The Flyers didn’t exactly shut down Davidson’s Jack Gibbs, they just outscored him. A very ‘hot’ win for the Flyers on the coldest night of the season…so far.
DAYTON — When a player is assigned to guard another team’s leading scorer and that guy scores 31 points, well, the coach is more likely to kick the defender in the seat of the pants rather than pat him on the head and say, “Nice try.”
That’s what happened to the University of Dayton, to coach Archie Miller, to UD guard Kyle Davis, whose mission was to turn off the spigot on the scoring machine that is Davidson’s Jack Gibbs.
Gibbs scored 31 against the Flyers Tuesday night in UD Arena.
Here is the thing, though. Gibbs scored 41 in two games earlier this season. Gibbs scored 37 and 35 in two others games.
Gibbs, a six-foot point guard from Westerville, just 70 miles across I-70, averages 23.4 points a game, the No. 3 scorer in the nation.
So it fell upon the shoulders of guard Kyle Davis, UD’s Mr. D., with some help from Scoochie Smith, to throw an umbrella over Gibbs.
It didn’t look good in the first half when Gibbs blanketed the Flyers with 18 points and Davidson took a three-point halftime lead.
But here is where it all came together for the Flyers, one segment of the game that saved the night for an 80-74 Atlantic 10 conference victory.
Davidson led, 46-45, with 13 minutes left in the game. The Flyers then hop, skipped and jumped their way onto a 19-0 run over a four-minute point explosion that gave them a 64-46 lead.
During that run, Gibbs was 0 for 8 and nobody in Davidson red could cover the deficit.
And how important is Dibbs to Davidson? He hadn’t scored a basket in the second half until four minutes were left and UD led, 66-51. He then buried four straight threes and helped make the Flyers squirm and sweat down the stretch.
Here’s the thing, though. Kyle Davis did do a shut down job on Gibbs, who has been A-10 Player of the Week four times already this season.
As UD Coach Archie Miller said, Gibbs had to take 23 shots to get hi 31 points and 17 of those 23 shots were three-point shots and he made only seven.
So much for Gibbs, though, because he is the guy who had the Flyer Faithful grumbling their way toward the parking lot.
The Flyers played without their leading scorer, Charles Cooke (15.7), who injured his leg just five hours before game time during the team’s pre-game shoot around.
Guard Scoochie Smith, who hadn’t produced much offensively in recent games, came out perked up and prepped and scored 13 points in the first half and 18 for the game. Dyshawn Pierre scored 16 and added 10 rebounds, Kendall Pollard scored 14 and Kyle Davis scored 14.
Freshman Ryan Mikesell unbuttoned his warm-up on the bench and played 16 meaninful minutes. He scored eight points, his best production since he scored 21 in his college debut in UD’s opener against Southeast Missouri.
“Ryan has a great attitude and is one of the guys who others look at and say, ‘This guy is doing it the right way,’” Miller said of the 6-7 St. Henry native. “He is paying his dues. I told him, ‘You’ll have your moments and just be ready.’ He was really good in the first half and helped us get going when we weren’t shooting the ball particularly well.”
The Flyers got it going in the second half and finished the game by hitting 29 of 56 shots (51.8 percent) against a team that usually shoots those numbers. Davidson, though shot only 39.3 percent (24-61)
Mikesell, a noted outsider, took the inside route to score back-to-back baskets midway through the first half on drives to the hoop.
“He has his freshman ups and downs but his not playing much recently is a coaches’ decision,” Miller said. “I watch him in practice every day and Ryan knows he has to get better on defense. As we look for chemistry and consistency, we can’t play everybody. But I’ll tell you this, he was ready tonight.”
The Big Show, though, was K. Davis vs. Gibbs and Gibbs vs. K. Davis.
“Kyle did a nice job,” said Miller. “For the most part he worked extremely hard covering (Gibbs). About the last four or five minutes (when Gibbs hit four threes) I think he was gassed and didn’t have enough in him. But Gibbs is one of the best players in the country and sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a player.”
Kyle Davis always draws the opposition’s best scoring guards and Shutdown Mode in his mission.
“Like my team, I like to play with a chip on my shoulder,” said Davis. “I always took pride in my defense. Everybody who was bigger or taller than me always thought they could score on me. I work hard for that I do.”
What Davis is to the opposition is a pest, a pain in the posterior. He was the ignitor when the Flyers began their 19-0 breakaway. And he did it by stealing the ball from Gibbs and driving for a layup to give the Flyers a 52-46 lead with 11 minutes left. Three minutes later it was 64-46 as he added two threes into the mix.
“When I first got here guards thought it would be easy to score on me and in the last couple of years as we’ve gone down the road they’ve realized it isn’t that easy to score on me.”
Just ask Gibbs how tough it was to score 31 on K.D.
(Edited by Julie McMaken Wright)