Dayton Flyers Throwback Thursday: Looking back at Mike Sylvester’s perfect night

Sylvester owned single-game field-goal percentage for 44 years by himself until Wednesday

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Thursday we’ll dive into the archives to look back at Dayton Flyers basketball history.

Redshirt freshman forward Obi Toppin has played only 11 games in a Dayton Flyers uniform, but he already owns or shares two school records.

Toppin set the record for dunks in a game with eight against Detroit Mercy and tied Mike Sylvester's single-game field-goal percentage mark Wednesday by making 11 of 11 attempts in a 85-72 victory against Western Michigan.

» MORE GAME COVERAGE: Photo gallery | ForArchdeacon on Toppin, Crutcher | Five takeaways | Cunningham ends free-throw slump

Toppin, Sylvester and Mike Kanieski (10 of 10 on Dec. 29, 1981, against Hofstra) are the only players in school history to attempt at least 10 shots in a game without a miss.

Here’s a look back at Sylvester’s game. The 6-foot-5 guard, a Cincinnati Moeller graduate, was a senior in 1973-74 and averaged 17.1 points per game. This excerpt of a story by Gary Nuhn appeared in the Feb. 24, 1974, edition of the Dayton Daily News:

Perfection carries UD

DAYTON — There was only way to stop Mike Sylvester Saturday night, and that was for something calling itself the Xavier Liberation Army (XLA) to kidnap Mike and hold him for ransom — say, two chicken dinners at Colonel Sanders’ house.

The XLA was nowhere to be found unfortunately for the Xavier basketball team. Sly Michael slipped through Xavier for 11 field goals in 11 tries, two short of the school record (for consecutive field goals), as Dayton destroyed XU 86-55 in before 11,702 at UD Arena.

» ARCHDEACON: Sylvester lone American medalist in 1980 Olympics

And Sylvester did his 11-for-11 act in just 25 minutes of hysteria. He was 8-for-8 in the first half and 3-for-3 in the second when, with 14:40 to go and 24 points to his name, he was accused of his fourth foul. Seven of the 11 were from outside, four were layups.

“If I had known he was that close to the record, I would have left him in,” said UD Coach Don Donoher. “But I didn’t find out until about six minutes to go, and by that time I thought about it for a second and decided it would be the wrong thing to do. We had such a big lead and everything, it just wouldn’t have been right.”

By the time Donoher discovered how close Sylvester was to Donnie May’s record of 13-for-13 set in the NCAA semifinals of 1967 (May made 16 of 22 in that game), Dayton was ahead by 30 points.

Actually, Xavier did find one way to stop Dayton’s 6-5 senior forward. On a fast break in the first half, as Sylvester went up to shoot, a blue Xavier warmup jacket came flying off the bench. The official blew his whistle as Sylvester was in the air. The warmup jacket landed at Sylvester’s feet and the ball, as always, went in the basket. Alas, the basket didn’t count, or Sylvester would have been 12-for-12.

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“The way it was explained to me, someone running down the floor behind me grabbed the jacket of Pete Accetta’s lap,” said Sylvester. “At least, that’s what Accetta said.

“Yes, I knew I hadn’t missed a shot,” said Sylvester. “Because usually when I miss a shot, it upsets me, especially if it’s a bad shot. But it really doesn’t surprise me cause I’ve been shooting so good lately. I’m in such a groove now. I can’t imagine having a bad night.”

What may have been overlooked while Sylvester was shooting with offensive perfection was his defense on Xavier’s leading scorer, Mike Plunkett.

Plunkett, averaging 15.5, hit just 1-for-9 and finished with two points.

“Sylvester does something that really great athletes in all sports do,” said Xavier Coach Tay Baker. “He takes charge out there. He goes out and tells his man, ‘Hey, I’m gonna whip you tonight.’ You can call it confidence or whatever. But he’s out there to show the guy he’s playing against that he’s the boss.”

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