This is the most anticipated game of the SoCon season. Elon has Matt Matheny as head coach. He
used to sit on the Davidson bench. He modeled his program after the Wildcats. Davidson has continued to dominate the SoCon. Then, in the preseason, the Phoenix were picked to win the SoCon over Davidson. Now, they meet just two more times in the regular season. Elon has to prove that they truly are in position to win the SoCon title. To be the best, you have to beat the best. That's what they are going for on Thursday evening. Of course, Davidson is trying to prove that the whole thing is premature and that their demise has been greatly exaggerated. With Elon already having a conference loss, a Davidson win here would be very damaging to the Phoenix, possibly even starting to call into question whether or not they can obtain a bye in the SoCon Tournament. This is a huge game to both of these teams.
The Phoenix have been heavily reliant on the three point shot this year. When they shoot well from long range, they seem to win. When they don't, they seem to struggle. Sebastian Koch has made 51 of 111 threes for 45.9% this year. He also averages three assists per game, while averaging 13.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Tanner Samson has made 48 of 107 for 44.9% from three point range. That goes along with 10.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Those two need to be hot from three point range for the Phoenix to contend on the road against Davidson.
Ryler Beaumont is also averaging 10.4 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game. He is due a big game, after scoring 16 against Appalachian State but in the single digits in the other two SoCon games. He's an interesting player for the Phoenix. The 6-7 senior likes to shoot threes, but mostly needs to be inside the paint scoring. He's only shooting 25% from three point range.
Elon is a solid defensive rebounding team, ranking 92nd in DR%. They rank 342nd in OR%. Of course, their eFG% ranks 54th in the country. That's enough to make up for a lot of other flaws offensively.
Brian Sullivan is averaging 12.2 points per game. He's made 39 threes, most on the team. But, he's only making 32.8% of his three point shots. Sullivan has not been quite as good as advertised to this point. He's only averaging 5.0 points per game in SoCon play. He's only shooting 33.3% from the floor in those three games.
Tom Droney has also not been playing quite as well recently, though he is still third on the team in scoring. He's averaging 11.6 points per game and four rebounds per game. He's good at driving the ball to the basket, and was relied on heavily when Brooks was out. Now with Brooks back, he seems to still be searching for his role a little bit.
Tyler Kalinoski is shooting 48.1% from three point range and leads the team in assists with 3.4. Chris Czerapowickz was supposed to be the three point shooting specialist, but is only shooting 26.2% from long range on the year.
This Davidson team has struggled to keep teams from making shots out of conference. But in SoCon play, they lead the conference in eFG%. But they rank dead last in OR% in conference games. This team needs to do a better job rebounding...or keep on making shots.
In some ways, this is the biggest game in Elon history. The Phoenix are looking to establish themselves as SoCon favorites against the bully of the conference. I'm not sure it gets much bigger than this for Elon. With that kind of pressure, how does this team come out and play? Do they play loose? Or do they play tight like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders? The Phoenix will experience some tight rims against the Wildcats improved defense, particularly on the road. They will not respond well to the pressure of the game. After all, they did not particularly respond well to the pressure of a big conference road game against Western Carolina a couple of weeks ago. The Wildcats will score plenty and Brooks will shut down Troutman. Davidson 81, Elon 67.