Elvis and Holmes clearly made an impact and played starring roles in the Flyers’ 82-70 nonconference victory over Troy. Elvis scored a career-high 24 points. Holmes scored 23 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds.
For Elvis it was his breakout game of the season, making 9 of 15 shots and four of six from 3-point land. Three times in the past he scored 20 points, but he entered averaging 7.3 points and shooting 28.6% and 29% from 3-point range. In his first five games, Elvis made 7 of 37 shots. In the most recent three games, he made 11 of 26.
Elvis’ breakout point eight-point run — two 3-pointers and a scooping layup in traffic — pushed Dayton’s lead from 20-17 to 28-22. The Flyers (7-2) were well on their way to a 45-31 halftime lead and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
“It just gives me more confidence to go out and do what I feel capable of doing,” Elvis said. “That starts from the moment we walk in the gym.”
Elvis had to create space on the first 3-pointer of his eight-point run late in the shot clock.
“Late shot clock it goes to Elvis,” Holmes said. “He’s good at hitting that step-back, side-step shot. That’s his shot.”
Elvis is also adept at making runners and floaters in the lane. He said he developed that shot when he got to college because he had to learn to get shots off more quickly against bigger players.
Grant said he expected Elvis to eventually shoot well in games because he sees it in practice. But Grant sees a lot more to Elvis’ game than shooting percentages.
“The thing I’m proud of Kobe Elvis for is that, in spite of some of the offensive struggles of other games, he still continued to lead and be a voice for our guys,” Grant said. “He still continued to lock in and do the things we need him to do in terms of defending, taking care of the ball, making the extra pass, getting assists, doing all the things that impact winning.”
Holmes’ impact was all over the stat sheet on both ends. In addition to his points and rebounds, he posted team highs of three blocked shots and four assists. And he was fouled 10 times.
“I’m trying to do a better job of attacking the game in multiple ways besides scoring,” Holmes said. “Our team has guys that can do it all, so I try to go out there and do it all. I got to be more aggressive on the boards, and I was talking to myself about that. I feel like it’s going to help the team win games, and that’s what we’re here to do.”
Superlatives about Holmes’ play are often discussed after Dayton victories. He also had five dunks to tie Obi Toppin’s UD career record of 190. But what Grant liked the most was Holmes’ defensive presence.
“He affected shots, his presence was felt when they went to the rim,” he said. “He did a great job going up and chasing rebounds, and it was needed. And then, obviously, from an offensive standpoint, just the attention that he draws. He really impacted the game.”
Dayton, winners of four straight, needed to rebound well against Troy (4-5). The Trojans, who have an overtime loss and two one-point losses, entered the game with a 9.4 rebounding advantage. Led by Holmes and Enoch Cheeks with six, the Flyers outrebounded the Trojans 37-29. Games against other physical rebounding teams like St. John’s and Houston showed the Flyers a skill they needed to improve on.
“We’ve learned our lessons with the boards, so we just embrace the challenge, and we went out there and fought hard,” Holmes said.
Grant’s biggest concerns about the Trojans were their abilities to get to the free-throw line, dominate the offensive boards and create steals with their press. The Flyers responded by allowing only 14 free throws, limiting the Trojans to 12 second-chance points and committing only three turnovers in the first half.
“Our guys did a great job of being able to take away some of the things that they have feasted on most of the year,” Grant said.
And the stat sheet backs him up.
Dayton vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 1290, 95.7