SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Jordan Downing has already earned a nickname from his coach: The Microwave.
"He heats up pretty quick," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said.
JP Kuhlman had 16 points and nine rebounds, and Downing scored big baskets off the bench to lead Davidson to a 64-51 win over Western Kentucky on Sunday in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament.
"I'm just trying to do my best, keep my confidence up," said Downing, a freshman guard. "I know it's a slow process for me to get used to. I think the most the important thing for me is just to keep my head up and do what the coaches ask me to do."
Downing, who didn't play in the first half, came off the bench in the second and surprised the Hilltoppers with three successive long jumpers that gave Davidson a 49-36 lead.
Downing, though, wasn't finished with shooting like former Davidson star Stephen Curry. His fourth straight jumper made it 55-47 and had his bench going wild. He hit his first four shots and scored eight points.
"He's a great shotmaker," McKillop said. "We know he can produce points for us."
Downing was subbed out soon after and was greeted at the bench by high-fives from McKillop and appreciative pats on the head from his teammates. Brendan McKillop, the coach's son, nailed a 3 that made it 60-47 and gave them the cushion needed to win their second straight game in the tournament.
Downing had nine points coming into the game.
"I know he wants to be a great player," coach McKillop said. "The struggles that he's had have been the typical freshman struggles, learning a new language, understanding the dynamics of team defense. He watched film last night to get better."
Juan Patillo had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Western Kentucky (3-2). Pettigrew added 11 points.
Davidson went 2-1 in the tournament and the Hilltoppers went 1-2.
Davidson outhustled Western Kentucky in the second half, flying and diving for loose balls and going hard for rebounds. Kuhlman was a perfect example of that when he missed a long jumper, crashed the boards and put back his miss to make it 43-34. Kuhlman was 7 for 10 overall. Clint Mann had nine points and nine rebounds.
The Wildcats had a 45-34 edge on the boards.
Led by Downing, the Wildcats shot 57 percent in the second half.
"He made two really, tough contested ones and got the hot hand a little bit," Western Kentucky coach Ken McDonald said. "He didn't look like a normal Davidson guy. He kind of went and got his own shot. He was impressive."
Davidson raced to a 15-point lead, then didn't score a field goal the final 7:53 of the first half. That let the Hilltoppers close to 28-22 at halftime.
"Some guys just didn't bring it today," Pettigrew said. "If one or two of them don't bring it, it kind of spreads around the whole team."