University of Dayton head coach Archie Miller has said his team’s games against Xavier University are taken seriously.
Dayton gets another shot at defeating its rival when Xavier visits UD Arena on Saturday, Feb. 16, at noon.
“From my perspective, since I’ve arrived here, we’ve approached this game in a very serious tone,” Miller said. “I’m sure Xavier always will approach this game with [one].”
Dayton (13-11, 4-6) is coming off a 75-72 loss against the University of Rhode Island on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The loss moved Dayton’s record in games decided by six points or fewer to 2-8.
Dayton has won three of the last four meetings between the two schools at UD Arena, most recently being an 87-72 winner on Jan. 21, 2012.
“I think the attitude in practice and the consistency we’ve had all year pretty much all year, but most recently in the month of January needs to stay the same,” he said. “As a competitor this is the arena you want to be in.”
Last month, Xavier (14-9, 7-3) extended Dayton’s futility streak in Cincinnati to 32 years and 28 straight games with a 66-61 win on Jan. 30 at the Cintas Center. Redshirt sophomore forward Matt Derenbecker missed a shot at a game-tying 3-pointer with seconds remaining.
Xavier comes into Saturday’s match up winning two of its last three since the two teams first meeting, most recently defeating Fordham University in Cincinnati, on Wednesday.
Xavier was picked to finish ninth in the conference this season, one spot behind Dayton in the preseason A-10 poll. While Xavier has exceeded those expectations so far, currently putting itself in position for a shot at a bye in the conference tournament, Dayton has underperformed and is fighting to earn a trip altogether. Only the top-12 finishers in the final conference standings compete in the season-end tournament.
“All in all, every week that goes along in the race becomes even bigger,” Miller said. “Of course, this is a vital conference game for us as well so we can stay in the race.”
The teams overall have performed close to each other in rebounding this season, as both average around 35 boards while out-rebounding their opponents by close to five per game. It was a key stat in the first meeting, as Xavier had the upper hand with a dominating 36-18 edge, with more than half of its total coming on the offensive end.
“Archie always talks about whoever wins the backboards wins the game,” redshirt senior forward Josh Benson said. “Probably 99 percent of that is true. We just have to keep our same rebounding mentality, and we have to defend.”
Miller said the battle on the boards is important for his team to win in every game.
“That has to be a staple for our team to be successful, not only on the offensive backboard but in particular on the defensive backboard,” Miller said. “I think we have some guys who can do well, so if we have that type of ability, we have to concentrate on it every day.”
Dayton has not been swept in a season by Xavier since 2007, when it lost three times. Unless the two schools meet in the A-10 tournament for the sixth time in seven seasons, Dayton will bewanting to extend that streak when it plays its most important game of the season.
“Every game has a sense of urgency,” Benson said. “Especially this one, as it’s one of our rival schools … We just have to have an attack mentality going in.”