Previewing Dayton

Dayton isn't just happy to be in the Big Dance. Soon after the No. 11-seeded Flyers captured their first NCAA tournament win since 1990 with a 68-60 first-round upset victory over No. 6 West Virginia Friday, the Flyers were already looking to extend the madness.

"We're just going to go out there and show the world Dayton basketball,"  junior guard Marcus Johnson said.

Dayton will have its next chance to showcase its talents when the Flyers (27-7, 11-5 Atlantic-10) battle No. 3-seeded Kansas (26-7) at 1:30 (CST) today in a second-round matchup in the Midwest Regional at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

KU advanced by beating a pesky North Dakota State team, 84-74, on Friday. Dayton, meanwhile, is looking to build on its victory over West Virginia, where the Flyers' suffocating defense held the Mountaineers to just 36.7 percent field goal shooting.  High-flying  6-8 sophomore forward Chris Wright led UD with a career-high 27 points and 10 rebounds, while senior forward Charles Little added 18 points.

Wright, who paces Dayton with 13.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 41 blocks, is one of the most athletic players in the country. KU freshman forward Marcus Morris knows that will be a tough defensive assignment.

"He's quicker on his feet than normal big guys," Morris said. "I think I'm going to have to slide a little more. He's very aggressive. So the technique I just have to use is just be aggressive with him and don't let him overpower me going to the basket."

KU coach Bill Self raves over Wright's ability.

"He is a fabulous player," Self said. "How many guys out there are that tall, that physically gifted from a strength standpoint and have a 40-inch vertical or close to it on top of that? (He) probably puts as much pressure on you defensively as anybody that we played this year from either posting it, rebounding it, or catching and driving it. He's one of those guys that can play so aggressive that there's always going to be contact. If you're not in the proper defensive positioning, you can pick up a lot of fouls."

Wright isn't Dayton's only weapon. Johnson averages 12.1 points and leads the team with 45 threes, while Little is an athletic force with an 8.3 scoring and 3.9 rebounding average. Freshman swingman Chris Johnson is next in scoring (6.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg), followed by junior guard Mickey Perry (4.4 ppg), junior guard London Warren (4.1 ppg and team-high 152 assists and 54 steals), junior forward/center Kurt Huelsman (3.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg), sophomore forward/center Devin Searcy (2.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg), freshman guard Paul Williams (2.2 ppg) and sophomore guard Stephen Thomas (2.0 ppg).

Dayton, which has nine players averaging at least 11.3 minutes per game, averages 67.5 points while allowing 61.5 ppg. The Flyers only shoot 42.9 percent from the field, but are a strong defensive team which limits foes to 39.6 percent shooting.

After winning seven straight games from mid-January to early February, Dayton enters the Kansas contest winning just six of its last 11 games. However, the Flyers have won three of their last four games and pose a dangerous test to Self's Jayhawks.

Self said Dayton reminds him of Tennessee with its athleticism and great transition game from defense to offense.

"Stopping, eliminating transition will be a big key," Self said. "We've watched enough tape that you can actually do a good job in that, and then in three possessions they have three dunks and the next thing you know all momentum has swung. So we have to be very good at defensive transition."

Kansas also has to do a good job of guarding dribble penetration in the half-court offense.

"They are a team that drives it hard," Self said. "Dayton does as good of a job as anybody we played this year of putting the ball down and putting pressure on you defensively.

"You have to do a good job of guarding the ball, but you also have to do a good job of being one pass away and maybe helping the guy guard the ball. We will certainly emphasize and try to do that."

The Jayhawks hope to come out looser than their opening-game versus North Dakota State. KU's newcomers are thrilled to play in their first NCAA tournament, and ready to seize the moment.

"It's amazing just to be here," Morris said. "Just to experience it. Growing up not knowing if you're going to make it to this point, and now that you're here, you just try to live it up."

Expect KU to "live it up" against Dayton and end the Flyers' March Madness. UD's poor shooting dooms them in the end, as Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich lead KU to a 78-66 victory with 24 and 21 points, respectively, and a berth in the Sweet 16.

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