Game No. 9 recap: Arkansas 69, Dayton 55

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Jordan Sibert shoots as the shot clock expires Saturday. David Jablonski/Staff

A Dayton team that can’t shoot straight right ran into an Arkansas team that couldn’t miss in the first half Saturday. The result was about what you would expect: a 69-55 loss (photos here). It was the Flyers’ worst performance of the season and the first game since last February at St. Joseph’s when they never made a serious rally to get back in the game.

In the big picture, this is far from the end of the world for the Flyers. Road teams rarely win at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas has now won 20 straight non-conference games at home. This might have been a different story on a neutral court, as Archie Miller said after the game, and maybe it’ll be a different story next year when the Razorbacks play in Dayton.

The most disappointing thing for the Flyers is not that they lost, it’s that they didn’t make it interesting. Arkansas won the game in the first half and then was content to nurse a lead that fluctuated between 11 and 17 points, and at the most 20, in the second half.

Here are five things we learned:

1. Dayton’s offense continues to struggle.

The Flyers matched their season low with 55 points. Only Jordan Sibert showed any shooting touch at all in the first half when the Flyers still had a chance. He had 10 of Dayton’s 23 points in the half, though he needed 10 shots to get those points.

The lede of my game story:

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson referred to Dayton as Xavier in his postgame press conference and then quickly corrected himself. Nothing else went right for the Flyers on Saturday, so this shouldn’t have surprised anyone.

The Razorbacks dominated from start to finish and handed Dayton its second loss of the season, 69-55 on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena.

Dayton had never played a game in Arkansas. The Flyers have never signed a player from Arkansas. After the most disappointing performance of this young season, they may never want to return to the Natural State.

“I thought that coming in here, we had to be really organized, particularly early in the game offensively to give ourselves a chance and some confidence,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said, “and it’s the one thing that really backfired. Just our organization and our inability to take care of the ball for much of the first half really kind of took it out of us. The second half, we only turned it over five times and played a much better game.”

2. Archie Miller still glad they played the game.

Dayton fell from 29th to 35th with the loss. Arkansas climbed from 20th to 14th. This was still a valuable game for Dayton. Miller’s hope is the loss and the lesson make his team better.

From the Flyer notes in today’s paper:

Arkansas celebrates its 1994 national championship all over Bud Walton Arena. A banner hangs from the ceiling. A billboard-sized photo of Scotty Thurman’s game-winning shot against Duke decorates the concourse. A trophy case and souvenir display stand by one entrance.

The Arkansas of 2014 is not the Arkansas of 1994, but it could turn out to be the best Razorbacks team in years. That’s Dayton’s hope anyway. After a 69-55 setback here Saturday, the Flyers (7-2) hope the Razorbacks (7-2) keep winning so this loss doesn’t look so bad.

Arkansas began Saturday ranked 20th in the RPI, and Dayton was 29th.

“I’m happy we came down here,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “I’m glad we had an opportunity to play this type of game, this type of team. It should really improve us moving forward. I know it’ll improve me.

“They’ve got a good team. They’re going to have a heck of a season. They’ve got a lot of good players and a really impressive front court. As mobile as they are and as skilled as they are, they were a very challenging cover for us today.”

3. The Flyers aren’t great against the press.

Arkansas uses the #fastest40 hashtag on Twitter to promote its full-court pressure defense. It lived up to the billing Saturday. Scoochie Smith, Darrell Davis, Kendall Pollard and others looked lost against the press at times in the first half when Dayton committed 10 of its 15 turnovers. Ryan Bass was more effective and played a season-high 20 minutes.

“He got the job done,” Miller said. “He was the one guy in the first half that was fearless. That gives me great confidence as we move forward. More than anything, I liked his attitude. To me, he really showed me he can help us.”

4. The Flyers have been unlucky travelers.

An issue with Dayton’s charter flight from Dayton to Bentonville, Ark., on Friday caused the team to arrive about 2 1/2 hours later than planned. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the delay they had on the way to Puerto Rico, but frustrating just the same, as any traveler knows.

5. Next opponent is not a big challenge.

The Flyers host Boston University at 7 p.m. Saturday. Boston (2-6) has lost two games in a row against St. Peter’s (70-59) and Harvard (70-56) and hosts Quinnipiac at 1 p.m. today.


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