The halftime entertainment at UD Arena has not disappointed this season: dogs flying after Frisbees, people spinning basketballs, guys bouncing on trampolines, to name a few of the acts.
The Flyers themselves, however, have provided most of their best shows on the road. They lived up to their No. 25 ranking for brief spells Wednesday in a 56-46 victory over Delaware State in their first game in four years as a ranked team, but they did not play at the high level they reached in one game at Georgia Tech and three games in Maui.
After the game coach Archie Miller lamented the fact his team, even though it keeps winning and is now 7-1, hasn’t performed as well at home as on the road.
Of course, much of Dayton’s performance Wednesday could be attributed to Delaware State’s style of play. Delaware State (2-6) slowed the pace and threw a number of different defenses at Dayton.
“It didn’t look pretty; it wasn’t going to be pretty,” Miller said. “In preparation for Delaware State, we really tried to get our guys mentally ready to understand what kind of style we were going to (see) tonight and don’t fall into the trap of frustration and offensive impatience. For the most part, we did a good job. If we make a few more free throws and stick a couple more shots, the score’s probably a little different all the way through.”
Dayton led the entire game and was never in real danger of losing. It wasted a 10-0 lead in the opening minutes after the Hornets answered with a 10-2 run. Dayton took a 28-21 halftime lead on a last-second shot by Jalen Robinson and stretched the lead to 31-21 on a 3-pointer by Jordan Sibert in the second minute of the second half.
The Flyers led by as many as 20 in the second half before the Hornets made one final push to make the final score respectable.
Matt Kavanaugh played his best game of the season and led Dayton with 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting. Vee Sanford added 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
Eight Dayton players scored, and 11 players saw at least 12 minutes of action. Dayton struggled at the free-throw line (14-of-27) and from 3-point range (2-of-14), but committed only seven turnovers and outscored the Hornets 18-0 in points off turnovers.
“Coach told us this game was going to feel weird because Delaware throws a lot of junk defenses at you,” Sanford said. “It was a little weird, and we came out a little flat, but it shows our maturity as a team to come out and get the win no matter what.”
Dayton at Illinois State, 8 p.m. Saturday, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, ESPN3, 1290, 95.7