Looking back: Benson spurred UD rally against UIC in 2011

The Flyers host Illinois-Chicago today, and while the Horizon League’s Flames earned their second win earlier this week against a Xavier, it wasn’t that Xavier. It was St. Xavier, an NAIA school in Chicago.

UIC (2-4) did play DePaul close in its season opener before losing 72-71, but this is a game the Flyers should win easily. KenPom.com is more certain of a UD victory today (95 percent) than in any other game this season.

Dayton and UIC have met only once before in Archie Miller’s first season on Dec. 23, 2011. Dayton won 64-57. That UIC team finished 8-22. Here’s the game story from Doug Harris:

Josh Benson has been subtly putting together a solid junior season for the University of Dayton basketball team, and he was paid the ultimate compliment by Illinois-Chicago by being double-teamed whenever he had the ball.

“You’ve got to do something,” UIC coach Howard Moore said. “He’s a dynamite player, a tremendous talent. And you’ve got to get the ball out of his hands. He’s not a guy you want to go one-on-one with.”

Supplementing his long wingspan and springy legs with an ability to go to his right or left, Benson tallied 13 points and eight rebounds to spur the mostly lethargic Flyers to a 64-57 win before 12,113 fans Friday night.

It was the fifth time he’s scored in double digits in the last six games.

“It kind of caught me off guard,” the 6-9 Benson said of the extra attention on the blocks.

Told the scheme might be interpreted as a sign of respect, the Dunbar High School product suppressed a grin: “I’m not going to get ahead of myself. I’m going to stay humble and keep being aggressive for my teammates.”

The Flyers (9-4) certainly needed an energy jolt from wherever they could get it. They trailed by nine in the first half and by three at halftime. They scored the first 12 points of the second half, but UIC (4-8) surged again with a 14-4 run for a one-point lead.

UD took a five-point edge with 5:16 left, but some shaky foul shooting allowed UIC, picked to finish 10th in the Horizon League, to stay close.

Beginning at the 2:03 mark, the Flyers missed two one-and-ones and both ends of a double bonus. The Flames took 3-pointers on two possessions that would have given them the lead, but missed both.

In the final 37 seconds, UD went 7-of-8 from the foul line to go into a short Christmas break on a high note.

“We stepped on our foot three or four times,” UD coach Archie Miller said. “Whenever we’d get a couple-possession lead, we’d give it right back. … That saps the energy in the building and the confidence.”

Kevin Dillard had 11 points and four assists, but UD was just 16-of-26 from the foul line.

“It wasn’t the prettiest thing, but like I told the guys, at the end of the day, we’ve got nine wins, and we’d feel a whole lot worse if it was eight,” Miller said.

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