Men’s basketball set to play Davidson in C.M. Newton Classic

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

What was once lost has been found.

Due to issues related to COVID-19, the No. 21 Colorado State Rams could not participate in the C.M. Newton Classic, putting the game in jeopardy.

But the show must go on, and it will. Stepping in to play the No. 10 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-2) will be the Davidson Wildcats, out of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Davidson lost two of its first four games, to San Francisco and New Mexico State, but has reeled off seven straight wins since.

The Wildcats (8-2) are well known for being one of the few schools to take a chance on a scrawny high school kid from Charlotte, North Carolina — Stephen Curry. Curry is still the school’s all-time leading scorer, and as of last week holds the NBA record for 3-pointers made in a career, with 2,982. He also has won two NBA MVPs and three NBA championships.

But the program has had continued success.

Davidson has made the NCAA Tournament four times since Curry’s departure, with trips to the “big dance”  in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018. The Wildcats played in the National Invitation Tournament in 2021.

Even with all of their success, the Wildcats haven’t lost their coach. Bob McKillop is currently in his 33rd season with the program and is up there with the nation’s best.

His team this year is no joke. KenPom currently has Davidson as the 59th-best team in the country. The Wildcats are No. 56 in the Rating Percentage Index.

Like their most famous alumnus, the Wildcats can shoot the basketball. Davidson is fourth in the country in 3-point percentage, making over 41% of its shots from beyond the arc.

Wildcats guard Foster Loyer averages 15.8 points per game and shoots over 53% on 3-point attempts. Forward Sam Mennenga shoots 57.1% from beyond the arc.

But with all of its talented perimeter players, Alabama’s primary focus will be slowing down forward Hyunjung Lee. Lee leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 18.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Lee can also stretch the floor, as he has knocked down 27 3-pointers this season.

“We’re excited to play in Birmingham again,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “I just want to thank Davidson for volunteering to come out. They’re a good team. They’re fourth in the country in 3-point percentage right now. They’re going to test our defense. We’re really looking forward to playing in Birmingham. It’s great to honor C.M., who’s been such a pioneer in Alabama basketball history.”

Alabama guard JD Davison, who suffered a knee sprain in the first half against Jacksonville State, is expected to play.

“JD practiced some of the stuff, so he’ll be a go,” Oats said. “I think he’ll be fine.”

The matchup between Alabama and Davidson will be played at the newly renovated Legacy Arena in downtown Birmingham. The city spent over $125 million updating the venue.

Tip-off from the “Magic City” will be Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised on SEC Network+.