Dayton Flyers offense ranks among nation’s best

UD improves to 6-1 with season-high 99-point performance against Houston Baptist

Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant paused for five seconds before answering one question in his postgame press conference following a 99-68 victory Tuesday against Houston Baptist at UD Arena.

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Playing its first game as the nation’s 19th-ranked team, Dayton trailed the winless Huskies by as many as nine points twice in the first seven minutes before asserting itself and eventually turning the game into the rout everyone knew it would be.

It was a tie game with five minutes to play in the first half. From that point, Dayton dominated, but the first 15 minutes created questions about how Dayton might handle success down the line.

“A lot of publicity this week about this being a special team,” a reporter said after the game. “How do you keep this team from believing they’re too special too soon?”

“We just deal in the truth,” Grant said. “At the end of the day, what’s the difference between our team 10 days ago and today? We’ve got the same group of guys. We try to control the things we can control. There’s a lot of things out there we have no control over. When you’re dealing with young people, sometimes you have to get a reality check. Maybe the first 10 minutes tonight was somewhat of that. That’s always a part of it. I get the reason for your question, but for me as a coach, it doesn’t change anything about what we’re trying to do and what we’re preparing for and what’s real for this group.”

What is real for Dayton? Here are seven things.

1. The offense continues to rank among the best in the country: Dayton entered the game with the nation's best field-goal percentage (53.8), the second-best assists average (19.5 per game) and fifth-highest scoring offense (87.0 points per game).

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With a season-high 99 points and 30 assists, tied for the third-highest total in school history, Dayton is now averaging 88.7 points and 21 assists while shooting 54.7 percent from the field.

2. Everyone is contributing to that offense: Chase Johnson scored a career-high 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting to lead five players in double figures. Ten players scored, including walk-on Jared Becker, who dunked in the final seconds instead of running out the clock.

Jhery Matos hit two straight 3-pointers during a 10-0 run that turned a 35-30 deficit into a 40-35 lead.

3. The slow start can be forgiven considering the circumstances: Dayton was playing its first game after the runner-up finish in the Maui Invitational. The Huskies (0-6), who were playing their fourth straight top-40 team, played as if they were hungry for their first win. Jalon Gates, who scored 16 points, made four 3-pointers in a three-minute span early in the first half.

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“They came out hitting shots,” Dayton guard Trey Landers said. “He hit some tough shots. They were fired up. They were watching those (Maui) games and watched us play on the big stage. They wanted to get a piece of us. We kind of anticipated that and had to take the blow at first, and in the second half, we came out with much more intensity on the defensive end, which helped us on the offensive end.”

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

4. Landers has proven to be a strong leader and consistent performer: The senior guard scored a season-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He's averaging 9.9 points while shooting 59.1 percent from the field.

“I thought Trey’s leadership was really vital to us tonight,” Grant said. “Early in the first half, you heard his voice in terms of what needed to be happening and what we needed to do. He did a great job of leading through some difficulties early in the game. When there was momentum, whether he was on the floor or off the floor, you heard his voice.”

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5. Obi Toppin still can't be stopped: Toppin scored a season-low 17 points but dunked five times and grabbed 10 rebounds. His production was limited because he didn't play in the last 13 minutes. The coaches could afford to rest him as the lead expanded to double digits.

6. Ibi Watson is the team's most dangerous 3-point shooter: He made 4 of 7 3-pointers and scored 12 points. He's shooting a team-best 45.5 percent (15 of 33) from long range, living up to the offseason praise by his teammates, who called him a "lights-out shooter."

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

7. Jordy Tshimanga has made fast progress: Appearing in his third game of the season and his first game at UD Arena, the redshirt junior center scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting in 13 minutes. He missed the first three games with a knee injury and played nine minutes in Maui after being cleared for full-contact practices two days before the tournament began.

“What was great to see tonight was Jordy has really good feet for a guy his size,” Grant said, “and he got in situations tonight where he was on the perimeter as a help defender, and we got a chance to see some of that. He’s starting to get himself to where he feels really good. He still doesn’t physically have the consistency of conditioning that he’ll get. Every day he’s getting a little better. He works at it.”

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