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Dayton's keys to victory

By Chris Moorman
On February 14, 2012

DAYTON— It's been a long, long, long, long time since the University of Dayton men's basketball

team could knock off Atlantic 10 Conference archrival Xavier University in Cincinnati.

Since Dayton beat Xavier 74-72 in Cincinnati on Jan. 10, 1981, there have been five United States Presidents, four Indiana Jones movies and the Musketeers have made the Elite Eight twice to Dayton's lone appearance in that same time span in 1984.

The Flyers (15-9, 5-5A-10) recently halted a four-game conference

losing streak with a 72-70 overtime win over Fordham University.

The defense for UD has improved

over the past weeks. During the first eight games of A-10 play, Dayton's opponents were shooting 48.7 percent from the field and averaging 77.9 points a game.

In Dayton's 14 non-conference games, UD opponents scored at least 72 points in a game four times. Dayton has allowed 72 points or more in eight of its last 10 games.

Dayton has seen its opponents shoot at a lower rate in its last two games, especially from the three-point arc, and score under that magic 72-point mark. The Flyers are 10-1 when giving up less than 72 points.

Offensively, the Flyers have struggled in their last two games. In Dayton's first eight conference games, UD shot 45 percent from the field. In its last two, the Flyers shot an average of 30 percent from the field and 21.3 percent from behind the three-point line.

Redshirt senior Josh Parker and senior guard Paul Williams have also struggled and been a significant reason for UD's issues. Before Dayton's previous two wins, Parker and Williams were a combined 8-for-54 from the field in four consecutive losses. It's difficult

to win when two guards on a team with extremely limited depth have difficulty putting the ball in the basket.

But for all of Dayton's struggles over the past three weeks, nothing can compare to UD's history of futility in the Queen City.

Whether in Cincinnati Gardens or Cintas Center, Dayton has had difficulty coming away with the win.

In the 12 matchups in Cincinnati Gardens since UD's 1981 win, Dayton lost all 12 by an average of 12.2 points. The closest the Flyers got to a win was a 65-64 overtime loss on Feb. 2, 2000.

Cintas Center has proven to be just as uninviting for the Red and Blue. Dayton has remained winless

in its 11 tries at Xavier's new home and has lost by 11.2 points on average.

Over the last couple seasons, the games have come down to the wire with two of the last three being

decided in the final minutes including a 78-74 Dayton loss on Jan. 16, 2010.

There was a noticeable swagger

with the Flyers that has been missing. When Dayton beat the University of Alabama, University of Mississippi and Xavier, the Flyers played with high energy and controlled the tempo defensively.

That control allowed UD to turn defense into offense with fast breaks and quick run outs, according

to Parker.

Take this as you want, but there are many useless patterns and figures

to decide who will win this rivalry game.

None of it is matters when dealing with an experienced team with a first-year head coach and a new offensive system.

What matters is how the Dayton Flyers can respond to their recent win after a difficult stretch.

And as senior forward Chris Johnson said about the win against Fordham: "It proves that this team is not satisfied with one win."

So for the first time in a long, long, long, long time Dayton just might leave Cincinnati with a win.


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