Khari Price looked as if he were playing a live-action version of Frogger at times in the second half Saturday at UD Arena. Massachusetts, desperate to climb out of a 12-point hole, threw waves of defenders at him, trying to disrupt the Dayton point guard and force turnovers.
Price got the ball across half court almost every time. He finished with five assists and two turnovers in 27 minutes in Dayton’s 86-79 victory. Price also added 10 points and hit a key 3-pointer with 5:50 remaining that gave Dayton its first double-digit lead, 66-56.
It all added up to what Dayton coach Archie Miller called the best game of the sophomore’s career.
“We had a lot of guys do a lot of different things,” Miller said. “Khari Price’s effort today was about as special an effort as you could get, especially considering what he’s been dealing with in January and February.”
Price scored a total of three points in the previous three games, and his shooting slump extended as far back as late January. Price made 2-of-6 shots Saturday. In the previous eight games, he made 7-of-31 (23 percent). In the first 16 games of the season, Price made 39-of-83 (47 percent).
Price said the tendinitis in his knees hasn’t been bothering him. It was just a slump.
“Anytime you’re in a slump, coaches say you’ve got to shoot yourself out of it,” Price said. “Stay confident. Keep putting up shots in practice. I knew they would fall. I’m a great shooter. They fell today, and it felt good.”
Robinson’s game: Dayton has been searching for more contributions from its big men, and Jalen Robinson has responded with two of his best back-to-back games of the season. He had 13 points and four rebounds in 15 minutes at Saint Joseph’s and had seven points and six rebounds in 19 minutes against UMass.
“Jalen was good,” Miller said. “He was one of our only breathing figures out there at Saint Joe’s. He was able to score the ball. Jalen is a very talented offensive player. He hasn’t gotten the minutes he’s accustomed to in order to get in a rhythm, but coming off the Saint Joe’s game, he gave us some confidence that offensively he could help us.”
Next game: Dayton opened the A-10 schedule with a 67-59 loss to Saint Louis at UD Arena. Now the Flyers get their second chance. They visit 10th-ranked Saint Louis for a 9 p.m. game Wednesday.
It’s another big opportunity for Dayton because the Billikens (25-3, 12-1) were 18th in the RPI going into a game Saturday night at Virginia Commonwealth.
Around the A-10: In early action Saturday, Saint Joseph’s (21-7, 11-3) kept a solid grip on second place and recorded its sixth straight victory, 83-74 at Saint Bonaventure (16-13, 6-9).
Richmond (18-11, 8-6) scored 15 points in the first half and lost 66-43 at Rhode Island (13-17, 4-11). The Spiders are now tied with Dayton for sixth place, though they have the tiebreaker for now because they beat the Flyers on Jan. 18. Richmond visits Dayton in the regular-season finale at 7 p.m. Saturday.