PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) — The Dukes (12-9,3-4) take on the Dayton Flyers (14-7,4-3) tonight at 7PM on the road, as both teams look to break two-game losing streaks.
“It’s hard to beat any team on the road, but when you go to Dayton it’s different,” said Duquesne sophomore guard T.J. McConnell.
He says this because since UD Arena opened in 1969, Dayton has been in the NCAA’s top 35 in attendance every season. Last season UD Arena saw an average attendance of 12,567, and also averaged more than 2,400 more fans than any team in the Atlantic 10.
Although most of the Arena will be filled with blue and red tees and the ‘D’ on the front will be followed by ‘ayton’ rather than ‘ukes’, that doesn’t mean such a large crowd doesn’t help to put a little extra spark in the visiting team as well.
“When the crowd is into it, that gets our adrenaline going, gets us fired up so we come ready to play,” said McConnell, who leads the A-10 in steals (2.9), is second in assist/turnover ratio (2-to-1) and ranks third in assists (5.8).
Dayton, who is 10-3 at home this season, comes into the game after a 85-81 home loss to Rhode Island on Saturday.
“They surround you with shooters and they surround you with good athletes and their inside people are tough,” said Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart.
Southern Illinois transfer, UD redshirt junior guard, Kevin Dillard leads the Flyers in points (12.5), assists (6.2) and steals (1.7), while senior forward Chris Johnson adds another 10.9 points per game and pulls down six rebounds per game. Junior forward Matt Kavanaugh is shooting 57.9 percent from the field for Dayton, averaging 9.2 ppg. and 5.8 boards.
“We’ve got to get the ball in the basket around the basket. We’ve got to get our better shooters more shots and we have to shoot the ball well. Defensively we have to contain their point guard and their interior game, so we have to keep Kavanaugh off the glass and we have to keep Dillard out of our lane,” Coach Everahrt said in order to get the win.
The Flyers have seven wins over Top 100 teams, while ranking 32nd in strength of schedule. They rank 19th in the country in free throw percentage at 75.3 percent, and currently lead the conference in scoring, offensive and defensive rebounding, rebounding margin and 3-pointers made per game.
“There’s no question in my mind that they’re a really good basketball team and we just have to hope that we can bother them with some of the little things that we do, hope that they miss shots and try to contain Dillard as best we can,” said Coach Everhart.
The Dukes have a rebounding margin of -6.7 versus Dayton’s +3.3.
“When you’re young inside and you don’t have a legitimate inside scoring threat on every possession, you rely upon the dribble drive or you rely upon the jump shot. You have to rely on your defense to create offense so for us everything has kind of been predicated on how well we defend and convert those defensive opportunities into offense in the last two or three minutes of the game,” Everhart said.
Both Everhart and McConnell acknowledge the team has to shoot better than they have been. In the past two games, both losses, the Dukes have averaged just 36.2 percent shooting from the field.
“They’re going to be on top of us and they’re going to be ready so we need to be ready to play,” said McConnell.
In case you wanted to know…
- The game will be broadcast on WPGB-FM 104.7.
- Dukes leading scorer junior Sean Jonhson (15.5) has scored in double digits in 19 of 21 games.
- Senior guard Eric Evans has a 2.4-to-1 assist/turnover ratio for the Dukes this season and is 38 points shy of 1,000 career-points.
- Flyers’ Dillard is just three points away from 1,000 career-points.
- Duquesne began the week ranked third in the country in turnover margin (+5.8), just behind Syracuse and Ohio State.
- Dayton’s head coach is Archie Miller, a Beaver Falls native and brother to the University of Arizona head coach and former University of Pittsburgh guard, Sean Miller. They are one of three Division I head coaching combinations.
The Aly Way