Curry's 33 points power Davidson past James Madison

NORMAN, Okla. -- Most everyone else is talking about Stephen Curry's switch to point guard this season. Davidson coach Bob McKillop wants to discuss the Wildcats' defense.

Curry had 33 points and nine assists Monday night and the 21st-ranked Wildcats beat James Madison 99-64 in the first round of the NIT Season Tip-Off, a rout that began with an 11-0 start fueled by defense.

"Our defense set the tone for this night," McKillop said. "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. What particularly impressed me most was our communication on defense."

Curry made the move from shooting guard to point guard for his junior season, but so far it hasn't affected his scoring. His outing against James Madison (0-1) marked the 16th time in his career he's scored 30 or more points in a game for Davidson (2-0).

He left the game for good with five minutes left, missing what would have been his fourth career double-double by one assist. Curry was 14-of-19 from the field, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, and committed four turnovers.

"Every game we try to get better as a team, and I'm getting more comfortable with the ball in my hands," Curry said.

"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," he said.

Somewhat lost in Curry's usual slew of points is that he also contributed four steals to Davidson's total of 10, the second time in as many games this season the Wildcats have reached double figures in that statistical category.

"You can see him continue to grow and get better as a point guard in his decision-making and leadership, two challenges that point guards and quarterbacks always have to master," McKillop said. "He's got the technical skills. We know that."

James Madison coach Matt Brady said opposing teams "can try and take the ball out of [Curry's] hands, but what you'll find is [they] have a plan for that. ... They'll find open shooters."

Davidson's win helped set up a showdown of preseason All-Americas, as the Wildcats advanced to play Oklahoma, led by sophomore Blake Griffin. The Sooners beat Mississippi Valley State 94-53.

Davidson, which was ranked in the preseason poll for the first time since the 1969-70 season, has won 27 of its last 28 games, the only loss coming to eventual national champion Kansas in the round of eight in last season's NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats cruised against James Madison, which was playing its first game under Brady, who coached the last four seasons at Marist.

"That's a program that has indoctrinated their style of play and understands what it takes to win," Brady said of Davidson. "We have a ways to go until we get to that point.

"It's hard to simulate their level of defense. This is my 22nd year in this business ... and that defense is as good as I've seen, ever, with their understanding of how to play together and switch and to be physical and all those kinds of things," Brady said.

James Madison started with a hiccup, as after Davidson's first basket -- 23 seconds into the game -- Juwann James had to call a timeout because all of his teammates had already run downcourt, leaving him no one to throw the inbounds pass to.

It didn't improve much for the Dukes, who missed their first five shots while Davidson hit its first five and took the 11-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Bryant Barr less than three minutes into the game.

The Wildcats led by as many as 23 points before settling for a 50-30 halftime lead. James Madison came no closer than 18 points in the second half as Davidson extended the lead to as many as 35 points.

Andrew Lovedale had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Wildcats, while Barr scored 12 points and Brendan McKillop and Steve Rossiter had 10 each. Davidson committed only 10 turnovers.

Julius Wells had 21 points to lead the Dukes, who shot 35 percent from the field. Kyle Swanston went 4-of-6 from 3-point range and scored 12 points for James Madison and James added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

James Madison will play the Mississippi Valley State-Oklahoma loser on Tuesday. It was the Dukes' first loss by 30 or more points since falling 89-53 to Georgetown on Dec. 5, 2006.