Davidson needs to keep the ball in Stephen Curry’s hands as much as possible for a chance at upsetting Oklahoma.
At some point, he may have to contend with the Sooners’ Blake Griffin.
That’s likely when a pair of preseason All-Americans meet as No. 21 Davidson faces the 12th-ranked Sooners in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Tuesday night.
The intrigue of this possible matchup of young stars was almost immediate when the bracket for this event was first unveiled. Only the top four seeds received first- and second-round home games, leaving fifth-seeded Davidson (2-0) having to travel to second seed Oklahoma, and open the event with a 99-64 win over James Madison on Monday.
“It will be a great game for us in November to get that kind of competition,” Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. “You get to find out where you are, right now.”
Griffin and the Sooners (2-0) had an even easier time beating Mississippi Valley State 94-53 in the night’s other game at the Lloyd Noble Center. Despite going more than 12 minutes without a shot to start the game, the 6-foot-10 sophomore forward finished with 20 points, 19 rebounds and six steals.
Curry, fourth in the nation last season averaging 25.9 points per game, had 33 and nine assists in his second contest since moving to point guard. It was the 16th time junior scored at least 30.
“Every game we try to get better as a team, and I’m getting more comfortable with the ball in my hands,” said the 6-foot-2 Curry, who was 14-for-19 from the field and 4-for-6 from 3-point range after posting 29 points in a season-opening victory over Guilford on Friday.
“It’s a different challenge. I enjoy challenges and I enjoy playing this game. Me and my teammates try to have fun every time we step on the court as a team.”
Curry was one of five players in double figures for the Wildcats, who shot 58.5 percent and held the Dukes to 35.0 percent shooting while outrebounding them 41-28.
“The defensive capacity of this team grows day by day, practice by practice, and I think it can become a major foundation upon which we build this season,” said Davidson coach Bob McKillop, whose squad is the first Wildcats’ team to open the season in the Top 25 since 1969-70.
Davidson will have to be its best on the defensive end against Oklahoma and Griffin, who bypassed the NBA draft after averaging 14.7 points and 9.1 rebounds last season.
Griffin had set a career-high with 18 rebounds while scoring 24 in a season-opening win over American on Saturday.
“You never really have to emphasize rebounding to him,” Capel said. “That’s something he has the gift of doing. … Blake is going to get touches all year for us. He’s our best player.”
Thirteen players scored on Monday for the Sooners, who shot 53.3 percent and held the Delta Devils to 19 first-half points.
Oklahoma, which faces Davidson for the first time, looks to avoid a fifth consecutive loss to a ranked opponent in Norman. Davidson, meanwhile, is 0-12 since the start of the 1996-97 season when facing a Top 25 school on the road.
The winner of this contest advances to the semifinals against Nov. 26 at Madison Square Garden.