Dayton basketball: 7 things to know about tonight’s game vs. Duquesne

Flyers play Dukes for second time after 10-point win in Pittsburgh in January

Nate Santos lifted his jersey and covered his face as Virginia Commonwealth celebrated a 49-47 victory against the Dayton Flyers on Friday. The rest of the Dayton Flyers had little reaction — other than disappointed looks — as they walked off the court at the Siegel Center in Richmond, Va.

Isaac Jack threw an arm around DaRon Holmes II, who missed a shot that would have tied the game in the final seconds, and patted him on the back as they went through the handshake line.

In a week that saw the 10 bottom teams in the Associated Press top-25 poll go 1-1, including No. 18 Dayton, which climbed to No. 16 on Monday despite its loss to VCU, the Flyers missed an opportunity to move closer to clinching a NCAA tournament at-large berth, but they are still in fine shape with seven games remaining in the regular season.

There are no guarantees, of course. Dayton has trailed at halftime in its last three games and failed to complete the comeback against VCU after victories against St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph’s.

“We’ve just got to come out strong and feel the game better,” Holmes said. “Once we get a feel for it, we’ve just got to keep going from there here.”

Protecting Tom Blackburn Court at UD Arena, where Dayton (19-4, 9-2) is 11-0 this season, will again be the goal this week. It plays Duquesne (14-9, 4-6) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at UD Arena and Fordham (10-13, 4-6) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Here are seven things to know about the Duquesne game:

1. Series history: Dayton plays four teams for the second time in its last seven games: Duquesne; Davidson (13-10, 3-7) on Feb. 27 at UD Arena; Saint Louis (9-15, 2-9) on March 5 in St. Louis; and VCU (16-8, 8-3) in the final game of the regular season on March 8 at UD Arena. It beat Davidson, Duquesne and Saint Louis in the first half of the A-10 schedule.

Dayton won 72-62 at Duquesne on Jan. 12 in Pittsburgh. Holmes scored 33 points on 12-of-18 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds.

The Flyers have won 10 of the last 11 games in the series and are 10-2 against Duquesne in coach Anthony Grant’s tenure. Duquesne has lost nine straight games at Dayton since an 83-73 victory on Feb. 1, 2012.

Dayton spent five days on the road last week because it didn’t travel home after the game in Philadelphia on Tuesday and then had its charter flight Friday night postponed because of mechanical issues. The Flyers landed in Dayton at 2:19 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s always good to be back home and play in front of the Flyer Faithful,” guard Koby Brea said. “We kind of need them revive us a little bit right now.”

2. Hot opponent: For the third straight game, Dayton plays a team on a roll. Saint Joseph’s had won five of its last six games before losing 94-79 to Dayton in Philadelphia last week. VCU beat Dayton for its eight victory in the last nine games. Duquesne has won four of its last five games after an 0-5 start in A-10 play.

With a 75-69 victory at St. Bonaventure on Saturday, Duquesne completed a season sweep of the Bonnies for the first time since 2009.

“It’s a good win for us,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot said after the game. “This league is wacky. Everybody’s pretty much the same in a lot of regards, and how you match up is pivotal as to whether you can win or not. We got off to a good start, and that was key. We knew what we had to do, and that was neutralize (Chad) Venning and cover the three line. I thought we did a really good job of that until the end. We shared the ball tonight as good as we’ve had all year, too. We’ve been harping on it and harping on it. We still took a couple bad ones, but overall I though we moved the ball well. That was another big key.”

3. Players to watch: Fousseyni Drame, a fifth-year forward who averages 7.8 points and 5.9 rebounds, had 16 points and 14 rebounds off the bench against St. Bonaventure. He has scored in double figures four games in a row. Against Dayton, he had three points and no rebounds in seven minutes.

• Jimmy Clark III added 15 points, bouncing back from a four-point performance in a 72-59 loss against Davidson in Pittsburgh. He had 12 points against Dayton and averages 14.9.

• Duquesne’s leading scorer, fifth-year guard Dae Dae Grant averages 17.3 points. He had 31 points three games ago in an 85-71 victory at Rhode Island then had five points against Davidson and 12 against St. Bonaventure.

4. Strengths and weaknesses: Duquesne has forced 12.6 turnovers per game in A-10 play. That’s the second-best number in the conference. Dayton averages 9.5 turnovers, the second-lowest mark.

Duquesne ranks 14th out of 15 teams in 3-point shooting percentage (31.3) in league games. It made 8 of 30 (26.7%) in the first game against Dayton.

5. Odds and rankings: gives Dayton an 83% chance of winning this game. Dayton ranks 18th in the NCAA Evaluation Tool. Duquesne is the eighth highest-ranked A-10 team at No. 104.

This is a Quad 3 game for Dayton because it’s a home game against a team that ranks between 76 and 160. Dayton is 3-4 in Quad 1, 5-0 in Quad 2, 5-0 in Quad 3 and 6-0 in Quad 4.

This is a Quad 1 game for Duquesne. It is 1-2 in Quad 1 with losses to Dayton and Nebraska and a victory against St. Bonaventure.

6. Standings update: Richmond (17-6, 9-1) beat visiting La Salle 82-65 on Saturday to stay on top of the A-10 after Dayton’s loss Friday.

Loyola Chicago (17-7, 9-2) moved into a tie for second place with Dayton with an 81-73 victory at George Washington (14-9, 3-7) on Saturday. Loyola has won six games in a row. George Washington has lost six straight.

7. Stat to watch: Despite shooting a season-worst 50% (9 of 18) at the free-throw line Friday, Dayton is shooting 73.2% on the season. That’s its best mark since the 2011-12 season (77.7%).

Dayton ranks 112th in the country in free-throw shooting percentage. The national average is 71.6.


Duquesne at Dayton, 7 p.m., Spectrum News 1, 1290, 95.7

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