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Game-ending 10-2 run pushes No. 11 Dayton past No. 11 Boise State

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With senior guard Jordan Sibert playing just nine minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, No. 11 Dayton struggled offensively against No. 11 Boise State and went into halftime trailing by nine points. Sibert’s return to the court certainly helped the Flyers in the second half, as Dayton shot better than 72 percent from the field and closed the game on a 10-2 run to win 56-55 at UD Arena.

The result wasn’t without controversy, as Dayton was playing in its home arena and there’s been plenty of debate as to whether or not a foul should have been called on Derrick Marks’ final shot attempt. But even with those issues (personally, Dayton had done enough to merit inclusion into the main bracket without having to play in the First Four), there were also basketball reasons as to why the Broncos saw a nine-point lead with 5:41 remaining slip away.

Dayton was far better offensively down the stretch, as they made their final six field goals with Sibert’s three with 35 seconds remaining being the difference. By comparison, Boise State made just one of its final eight shots from the field and on their final two chances to win the game Leon Rice’s team could not find a quality shot.

RELATED: CBT’S East Region Preview

First there was the ball screen for Marks at the top of the key which Dayton blitzed, with the two defenders forcing the Mountain West Player of the Year into the corner. Kendall Pollard stripped Marks of the ball, and following the review the Broncos kept the ball with 4.6 seconds remaining. Marks couldn’t get a good look on the final shot either, with his three-point attempt missing the mark as time expired.

That final play is one that will be disputed, and the added variable of Dayton playing a home game doesn’t help matters at all. But even with that being the case, better offensive execution and converting second chance opportunities at a higher rate would have resulted in Boise State winning the game.

Boise State collected 12 offensive rebounds, which worked out to an offensive rebounding percentage of 35.3 percent, but they scored just six second-chance points (three more than Dayton). Marks finished the game with 23 points but only one other Bronco, guard Montigo Alford (11 points), reached double figures. Dayton, finished with three players in double figures, with Kendall Pollard leading the way with 17 points and six rebounds.

Archie Miller’s team has navigated its lack of depth for a couple months now, and they simply find ways to win games. They don’t have much in the way of size, but the Flyers make up for it by expending maximum effort on both ends of the floor. With one NCAA tournament win under their belt, Dayton will look to pick up another when they take on No. 6 Providence Friday night in an East Region matchup in Columbus.

Unfortunately for Dayton, the prevailing question will be whether or not they had an unfair advantage by playing at home, and they aren’t the ones to blame for that being the case.

Dayton remains tied for first in the Atlantic 10 with win at No. 22 VCU

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One week after suffering its most disappointing loss of the season, Dayton picked up what to this date is its biggest win of the season Saturday afternoon in Richmond. Archie Miller’s Flyers won 59-55 at No. 22 VCU, moving into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 with Rhode Island, and multiple players stepped forward for the visitors.

After Jordan Sibert scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half, Kendall Pollard, Scoochie Smith and Dyshawn Pierre combined to score 19 points in the second to seal the deal for Dayton. Much has been made of Dayton’s rotation, one that’s short in both stature (their tallest available player is 6-foot-6) and bodies (seven scholarship players), but neither of those deficiencies has been used as a crutch by the Flyers.

And faced with a team that, on paper, had a clear advantage in both areas Dayton was able to limit VCU’s opportunities both on the offensive glass and in the open court.

Given their half-court offensive problems, VCU needs turnovers to be at their best on that end of the floor. Entering Saturday’s game the Rams were ranked 13th in the Atlantic 10 (in conference games) in field goal percentage and eighth in three-point percentage, but their league-best turnover margin has kept the Rams right in the middle of the conference title race.

Against Dayton, which has multiple players capable of handling the ball against full-court pressure, VCU was able to force just eight turnovers which were converted into three points. Also of note is the fact that VCU did not score a single fast-break point, and forced to find shots in the half court Shaka Smart’s team shot 34 percent from the field and 6-for-25 from beyond the arc. And while the loss of Briante Weber hasn’t helped matters, the biggest issue for VCU moving forward may be fellow senior Treveon Graham.

Graham’s dealt with an ankle injury this season, missing two games earlier this month, and in the five games since he’s struggled to get back into a groove offensively. In those games Graham has shot 22-for-64 (34.3%) from the field and 6-for-23 (26.1%) from beyond the arc. And after winning the first three games in Graham’s return (George Washington, Saint Louis and UMass) the Rams have lost the last two (Richmond and Dayton). If VCU is to be a threat next month, they have to get Graham untracked.

