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Arkansas vs. Dayton Preview: Don't Panic Yet

The Razorbacks have plenty of time to rebound from that ugly Clemson loss and have a good season. That starts Saturday with Dayton.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Hog hoops bandwagon hit a bump last week, and I'm sure a lot of folks fell off. Of course, many of those folks were expecting an Elite Eight run or something. The Clemson game reminded us that this is still a very imperfect team away from home. But there is no reason to panic. Arkansas is still one of the three best teams in the SEC, maybe second with Florida struggling, and still has the inside track to an NCAA tournament appearance. The Hogs boast a top-25 RPI. LSU, the consensus fourth-best SEC team, lost to Clemson on a neutral floor. So while the Clemson loss was ugly and bad, there is no reason to panic at all.

Another reason to not panic is because Dayton is a pretty good team, and the Flyers are coming to Fayetteville on Saturday. Dayton's best win is against Texas A&M on a neutral floor, so they haven't really been tested yet. They lost to Connecticut, who is a pretty good team but we're not sure how good (UConn lost to Yale).

The scouting report on them is that they are a classic Atlantic 10 team, boasting a fairly slow pace, good defense, and lots of fouls drawn. They'll be physical in the paint, which will test Bobby Portis, Moses Kingsley, Alandise Harris, and Jacorey Williams down low.

Dayton roster

  • Jordan Sibert, G, 6-4: 14.4 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game

  • Dyshawn Pierre, F, 6-6: 11.6 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game, 2.9 assists per game

  • Kendall Pollard, F, 6-6: 10.3 points per game, 5.1 rebounds per game, 55.1% field goals

  • Devon Scott, C, 6-9: 9.5 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, 63.4% field goals

  • Scoochie Smith, PG, 6-2: 6.9 points per game, 3.9 assists per game

Primary reserves:

  • Kyle Davis, G, 6-0: 6.1 points per game
  • Darrell Davis, G, 6-4: 4.0 points per game

They've got plenty of backcourt depth, so don't expect their guards to wear down. They don't appear to have a reliable forward on the bench but they'll bring in an extra guard for a three-guard look if they need to rest a big man. There's not much height, so Portis, Kingsley, and Williams will all be looking down on their men.

On offense, the Flyers have some pretty good halfcourt sets and they distribute the ball well. They don't turn it over very often and assist on a lot of their baskets. They get inside and will hit a few mid-range jumpers. They are a poor three-point shooting team and don't attempt treys all that often. Much of their offense is drawing fouls, as they get to the line frequently and attempt a lot of free throws.

Arkansas' offense vs. Dayton's defense

Arkansas offensive overview
Arkansas offense Dayton defense Advantage
Efficiency 1.12 (19th) 0.85 (27th) Push
Floor % 52.9% (25th) 40.5% (19th) Push

For the "advantage," a Push is when the teams are within 50 spots. An advantage occurs when the difference is 51-125 spots, and a big advantage is when the difference is 126+ spots. Here, this is a good offense squaring off against a good defense.

Arkansas shooting
Arkansas offense Dayton defense Advantage
Effective Field Goal % 53.4% (50th) 42.7% (34th) Push
Two Point % 48.9% (143rd) 40.7% (28th) Dayton
Three Point % 42.2% (15th) 30.8% (96th) Arkansas
Three Point Rate 31.3% (251st) 36.5% (238th) -

Dayton will play a bit of zone, which will give some Hog shooters open looks from beyond the arc. Arkansas is the nation's best three-point shooting team in Fayetteville, and Dayton's three-point defense has shown some holes. Expect that to play a role. Dayton's interior defense smothers a lot of short shots, and Arkansas is notorious for missing a lot of layups and gimmes. If the Hogs can make the close shots and hit some open threes, the Hogs should win and win easily. Otherwise, this could turn into the dogged battle Dayton wants it to be.

Arkansas ball handling
Arkansas offense Dayton defense Advantage
Assist % 65.1% (11th) 52.6% (158th) Arkansas big
Assists : Turnovers 1.62 (8th) 0.74 (64th) Arkansas
Steal % 6.7% (30th) 9.4% (153rd) Arkansas

Arkansas' ball handling has a big advantage over Dayton's ball disruption. Expect the guards to be comfortable distributing the ball around. This would be a good game to get either Anton Beard or Jabril Durham more involved at the true point guard spot. Arkansas' lack of a true point guard bit the Hogs badly at Clemson, and it's clear that Rashad Madden, good defender and shooter he is, is not the answer at point guard, especially on the road. Dayton's defense isn't going to pressure the passing lanes with much urgency, so giving another guy a shot on Saturday makes some sense.

