An Arkansas non-conference schedule loaded with quality foes will come to a pre-SEC stop in Dayton, Ohio on Wednesday night.
The Razorbacks (6-5) will take on the Flyers (9-2) in a 7 p.m. game at UD Arena that will be televised on the CBS College Sports Network.
It is a Dayton team in its fifth year under head coach Archie Miller that has already knocked off a couple of SEC foes this season with wins at Vanderbilt (72-67) and over visiting Alabama (80-48).
“The game early in the year against Alabama, it was one of those games where they couldn’t do anything wrong,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. “They ended up beating them 30 or 40 points. They had them down quite a bit and at Vanderbilt, that was very impressive.
“Vanderbilt is a really good basketball team that is really good at home. Vandy led them, for the most part, and they made a tremendous charge and I thought they did a good of attacking Vandy inside.”
Dayton is one of only six college teams to have won five games or more in the last two NCAA Tournaments and is 99-49 under Miller.
“They can play uptempo, they can play half-court, but what they really do a good job of is spacing the floor attacking and going to the glass,” Anderson said. “That’s their DNA, defending, getting in the passing lane and creating turnovers and attacking the glass.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity, but it will also be a tremendous challenge for our basketball team coming off of a (Christmas) break where they had three days off.”
It is a continuation of a tough early schedule that has seen the last five opponents for the Razorbacks sporting a combined 41-11 record.
“To be where we are right now, obviously you want a few more wins, but I think in terms of how we are playing, we are playing the right way and we just have to continue to get better and make some plays going down the stretch," Anderson said.
“Because we are going to be in a lot of games that are very similar to what happened in non-conference, which were close games. It was a play here and a play there.
“I want to see us continue to dial in on our defense. I think we have been kind of inconsistent. We hold people, then we don’t hold people. We finally seemed like we finished the final 10 minutes strong in the North Florida game.
“Now, can we continue that? That is what I want to see. We have been battle-tested.”
Arkansas comes into the game off a 97-72 home win over North Florida, a team that Dayton beat 86-71 earlier this season.
“We have had a a chance to practice a couple of days and hopefully get in a rhythm,” Anderson said. “Get our rhythm back from where we finished up against a North Florida team that I thought we played well in a lot of different areas.”
The Razorbacks lost senior forward Keaton Miles (6-7, 210) in the second half of that game to a sprained knee.
His status is day-to-day and he would likely be replaced by sophomore Trey Thompson (6-10, 255) if he does not start or play.
“That (decision) will probably be right at game time,” Anderson said. “I don’t know. Maybe Trey. Trey Thompson is playing well for us. It may be his opportunity to get out there and start for us.”
Dayton is led by a trio of players scoring in double figures in 6-5 junior forward Charles Cooke (14.4, 6.8), 6-6, 235-pound junior Kendall Pollard (11.8, 5.1) and 6-2 junior point guard Scoochie Smith (11.2).
The Flyers will be adding 6-6 senior forward Dyshawn Pierre (12.8, 5.1 last season), their leading scorer last season and someone who was suspended the first semester.
“It’s a good basketball team and of course we played them last year and I am sure they will be ready to play us,” Anderson said.
Arkansas is 2-0 all-time against Dayton with a 69-55 win last season at Bud Walton Arena and a win over the Flyers in the second round of the 1990 NCAA Tournament in which the Razorbacks advanced to the Final Four.
Dayton had a 26-game home winning streak snapped with a 61-59 loss to Chattanooga on Dec. 12, but has bounced back with wins over Furman and Miami, Ohio.
“It’s going to be a great environment, I think,” Anderson said. “The atmosphere of Dayton is a tremendous environment. If you are a player, you look forward to playing in that type of environment.
“Hopefully we can go in there and defend and keep them off the glass and get to the free throw line and shoot the ball. You have got to be able to shoot the ball well on the road. You look at at the teams that came in here and beat us. Akron, they shot the ball extremely well.”
Arkansas has shot over 50 percent in four its last six games and won those four games in which it did.
“You have to have an answer,” Anderson said. “You have got to knock some shots down to stop the momentum of another team and get some momentum for your team.”
Arkansas’ only other true road game this season was a 88-85 loss at Wake Forest on Dec. 4.
“Well, I am anxious to see where we are,” Anderson said. “The last game we played out on the road was the Wake game and I thought for the most part if we didn’t dig ourselves a hole we were in pretty good shape. We had the lead late in the game and with the ball tied up a couple of times.
“So now it’s just a matter of us making some plays whether it be offensively or defensively. Maybe those games will give us some experience of being in that kind of environment.”