Dayton Flyers: 5 storylines to watch in Saturday’s game vs. Presbyterian

Dayton’s Ryan Mikesell and Josh Cunningham slap hands after a stop against Western Michigan on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff
Dayton’s Ryan Mikesell and Josh Cunningham slap hands after a stop against Western Michigan on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

UD faces another team that likes to shoot from outside

Twice this season, Dayton Flyers point guard Jalen Crutcher has shot a technical foul, stepped off the foul line and then mimed as if he were slapping hands with teammates. Of course, there were no teammates. Players shoot technical free throws alone as their teammates watch from halfcourt.

Crutcher’s one-man act — easy to miss because it happens so fast — has attracted some attention on social media.

“I kind of did it in high school,” Crutcher said. “I do it at practice. It’s just a routine I do if my teammates aren’t there.”

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The lesson here for anyone watching Crutcher: Do what works. That’s a lesson the Flyers (6-5) are still learning with 20 games left in the regular season. They have two more chances to figure it out in December with a 2 p.m. Saturday home game against Presbyterian and then a 3:30 p.m. game against Georgia Southern a week later.

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For Dayton, everything hinges on the 18 Atlantic 10 Conference games — and the conference tournament, as well — that follow these last two non-conference games. These are the final tune-ups for what should be a wide-open conference race.

Here are five things to know about Dayton’s last game before Christmas:

1. Similar story: Like Western Michigan, which Dayton beat 85-72 on Wednesday, Presbyterian (6-6) enters this game on the heels of a impressive loss. The Broncos lost 70-62 at Michigan four days before playing at UD Arena. The Blue Hose lost 76-67 at Butler on Tuesday.

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Presbyterian shot 65.7 percent from the field and made 6 of 9 3-pointers against the Bulldogs in the first half. It led by as many as 14 points at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

It was a different story in the second half as the Blue Hose made 3 of 15 3-pointers and saw Butler pull away in the final 10 minutes.

2. Busy week: Dayton will play its third game in seven days Saturday. It started the week with a 72-67 loss to Tulsa in Uncasville, Conn.

“We’ve got a quick turnaround,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said Wednesday. “We’ve got a very good Presbyterian team that’s played a tough schedule. I had a chance to sneak a peek at them, and I’m really impressed with their team. It’s our third game in a week coming up. We’ve got to be able to get ready and get back on the court here soon.”

3. Tough tests: Dayton ranks 87th in the Ken Pomeroy ratings and is the fifth top-100 opponent Presbyterian has played. It lost 85-73 to No. 88 Charleston, 74-55 to No. 33 Marquette, 80-65 to No. 59 UCLA and to No. 32 Butler.

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Presbyterian, which is located in Clinton, S.C., has stayed in the area since its game at Butler. It toured the Indiana Pacers’ practice facility Wednesday and visited Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, Ind., on Thursday.

4. Outside shooters: Presbyterian will be the fourth team Dayton has played that ranks in the top 25 in the country in 3-pointers made per game. It ranks fourth with 11.6 per game.

Auburn (10.9) ranks 13th. Detroit Mercy (10.1) ranks 22nd. Purdue Fort Wayne (9.9) ranks 24th.

JC Younger (34 of 75, 45 percent) and Adam Flagler (32 of 79, 40 percent) lead the team in 3-point shooting.

5. Possible sellout: Fewer than 100 tickets remained as of Wednesday. If the game sells out, it will be the second of the season and the 123rd in UD Arena history.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Presbyterian at Dayton, 2 p.m., Spectrum One, ESPN+, AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO