Dayton gets third chance against SMU after losses last two seasons

Flyers hope to build on season-opening rout of Lindenwood in second game of season

Fans can now buy Whit’s Frozen Custard at UD Arena at concession stands behind sections 202 and 214. They can pick from four flavors: vanilla, chocolate, Rudy Red and Flyer Madness.

Meanwhile, the road from Flyer Madness, the ice cream, to March Madness, the basketball tournament continues. The Dayton Flyers took a baby step Monday with a 73-46 victory against Lindenwood University, and they can take a slightly longer leap at 7 p.m. Friday with their first true test of the 2022-23 season.

No. 24 Dayton (1-0) plays Southern Methodist University (1-0) at UD Arena in the second game of the season. The teams have played in each of the last two seasons. The Mustangs won both games.

SMU has a new coach, Rob Lanier, who was hired in March when Tim Jankovich retired after the season, and nine newcomers. The Mustangs finished 24-9 last season and, like Dayton, settled for a NIT berth for the second straight season.

“I think it’s completely different personnel, a completely different system,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said Monday. “They played tonight, so we’ll be able to get the film from tonight, and our assistant coaches do a really good job of preparing our guys. I’m sure we’ll have them as prepared as we possibly can for Friday.”

SMU beat Dayton 66-64 on Dec. 5, 2020, at UD Arena in the second game of that pandemic-delayed season. Emmanuel Bandoumel got the bounce on a jump shot with 0.2 seconds to play. For Dayton, the loss ended a 21-game winning streak that started with the final 20 games of the 2019-20 season.

Only two Dayton players who saw action in that game remain with the team. Zimi Nwokeji, then a redshirt freshman, played eight minutes. R.J. Blakney, a true freshman, played two minutes. Neither scored. No players from SMU who saw action in that game remain with the team.

Last season, Dayton lost 77-69 to SMU at Moody Coliseum in Dallas. Kendric Davis, who scored 21 against Dayton in 2020, scored 19 in the second game. He’s now playing at Memphis.

Zach Nutall and Jalen Smith combined for 16 points against Dayton last season and are the team’s two returning starters. Zhuric Phelps scored nine points off the bench for SMU against Dayton last season and led the team with 28 points Monday in a season-opening 77-60 victory against Texas A&M-Commerce.

Dayton led for the majority of the first half but trailed 36-28 at halftime after giving up a 12-2 run late in the half. DaRon Holmes II led Dayton with 15 points. The Flyers shot 27.3% (6 of 22) from 3-point range.

SMU’s new coach, Lanier, has a connection to the Dayton staff because he worked on Billy Donovan’s staff at Florida from 2007-11. He joined the Gators two years after Grant left for the head coaching job at VCU but worked with Darren Hertz, who has been on Grant’s staff at Dayton for six seasons now.

Lanier also has experienced UD Arena. He won a NCAA tournament game as the head coach at Siena in 2002 in the opening round at UD Arena. Siena beat Alcorn State 81-77.

Siena overcame a 4-10 start and a 16-18 regular season to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament and earn a NCAA tournament berth.

Lanier also coached at UD Arena as an assistant at St. Bonaventure in 1996.

“It’s one of the best atmospheres in all of college basketball,” Lanier said in his postgame press conference Monday. “Tremendous place. Tremendous fan base. I love the people on that staff. Anthony Grant is a good friend. Ricky (Ricardo) Greer is a close friend. Darren Hertz is a close friend. I know exactly how good they are. I know what kind of job they do. I know what we’re up against between the venue and those people. We’ve got our work cut out for us, and we’re still trying to find ourselves. It’ll be nice to go in as an underdog — not from a motivational standpoint, but just like trying to get these guys to get lost in the game and not have a script. They know they’re going to have to fight every possession. I think that’ll be good medicine for us.”

Dayton’s depth could be an issue in this game. Grant did not provide a timetable after the game on the return of Malachi Smith, Koby Brea and Richard Amaefule, who were on the bench in street clothes, and Kaleb Washington, who was suspended before the season, was not on the bench. Another player, Tyrone Baker, will redshirt this season, Grant said Monday.

That leaves the Flyers with seven scholarship players and walk-on Brady Uhl, who was one of the first players off the bench and played 12 minutes.

“Like (Grant) told us, it’s just a great opportunity for some guys to step up play different roles than they’re used to playing,” Dayton forward Mustapha Amzil said. “I think it makes our team better because when Malachi and Kobe and other guys come back, we’re going to be really good.”


SMU at Dayton, 7 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 1290, 95.7

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