No. 6 Dayton battles Rhode Island at top of A-10

NCAA Basketball
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Dayton kept multiple streaks alive with Saturday’s victory over Saint Louis.

The No. 6 Flyers hope to keep rolling when they take on Rhode Island in Tuesday’s Atlantic 10 Conference game in Dayton, Ohio.

The Flyers (21-2, 10-0 Atlantic-10) close out a three-game homestand riding a 12-game winning streak to go with 14 consecutive victories at home, dating to last season.

Sophomore forward Obi Toppin is averaging 19.6 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 62.6 percent from the field.

The Flyers had a tougher-than-expected battle against the Billikens, but they prevailed for their second victory over their conference foe this season.

“We’re happy to come out with a victory,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said afterward.

“We knew we needed to put together a 40-minute game to be able to handle different things that come at you over the course of a game. I thought we got a great opportunity to experience that today. I’m proud of our guys. We made enough plays down the stretch, both offensively and defensively, to get the win.”

The Flyers might need another 40-minute effort on both ends to upend the Rams (18-5, 10-1).

The Flyers and Rams are the top two teams in the conference standings, with the Rams nipping at the heels of the first-place Flyers. The teams will play two games against each other in a short period, as the Flyers head to Rhode Island on March 4. The Rams have won 10 straight games and are 6-3 on the road this season.

Whereas the Flyers struggled to beat Saint Louis on Saturday, Rhode Island is coming into the battle for first place off a dominant 82-51 win over George Washington. Fatts Russell paced the Rams with 24 points, and Cyril Langevine had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Russell is averaging a conference-best 20.3 points per game, with 20 points or more in five of his past six games.

The Rams, who were picked to finish fourth in the conference preseason poll, have proven to be a good team on the road, winning all five league games away from home.

Besides the on-court matchup, the conference clash pits two of the hottest coaches in the country in Grant and Rhode Island’s David Cox. Both are considered to be in the running for national coach of the year honors.

Cox said Tuesday’s game should be entertaining.

“This is what you dream about,” Cox said. “This is what you get into college basketball for as a player and surely as a coach. Away game. There will be 12,000 people in there. They’ll be going crazy.

“They’ve got probably the best player in college basketball on their team (in Toppin). They’ve got a seasoned, veteran coach who has coached at the highest level. It will be a challenge, of course. But this is what I’ve dreamed of.”

The Rams have one of the top defenses in the country, ranking seventh in opposing 3-point field-goal percentage (28.2 percent). But the Rams don’t have a deep team, ranking 317th in the country in bench minutes, according to, nor do they rely on 3-pointers. Rhode Island is last in the conference in 3-point attempts per game at 17.6.

–Field Level Media

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