Let’s just be honest. Things aren’t looking too well for the black and gold right now.

On Saturday, Bob McKillop brought his Davidson squad up the mountain for a date with the Mountaineers. The game was close early, and in early I mean the first two minutes. However, Davidson led 19-7 at the under 16 media timeout and never looked back. Unfortunately, this is another post where I’d like not to look back on, like last weeks write-up on the Chattanooga game. I guess the only good thing about this one is we didn’t blow the lead, and Davidson was the far superior team on Saturday. Tevin Baskin led the Mountaineers with 18 points, 12 of which came from the free throw line, and 7 rebounds to lead the Mountaineers, while Nathan Healy added 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 4 steals. Injured Mike Neal and Jay Canty scored 12 points combined, with 4 and 8, respectively. Davidson was led by Jake Cohen (17 points, 4 rebounds) and De’Mon Brooks (16 and 10). It will be interesting to see how Appalachian does at Belk Arena next Saturday with a healthy Neal and a healthy Canty. Both guys being ailed by injuries certainly didn’t help matters last Saturday.

The game of basketball is a 40 minute game. You know it, I know it, we all know it. I’m sure our players and coaches know it, they just don’t seem to apply it. That happened again Wednesday night in Charleston as the Cougars defeated the Mountaineers 72-59. Appalachian got off to a really good start, opening its lead up to as many as 8 late in the first half. Things were going well and I was pretty optimistic. Well, a few shots didn’t fall, there was a Technical called on our bench, and before you knew it, Charleston was taking the lead. The Mountaineers bounced back from that though to go into the break with a 35-33 advantage. That would be all from our Mountaineers in the low country.

The Cougars came out clicking and built a 49-42 lead. The last sign of life out of the black and gold was an and-one by Jamaal Trice to cut the lead to 49-45. After that, the Mountaineers would go into a drought that not even yesterday’s rain could have gotten them out of, and the Cougars pushed the lead to 17 with just a few minutes left. The Mountaineers tried to hit a few shots and got as close as 10 in the final minutes, but Charleston eventually hung on for the 13 point win on their home court. Tevin Baskin led the Mountaineers once again with 16 points, with Jay Canty adding 11. Michael Obacha did have a nice game on the inside, scoring 8 points and adding 8 rebounds. Nathan Healy only shot 2-13 and finished with just 5 points. Andrew Lawrence led the way for the Cougars with 16 points while Appalachian transfer Anthony Thomas scored 14 and added 7 boards.

The first half of the conference season is over, and the Mountaineers are sitting at 4-5. Bad news is they do have a bad record, both overall and in conference. Good news is the SoCon isn’t the ACC or the Big East, and there are a bunch of winnable games left. However, it will take full 40 minute efforts from our guys and quite frankly, we just haven’t seen that yet. I still believe this team can finish well in the conference, and I hope everyone else feels the same way. I know some won’t, and that’s fine. You’ll still catch me at every home game, and at Davidson next week, and I’ll be there supporting our guys until the final buzzer of the year sounds.

Now that the conference schedule is halfway through, I’m going to hand out some mythical “Halfway Point” awards…

Player of the Year: Trevis Simpson, UNCG. Greensboro has struggled so far this year, but what Simpson has done scoring the ball is incredible. Simpson, fresh off of a 41 point game last weekend, is averaging 19.9 points per game on 45% shooting from the floor.

Coach of the Year: Matt Matheny, Elon. A Bob McKillop desciple, Matheny has the Phoenix playing some of their best ball right now, having won 5 in a row. Elon sits atop the SoCon North Division with a record of 13-7 overall, and 6-2 in league play.

Rookie of the Year: Tim Williams, Samfod. The 6’8″ Freshman is averaging 14.6 ppg to go with 7.3 rebounds, and he leads the Bulldogs as (spoiler alert) one of the biggest surprises in the SoCon so far this year.

Defensive Player of the Year: Nathan Healy, Appalachian State. Maybe I’m a little bit of a homer, but Healy does a little bit of it all on D. He’s a pest who is 5th in the conference in rebounding (7.5), 3rd in the conference in blocks (1.5), and 3rd in the conference in steals (1.9).

Surprise of the Year: Samford. In the SoCon preseason poll, the Bulldogs were picked to finish dead last in the North. Here at the end of January, they find themselves a half game out of 1st with a conference record of 5-2.

Three Things to Watch:

-Who will seperate themselves as we go down the stretch? We know Davidson, Charleston, and you can probably but Elon in that mix, pretty much stand above everyone, but what will Samford, Western Carolina, UNC-Greensboro, Appalachian State, and Georgia Southern do? All of them seem to have the talent to sneak into the discussion come the Southern Conference Tournament in March.

-Can Samford sustain throughout the 2nd half? I know I’ve hit on them a little bit in this post, but can the surprise team of the year keep up the pace and finish strong? I think so.

-Is Davidson really the team to beat? So far, I think the Wildcats are, but Georgia Southern showed that they can be beaten. Davidson has struggled with athletic teams in the past, however right now, Davidson looks like the best option to represent the SoCon in March Madness, and could be a very interesting sleeper in the tourney.

Now for a check on league action…

LAST WEEK

Davidson 79, Appalachian State 56
Georgia Southern 72, Western Carolina 66
Elon 70, The Citadel 66
Charleston 79, Wofford 50
UNC-Greensboro 77, Chattanooga 69
Charleston 72, Appalachian State 59

THIS WEEK

Thursday, January 31

Georgia Southern @ Furman, 7:00
Samford @ Davidson, 7:00
Elon @ UNC-Greensboro, 7:00
Wofford @ The Citadel, 7:05

Saturday, February 2

The Citadel @ Furman, 4:00
Western Carolina @ Appalachian State, 4:30
UNC-Greensboro @ Charleston, 7:00
Samford @ Elon, 7:00
Davidson @ Wofford, 7:00
Chattanooga @ Georgia Southern, 7:30

SOCON INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS

-POINTS

Trevis Simpson, UNCG, 19.9
Trey Sumler, WCU, 17.6
Derrell Armstrong, UNCG, 15.5

-FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE

Mike Groselle, CIT, 58%
Tawaski King, WCU, 54%
Lucas Troutman, ELON, 54%

-ASSISTS

Marshall Harris III, CIT, 4.7
Andrew Lawrence, C of C, 4.2
Raijon Kelly, SAM, 4.1

-REBOUNDS

Adjehi Baru, C of C, 8.5
Mike Groselle, CIT, 7.9
Z. Mason, UTC, 7.6

-BLOCKS

Lucas Troutman, ELON, 2.0
Jake Cohen, DAV, 1.7
Nathan Healy, ASU, 1.5

-STEALS

Trey Sumler, WCU, 2.1
Karl Cochran, WOF, 2.1
Nathan Healy, 1.9

-STANDINGS

NORTH CONF GB OVR
Elon 6-2 13-7
Samford 5-2 .5 7-13
Western Carolina 5-4 1.5 8-13
UNC Greensboro 4-4 2 6-13
Appalachian State 4-5 2.5 8-12
Chattanooga 3-5 3 8-13
SOUTH CONF GB OVR
Davidson 8-1 13-7
Charleston 7-3 1.5 15-7
Georgia Southern 3-5 4.5 9-12
Furman 2-5 5 5-13
Wofford 2-6 5.5 8-13
Citadel 1-8 7 4-15

Stats and standings courtesy of ESPN.com

I hope to see all of you at the Holmes Center on Saturday at 4:30 as the Apps take on the Western Carolina Catamounts. Great doubleheader action on a Saturday afternoon as the women take on Elon at 12:30.

Go Mountaineers