Storylines: Dayton vs. Arkansas

Greetings from Tulsa, Okla. I’m staying with a high school friend, a Xavier grad ironically. We’re both from Fayetteville, Ohio, and we’re driving the two hours to Fayetteville, Ark., in the morning. He gave up a trip to Missouri to see X play on Saturday to accompany me to the UD-Arkansas game. He may or or may not wear a Xavier shirt to the game.

I’ve driven through Oklahoma and Arkansas but never really visited either. It should be an interesting game tomorrow. I was impressed by Arkansas’ attendance numbers. I knew Arkansas has a rich basketball tradition, but the Razorbacks haven’t done much lately (the Nolan Richardson years are a distant memory) and still draw well. I expect they’ll have a packed house on Saturday.

Anyway, obviously this is a big game for the Flyers for a number or reasons.

1. RPI: Arkansas is 20th. Dayton is 29th.

2. Ostrom’s return: In Friday’s paper, I wrote about Dayton assistant coach Tom Ostrom returning to Fayetteville for his first game at Arkansas since he spent four years as an assistant coach there under John Pelphrey.

Arkansas is like a professional sports team in the state, Ostrom said. While there are other Division I schools, he said, nothing compares to Arkansas sports.

Arkansas ranked 21st in the country in average attendance last season (14,023). The Razorbacks drew 14,618 fans to their last home game against Iona on Nov. 30 and are averaging 14,627 at Bud Walton Arena.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Ostrom said. “It holds over 18,000 people. It’s a very passionate, enthusiastic fan base. It’s a loud arena. It’s a great place to play college basketball. What makes Arkansas so unique is they support every sport. The baseball games, they’re not just baseball games, they’re events. It’s sold out. People tailgate before baseball. They’ve won 20 track and field national championships. They’re passionate about every sport.”

3. Arkansas trying to end slump: After a 6-0 start, the Razorbacks are trying to not lose three games in a row.

A story from the Times Record in Arkansas:

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ defensive effort at Iowa State was disappointing.

Its late-game collapse at Clemson was embarrassing.

But Arkansas forward Bobby Portis has discovered there’s one thing more difficult to deal with than back-to-back losses. It’s having an entire week to stew about them.

“Pretty tough week in practice for us,” Portis said Thursday. “Coach has been killing us, really harping on defense this week. Me, personally, I can’t wait until Saturday to play. It’s been a long wait from Sunday.”

4. A mix of styles: This game will feature an interesting mix of offense and defense. Arkansas ranks eighth in the nation in scoring offense (85.3 points per game). Dayton ranks 26th in the nation in scoring defense (56.5). Only Connecticut has topped 70 points against the Flyers.

“(The Flyers) do a good job of really packing it in there and making you take tough shots,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “They switch a lot. They make you grind it out just like them. I think the tempo is going to be big in this game. If your tempo is to their liking, they don’t mind the low-percentage shooting. That falls right into what they want to do. We want to make sure it’s an uptempo game.”

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