Dayton Flyers: 10 reasons for 10 straight victories

Dayton reaches halfway point of A-10 schedule Saturday

One of the biggest Dayton Flyers fans, Dr. Stephen Levitt, posed for a photo with a number of other fans in the first row in the second half Wednesday at PPG Paints Arena. UD led by 19 at that moment. Levitt knew from experience it was far from over.

“I’m still nervous,” he said with a smile.

Almost immediately Duquesne began its comeback, proving Levitt's thinking correct, though in the end, this team provided another example of why it is different than so many past Dayton teams. Dayton escaped with a 73-69 victory against Duquesne in Pittsburgh.

The No. 7 Flyers (19-2, 8-0) improved to 5-0 on the road in Atlantic 10 Conference play, extending their winning streak to 10 games entering a 4:30 p.m. Saturday matchup against F0rdham (7-13, 1-7) at UD Arena.

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Dayton’s longest winning streak since 2008 has pushed the buzz surrounding the program to a new level. Here are 10 reasons for the 10 victories:

1. Obi Toppin's consistency: Since a seven-game stretch in which he failed to reach 20 points, Toppin has hit that mark six times in the last nine games. He's averaging 19.9 points in A-10 play, ranking second in the conference.

2. Toppin's dunks: Toppin dunked four times against Duquesne, bringing his season total to 71 and his career total to 154. He has scored 142 of his 416 points (34.1 percent) on dunks.

One of Toppin’s dunks Wednesday gained national attention on social media. He rebounded a missed 3-pointer in the second minute of the second half and dunked it with one hand. The putback slam is one of his specialties.

Toppin leads the country in dunks. Kansas center Udoka Azubuike, who has 63 dunks, is the only other player with more than 50.

Toppin is on pace to break the UD single-season record of 83 dunks. He set that last year. He's also getting closer to the career record of 177 set by Chris Wright from 2007-11.

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3. Jalen Crutcher's star turn: The winner of the last two A-10 Player of the Week awards, Crutcher has seen his scoring rise at a rapid rate in conference play. He averaged 12.9 points in 12 non-conference games and has averaged 17.9, the fifth-highest total in the league, in A-10 games.

4. Crutcher's big shots: The winning streak is alive only because of Crutcher's last-second 3-pointer in overtime against Saint Louis. He hit another big shot from the same place on the floor at Duquesne. A 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half gave Dayton a 38-30 halftime lead.

5. Trey Landers' efficiency: The senior guard leads the team in effective field-goal percentage (66.4), which combines 2-point shots and 3-pointers and gives more weight to the 3s. That percentage ranks 13th in the country. Toppin ranks 18th (66.1).

6. Ibi Watson's shooting: He has made 17 of 38 3-pointers in the 10 games. That's right on his season percentage of 44.8.

7. Ryan Mikesell's skills: While he has struggled with his accuracy behind the arc (28.6 percent), he's another reason Dayton leads the country in 2-point shooting percentage (62.9) by a wide margin — no other team shoots better than 58 percent. Mikesell knows how to get to the basket when his outside shot isn't falling. He has made 60 of 91 shots (65.9 percent) inside the arc, many times while getting fouled on drives to the basket, and ranks 41st in the country.

8. Veteran leadership: Dayton didn't panic when it trailed Saint Joseph's by seven early in the second half or Saint Louis by 13 in the final 10 minutes. It also never lost the lead against Duquesne despite blowing most of that 19-point advantage and then most of an 11-point lead in the final minutes.

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“The thing that jumps out about them is their high character,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot said. “Tough. Consistently mature.”

9. Competent defense: Four of the last 10 opponents have shot worse than 40 percent from the field. No one has shot better than 46 percent. In Dayton's biggest test of the last 10 games, it held Virginia Commonwealth to 15 percent shooting (3-20) from 3-point range.

Dayton’s defense has weak spots, but judging by the Ken Pomeroy stats, it is almost twice as good as last season. It ranked 103rd a year ago in efficiency and ranks 53rd this season. Rodney Chatman leads Dayton with 27 steals. Toppin leads the team with 29 blocks.

10. Big runs: Dayton took over the VCU game with a 22-0 run in the second half. The St. Bonaventure game turned on a 22-5 run to end the first half. A 28-6 run led to an 87-79 victory at Richmond. Dayton had runs of nine and 10 points against Duquesne.


Fordham at Dayton, 4:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network; 1290 and 95.7 WHIO

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