A banked-in three from Devin Oliver, in overtime, was the difference as UD beat Ole Miss in overtime 83-80. Oliver had his best game in a UD uniform, scoring 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Freshman Scoochie Smith was key as well, adding 11 points (connecting on 3 three-pointers) in 26 minutes of play. The less said about Dayton’s final possession in regulation, the better. UD hung around during the OT, tying it up on a lay-in by Kyle Davis with around twenty seconds to play.
A big-balls call by the refs on the other end put the ball in UD’s hands with just over five seconds to go. Could UD have gotten off a better shot than Oliver’s? Certainly. But no one ever told Michelangelo what to paint. Except for a couple of popes, but that’s neither here nor there.
Dubious quote of the year goes to Oliver as well:
[quote_box_center]Dayton’s Devin Oliver had been in this situation before – launching a buzzer-beating shot for an overtime win.
“But I haven’t always made those shots in games. I admit it,” Oliver said. “This time, I knew it was on line and I called ‘bank’ after it left my hand. I can’t tell you how good it felt when I saw it go through.”[/quote_box_center]
Heading into conference play, with a 12-3 record, there is much to be pleased about:
- A 12-3 record. Outside of a loss to Illinois State, UD has set itself up for a tournament berth should they take care of business in conference.
- Some quality W’s — Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, California and Gonzaga certainly won’t set tournament committee members hearts on fire come March, but I’m not sure there’s an A10 team that wouldn’t trade those wins with Dayton now.
- A WINNING ROAD RECORD. This can’t be overstated. Ironically, Illinois State is not among the casualties, but wins at both Georgia Tech and Ole Miss suggest this program’s road woes made by somewhat behind them. Kick in their 2-1 performance in Maui, and there’s no reason UD can’t win 4-5 games on the road over the next two months.
- Offense. The Flyer’s offensive output has been outstanding to this point. Currently shooting 42.7% from three (tops in the Atlantic Ten, 20th in the nation, 72.9% from the stripe (again, best in the A10) and an efficiency I’m not sure any of us have ever seen from a UD squad — UD is averaging a league-best 1.12 points per possession heading into the Saint Louis game.
- Balance. UD has five players averaging eight or more points a game and it seems like just about anyone is capable of stepping up and carrying the load when called upon. Brian Roberts would have killed to play on this team. So would Sammy Smith, the literal killing part I mean.
So essentially, the Flyers have done about as good of a job as we could have asked of them (save the ISU game, of course). They get tested right away, with three road trips over the next five games and two key match-ups with league favorites Saint Louis and VCU at home.
We will have a clear understanding of where this team stands in a few weeks. UMass, Saint Louis, VCU, George Washington and Dayton all seemed poised to make a run at the league crown. Buckle your shit up.