Dayton seeks first non-conference victory in true road game since 2016

Flyers are 0-5 at Virginia Tech, which is off to an 8-1 start

Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant fielded a question from Hal McCoy, who covered the first game at UD Arena in 1969 and is still at every home game, on Saturday after an 80-74 victory against Southeastern Louisiana.

“Tough assignment Wednesday at Virginia Tech?” McCoy said.

“They’re all tough,” Grant said. “Today was a tough assignment.”

That’s been true for Dayton all season. Even its first opponent, Lindenwood, had a brief glimmer of hope early in the second half in a 73-46 loss to Dayton on Nov. 7.

However, considering Dayton (5-4) is playing Virginia Tech (8-1) at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va., at 8 p.m. Wednesday, this will go down as Dayton’s toughest non-conference game.

Dayton has not won in Blacksburg in five tries. The Hokies have won 14 straight non-conference home games since a 75-55 loss to Penn State on Dec. 8, 2020.

Virginia Tech just beat the preseason No. 1 team, North Carolina (5-4), 80-72 in Blacksburg on Sunday. The Hokies have lost only at the College of Charleston (8-1): 77-75 on Nov. 20.

If Dayton has one thing going for it, its recent success against Virginia Tech. Dayton beat Virginia Tech 62-57 last season at UD Arena and 89-62 in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational in 2019.

In the game a year ago, R.J. Blakney made 5 of 5 3-pointers and scored 19 points. The Flyers led by as many as 18 points in the second half and were never in any real danger of losing despite the slim margin.

“That was the worst five-point beating I’ve ever had last year in Flyer Arena,” Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said Sunday. “They’ve got much of the same cast back.”

Explore» PREVIEW: What to know about Wednesday's game

This is also type of game — a non-conference game in a true road environment, not on a neutral court — Dayton has not been able to win in the last six seasons. It is 0-6 in the Grant era.

Dayton’s two most experienced teams in 2019-20 and 2020-21 did not play a true road game in non-conference play, instead playing six games on neutral courts in those two seasons.

Dayton has not one of these games since the second game of the 2016-17 season when it beat Alabama 77-72. It didn’t even get to enjoy that victory because of the injury Josh Cunningham suffered in the final seconds.

Here’s the list of Dayton’s losses in these games since 2017:

• Dec. 3, 2017: Mississippi State 61, Dayton 59

The Flyers rallied from a 21-point second-half deficit only to lose on a layup by Quinndary Weatherspoon with 0.8 seconds to play.

• Dec. 19, 2017: Saint Mary’s 69, Dayton 54

The Flyers hung with Saint Mary’s for one half and still had a chance with seven minutes to play. Then momentum shifted — and fast. The Gaels scored 14 straight points in a four-minute span.

• Dec. 8, 2018: Auburn 82, Dayton 72

Dayton made 11 of 23 3-pointers and shot 48.2 percent from the field, but turnovers doomed Dayton in this game. It committed a season-high 23. The Flyers got as close as six points in the second half after falling behind by 19.

• Dec. 8, 2021: Southern Methodist 77, Dayton 69

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. In the second half, Dayton trailed by as many as 15 points but cut the SMU lead to 70-67 on a 3-pointer by Mustapha Amzil with 44 seconds to play. That capped a 10-0 run, but Dayton could get no closer in the final minute.

• Dec. 18, 2021: Mississippi 76, Dayton 68

Ole Miss took control early with a 15-4 run to start the game. Dayton rallied to cut the deficit to 23-20 with 3:39 to play only to give up a 11-4 run in the last 3:23. In the second half, Ole Miss extended its lead to 13 points in the opening minute. Dayton cut the deficit to five points six times in the first 10 minutes.

• Nov. 15, 2022: UNLV 60, Dayton 52

UNLV outscored Dayton 38-20 in the second half and 16-8 in the final eight minutes. After a 3-pointer by Koby Brea with 6:46 to play, Dayton missed its last five field-goal attempts of the game and committed five turnovers in the same span. It scored its last five points at the free-throw line. The Flyers committed 24 turnovers.

WEDNESDAY’S GAME

Dayton at Virginia Tech, 8 p.m., ACC Network, 1290, 95.7

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