In regards to Saturday, Dayton certainly deserves credit for the issues Graham and his teammates endured on the offensive end of the floor. Open looks came at a premium, and Dayton completed those defensive possessions by grabbing the ensuing rebound on most occasions. Dayton may not be a deep team, but throughout the season they’ve shown the willingness to compete and practically fight for every foot of space on the court.

That’s a reflection of their leadership, from Coach Miller on down to his players. And with Rhode Island visiting UD Arena Tuesday night, the program’s first Atlantic 10 regular season title of any kind (division or overall) since 2004 is well within their reach.

Derrick Colter leads five in double figures as Duquesne upsets Dayton (VIDEO)

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Less than 48 hours after they moved back into a three-way tie for first place in the Atlantic 10, Dayton was back in action. But their trip to Pittsburgh to take on Duquesne did not go as planned, as the Flyers struggled to corral the Dukes in an 83-73 Duquesne victory.

Five players scored in double figures for Jim Ferry’s team, with guard Derrick Colter scoring a team-high 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field. As a team the Dukes shot 52.5% from the field, assisting on 21 of their 31 made field goals. Among the other four double-digit scorers was guard Micah Mason, who tallied 17 points and also accounted for nine assists and eight rebounds.

Duquesne was able to take advantage of Dayton’s deficiencies in both depth and interior size, scoring 49 points in the paint and receiving 20 points from their bench.

Dayton’s Dyshawn Pierre led all scorers with 27 points, and he also grabbed 12 rebounds in what is is third consecutive game with a double-double. However other Flyers struggled offensively, as Jordan Sibert’s 12 points were scored on 4-for-14 shooting and fellow guards Darrell (three points) and Kyle Davis (five points) combined to shoot 2-for-15 from the field.

Dayton dropped to 20-6 overall and 10-4 in conference play as a result of the loss, with Duquesne moving to 9-16 (4-10 Atlantic 10). In NBCSports.com’s most recent bracket Dayton was an eight-seed, but this kind of result doesn’t help the Flyers as they look to make a return trip to the NCAA tournament.

Jordan Sibert, Dyshawn Pierre lead Dayton past St. Bonaventure (VIDEO)

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Dayton retained possession of a share of first place in the Atlantic 10 Saturday afternoon, beating St. Bonaventure 75-61 at UD Arena. Leading the way for the Flyers were senior guard Jordan Sibert and junior forward Dyshawn Pierre, with Sibert accounting for 24 points and seven steals and Pierre adding 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Sibert and Pierre were two of the four Dayton starters who finished the game in double figures, and as a team Dayton shot 52.1% from the field. However Dayton received just nine minutes from forward Kendall Pollard, who left the game in the first half after colliding with a St. Bonaventure player. With Pollard sidelined, even more was needed from Pierre and he stepped forward.

At 9-3 in conference play, Dayton is tied with No. 20 VCU and Rhode Island for first place in the Atlantic 10. The Flyers still have games remaining against both, as they visit VCU February 28 and host Rhode Island March 3.

St. Bonaventure, which played without injured freshman point guard Jaylen Adams, received 16 points and 12 rebounds from center Youssou Ndoye but the Bonnies shot 0-for-11 from three and committed 17 turnovers on the afternoon.

UConn advances to Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship game with 75-64 win over Dayton

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In the first of two semifinals on Friday afternoon, No. 17 UConn knocked off Dayton, 75-64, to advance to the 2014 Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship game. The Huskies will play West Virginia on Sunday afternoon.

Ryan Boatright went for a game-high 20 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. Rodney Purvis and Daniel Hamilton joined Boatright in double figures with 19 and 14, respectively. Jordan Sibert led the Flyers with 18, followed by Kendall Pollard with 15 off the bench.

The final score doesn’t indicate how close this game was for the majority of the afternoon with both teams swapping the lead back-and-forth and entering halftime tied 41-all. More than half of Dayton’s points came in the paint during the first half as tough shots by UConn, coupled with nonexistent transition defense, led to easy buckets for the Flyers.

However, the momentum swung in UConn’s favor in the midway through the second half with UConn forcing Dayton into a prolonged shooting slump. For more than five minutes, the Flyers went without a field goal as the Huskies recaptured the lead at 59-58. Amida Brimah was at the heart of the turning point. In a 15-second span, he rejected three Dayton shots. An energized UConn team responded to the defensive stand with a 3-pointer from Hamilton to take a 62-58 lead. From that point on, Dayton never cut it to a one-possession game.

The adjustment UConn made at half was a better defensive effort by UConn. In the second half, the Huskies limited Dayton to 8-of-29 shooting, forcing nine turnovers and blocking five shots. On the other end of the floor, UConn received contributions from several players. Purvis got going early with eight points before being saddled with two fouls. Hamilton also had spurt in the first half with a pair of spot-up three and another off a handoff. In the second half, while he missed all but one of his jump shots, the 6-foot-4 Purvis was effective getting to the basket, putting the final stamp on the victory with two straight layups to put UConn up 10.

