No. 18 Dayton aims to keep momentum going vs. North Florida

NCAA Men's Basketball
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No. 18 Dayton and North Florida wrap up their nonconference schedules when they face off Monday in Dayton, Ohio.

The Flyers (10-2) fell out of the Associated Press Poll’s top 10 following a Dec. 21 loss in Chicago to Colorado. The overtime defeat became a learning experience for Dayton, which rebounded two days later with an 81-53 romp over Grambling State.

“It was a tough watch, but it’s something that’s important,” guard Ibi Watson said to the Dayton Daily News following his career-high 30-point effort in the rout of Grambling State. “Coach (Anthony Grant) does a great job of holding us accountable, and when you see yourself on film doing things that could have led to the win, that helps a lot.”

In the 78-76 loss to Colorado, decided on a buzzer-beater, Dayton was outrebounded, 42-32. Behind forward Obi Toppin’s 7.9 rebounds per game, the Flyers have typically been the aggressors on the glass. That’s likely to be the case Monday.

North Florida (7-7) has given up 511 rebounds on the season, which ranks 325th nationally. The Ospreys have struggled keeping opponents off the offensive boards in particular.

North Florida edged Syracuse on the glass its last time out, but the Ospreys could not maintain an initial lead in an 82-70 loss Dec. 21.

“We have to find a way to make those key buckets when we need them,” North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said following the game, via the North Florida athletics website. “Tonight we had chances and didn’t make the shots and they did.”

Making shots has not typically been an issue for the Ospreys. Their uptempo style produces 79.4 points per game, and four players on the roster average at least 12.8 points per game.

Carter Hendricksen leads North Florida at 16.3 points per game, Ivan Gandia-Rosa averages 14.6 and Garrett Sams adds 14.0. J.T. Escobar rounds out North Florida’s double-figure scorers at 12.8.

Monday’s contest could be a high-scoring affair, as Dayton boasts one of the nation’s most efficient offenses. The Flyers share the ball effectively, with 235 of their 371 made field-goal attempts coming via assists.

That style of play results in plenty of good looks, and Dayton’s 53.4 field-goal percentage is best in the nation.

Toppin has been sensational on the interior, averaging 18.8 points per game and shooting better than 70 percent from 2-point range.

Dayton’s ability to play inside-out results in plenty of clean looks from 3-point range as well. Each of the trio of Watson, Rodney Chatman and Jalen Crutcher are dangerous from deep.

Crutcher is shooting 39.4 percent from beyond the arc, Chatman is hitting 40.4 percent and Watson is connecting at a 48.1 percent clip.

Following Monday’s game, Dayton embarks on Atlantic 10 Conference play just two days later at La Salle. North Florida begins its Atlantic Sun Conference schedule Thursday at Kennesaw State.

–Field Level Media

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