Bryce Cartwright, Kevin Dillard

Dayton point guard Kevin Dillard out indefinitely with back spasms

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There’s no denying the importance of senior point guard Kevin Dillard to the Dayton Flyers, as Dillard leads the 8-3 Flyers in both points (15.0 ppg) and assists (4.1 apg).

Unfortunately for head coach Archie Miller, he may be without the services of Dillard for a little while as the Southern Illinois transfer is out indefinitely due to back spasms.

The injury occurred with 4:19 remaining in Dayton’s 74-73 loss to Illinois State on Wednesday night, when a simple rebound triggered the back issue. Unable to bring the ball up the court, Dillard would leave the game and not return.

“He’s not feeling real well,” Miller said on Thursday night according to Doug Harris of the Dayton Daily News. “I think it will be a longshot for him to play on Saturday. He’s dealing with a heavy dose of back spasms, and he has a hard time right now moving around.

“Anything from the back pretty much paralyzes you when it locks up. You muscles go into spasm, and at that point, you can’t really move. It’s very, very painful. It’s going to take some time to address the situation.”

Miller also noted following Thursday’s practice that the injury came more as a result of the contact Dillard takes on his many drives to the basket, an aspect of his game the Flyers need in order to be successful. And with a back injury, nailing down a concrete timetable can be difficult.

“It’s probably more of a muscle thing or an alignment thing or taking some pounding,” Miller said. “Any time you kind of get out of line, anything can spasm out on you. It could be a week. It could be two weeks. Hopefully, in the bigger picture, we don’t want anything to be lingering. We’re trying to be cautious right now.”

The injury means that Dillard will miss Saturday’s home game against Murray State, one the Flyers need in regards to both avoiding an 0-2 week and adding a solid win to their resume.

His absence means that freshman Khari Price sees more of Isaiah Canaan than originally anticipated, and Dayton may also use Vee Sanford at the point on occasion.

Following Saturday’s contest the Flyers visit USC and host UAB before beginning the most important portion of their schedule on January 9 when they open Atlantic 10 play at VCU. And given the Rams’ “havoc” style of play it’s extremely important to have a healthy point guard running the show.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)