Dayton’s Elite 8 run, Archie Miller’s decision to stay help continue Atlantic 10’s success

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package

Today, we’re previewing the Atlantic 10.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

On the first night of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Saint Joseph’s, the Atlantic 10 Tournament winner, was upended by eventual national champion UConn after the Hawks had controlled much of the game. Later in that evening, Saint Louis needed a disastrous free throw shooting performance from N.C. State to advance to the Round of 32, where Louisville knocked off the Billikens.

The second day of the NCAA tournament saw UMass, slotted in an unfavorable matchup against Tennessee, get beat by 19, George Washington bounced by Memphis and VCU become Stephen F. Austin’s 28th consecutive win after Havoc coughed up a 10-point lead down the stretch.

For critics of the Atlantic 10, these results served as justification. There was only one problem: Dayton was quickly becoming the life of the party despite having received a last-minute invite.

Archie Miller, in his third season as a head coach, guided the Flyers to the Elite 8, as a No. 11 seed, knocking off Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford before top-seeded Florida eliminated them from the NCAA tournament with a 82-72 win. After the improbable run, the most unexpected thing happened … Archie Miller stayed at Dayton. His name had been catapulted into the conversation for several high-major vacancies, but instead he signed a three-year extension with the university through the 2018-2019 season.

Miller’s decision to remain at Dayton adds another reason to believe the Atlantic 10 will continue to be a major player in college basketball.

MORE: VCU the favorites in the Atlantic 10 for 2014-2015 | A-10 coaches poll, preseason teams

“We have great leadership from [Atlantic 10 commissioner] Bernadette V. McGlade and her staff,” Miller told NBCSports.com. “We have some great coaches and terrific players. There are 14 teams, that are going to play 18 conference games. It’s going to be one of the most competitive leagues in the country.”

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Miller’s stance is similar to that of the conference’s most notable coach, VCU’s Shaka Smart, who has been one of the hottest names in the coaching carousels ever since he took the Rams to the 2011 Final Four. He has since agreed to a deal that keeps him in Richmond until 2028. Smart and Miller are two of the six A-10 coaches to agree to extensions since the spring of 2013, along with Rhode Island’s Danny Hurley, La Salle’s Dr. John Giannini, George Washington’s Mike Lonergan and UMass’ Derek Kellogg. Add that with the longevity of Phil Martelli, now in his 20th season at St. Joes, and Bob McKillop’s quarter of a century with A-10 newcomer Davidson, and there is coaching stability and consistency throughout the league.

“It was huge,” Dayton senior guard Jordan Sibert said when asked about Miller’s extension. “It showed how loyal Coach Miller is to the program. To go to the Elite 8 in his third year was a big sign of growth in him and in the program and what he’s been establishing here. He believes in himself, the school believes in him and we believe in him. It was big for the program.

“It was definitely a relief having him back because when you start something like that, you want to build on it. You don’t want start something and the next thing you know the person who was putting it all together is gone. We got the new jerseys, the new logo and it’s just good to start the new era with him at Dayton.”

In 2011, Miller left older brother Sean’s coaching staff at Arizona, to take the job at Dayton. In that time he’s witnessed, first-hand, the growth of the conference, as the A-10 has collected 15 bids to the last three NCAA tournaments. The range of 4-6 bids will likely continue, as A-10 members have not only battled in conference — six teams finished with at least 10 conferences wins last season — but also in the non-conference portion of the schedule.

Dayton jumped into the top 25 rankings in November after upsetting Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational. UMass was ranked for the first time in 16 years in November as well after beating No. 19 New Mexico. VCU notched an early season victory over Virginia, the eventual ACC regular and tournament champion, and George Washington took down National Player of the Year Doug McDermott and Creighton in a non-conference, neutral site clash in December.

In the 2013-2014 season, eight teams were listed in the RPI top 100, the same number of teams in kenpom.com’s 2014 ratings. The league has secured commitments from recruits in the Rivals150, such as four-star prospects Terry Larrier and Jared Terrell, and has been a destination for transfer students, like Sibert, Dayton’s leading scorer.

Skeptics remain, however, which is something Miller has embraced in his tenure as an A-10 head coach.

“They say it’s down every year,” Miller said. “No one in the universe gives the Atlantic 10 enough credit, and they’ll never give them any credit just because we don’t have football stadiums on our campuses. That’s just the reality of it. Last year, the Atlantic 10 had six bids, more than the ACC and SEC. I guess ‘we’ll be down this year’ and we’ll end up getting five more in the tournament again, then someone will figure it out and realize it’s the same every year.”