Saint Louis (14-2) at Dayton (12-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 11, 11 a.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UD Arena (13,455) -- Dayton, Ohio. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: SLU 8-1, Dayton 8-1. Away Record: SLU 5-0, Dayton 2-1. Neutral Record: SLU 1-1, Dayton 2-1. Conference Record: SLU 1-0, Dayton 0-0. Series Record: Dayton leads, 25-24.
GAME NOTES: The scorching hot Saint Louis Billikens clash with the Dayton Flyers in an Atlantic 10 conference bout at UD Arena.
Jordair Jett nailed a pair of free throws and had a critical steal in the final seconds to lift Saint Louis to a 59-58 win at Rhode Island in its conference opener. The victory was the eighth straight for the Billikens, who are 14-2 overall and have yet to lose a game on the road (5-0). They will play their conference home opener on Wednesday against St. Bonaventure.
This game will actually serve as the league debut for Dayton this season. The Flyers spent some time in the national rankings earlier in the campaign, and they are 12-3 overall. They have won three straight games, including an 83-80 triumph in overtime at Ole Miss last time out. A trip to Fordham is next on the docket.
There was only one meeting between these two teams last season, and Saint Louis absolutely dominated the contest, rolling to an 81-52 victory. The Billikens have won three of the last four matchups, but Dayton is clinging to a 25-24 all-time series advantage.
After taking a 27-19 lead at halftime, Saint Louis was unable to pull away against Rhode Island, accumulating only nine field goals over the final 20 minutes. In fact, the Billikens trailed, 58-57, with seven seconds remaining, but Jett got to the free-throw line and sank his two attempts to save the game.
The Billikens may not have had their best night offensively against Rhode Island, but they continued their defensive dominance. On the season, they are ranked seventh in the league in scoring (57.6 ppg) and assists (9.2 apg) allowed. They also limit foes to 39.2 percent efficiency from the floor. Dwayne Evans (14.6 ppg, 6 rpg) and Jett (11.8 ppg, 4.8 apg) are the only double-digit scorers on the roster. Evans had only 11 points against Rhode Island, but it was a better effort than he had in the previous two games when he totaled just 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting. Jett is a pass-first player, who ranks second in the A-10 in assists.
Neither the Rebels nor the Flyers scored in the last 1:53 of regulation when the teams met recently. Regulation ended with the score knotted at 73-73, and Dayton used a 5-1 spurt to gain control and hold on for the win, hitting 3- of-4 from the free-throw line down the stretch.
Dayton's strength this season has been its shooting prowess, which checks in at a league-best 48.4 percent. That type of efficiency has the team ranked third in the league in scoring (77.7 ppg). Jordan Sibert (12.6 ppg) and Devin Oliver (12.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.6 apg) are the team's top contributors. Sibert had a rough game against Ole Miss though, netting only eight points on 2-of-10 shooting. Oliver picked up the slack and tallied 26 points while also handing out five assists. Dyshawn Pierre (11.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg) should not be ignored, as he has produced as well this season.
With how well the Flyers shoot the ball, they should be able to handle the defensive pressure the Billikens bring to the table. As long as Sibert can bounce back, Dayton gets the nod at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Dayton 71, Saint Louis 69
01/11 10:36:52 ET