Ranked Dayton duels with potent Davidson

Dayton will look to prove their ranking right as they match up with Davidson.

Tim Zechar/Icon Sportswire

Dayton opened Atlantic 10 play with some of its best offensive performances of the season but has stayed unbeaten in the conference by relying on its stingy defense.

Ranked for the first time in 2014-15, the No. 22 Flyers will attempt to contain a potent Davidson team that has been dominant at home Tuesday night.

Dayton (15-2, 5-0) averaged 78.3 points in its first three league games, 10.3 higher than in nonconference play, while shooting 57.4 percent and 47.0 from 3-point range. The Flyers have been held to 61 points in each of their last two games but have won by a combined 27, adding to their best A-10 start since beginning 9-0 in 2003-04.

They had their worst shooting performance in conference play at 42.9 percent Saturday against Saint Louis but yielded their second-fewest points in any game in a 61-45 victory, their eighth in a row. Dayton limited the Billikens to 37.0 percent shooting and has held its past three opponents to a combined 36.4.

Sophomore forward Kendall Pollard provided a boost with a career-high 20 points, and leading scorer Jordan Sibert had 18 after matching a season low with nine in a 61-50 victory over La Salle on Wednesday.

Dayton is giving up 58.1 points per game and 38.7 percent shooting this season, and those efforts helped push the Flyers into the AP Top 25 for the first time since spending one week at No. 25 from Dec. 2-8, 2013.

"I think the guys understand how delicate it is because a year ago at this time, things weren’t going really well," said coach Archie Miller, whose team started 1-5 in the A-10 before winning 14 of its past 15 conference games. "You can get back in that situation real quick if you take your eyes off the prize. We just have to stay with it and stay focused."

The Flyers will next face one of the nation’s best scoring teams in Davidson, averaging 82.4 points. The Wildcats (12-4, 3-2) are averaging 84.7 while going 8-1 at home and have won six in a row there.

They shot 55.2 percent and went 12 of 22 on 3-pointers in an 89-54 rout of Saint Louis on Jan. 10 before splitting their next two road games.

Davidson made 40.0 percent of its attempts while being held to its lowest scoring output this season Saturday in an 89-63 loss to Richmond. Tyler Kalinoski, who leads the Wildcats with 16.4 points per game, was his team’s only player to score more than 10 as he finished with 20.

Three of Davidson’s four losses have come against ranked opponents, falling 90-72 to then-No. 6 North Carolina at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte and losing at then-No. 3 Virginia and then-No. 20 VCU by a combined 17 points.

Davidson held a four-point halftime lead over the Cavaliers, who along with top-ranked Kentucky are the only undefeated teams in the country.

"They’re very skilled offensively," Miller said. "They’re very confident at home so we have our work cut out for us."

Dayton, 0-3 in the all-time series, will face Davidson for the first time since an 84-67 home loss Feb. 24, 1973.