Dayton back in blue against UNLV one year after loss in Las Vegas

Flyers have won three games in a row

The Chapel Blue uniforms return for the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday when they play UNLV at 9 p.m. at UD Arena.

There was some minor confusion earlier this fall when UD teased the return of the uniforms in a video on social media. Instead of showing the Chapel Blue uniforms, which debuted last season, they showed a video of Tom Blackburn Court changing color with the UD Arena scoreboard showing Dayton playing UNLV in the background.

Some fans thought UD would paint the court for one game. That was never going to happen. UD Arena Director Scott DeBolt has not been spotted with blue paint on his fingernails.

Instead, Dayton will show off its alternative look for a game it needs to win to keep the momentum going in what has, so far, been a successful non-conference season. Anthony Grant always judges the season based on whether his team is improving. After a 76-46 victory Saturday against Grambling State, he said it is.

“We have a certain standard that we want to play,” Grant said, “and we’ve got to be able to do that for 40 minutes. I thought we made steps in that direction. We weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we showed some progress tonight. We talked about needing to be better from a defensive standpoint. We’re still looking at different combinations and seeing what the possibilities could be, but I’m excited about the different possibilities.”

This is the second matchup in a two-game series between Dayton (6-2) and UNLV (3-3). The Flyers entered the game last season in Las Vegas, Nev., with a No. 21 ranking in the Associated Press top-25 poll after beating Lindenwood and Southern Methodist in their first two games. UNLV outscored Dayton 38-20 in the second half and 16-8 in the final eight minutes to win 60-52.

Dayton played that game without Malachi Smith, who missed the first four games with an ankle injury. Toumani Camara was limited to 12 minutes and didn’t play in the second half after hurting his knee. UNLV limited DaRon Holmes to two points on 1-of-5 shooting in 33 minutes.

“I thought (UNLV) did a really good job with the physicality,” Grant said. “They were a really tough team, and I thought that that kind of dictated the outcome in a lot of ways. They probably a lot of new faces. I really haven’t had a chance to look at them as of yet. But we expect it to be a great opportunity and a great challenge.”

After beating Dayton last season, UNLV won seven more games to start 10-0. It then lost nine of its next 11 games. It finished 19-13 and 7-11 in the Mountain West Conference.

UNLV lost two double-digit scorers, Elijah Harkless and Keshon Gilbert, who combined for 30 points against Dayton. It has four double-digit scorers this season: Kalib Boone (13.8), who played the last four seasons at Oklahoma State; Luis Rodriguez (12.2), a sixth-year player in his second season at UNLV; Jalen Hill (11.5), who played the last four seasons at Oklahoma; and freshman Dedan Thomas Jr. (10.8), a five-star recruit in the 2024 class who reclassified to the 2023 class.

UNLV opened the season with an 85-71 loss at home to Southern, which is off to a 2-6 start and ranks 206th in the NET. The Rebels’ other losses are to No. 85 Richmond and No. 107 Florida State. They have victories against No. 141 Akron, No. 234 Pepperdine and No. 239 Stetson. UNLV ranks 197th in the NET, while Dayton is 42nd.

UNLV beat Akron 72-70 in its last game. An 18-point lead shrunk to two in the final minutes. The Zips had a chance to win the game with long 3-point attempt in the final seconds.

“So proud of the guys,” UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said after the game. “That was a big win over a very good Akron team. We stumbled a little bit last week and lost a little of our swagger and confidence. That’s one of those things that you can’t say, ‘Be confident.’ That’s not how it works. You have to get in the gym, keep working. Tonight we came out with a lot more of what we expected to be as a team and did a great job, shared the ball and shot it the way we want to. That’s an Akron team that is going to win a lot of games.”


Dayton vs. UNLV, 9 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 1290, 95.7

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