Dayton looked like it was going to celebrate the return of suspended star Dyshawn Pierre on Wednesday night by putting visiting Arkansas away by the middle of the first half.
The Flyers roared out to leads of 11-0, 19-3 and 30-7 before the Razorbacks showed up to make a game of it.
Arkansas would actually storm back to take a four-point lead in the second half before Anthlon Bell's 3-pointer with one second left forced overtime, but Dayton steadied itself and escaped with 85-81 victory before a sold-out crowd of 13,455 at UD Arena.
"Our guys split their guys on the floor tonight and what can you say," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "Dayton has got a good ballclub. We thought we did enough to have a chance to win the ballgame, but in the end of the day you have got to finish...We have got to finish off."
Moses Kingsley had a career-high 26 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks for the Razorbacks (6-6) while Anton Beard had 15 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, Dusty Hannahs 13 points and Jabril Durham in the Razorbacks' last game before starting SEC play Saturday at No. 20 Texas A&M.
Charles Cooke led the Flyers (10-2) with Kendall Pollard and Scoochie Smith added 15 each, Kyle Davis 13 and Darrell Davis 12 for the home team, which has now won 27 of its last 28 home games.
Pierre, Dayton's leading scorer and rebounder last season, had 11 points in his first game off suspension, which came about after he was accused of sexual assault by a fellow Dayton student. He denied the allegation and was never charged.
“It’s tough to maintain (a big lead like that), but you have to be able to maintain it,” Dayton head coach Archie Miller said. “You can’t lose a (23-)point lead in eight minutes.”
Arkansas cut that 30-7 defcit down to 38-34 by halftime and scored the first two points after intermission as a stunned crowd looked on.
"I said 'settle down guys, we don't have 10-point plays, we don't have 15-point plays' and I thought we started chipping away," Anderson said. "Our defense really started taking effect in the game sfter at first they were coming down and it was like they were having shooting practice. They were shooting it deep and getting into the lane and laying it up.
"But from that point, I thought our defensive intensity picked up. We didn't shoot the ball well, didn't have a 3-pointer in the first half, but suddenly were just four points down with plently of time left. I knew it was just a matter of time before our offense kicked in."
Kingsley was the big key in that and was dominant inside as he went 9-of-13 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
"I think Moses kept us in it," Anderson said. "I thought he really did. His will and his intensity kind of spurred the other guys...I can't say enough about Moses. This guy is like a double-double machine. I wish we had went to him a little bit more going down the stretch because it seems like they didn't have an answer for him."
Arkansas, who had six of its 16 turnovers early in the game, took its first lead of the game at 61-60 on Manny Watkins' bucket and had a 65-62 advantage with 5:40 left when Beard knocked down a 3-pointer with 5:40left in the game.
Dayton scored five straight points to take the lead back and after both teams missed several field goal attempts and free throws, Bell's deep 3-pointer tied it 72-72 and sent it into overtime.
Kingsley scored the first points of overtime and Arkansas eventually led 79-75, but Dayton closed the game out on a 10-2 run to get the win.
Beard, who was suspended the first semester and playing just his third game back, had several big shots in the comeback and also missed a few key shots.
"Anton Beard, this guy is just getting back, and he really had an impact on this game," Anderson said. "I thought Pierre had a impact for them as well."
Arkansas will visit Texas A&M for a Saturday 3:30 p.m. game.
"Our guys came here to win this game, there is no question about it, but we have got to have a short memory because it's now on to the family (the SEC) and a short turnaround, but I know this team will fight," Anderson said. "They got 23 down and its the first time that they have really taken a punch like that, but to our guys credit, we would not go away."