Dayton-La Salle Preview
Dayton has its sights set on extending a winning streak deep into conference play as it chases the program's first Atlantic-10 regular-season title in 12 years.
That might not be as easy as it seems against struggling La Salle, which denied the Flyers an opportunity to end their championship drought the last time they met.
While the Explorers look to snap their longest losing streak in six years, No. 25 Dayton will try to end its troubles in Philadelphia and capture a sixth consecutive victory Saturday.
The Flyers have been strong on the defensive end while matching the best 14-game start in coach Archie Miller's five seasons. They rank second among A-10 teams by holding teams to 40.4 percent shooting and third with 65.6 points allowed per game.
Dayton (12-2, 2-0), which moved into the Top 25 for the first time in a year this week, also has forced an average of 16.7 turnovers over its last three games. It scored 26 points off Massachusetts' 16 miscues in Wednesday's 93-63 home victory.
That helped the Flyers reach season highs in points and field-goal percentage (56.7) while also shooting a season-best 11 for 25 from 3-point range. Charles Cooke, who scored 18 points, is averaging 19.5 while hitting 12 of 23 from beyond the arc in his last four games.
''Charles by far and away is a very impactful guy on this team,'' Miller said.
Kendall Pollard, who ranks second on the team with 11.5 points per game, could return after sitting out because of a strained Achilles tendon. Dyshawn Pierre started for Pollard and contributed 11 points and eight rebounds in his third game back from suspension.
The Flyers are now faced with trying to continue their run at a venue that hasn't been kind. Although they've won 18 of the past 22 meetings overall, the Flyers have dropped two straight trips to La Salle by a total of four points and four of their last six.
Dayton had a chance to wrap up at least a share of its first A-10 regular-season crown since 2003-04 in its last visit to Tom Gola Arena on March 7. But Jordan Price had 21 points, eight rebounds and made 4 of 8 from beyond the arc in the Explorers' 55-53 win.
"It's the most difficult place for our team and me and my staff to play," Miller said. "We've had some real ugly ones up there where we've laid an egg, particularly last year with a chance to win a conference championship and didn't get the job done."
Price figures to be the focal point of Dayton's defensive effort once again. The junior guard ranks second among conference players with 22.7 points per game, though he's in the midst of a mini-shooting slump at 34.3 percent over his last four.
He had 21 points but missed seven of 10 from 3-point range in Wednesday's 66-61 loss at Fordham. Cleon Roberts, who added 15 points and seven rebounds, is averaging 18.7 points in his last three games despite shooting 8 for 30 from the field in his past two.
The Explorers (4-8, 0-2) have scored 59 per game in the last six of a seven-game losing streak. They haven't dropped eight in a row since late in the 2009-10 season.
La Salle has lost its two games versus ranked foes this season by a combined 75 points.