Dayton students started chanting “Stick to football” at the Alabama basketball players as the Flyers widened their lead in the second half Tuesday at UD Arena. Somewhere Rick Chamberlin, coach of the undefeated Dayton football program, was dialing up Nick Saban, hoping to schedule the Crimson Tide for a weekday afternoon game at Welcome Stadium.
Until that happens, Dayton will stick to basketball. Behind 21 points from junior forward Charles Cooke and 13 points and 11 rebounds from freshman center Steve McElvene, the Flyers routed Alabama 80-48 in front of 12,118 fans who either skipped work or planned months ahead to take a vacation day.
Dayton rewarded their devotion with a dominant performance in front of a national television audience on ESPN in the 11th of 16 games in ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon. The Flyers have won 11 of their last 14 games against the SEC.
“Being a part of the marathon, playing a 1 o’clock game, being front and center in front of the nation, we’ve been waiting on this one for a while,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “I thought our crowd was tremendous as usual. The big thing to take away from our team today is we’re starting to play the style, particularly on defense, that we’re going to need to play to get to where we want to get to.
“I thought the effort level was really good. We grew up even from Friday in many ways in terms of how tough we have to be. Playing against that type of size and physicality, we matched it.”
Dayton (2-0) extended its home winning streak to 24 games, six short of matching the school record.
Ten Dayton players scored at least two points and grabbed at least one rebound. Seven players had assists. Six had steals. This was a True Team victory in every way.
The Flyers led 40-24 at halftime despite losing junior forward Kendall Pollard to foul trouble four minutes into the first half. The Flyers led by 31 when Pollard, the team’s top returning scorer — unless Dyshawn Pierre returns from suspension in December — got on the board with 4:32 left in the game.
“You couldn’t have told me in a million years that if Kendall only scored two points in 17 minutes, we would have had a chance to win,” Miller said.
Point guard Scoochie Smith had 15 points, three assists, four steals and one turnover in 28 minutes. Guard Kyle Davis filled the box score with three points, seven rebounds, two assists and three steals in 22 minutes.
“I really give Scoochie (Smith) credit for holding it down while (Pollard) wasn’t out there,” Miller said. “Scoochie looks like he’s starting to play with that confidence he had at the end of the year. I thought Kyle (Davis), being able to be out there for long stretches as well, caused a lot of problems defensively.”