Arkansas, Dayton Ready for Challenge

Arkansas and Dayton were both in the Maui Invitational last season, but didn't get a chance to match up on the court. That will happen for the second time ever on Saturday when the Razorbacks (6-2) and Flyers (7-1) meet in a 1 p.m. game at Bud Walton Arena that will be televised by ESPN2.

There are probably a lot easier opponents to break a two-game losing streak against than Dayton, but that’s the foe that stands in front of Arkansas on Saturday.

The Flyers (7-1) - with two starters back from an NCAA Tournament Elite Eight team of a season ago - visit Arkansas (6-2) Saturday at 1 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena.

“I'm anxious to see our approach Saturday against an outstanding Dayton team,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. “ A very experienced team. I think that's one of the things that when I look at their team, they've got experience, guys that played in the tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight.

“… They're finding ways to win early in the year,” Anderson added. “And just like us, I'm sure they're trying to get better as a team in this non-conference schedule.”

But conversely, there are a lot of reasons for Dayton head coach Archie Miller to be concerned on Saturday as well.

The Razorbacks are 287-67 at Bud Walton Arena overall and 56-6 under Anderson at the venue.

“Arkansas’ home court record under Coach Anderson is one that is really impressive,” Miller said. “The way they play really gets energized them at home. It’s going to be a hostile environment. Arkansas has traditionally been one of the toughest home courts to play on.

“It is exciting to get another road opportunity and we are going to need more experience dealing with that type of team that will prepare us for our league,” Miller added.

Miller’s team is limiting foes to just 54.4 points in its current five-game winning streak, but shooting just 40 percent from the field and just 27 percent from 3-point range.

“It has to improve,” Miller said. “We have got to make some shots. We are not shooting the ball particularly well right now. I think a lot of it is confidence and knowing where the shots are going to come from in the game.

“Offensively right now we are a couple of steps away from becoming better,” Miller added. “We are standing in mud right now so to speak with guys learning how to play with one another. The ball movement isn’t as free right now, the player movement isn’t as fast and we are going to have to really start cracking down on some guys doing their job offensively.

“You gotta score, you have gotta score,” Miller continue. “You can play defense all you want, but you still have to score to win, especially on the road.”

The Razorbacks lost road games at Iowa State (95-77) and at Clemson (68-65) in overtime last week after getting off to their best start in 17 years.

The two teams have played just once with Todd Day’s rebound basket giving Arkansas an 86-84 over Dayton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 18, 1990.

Dayton is led by 6-4 redshirt senior guard Jordan Sibert, a first-team All-Conference pick of a year ago, leads the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game.

“He’s a guy that, he shot it at a high clip last year and they lost some guys off of that team,” Anderson said. “But he continues to lead this team. He can put it on the floor as well. He’s an experienced, polished player and someone we’ve got to really pay attention to them. I think he’s that guy that, if they need something, they need a bucket, he’s going to be the guy.”

The Flyers’ other returning starter is 6-5 junior forward Dyshawn Pierre (11.5) while 6-9 junior center Devon Scott (9.5, 7.4) has posted three straight double-doubles.

“They will go up-tempo, but they prefer the mid-tempo,” Anderson said. “Their scores are in the 60s and the 70s. They want it be a grinder kind of game and make you work on defense. They'll have the shot clock run down.

“… Their bigs can put the ball on the floor and push it, so they'll get in transition,” Anderson added. “I think the thing that stands out to me when I look at their team, it's an attacking team. They get to the free throw line probably 100 times-plus more than their opponents. I think that's their strength. They attack that basket.”

Mike Anderson

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