Injuries force Flyers to rely on freshman class

Williams, Landers remain day to day entering Auburn game

Trey Landers walked onto the practice court at the Cronin Center on Monday, testing his sprained ankle. Xeyrius Williams was not practicing.

The Dayton Flyers (3-2) hope to get both injured players back soon, but their status remains the same heading into a 7 p.m. Wednesday game against Auburn (4-1) at UD Arena.

“Day to day,” coach Anthony Grant said. “X is going to be out today. We’ll reevaluate him tomorrow. We’re going to see what Trey’s able to do. He did a little bit of non-contact Friday. He’ll progress a little more today.”

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The sophomore guard Landers has not played since hurting his ankle in the first half of a 79-65 victory against Ohio on Nov. 17 at the Charleston Classic. Williams, a junior forward, didn't play Saturday in a 73-60 victory over Akron at UD Arena because of back spasms, which Grant described Saturday as a lingering problem.

The injuries have forced the short-handed Flyers to rely on their freshmen even more than they expected in recent games.

Kostas Antetokounmpo and Jordan Davis started against Akron. They both played more than 20 minutes, as did freshmen Jalen Crutcher and Matej Svoboda. Those four freshman combined for 38 points. Crutcher had eight of Dayton’s 21 assists.

Dayton had its best defensive half of the season in the second half against Akron, holding the Zips to 23 points and 36.4 percent shooting. Akron made 1 of 8 3-pointers in the second half after making 5 of 12 in the first half.

“We’re playing really hard,” Crutcher said. “Our defense is improving. If we play defense really hard like that, we’re going to win games.”

Grant called the freshman class a work in progress.

“I think every day is a new experience for them,” Grant said. “It’s the first time they’ve been through every thing we go through. Some of it is just a trial by fire so to speak. Hopefully, they’re getting better every time they step on the floor with every experience they go through.”

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One freshman, center Jordan Pierce, has not played in the first five games. Grant said they have not discussed redshirting him.

“Obviously, with our numbers, we need all hands on deck,” Grant said.

Notes: Antetokounmpo ranks among the national leaders in block percentage. According to KenPom, he's 24th in the country. He has blocked 11.7 percent of the opponents two-point shots while he's on the court. He had two blocks against Akron and has nine on the season. … Josh Cunningham leads the Atlantic 10 in field-goal percentage (64.6) and rebounds (10.2).


Auburn at Dayton, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network, FM 95.7, AM 1290 WHIO

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