neal, two very important pieces of their offense, who suffered injuries against Southern. If neither can play, it is going to take a monumental effort from the Mountaineers to pull off the upset. The team that finished the game against Georgia Southern was a skeleton crew, but somehow they pulled out a win in overtime after giving up a seventeen point lead. How this game is played hinges completely on the availability of Canty and Neal. A win was already going to be a tall task, and with only one day of practice and rest before Davidson comes to town, and beat up lineup, Appalachian is going to need close to a miracle.
We are guessing the line is going to be around eleven or twelve points. We will update in the morning with the line and our guess. Appalachian is 10-3 against the spread this season while Davidson is 6-10 against the spread.
10:46 AM UPDATE: The line opened up at 8 points, in favor of Davidson and has slowly inched up to ten points as of Saturday morning. The big question mark is whether or not Appalachian will have Mike Neal or Jay Canty. Without them, you have to think Davidson is a good call here, as Appalachian looked awful against Georgia Southern without either player on Thursday. With both players, Appalachian is an easy call getting ten points at home. We will make our pick as soon as we can get more information as to their status.
12:34 UPDATE: Jay Canty is playing today. No confirmation Neal, but we think he participated in shoot around this morning.
There is not much to say about this one. Appalachian was outmatched from the beginning of the game and was never in it. Davidson played brilliantly by shooting 52% for the game and four players reached double figure scoring. Davidson showed how they are better at every position on the court. Appalachian shot themselves in the foot by only making six baskets in the first half and trailing by 22 points at halftime. Jay Canty played but was ineffective, shooting 2/12 for the game. Tevin Baskin was a bright spot, only because he was 12/15 from the free throw line for 18 points. Nate Healy scored thirteen for Appalachian. Mike Neal started the game, but was limited and only played seventeen minutes.
There was an interesting moment in the game. In the second half, with Davidson in control by over twenty points, Davidson found a wide open De’Mon Brooks in the post, who threw a brutal head fake to Nate Healy who went airborne. Healy landed sqaurely on top of Brooks and brought him to the ground, consituting a flargrant one foul. (There are two levels of flagrant fouls, this one being the lesser of the two). Healy had been riding the refs all afternoon. You could tell he was frusturated and was tired of not getting his way. The foul showed it. It also showed some heart from Healy, which we all knew he had. He just was not going to let a team waltz into his gym and blow them out. This brought back memories when Healy was the recipient of an intentional foul last year at home against Elon. Hopefully we will see a different Appalachian team in two weeks when they travel to Belk Arena in two weeks.
Our pick of Appalachian covering ten points was purely based on the fact that Neal and Canty were going to play. We had a false hope, and the Mountaineers shooting 30% for the game did not help things. So, after covering their first ten games, the Mountaineers have dropped four in a row against the spread. They stand at 10-4 while we are 9-5. The season is finally evening out as we expected.