Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
7 p.m., FSS (Mike Hogewood, Mike Gminski)
(Check back Tuesday morning for quotes ...)
Season To Date: The Wildcats were 16-0 in the Southern Conference last season and returned most of that squad. While it's still a bit early in the season to look at a team's RPI, Davidson checks in at No. 24 thanks to a number of quality opponents. The Wildcats are 7-4, with impressive victories over St. Joseph's and Missouri. UMass and App. State, plus three non-Division I teams complete their win column. Three losses have been to quality opponents -- Duke, Charlotte (in 2 OTs), Syracuse -- and the fourth was a disappointing late-game collapse last week at Illinois-Chicago.
Slumping Star: Brendan Winters was the SoCon Player of the Year last season, but he hit a bit of a rut in December. Over the last six games, the 6-5 senior is averaging just four made field goals per game and is shooting 32 percent from the field and 28 percent from beyond the arc. Those numbers are a far cry from the 22 points he put up against St. Joseph or the 24 points he scored against Charlotte.
Steady Backcourt: Winters is joined by guards Kenny Grant and Matt McKillop to comprise a senior triumvirate. While Winters is more of the go-to scorer, Grant and McKillop are reliable floor leaders. Grant dishes out 5.9 assists per game and has a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. McKillop is one of the team's top three-point threats (39%), but also has 26 assists and only four turnovers on the season (a 6.5 ratio!). As a team, the Wildcats are ranked seventh in the country at 11.6 turnovers per game.
In The Middle: Ian Johnson isn't your typical center. He hasn't recorded a single blocked shot in 11 games, but his shooting touch makes him a dangerous weapon from anywhere on the floor and he's the team's leading scorer. Take away his tough night at Charlotte and he's shooting 59 percent from the field in the other 10 games. And in the last eight games, he's 11-of-19 (.579) on three-pointers. Johnson has also developed into a better rebounder and is the team's leading rebounder, grabbing 6.5 boards per game.
Emerging Underclassmen: Sophomores Boris Meno and Thomas Sander (both 6-8, 220) have provided key contributions in the post. While Winters struggled in December, Meno emerged as a consistent post player, averaging eight points and nine rebounds over that stretch. Thomas Sander's stats have dropped of late, but he has had two big games off the bench this season -- 13 points and 10 boards against Charlotte and then 16 points against App. State.
Charity Stripe: Davidson is ranked fifth in the nation in free throw percentage, shooting 78.9 percent as a team. Winters leads the way at 93.6 percent, including setting a school record by hitting 37 straight foul shots earlier this season.
Series History: This is the 71st meeting between the two schools, with the Tar Heels holding a 59-11 advantage. But this is just the fourth meeting since 1969. The Wildcats won at the Smith Center, 58-54, in the second game of the fateful 2001-02 (8-20) season, but the Tar Heels avenged the loss the following season, 79-64. In Roy Williams' first year as UNC's head coach, UNC prevailed, 91-68, over Davidson at the Charlotte Coliseum.
Background Location: Davidson, N.C. Enrollment: 1,700 Conference: Southern Nickname: Wildcats Colors: Red & Black Head Coach: Bob McKillop Record at DC: 269-206
Projected Starters: 14 Kenny Grant (6-2, 195, Sr.) – 6.0 ppg, 5.9 apg 4 Matt McKillop (6-1, 180, Sr.) – 6.9 ppg, 2.4 apg 32 Brendan Winters (6-5, 205, Sr.) – 16.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg 5 Boris Meno (6-8, 220, So.) – 6.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg 22 Ian Johnson (6-9, 225, Sr.) - 18.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg Key Reserves: 34 Jason Morton (6-2, 185, Sr.) – 10.0 ppg 15 Thomas Sander (6-8, 220, So.) - 7.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg 2 Jason Richards (6-2, 190, So.) – 5.1 ppg, 3.7 apg 30 Eric Blanchett (6-4, 185, Sr.) – 3.2 ppg
Winters ... Johnson
McKillop ... Sander
Grant ... Morton
(Thanks to Davidson Sports Info for assistance)