Dayton guard Jordan Sibert, the pain etched on his face, sat alone in the locker room Saturday night moments after an 81-75 loss at Illinois State. Every loss hurts, whether it’s in December or March. This was no different.
The road isn’t kind. No matter the opponent, it’s hard to win there. The No. 25 Flyers discovered that Saturday at Redbird Arena after playing so well on the road in November.
Dayton’s reward for winning three of five games away from home — three of those on a neutral court in Maui — is five straight games at UD Arena against teams with a combined record of 25-15.
“It’s big for us to get off the road and just be at home playing around our crowd,” Sibert said. “It’s going to be good for us. We need it.”
Dayton hosts Central Michigan (6-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday. It plays Iona (5-2) at 7 p.m. Dec. 19, Southern California (5-3) at 2 p.m. Dec. 22, Murray State (4-5) at 2 p.m. Dec. 29 and Winthrop (5-2) at 2 p.m. Jan. 1.
The Flyers are 4-0 at home and 1-1 in true road games. They beat Georgia Tech 82-72 in Atlanta.
“We’ve played nine games, and we’ve played five away from our own arena,” coach Archie Miller said. “I’m not sure how many programs are doing that right now. That’s very difficult, not to mention the fact that we were on the road 10 days and we were in Maui and you go through five time zones and you come back and try to get it in gear.”
Although Saturday’s loss stung because the Flyers committed an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers and had the lead only once, Miller sounded like a coach who wanted to play again right away instead of waiting a week.
“The only way you can get this taste out of your mouth is to get going again,” he said. “Anybody who’s competitive knows that.”
Miller also looks at all the upcoming practice time, though it has to be balanced against the players studying for finals this week, as a way for the team to improve.
“We have a big chance here to really grind away and get back to being the team we can be,” he said. “We fully anticipate next Saturday night being a team ready to go.”
Central Michigan at Dayton, 7 p.m. Saturday, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, 1290, 95.7