Steven Wright – Sports Editor
Dayton wrapped up non-conference play at home Wednesday, Jan. 1, with a dominating performance against an undersized opponent.
Playing on New Year’s Day for the fifth time in its history, the University of Dayton men’s basketball team started off 2014 with an easy 81-47 win over Winthrop University at UD Arena.
“Very happy with the performance today,” head coach Archie Miller said. “We’ll get better. The whole deal is defensive-minded right now. I think today was another good step.”
The win was UD’s largest of the season and biggest since a 45-point win over Fordham University on Jan. 23, 2013.
The Flyers were led by a balanced effort, boasting five players in double figures. A pair of sophomores in guard Khari Price and forward Jalen Robinson both scored 11 points. Redshirt senior guard Vee Sanford, sophomore forward Devon Scott and senior forward Devin Oliver had 10 each.
Twelve different players scored for Dayton, and 10 shot 50 percent or better from the floor.
Despite scoring above 80 for the eighth time this year, Dayton (11-3) had its lulls on the offensive side of the ball, failing to score over a three minute stretch midway through the second half. The team’s three freshman and redshirt senior center Matt Kavanaugh were on the floor together during that period.
“We had some odd lineups in at times,” Miller said. “Maybe we weren’t as comfortable and I didn’t think we played great on offense in terms of the way we move the ball, but it’s very evident when you’re able to score 81 points and you only turn the ball over 10 times and you have a lot of guys scoring, balance is everything for us.”
Dayton grabbed the lead out of the gate feeding the blocks early and often and using height to its advantage, as Winthrop only dressed one player above 6-foot, 6-inches. UD outscored Winthrop 46-12 in points in the paint and never trailed in the game. The biggest lead came on the game’s final bucket, a three from junior forward Alex Gavrilovic.
“Coaches were preaching to us through scouting that they were smaller inside,” Oliver said of the team’s game plan. “Just trying to get the ball inside to the big fellows and pushing the ball into the paint.”
UD led 41-28 at the break on 58 percent shooting from the floor. Price scored all 11 of his points in the half to lead all scorers.
Dayton started the game hitting six of its first seven 3-point attempts, three coming from Price. The team also shot just 50 percent from the free throw line for the second straight contest, going 10 for 20.
UD wraps up non-conference play Saturday, Jan. 4, when the team travels to Oxford, Miss., to play the University of Mississippi at 8 p.m.
“We’ve got one more opportunity to close out one of the more difficult non-conference schedules that we’ve ever had,” Miller said. “… We’re going to have to be really good on Saturday to go down and beat a good Ole Miss on its home court. That’s going to be a very difficult challenge for us.”