Overall, Arkansas needs to hit some shots. That's really about it. Dayton has a good defense but a good shooting team can exploit it. Dayton doesn't force many turnovers, so if the Hogs make unforced errors that giving Dayton a gift.

Dayton's offense vs. Arkansas' defense

Dayton offensive overview
Dayton offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Efficiency 1.01 (117th) 0.97 (153rd) Push
Floor % 50.5% (65th) 46.1% (149th) Dayton

Dayton does have some advantages over Arkansas' defense, which has not been up to par so far this season. The large difference between Dayton's offensive efficiency and floor percentage is because Dayton draws a lot of fouls but isn't a great free throw shooting team, so lots of possessions end in foul shots (increasing floor percentage) but not necessarily points (hurting efficiency).

Dayton shooting
Dayton offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Effective Field Goal % 49.0% (156th) 50.8% (241st) Dayton
Two Point % 51.8% (63rd) 49.2% (224th) Dayton big
Three Point % 29.3% (280th) 36.0% (249th) Push
Three Point Rate 35.2% (144th) 32.3% (118th) -

Dayton's offense is going to try to go inside, where they can shoot fairly well. They are an awful three-point shooting team and attempt an average number of deep shots. Since they don't have a size advantage, expect most of their three-point tries to be in desperation at the end of an empty offensive possession in which Arkansas' length denied entry passes into the lane.

Dayton ball handling
Dayton offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Assist % 64.1% (20th) 53.6% (180th) Dayton big
Assists : Turnovers 1.14 (74th) 0.81 (98th) Push
Steal % 8.5% (124th) 11.7% (47th) Arkansas

Dayton moves the ball around well with a pretty good assist percentage and assist to turnover ratio. If forced to speed up by Arkansas' pressure defense, they may make some errors. Getting some consistent full court pressure will help, but Arkansas' half court pressure needs to step up. The Hogs aren't getting in the way of many passes in the half court this season.

Overall, the Hogs don't have to worry all that much about over-pursuing the ball handler, since Dayton doesn't shoot the three-ball well at all. This bodes well for the Hog pressure, and should lead to some steals. However, if the full court defense gets lazy and gives up some shots underneath on full court runouts and Dayton ball handlers are able to drive into the lane without anyone contesting them, the Flyers may be able to scrap enough offense to make this interesting. Arkansas needs to force Dayton to win with jump shots, not layups.

Rebounding overview
Arkansas Dayton Advantage
Arkansas offensive 34.6% (66th) 74.6% (65th) Push
Arkansas defensive 69.6% (202nd) 28.6% (184th) Push

No rebounding advantage either way. Arkansas gets a lot of offensive boards, but Dayton cleans up the defensive glass well. On the other side, Arkansas gives up a lot of offensive rebounds, but Dayton doesn't get many. Arkansas has done a nice job so far this season of rebounding, an issue that has haunted them in years past.

Fouls overview
Arkansas Dayton Advantage
Arkansas drawing 25.6% (270th) 27.3% (165th) Dayton
Arkansas committing 24.3% (48th) 33.3% (10th) Push

As a fairly weak shooting team, Dayton makes a lot of their living at the line, ranking 10th in fouls drawn percent. Arkansas doesn't commit a ton of fouls, and the game's in Fayetteville, so expect some assists from the zebras, which is how college basketball apparently works now. If Dayton isn't drawing fouls, their offensive potential will be greatly wounded.

Three keys to win

  1. Hit the three-ball. Dayton has a good interior defense and a relatively weak three-point defense. The Hogs can't be afraid to shoot, especially good shooters like Michael Qualls, Madden, and Anthlon Bell. Knocking down some threes will soften up the Flyer zone and give Portis some chances down low.
  2. Don't give up easy shots under the bucket. In full court defense, the Hogs can't get beat down the floor. In half court sets, Dayton's guards, especially lengthier guys like Sibert (who is 6-4), can't be allowed to drive uncontested to the rim. Dayton draws a lot of fouls, so when they get easy looks they could start drawing fouls on Portis and the other bigs.
  3. Disrupt the passing lanes. Dayton gets a lot of good ball movement, so deflecting and stealing passes will help create more scoring chances, which is key against a slower team like Dayton.