8:00 PM ET, January 24, 2008
Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
Brian Roberts has a knack for stepping up in big games for Dayton, and he'll be needed for a similar effort against archrival Xavier.Roberts and the No. 16 Flyers look to avenge three losses to the 23rd-ranked Musketeers from last season when the Atlantic 10 conference rivals meet Thursday night at the Cintas Center.Xavier (15-4, 3-1) won all three games against Dayton last season, including a 72-51 victory in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament that ended the Flyers' season. Roberts scored 22 points in that loss, but he averaged 14.5 points on 34.6 percent shooting (9-of-26) in the two regular-season games.That's a far cry from the kind of performances that Dayton has received from Roberts this season. The senior guard leads the team with 20.1 points and 4.5 assists per game.Roberts has been even more impressive against ranked teams, averaging 27.3 points on 60.0 percent shooting in three games -- all Dayton (14-2, 2-1) victories."I am really, really concerned with how we can stop him," Xavier coach Sean Miller said. "If you can't stop him, I think Dayton's very difficult to beat and will be very difficult for us to beat."While this is the 145th meeting between the teams, it's only the second in which both have been ranked. Xavier was ranked 14th when it beat then-No. 25 Dayton 72-70 on Feb. 22, 2003.Dayton has also lost 22 straight matchups with Xavier in Cincinnati, including all seven visits to the Cintas Center. Roberts has been there for three of the losses and has only averaged 14.0 points on 36.4 percent shooting in those games.The Flyers star may have even more pressure to perform since his team is without two of its other four top scorers. Chris Wright is recovering from a broken bone in his ankle and has missed the last three games while fellow forward Charles Little broke a bone in his right foot in Saturday's 82-71 loss to Massachusetts and will be out four to six weeks.Dayton coach Brian Gregory wants more production from each of his players to compensate for the losses, although getting more from Roberts may be difficult."You can't really ask for Brian to do more than what he's doing already," Gregory said. "In terms of his season, he's having as good a season as anyone around."The Flyers had their 13-game winning streak snapped with Saturday's loss. Roberts scored 21 points to lead the way, but had just two in the first half and Dayton shot 37.3 percent for the game -- its second-worst mark of the season.The injuries have diminished a team that was riding high after a surprisingly easy 80-55 win over then-No. 6 Pittsburgh on Dec. 29."I feel very bad that they're not at full strength just because I think that they deserve the respect that they've gotten," Miller said. "I think you look at the games that they've played, nobody beats Pittsburgh like they beat them."I think that game got the attention of everybody else. They already had our attention."Dayton has won four in a row on the road, but Xavier has won 10 straight A-10 games at home, where it is 10-1 this season.The Musketeers recovered from a 78-59 loss at Temple last Wednesday to win 74-66 at George Washington on Saturday by placing four players in double figures. Drew Lavender and Josh Duncan combined for 24 points in the second half.Lavender was outstanding against the Flyers last season, averaging 17.7 points on 53.6 percent shooting while also handing out nearly seven assists per game.
|Avg Points Allowed||64.7||62.3|
|Conference||Atlantic 10||Big East|