Normal, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - The 25th-ranked Dayton Flyers hit the road for the only time in the month of December, as they take on the Illinois State Redbirds in a non-conference affair at Redbird Arena on Saturday evening.
Archie Miller's Flyers jumped into the national rankings thanks in large part to their marquee victory over Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational. Dayton wasn't able to capture the tournament title however, suffering its only loss of the season in a one-point setback to powerhouse Baylor a day later. The team was able to close out play by routing California and then returned home and added a seventh win in eight games with Wednesday's 56-46 victory over Delaware State. The Flyers will return home after this game for a five-game set at UD Arena that will carry the team into the next calendar year.
Dan Muller's Redbirds started the year off slow, with losses in four of the first five games, but have battled back and pulled even at 4-4 with three straight victories, including Wednesday's 75-56 rout of Chicago State.
Dayton holds a 4-2 series lead after recording a 74-73 victory at home over Illinois State last year.
The Flyers didn't exactly excel at the offensive end of the floor against Delaware State, but they didn't have to, as they held the Hornets to a mere .395 shooting and just 15 total field goals in the game. The Flyers weren't much better and really struggled from behind the arc (2-of-14), but were able to get the win. Senior Matt Kavanaugh led the team with a subdued 11 points. Senior guard Vee Sanford came off the bench and chipped in 10.
Lighting up the scoreboard is not how Dayton wins games. The Flyers are shooting an efficient .469 from the floor, but it leads to a modest 74.9 ppg. Junior guard Jordan Sibert is the team's top scorer at 13.6 ppg, fueled by an impressive .545 shooting. Senior forward Devin Oliver is the only other double-digit threat at this time at 12.8 ppg, but sophomore Dyshawn Pierre (9.6 ppg) and Sanford (9.5 ppg) are just under the mark.
The Redbirds trailed by two points at the half, but blew past Chicago State after the break, shooting a sizzling .625 from the floor in the second half in a 19-point win. Daishon Knight led the way with 15 points, on 6-of-12 shooting. Reggie Lynch came off the bench to tally 14 points, while Bobby Hunter finished with 12 in the win.
Illinois State is averaging 72.8 ppg this year, but the number could be much better if not for a mere 41.3 percent efficiency from the floor. Knight leads the team in scoring at a modest 13.8 ppg and is followed closely by Zach Lofton and his 13.3 ppg. These is very little scoring depth behind those two however, with Hunter ranking third on the team at 9.0 ppg.