BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Roll ‘Cats.
The Davidson Wildcats knocked off No. 10 Alabama 79-78 Tuesday night in the inaugural C.M. Newton Classic at Legacy Arena, picking up their first top-10 win since they defeated No. 5 Wisconsin en route to the 2008 Elite Eight.
Now 9-2, Davidson has won eight straight games, with the win over the Crimson Tide coming right down to the wire.
Luka Brajkovic scored a game-high and career-high 22 points, and Michael Jones added a career-best 21 to lead the way. Hyunjung Lee scored 17, and Foster Loyer added 11 points and eight assists as the Wildcats shot 53 percent (31-of-58) from the field and 50 percent (12-of-24) from beyond the arc.
The Wildcats led for more than 30 minutes and took their lead to as many as 13 points, 54-41 at the 15:50 mark of the second half, following an 11-2 run that included dunks by Jones and Sam Mennenga 23 seconds apart and was capped by a Brajkovic putback in traffic.
Alabama (9-3) pulled even at 64-all, but Jones answered with a 3-pointer from the right wing with 6:26 left to give the Wildcats the lead for good.
Davidson pushed its lead to 79-69 with 2:01 left when Brajkovic banked in a trey from the top of the key, but the Crimson Tide cut into the lead from there, as the Wildcats did not score again.
An Alabama steal set up a Darius Miles dunk with 34 seconds left, making it 79-77, and Jahvon Quinerly hit 1-of-2 free throws with four seconds on the clock to make it 79-78.
But the Crimson Tide, having only committed four fouls in the half to that point, could do little to alter the final result, as the Wildcats closed the door by simply protecting the basketball against pressure defense. One final inbounds pass with 0.1 on the clock ended it.
After a slow start offensively, Davidson caught fire midway through the first 20 minutes. Trailing 10-4, the Wildcats used a 19-2 streak, highlighted by four of their eight treys in the half to go in front, 23-12.
The Crimson Tide chipped away to retake the lead, 35-34, but the ‘Cats closed the period with seven unanswered, including a triple by Loyer, to carry a 41-35 advantage into the break.
Jaden Shackelford scored 20 to lead the Crimson Tide.
COURTESY DAVIDSON ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS