Dayton cuts down on turnovers in win over North Florida

Dayton basketball fans unfamiliar with the Dab might wonder what Scoochie Smith is doing every time he hits a big shot.

The Dab is a dance move gaining popularity on football fields and basketball courts across the country. Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer dabbled in the Dab after beating Michigan. LeBron James, Cam Newton and others have done the Dab.

Dayton’s point guard has the Dab down. Twice after hitting big 3-pointers Saturday in a 86-71 victory over North Florida at UD Arena, Smith bent his head, covered his eyes and nose with his forearm and ran back down the court.

Smith scored 14 of his 15 points in the second half. Even more impressively, he had four assists and no turnovers in 33 minutes. Here are three points to take from this game, turnovers being the top item on the list.

1. Fewer mistakes: The Flyers committed 10 turnovers against North Florida. They had 22 in a 90-71 loss to Xavier in their previous game and were averaging 16.3 turnovers per game, most in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Dayton had nine turnovers two games earlier in a 73-70 victory over Monmouth, so it appears close to solving this issue.

“That’s big moving forward,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “We’re talking about three things right now. Do not turn the ball over. Run back on defense. And rebound the ball. I think we checked (off) most of those. If we can get our turnovers down, our offense is going to get better because we’re still scoring the ball well.”

2. Rebounding edge: The Flyers out-rebounded North Florida 41-31. Center Steve McElvene had 16 rebounds. Charles Cooke had seven. Kendall Pollard had five.

Dayton has out-rebounded every opponent but Xavier. Entering the game, the Flyers ranked second in the A-10 in rebounding margin (plus 5.5).

3. Quality opponent: North Florida shot 46 percent from the field and 56 percent from 3-point range in the the first half and 37 percent from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range in the second half. The Ospreys made 14 3-pointers but only five in the second half.

North Florida showed why it leads the nation in 3-pointers. Miller expects the Ospreys to contend for a second straight NCAA Tournament berth. They already beat Illinois and played LSU close.

“We’re playing an extremely difficult schedule,” Miller said. “I hope people are taking notice around the country of what we’re doing. We’re not just playing anybody right now if you look at RPI and strength of schedule. We did this on purpose. This is to put us in position to be ready down the road. We’re really challenging ourselves and a lot of time with inexperienced guys who are getting exposed, and that’s making us better.”

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