Another Tough Road Game At Dayton

While some might not be aware about the rich history of the University of Dayton men's basketball program, Pitt coach Jamie Dixon knows what's in store for the Panthers Saturday night.

Pittsburgh (11-0), ranked sixth nationally and among nine unbeaten teams in the country, faces the Flyers (10-1) at 8 p.m. at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio. The Flyers are ranked 28th this week.

"It's well-known; it's legendary, and there's a lot of history there at Dayton in what they've done and the following that they have,'' Dixon said. "The first thing you need to know about Dayton is that they hosted the (NCAA) play-in game and sold it out. They couldn't find a lot of places to do that, so they love basketball there. They have a long history there, and to me that says it all.

"That shows the interest that they have there, and to have that game there is a great compliment. That's a basketball school and a basketball town with a lot of history that probably our players aren't familiar with, and ... I think they're excited about the game. It's not often that they get a team that's ranked where we are into their home building. I would venture to say it's very rare.''

Dayton is among the best teams in the Atlantic 10, along with Xavier, and should compete for the Conference title. The Flyers reached the NCAA title game in 1967 and won the NIT crown the following season. There also was a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the 1970s and Regional Final in the 1980s.

"Dayton is one of the mid-major teams that always seems to be up there among the top teams in the country, and I guess they've got to be thinking that a win against Pitt will make their season,'' Pitt senior forward Keith Benjamin said. "So, that's what they'll be looking to do.''

It will help Dayton's cause with 6-foot-2 senior guard Brian Roberts at the helm. Roberts, who Dixon began recruiting seven years ago, leads the Flyers in nearly every offensive category. He averages 18.2 points and five assists in 33.2 minutes per game. Roberts shoots better than 49 percent from the field, nearly 48 percent from 3-point range and 87.2 percent from the free-throw line.

Chris Wright, a 6-8 freshman, plays the three spot and will be matched against redshirt frosh Gilbert Brown or Benjamin more often than not. Wright is second for Dayton with 12.5 points per game, but he leads with seven rebounds per game and a field-goal percentage near 62 percent.

"Wright gives them more athleticism than they've had there,'' Dixon said. "He has good size. He's athletic, and he likes to go to the boards. But we recruited him out of high school, so we know about him, too.''

Sophomore guard Marcus Johnson (8.1 points), senior forward Jimmy Binnie and 6-10 sophomore Kurt Huelsman are the other starters. Junior forward Charles Little (6-6) averages 7.4 points off the bench, and he's joined by senior Andres Sandoval, junior Thiago Cordeiro, sophomore London Warren and freshman Stephen Thomas as key subs.

"From what I hear, they're right on top of the court at Dayton, and they have good players coming back from last year,'' Benjamin said. "They really want to avenge their loss from last year. We beat them pretty bad, and nobody likes to get beat two years in a row. (And) the environment at Dayton is pretty tough.

"So, this will be a good test. I think these next two games are real good tests for us before we get into the Big East. We've got a great team in Dayton, another tough road game, and then we have Lafayette at home (Jan. 2, 2008). So, they're great transition games for us before we get into Conference play.''

Dayton has a 70-65 win at Louisville this season, but the Flyers' only loss was 67-56 at George Mason some six weeks ago.

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