Game No. 27 recap: Dayton 76, George Mason 63

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Kendall Pollard dunks against George Mason. David Jablonski/Staff


 

I think a UD fan mistook my number for the Flyer Feedback number on WHIO because I got a 2-minute, 30-second voicemail last night from a fan who seemed more concerned about the Buckeyes than the Flyers.

“Ohio State fans are hoping and praying Dayton don’t make the tournament and that they don’t have to face the possibility of facing Dayton again because nothing would be more embarrassing to lose two years in a row to Dayton,” he said. “Dayton is a better program basketball-wise than Ohio State is, maybe not talent wise, but program wise.”

I don’t know what to say about that crazy talk, other than it’s probably better fit for talk radio than this blog.

Anyway, the Flyers and Buckeyes are both on the bubble heading into the final stretch. Dayton’s 76-63 victory over George Mason at UD Arena (photos here) will not convince the committee to select them, but a loss might have convinced the committee not to. Two better opportunities loom for Dayton: at VCU on Saturday and at home against Rhode Island on Tuesday.

Here are five things to take from Dayton’s 21st victory:

1. The A-1o is a jumbled mess at the top.

Steven Wright, who covered the Flyers for the Flyer News last season, makes a spreadsheet every year to show all the possible seeding scenarios for the A-10 tournament. It’s color-coded and well organized, but you need an advanced degree to decipher it, especially this season. I joked on Twitter it was like looking at the Matrix, and I’m not Neo.

I touched on the logjam at the top of the conference in my game story last night:

Despite all the ups and downs, the dismissals and the injuries, the thrilling victories and the agonizing defeats, the Dayton Flyers find themselves tied for first in the Atlantic 10 with three games to play.

A season to remember will feature a finish no one will forget. Whether it’s one the Flyer Faithful will want to forget or one they memorialize with framed photos on their wall, that’s up to the team on the court.

Dayton (21-6) beat George Mason 76-63 on Wednesday at UD Arena. Meanwhile, Davidson won 60-59 at Rhode Island, and Richmond beat visiting Virginia Commonwealth 67-63 in double overtime.

That leaves Dayton, Davidson, VCU and Rhode Island tied for first at 11-4. The Flyers will play a big part in who finishes first because they play at VCU at 2 p.m. Saturday and then host Rhode Island at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“Better to be in the mix than not in the mix,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “That’s the way you look at it. A lot can happen. As long as you’re able to take care of your business, good things should happen.

2. Jordan Sibert is ailing but scoring.

Sibert scored 24 Wednesday and reached the 1,000-point milestone two games after Dyshawn Pierre. Sibert scored his first 123 at Ohio State, and there’s a chance he could get to 1,000 in a UD uniform. He’s 107 away.

What we learned last night is Sibert has been scoring despite an injury.

Sibert has battled wrist pain since December, coach Archie Miller said Wednesday, and the pain is bad enough that he didn’t practice in the days leading up to this game. Miller said Sibert may not practice again this season because they need him for the games, and because he’s a fifth-year senior, he can afford to miss practice.

Miller described it as a wear-and-tear injury that has been irritated in recent games. He still made 7 of 10 shots from the field and 5 of 6 3-pointers Wednesday.

“Jordan had a great effort tonight,” Miller said. “He basically had three days off. You can pretty much tell what happens to the legs when you give a couple days off to a guy like that. We needed him, too. He made big shots for us. He made just about every open one.”

3. Flyers one win away from perfect season at home.

I thought in early January Dayton had a chance to run the table at UD Arena. If they can beat Rhode Island on Tuesday, they’ll do just that. They’ve won 15 in a row at home this season and 20 in a row overall.

“I was just sitting in the locker room thinking that to myself,” sophomore guard Kyle Davis said. “It’s a big accomplishment to me, going undefeated at home in front of our crowd, just showing them how great it is to be home and playing in front of them and just showing off for them.”

4. The bubble is crowded.

Jerry Palm lists Dayton as one of his “On the Fence” teams. The Dance Card, which has correctly predicted 98 percent of the NCAA field over the past three seasons, has the Flyers on the wrong side of the bubble.

In his latest Bracketology today, Joe Lunardi has the Flyers as a No. 10 seed playing Providence in Portland. The Flyers’ average seed is a No. 9, according to Bracket Matrix.

5. Sky’s the limit for UD if they win at VCU.

Dayton still lacks a great road win on its resume. Its best true road win was at St. Bonaventure, which isn’t saying much. A year ago, it had victories at Ole Miss and Saint Louis. It’s 0-4 against top 100 RPI teams on the road this season. VCU is 22nd. The Flyers are 38th.

A win at VCU would give UD a chance of winning the A-10 regular-season title, something it hasn’t done since the conference did away with divisions. It would also be its best victory of the season.

Dayton has never won at VCU’s Siegel Center. VCU has losses at home to Virginia and Richmond and La Salle, but it didn’t have leading scorer Treveon Graham for the La Salle game. It can’t hurt the Flyers that VCU had to play two overtimes last night.

I caught bits and pieces of the end of the Richmond-VCU game as I worked last night. Might be the game of the year in the A-10.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

The situation presents a much-debated dilemma for coaches: to foul or not to foul with a three-point lead late in the game.

VCU, leading 58-55 with 4.1 seconds left in the first overtime, chose to foul Richmond’s ShawnDre’ Jones after he crossed midcourt, preventing a 3-point attempt to tie the game.

Jones made the first shot. He missed the second intentionally, and VCU knocked the ball out of bounds on the rebound with 2.8 seconds left.

On the inbounds play, Trey Davis waited and waited before finding T.J. Cline crossing underneath the basket for a layup that tied the game with 1.5 seconds left. The Spiders went on to win 67-63 in the second overtime, sweeping the regular-season series from the No. 22 Rams.

 


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