SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Some quick thoughts on Davidson's 70-67 win over Nebraska here at the Honda Puerto Rico Tip-Off:
Davidson coach Bob McKillop is going to maximize this team and it'll be a factor in the Southern Conference with Appalachian State, College of Charleston and Wofford. The Wildcats had a near-miss at Penn, were overmatched against West Virginia and got a solid win over Nebraska by making 11 3-pointers.
The Wildcats are a young squad, but have pieces with De'Mon Brooks able to slice into the lane, Brendan McKillop able to make 3s (6-of-11 on Friday) and balance from Jake Cohen (19 points) and J.P. Kuhlman(11).
McKillop was pleased with the way the Wildcats responded over the past 24 hours. He said the competitiveness Davidson showed against West Virginia was the first step toward maturing. Beating Nebraska was a major point forward and McKillop said the win was a lift for his team’s confidence.
Davidson isn’t going to beat itself and now it has some confidence that it can win. That’s a dangerous combination for SoCon teams that are used to seeing the Cats as a contender.
Meanwhile, Nebraska is in trouble. NU coach Doc Sadler came to Puerto Rico unsure about the squad he had in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers have size with Christian Standhardinger, Andre Almeida and Jorge Brian Diaz. But what they lack is consistent offensive execution and reliable guard play, even from the leading perimeter player, fullback-like Lance Jeter.
But the Huskers couldn’t finish off Davidson and couldn’t figure out how to deal with the Wildcats’ offensive execution. Now they enter Sunday’s 7-8 game with a real chance of leaving here 0-3.
“It’s going to be very critical, because it’s motivation,’’ Jeter said. “It’d give us motivation going back home for our regular season games. It gives us motivation for practice. We feed off this energy and I feel like once we get a good win here, it’ll carry over to home.’’
The problem for the Cornhuskers is that they have nothing to rely on at this juncture. They can defend, but even that comes in streaks as they gave up 11 treys to Davidson a day after the Wildcats missed their first 19 3s against West Virginia.
Sadler said that he can’t even begin to describe how poor the offensive execution has been so far in San Juan.
“Maybe it’s the defense,’’ Sadler said. “Until we get it corrected, until we understand how the game has to be played, we’re going to struggle.’’