Dayton-Saint Joseph's Preview
A huge boost to Dayton's bid for its first Atlantic 10 title in more than a decade would be a win at Saint Joseph's - something the Flyers haven't done in 16 years.
While 15th-ranked Dayton seeks its longest winning streak in eight years Wednesday night, Saint Joseph's eyes its eighth straight home win in this series and a share of the conference's top spot.
Dayton (21-3, 11-1) is off to its best start in coach Archie Miller's five years, and sits alone atop the A-10 - a half game ahead of VCU and one better than the Hawks (21-4, 10-2).
The Flyers have jumped to the top of the league thanks to a nine-game winning streak, their longest since a 13-game run early in the 2007-08 season. Dayton has never won 10 straight games in conference play.
As their streak builds, the Flyers inch closer to their first Atlantic 10 honor since winning the league's Western division in 2003-04, one year after winning the tournament title.
It's been longer since Dayton returned from a contest at Saint Joseph's with a victory. The Flyers' last win over the Hawks in Philadelphia was a 66-62 victory on Jan. 29, 2000, followed by seven straight losses.
Dayton, though, is fresh off another road contest in which it exorcised some demons, beating Rhode Island 68-66 on Friday for its first win there since 2005 - and its fourth straight road victory to improve to 6-1 away from home this season.
Darrell Davis' go-ahead 3-pointer with 21.1 seconds left helped the Flyers to their second straight tight win. It came on the heels of a 76-74 victory over Duquesne on Feb. 9 as they came from 12 down with less than six minutes left.
"This time of year, whether you're winning or losing, it's very hard to keep the attention span and the focus," Miller said. "I think that this thing's going down to the last week of the regular season. I think there are going to be a number of teams battling to win the league."
Dayton, which snapped a three-game skid in this series with a 68-64 win last February, is the cream of the crop defensively, holding opponents to a league-low 64 points per game and 61.7 in conference play. Offensively, though, the Flyers might be without one of their top contributors again as Kendall Pollard is in danger of missing his second straight game with a bone bruise on the outside of his knee.
Miller said he expects Pollard to be available, but his status will be day-to-day the rest of the season. The junior forward averages 11 points.
"Kendall could suit up and play against Saint Joseph's," Miller said. "The question is what are we willing to risk moving forward with him."
The Flyers are the second-best 3-point shooting team in Atlantic 10 play at 38.2 percent, one tenth of a point shy of Saturday opponent St. Bonaventure. Dayton, though, has made just 9 of 27 3s the last two games and will face the best team guarding the 3.
Saint Joseph's has held conference teams to 30.4 percent from long range. Even though LaSalle shot 37.1 percent on Saturday, the Hawks rolled 88-62 for their third straight win and 17th in the last 19 games.
Saint Joseph's, which is 10-3 at home, has its best record through 24 games since it finished the 2003-04 regular season 27-0.
"I'm proud of these guys," coach Phil Martelli told the team's official website. "Being around this group is fun everyday."