It was as if someone had just slipped him a glass of sour milk and he had taken a big swig.
Trey Landers spit the word out and made a bit of a face.
“Did you say pressure?” the University of Dayton guard said with a mix of incredulity and distaste, only some of it feigned. “I don’t know what that word is…I don’t like the word. I don’t use that word.”
After the Dayton Flyers had edged Davidson, 65-64, Tuesday night at UD Arena, Landers had been asked about the series of big shots he had made down the stretch, in particular his two free throws with 22.5 seconds left.
They were the Flyers last points and provided the winning margin.
With the game on the line and the near-sellout crowd all focused on him, he had been asked how he’d dealt with the pressure of the moment.
Coach Anthony Grant later called them “grown-man free throws.”
Landers, though, said they were routine, claiming his mindset was no different than when he shoots 50 or 100 extra free throws in practice.
When a postgame questioner responded with profane disbelief, the 6-foot-4 Landers didn’t flinch:
“Call it what you want. I didn’t feel pressure.
“You know who taught me that? My brother.”
»PHOTOS: Dayton edges Davidson
He was referring to his old brother, Robert, a 282-pound defensive lineman for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
“He don’t like the word pressure. And I’ve told my little brother (Tallice) the same thing. We don’t use that word. We don’t feel pressure.
Trey said making those free throws was “just what I do.”
That’s the same way he described the fast-break dunk he had midway through the second half that ignited his team and the crowd.
“Darrell (Davis) had gotten the fast break going,” he said. “It was a steal and luckily he saw me and I just did what I did. I dunked that thing.”
Landers did that and quite a bit more against Davidson. He led Dayton with 16 points, 12 of them coming in the final 12 ½ minutes.
That burst of offense included the most unbelievable basket of the game.
With just under 6 ½ minutes left in the game and the shot clock running out on a Flyers’ possession, Darrell Davis flung a low pass to Landers who was beyond the top of the key. He caught it near his ankles and momentarily lost his grip on the ball as it touched the floor. Instantly, he grabbed it and then, in one motion, he rose up and hoisted a shot toward the basket.
The ball snapped the net cords at the buzzer and Landers let out a “Woooo!” of celebration.
The officials counted the three pointer, but then stopped play to go to the courtside monitor and review the shot.
Had he felt pressure unloading that desperate heave?
“No!” Landers said emphatically. “I’d say more like panic because the clock was running down. I knew there was like one second left and I had to get that (thing) up in the air. When I let it go it felt pretty good. And when it went in…”
He lowered his voice and smiled, “…I was like ‘Alright, I’m good now!’
“When they checked the monitor I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s good. So I don’t even know why you have to replay it.’”
The shot lifted Dayton to a 55-46 lead and temporarily stunned the Wildcats.
Afterward, Grant praised Landers, though he mostly focused on the muscular guard’s defensive effort against Davidson’s leading scorer, 6-foot-8 senior, Peyton Aldridge:
“He’s a player of the year candidate, a heck of a player and even though he had 24 tonight, he earned everything he got,” Grant said of Aldridge. “Trey did a great job of battling him. He made him work for everything.”
Aldridge shared a similar thought with him on the court, Landers said.
As the two players stood next to each other waiting for play to resume following a late-game time out, they chatted easily back and forth.
“He just gave me credit and said I did a good job defensively and that he had just hit some tough shots,” Landers said. “He gave me credit and I gave him credit. He’s a great player.
“We were just playing basketball and while it’s about competing, at the end of the day it’s about meeting new people and relationships, too. Me and him had a nice little conversation.”
He said it was simply two competitors showing mutual respect for each other.
And Aldridge wasn’t the only one giving some props to Landers on Tuesday night.
When the game ended, Grant and the sophomore guard were brought across the court to the CBS crew who had broadcast the game.
Before the interview began, an appreciative Grant wrapped Landers in a big hug and held it for a couple of seconds.
“Coach Grant is a passionate guy,” Landers said. “We love what he does. In the midst of the game, with all the hype, I know he had some excitement, some jitters coming up his back.”
That precipitated the embrace Landers said: “I get that a lot from Coach Grant.”
Freshman point guard Jalen Crutcher – who finished with 12 points, six assists and no turnovers in 39 minutes of play – gave a big nod to Landers afterward, as well.
“Trey is the voice of our team, on the court and off the court. He’s a vocal leader. As soon as I met him, I realized, ‘That’s my big brother.’ He’s real outspoken. He tells you what you’re doing wrong. He tells you when you’re doing good.
“He knows what to say.”
… And one word not to say.