Fort Hays State University junior Rob Davis sensed that he was in a different sort of zone during Saturday morning’s shoot-around before the Tigers welcomed Central Oklahoma to Gross Memorial Coliseum.
It showed early in the Tigers’ 91-74 win over the visiting Bronchos. Davis buried his first 3-pointer 19 seconds into the game. After Craig Nicholson made it 6-0 from deep, Davis hit his second triple, making it 9-0 and forcing a UCO timeout less than two minutes into the first half.
It was the start of a career night for Davis. He scored a career-high 36 points on 13-of-18 shooting and 8 of 10 from three. His eight 3-pointers is third best output in program history.
Davis’s hot hand spread to his teammates. As a whole, FHSU shot 15 of 22 from distance.
“We had a great offensive night,” FHSU coach Mark Johnson said. “We shot the ball well, obviously Rob had a very special night.”
Perimeter shooting is one of the Tigers’ strengths, but Saturday’s efficiency was a result of unselfish play and quality looks.
“Now, we’re not going to shoot it like that most nights, but I think we did a great job of getting good shots,” Johnson said. “When we do get open looks at three, we’re going to make a lot of them.”
Davis credited Tiger big man Dom Samac for helping the Tigers’ guards find open looks despite scoring just six points on the night.
“Dom is a tremendous force in the post,” Davis said. “We give him the ball, they double, and he’s excellent at kicking it out. We just gotta step up and make big shots.”
Jake Stoppel put the Tigers up 11 less than four minutes into the action, but the Bronchos wasted little time getting back into the game. Jordan London hit from deep and drew a foul after stealing the ball from Hadley Gillum. After London sunk two free throws, the Tigers lead was cut to four with 13:11 until halftime.
Gillum and Davis strung together consecutive 3-pointers in the next minute to get the Tiger advantage back to 10. The Bronchos got within four again after a 9-0 run brought it to 22-18 with 8:34 left in the first half.
FHSU’s hot shooting provided a 42-32 halftime lead. Five different Tigers connected from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes, but Davis stood above the rest, scoring 19 points on 5 of 6 from deep.
“You gotta take what the defense gives you,” Johnson said. “Some nights it’s going to be this guy, another night it’s going to be an opportunity for someone else. Tonight was Rob’s night.”
Most of the second half was played with FHSU comfortably ahead. The Tigers took their first 20-point lead following a three-point play by Nicholson with six minutes left. Despite his career night, Davis said individual accomplishments didn’t change the way he thought about the game.
“It just feels like any other game,” Davis said. “I’m out here with my brothers, and we’re here to get the job done.”
Getting the job done was especially important after the Tigers dropped a pair of road games a week ago.
“After the two losses we took, we had a fire burning under us,” Davis said. “We had to go and get the job done.”
The Tigers will look to get the job done again next week with another road swing starting at Missouri Western on Thursday.