Davidson heads to KC looking to upset No. 3 Kansas

Wildcats look to pull off upset in second consecutive game against top-10 foe.

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Davidson guard Jack Gibbs (12) shoots a three point shot against North Carolina at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill on Wednesday

Few schools in the country will face a tougher two-game stretch all year than the one the Davidson Wildcats (5-3) will complete on Saturday night. Davidson’s trip to face No. 3 Kansas at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., follows an 83-74 loss at No. 7 North Carolina on Dec. 8.The Wildcats will be coming off a 10-day break for exams. Coach Bob McKillop’s team struggled to keep pace with the Tar Heels for most of the night, but mounted a late comeback after falling behind 42-32 at halftime. Despite trailing 66-51 with 8:15 to play, Davidson cut the lead to 76-73 with less than two minutes remaining. But Kennedy Meeks converted two free throws on the following possession, and Carolina put the game away by forcing a turnover and hitting two more from the line to make it 80-73. The Wildcats made things interesting in Chapel Hill thanks to big games from senior guard Jack Gibbs and junior forward Peyton Aldridge, who scored 22 points. Gibbs, among the country’s top scorers with an average of 24.3 points per game, gave the Tar Heels fits. He finished with 30 points on 9-for-20 shooting from the field, including 5-for-10 from beyond the arc. A preseason first-team Atlantic 10 selection, Gibbs has had plenty of help this season from Aldridge, a preseason third-team all-conference player averaging 20 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.Gibbs, Aldridge and the Wildcats have another opportunity for a head-turning win on national TV when the clash with the Jayhawks tips off at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Davidson’s days of sneaking up on anyone probably ended when Stephen Curry took the team to the Elite 8 in 2008, but few teams are less likely to overlook the Wildcats than the Jayhawks. It was eventual national champion Kansas that ended the run by Curry and Co. that year in a memorable 59-57 game. The only other meeting between the programs took place in 2011, when Davidson won 80-74 over a Kansas team that played for the national championship a few months later.This year’s Jayhawks lost a 103-99 thriller to No. 9 Indiana in the season opener, but have since reeled off nine straight. The winning streak started with a 77-75 win over then-No. 1 Duke. Each of Kansas’s last eight wins have come by comfortable margins. The team’s 65-54 victory against Georgia was the closest game of the streak. The Jayhawks are led by a trio of players who combine for nearly 50 points a game in guard Frank Mason (20.5), Devonte Graham (13.7) and highly-touted freshman Josh Jackson (14.8). FOUR JOIN FOLD: McKillop this week announced the names of four players who will join the Wildcats for next season. In addition to in-state products Carter Collins (East Chapel Hill) and Bates Jones (Charlotte Latin), Davidson also received National Letters of Intent from two 6-foot-5 guards, Kellan Grady of Boston and Luke Frampton of Poca High School in Poca, W.Va. Collins, 6-foot-3, is a guard who holds his school’s all-time scoring record. Jones stands 6’8” and is also an all-state quarterback whose older brother is Duke QB Daniel Jones.