No. 16 Alabama heads north to challenge Dayton

Fresh off a last-second loss to Georgetown, the ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will attempt to bounce back strong this evening in their first true road game of the season against the Dayton Flyers.

Alabama opened the season with seven consecutive victories, all by eight or more points, to carry plenty of momentum into last Thursday's matchup with Georgetown at home. Unfortunately, the Crimson Tide were held in check in the 57-55 setback. Still, they figure to have an outstanding chance of winning the SEC West Division this year, as the conference's elite teams reside in the East Division.

Dayton began this season with wins in five of its first six games, but the team has come back to Earth a bit with back-to-back losses. Both of the recent defeats have been surprisingly lopsided, as a 29-point setback to Buffalo was followed by Tuesday's 75-58 loss to Murray State. The sudden decline in play is particularly puzzling when considering the fact that the Flyers have already beaten a couple of major conference teams in Wake Forest and Minnesota.

Alabama won the only previous meeting between these two teams back in 1972.

The strength of the Crimson Tide is the frontcourt duo of JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, a pair of standouts who are averaging 15.1 ppg apiece. Green is shooting 52.1 percent from the field and ripping down 7.4 rpg, while Mitchell, a 51.1 percent shooter, tops the roster with his 7.8 rpg. Trevor Releford rounds out a trio of double-digit scorers with 11.3 ppg. Alabama is posting 68.0 ppg while limiting opponents to an impressive 53.1 ppg on 33.3 percent field goal efficiency. In the narrow loss to Georgetown, Mitchell posted 20 points and nine rebounds, while Green tallied 13 points. Unfortunately for the Tide, they shot just 31.6 percent from the floor in the first half and went into halftime with a lowly total of 16 points. Sure, they played much better offensively in the second half, but a couple of defensive lapses prevented a come-from-behind victory.

For Dayton to get back on track tonight, big efforts will be needed from Kevin Dillard, Josh Benson, Paul Williams and Chris Johnson, all four of whom are scoring in double figures. Unfortunately, none of the four has played at a star caliber level, as Dillard's 12.4 ppg lead the team. The Flyers are generating 70.4 ppg while allowing 66.6 ppg to foes. Benson had 17 points in the 17-point loss to Murray State last time out, and Williams added 12 points in 34 minutes of action. The Flyers shot just 3-of-21 from the foul line and were outscored 10-5 from the charity stripe. Also, 17 turnovers clearly hurt the cause, as did a shaky defensive effort that permitted Murray State to shoot 54.9 percent from the field.