The Auburn Tigers turned UD Arena into your average basketball gym, robbing the Dayton Flyers of a home-court advantage that had carried them to 16 straight home victories in the last year.
When Auburn built a 16-point lead midway though the second half against the Flyers on Wednesday, not even the fancy, new sound system could inject life into a crowd of 13,125. By the time “Welcome from the Jungle” was blaring from the speakers, fans were filing for the exits, not eager to witness the first double-digit home loss for their team in almost four years.
Dayton fell to 3-3 in coach Anthony Grant’s first season with a 73-60 loss. In almost every way, this was the worst performance of the first six games.
“I thought obviously tonight was disappointing in terms of what as a coach I thought we were capable of doing in the game,” Grant said. “You’ve got to be able to sustain what you’re doing for 40 minutes. We talk a lot about beginnings and endings. In the beginning of the game, I thought we were a little too sloppy, uncharacteristically anxious and kind of blew some opportunities there.”
Dayton trailed 11-2 after five minutes, committing five turnovers in that span. Then it scored 13 straight points, eight by Darrell Davis, to take its first and only lead of the game.
Auburn led 35-24 at halftime and maintained a double-digit lead for all but a short stint late in the second half. The Tigers (5-1) won the game by shooting 40 percent from 3-point range (10 of 25), beating Dayton 38-32 on the boards and committing 11 turnovers to Dayton’s 19.
“I want to give Auburn credit,” Grant said. “They had a lot to do with some of the things that happened on our end, but I think we had a lot to do with it as well. We’ll go back and evaluate the film. The thing I told the team after the game is we have an opportunity every game, every practice, every day to grow and learn from every experience, and we have to be able to take advantage of that.”