January 05, 2016

Though pleased to have cracked the Top 25, Dayton is more interested with maintaining the success that earned the recognition.

The No. 25 Flyers can equal a season high with their fifth straight victory Wednesday night against visiting Massachusetts.

Dayton (11-2, 1-0 Atlantic 10) has rebounded nicely from a 61-59 home loss to Chattanooga on Dec. 12, and was rewarded with its first appearance in the AP poll since sitting 22nd in January last year.

"This is exciting for the fans, I'm sure, but all I am focused on is having a great practice," coach Archie Miller said Monday. "We don't have to mention anything to our players. They know what is important is improving as a team every day."

Miller's team has posted victories over current-No. 19 Iowa and then-No. 21 Vanderbilt as well as SEC foes Alabama and Arkansas. Dayton has held four of its last five opponents to 63 or fewer points and limited Duquesne to a season-low 32.7 percent shooting in a 66-58 league-opening win Saturday.

The Flyers overcame their own season-worst 36.5 percent shooting by limiting the Dukes to four field goals on 26 first-half attempts and forcing 18 turnovers.

Leading scorer Charles Cooke (15.2 points per game) was the only Dayton player in double figures with 21 points. A transfer from James Madison, Cooke has averaged 20.0 points in the last three contests while going 10 of 19 from 3-point range.

He's carried Dayton during the win streak as the team's other top scorers, Kendall Pollard and Scoochie Smith, have failed to reach double figures in three of four games while shooting a combined 36.3 percent.

Cooke made half of his four 3-point attempts Saturday, but his teammates went 1 for 21. Dayton is one of the Atlantic 10's worst 3-point shooting teams at 32.1 percent and now faces a UMass squad that ranks among the national leaders in 3-point defense at 28.3 percent.

"We know we will have a tough game on Wednesday against UMass," said Miller, whose team fell 66-64 on the road to the Minutemen in last season's lone meeting.

The Flyers have won three straight at home against UMass (8-5, 1-0), which improved to 2-2 on the road by opening conference play with Sunday's 74-67 victory at La Salle.

"This league is a really tough conference and any time you can get a win, whether at home or on the road, but especially on the road, it's one to grab," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.

Paced by guards Trey Davis (19.4 ppg), Donte Clark (17.2) and Jabarie Harris (15.2), UMass ranks among the A-10 leaders in scoring at 79.2 points per game, but that average dips to 70.5 on the road on 40.6 percent shooting.

Davis, a senior who had a 40-point game last month, scored 18 on Sunday and recorded his 1,000th point.

"It is good to have the "W" and 1,000 points," he said. "Not everyone gets to 1,000 so I am just happy and thankful for it."

Davis had 15 points against the Flyers last season and 19 in an 86-79 loss March 1, 2014, in UMass' most recent trip to Dayton.

The Minutemen, who lost 90-66 at home to then-No. 10 Providence on Dec. 21, have dropped five straight road games against Top 25 teams since winning at Kansas in December 2008.

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