Aube (front) receives a hug from Jon Davis after two big plays. Photo Credit: Charlotte Sports Information

Sideline views: Davis takes over

The Jon Davis Show

When a 14 point second half lead vanished and a fourth straight loss looked inevitable, the Charlotte 49ers best player took over the game. Sophomore point guard Jon Davis scored 23 points, 18 in the second half, to lead the 49ers to a 83–77 victory over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Thursday night.

After going two games in a row without logging an assist, Davis focused his early efforts on getting his teammates involved. His assist drought ended on the 49ers third possession as he found redshirt senior guard Braxton Ogbueze alone for a jumper near the baseline. Ogbueze swished the shot and Davis excitedly pumped his fist.

Ogbueze scored 13 points in the first half on the strength of three 3-poiners.

“I want to get my shooters hot,” said Davis. “Once they start hitting the whole dynamic of our team changes.”

The 49ers led 49–35 with 17:06 to play. That lead was gone within a matter within four minutes. The Hilltoppers led 54–53 and Davis completed a 3-point play to give the 49ers the lead again. The Hilltoppers would tie the score but could never retake the lead after that moment.

In addition to his 23 points, Davis dished six assists, grabbed two rebounds and secured a career high of four steals. “I think implementing that 1–3–1 really helped,” said Davis. “They were making lob passes over the top and I guess they underestimated my athletic ability because I think got two steals off them trying to throw the cross court pass to their big man.”

Another injury and the flu

Senior forward Anthony Vanhook is not the only Charlotte 49er donning body armor in games anymore. Redshirt junior guard Austin Ajukwa broke his nose in practice prior to the 49ers game against the Hilltoppers on Thursday.

Vanhook has a left shoulder injury that will require surgery after the season. He has continued to play but has worn a brace on his arm. “Hook’s (Vanhook) giving us all he’s got,” said Price. “He’s basically playing with one arm out there.”

Ajukwa wore a protective mask over his face but did not wear it as the team warmed up. Price said they weren’t sure how Ajukwa would play with the ailment, jokingly stating that the mask Ajukwa wore made him look “like a WWE wrestler.”

Ajukwa responded with a performance that helped the 49ers secure the three count. Ajukwa scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds, and added two assists, two blocks and one steal in 33 minutes of action.

Meanwhile, redshirt junior Hudson Price did not play as he battled the flu.

Balancing act

With one man down and another battling an injury, the 49ers took an all hands on deck approach against the Hilltoppers. Nine 49ers played and eight of them logged 13 minutes or more.

The 49ers had four scorers in double figures and perhaps most importantly, they won the rebounding battle 35–34. Each 49er that played grabbed at least two rebounds.

“I thought we really got good minutes from every single guy that came off the bench tonight,” said Price.

That included 13 minutes from senior Reid Aube, who secured two successive offensive rebounds on hustle plays in the last 93 seconds of the game to essentially seal the victory.

Turning the tables on turnovers

After being victimized by first half turnovers in their loss to Old Dominion, the 49ers turned the tables against the Hilltoppers. The 49ers forced 15 Hilltopper turnovers, scoring 25 points off of those opponent miscues.

Coverage from the game

From Brad Stephens of The Bowling Green Daily News, Hilltoppers come up short in 83–77 loss at Charlotte