Dayton (10-4) at Virginia Commonwealth (12-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 9, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Siegel Center (7,693) -- Richmond, Virginia. Television: WHIO. Home Record: Dayton 7-2, VCU 8-1. Away Record: Dayton 1-1, VCU 3-0. Neutral Record: Dayton 2-1, VCU 1-2. Conference Record: Dayton 0-0, VCU 0-0. Series Record: VCU leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Commonwealth Rams bring a full head of steam into their Atlantic 10 Conference opener, as they play host to the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday night at the Siegel Center.
Shaka Smart has another strong team this year, as the Rams have finished off non-conference play with a stellar 12-3 mark. VCU brings a nine-game win streak into league action, including a 59-55 win over Lehigh last weekend, steadily moving towards a top-25 ranking.
Archie Miller's second season at the helm at Dayton has been mildly successful to date, with the Flyers bringing a 10-4 record into A-10 play. Dayton has split its last four games, but enters off a victory, a 78-71 decision at home against UAB.
VCU holds a 3-1 series advantage although this marks the first meeting since 1986.
The Flyers were able to outscore the Blazers 23-13 at the free-throw line, a key to the team's seven-point win on Saturday. Josh Benson led four Flyers in double figures, hitting 9-of-12 of his shots from the floor and posting a team-high 20 points. Vee Sanford poured in 19 points in support, while Kevin Dillard and Devin Oliver finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Dayton produces 72.3 ppg on a healthy 45.8 percent shooting. The team possesses solid depth at the offensive end with a number of scoring options. Dillard leads the way as the team's facilitator, averaging team-highs of 15.0 points and 4.9 assists per game. Sanford is second in the scoring column at 12.9 ppg. Benson and Oliver round out the top threats with 11.6 and 10.1 ppg, respectively. Oliver paces the team on the glass at 8.6 rpg.
The Rams have excelled at both ends of the floor and certainly head into league play as one of the A-10 favorites. VCU boasts of a +19.3 scoring margin, averaging 78.5 ppg, while holding foes to a meager 59.3 ppg. Four Rams are averaging double digits, led by Treveon Graham's 14.8 ppg. Troy Daniels (13.9 ppg), Juvonte Reddic (13.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Rob Brandenberg (10.7 ppg) are valuable contributors as well.
It wasn't the prettiest offensive performance over the weekend, but the Rams played stellar defense, holding Lehigh to just 55 points and forcing the Mountain Hawks into 22 turnovers. Graham hit 6-of-18 shots from the field to finish with a team-high 17 points. Daniels and Brandenberg added 11 points apiece. The defensive performance was certainly needed as VCU struggled offensively, shooting just .361 from the floor, a number weighed down by an ugly 5-of-27 from behind the arc (.185).
The Rams certainly get the nod in this A-10 opener. With the homecourt advantage and balance at both ends, VCU should be able to bounce back offensively and continue its current run.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Commonwealth 74, Dayton 67
01/09 18:57:35 ET