Dayton freshman forward Sam Miller scraped together 18 tickets for a homecoming of sorts Saturday at George Mason.
Miller played high school basketball at Gonzaga Prep Academy in Washington, D.C. This is the closest he’ll play to home this season. His parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle, middle school coach and some friends traveled to EagleBank Arena to see him score nine points as the No. 24 Flyers beat the Patriots 98-64.
Center Steve McElvene missed the game with a viral infection, giving Miller a chance to play more minutes. He made 3 of 4 3-pointers and had two rebounds in 15 minutes.
This was Miller’s most productive game since he scored 10 against Massachusetts on Jan. 6. He scored a total of seven points in the last seven games and didn’t play in three of them.
“I’ve just been working hard and staying ready,” Miller said. “I knew I would be ready to go.”
With a week between games, the Dayton coaches worked extra with the four true freshmen. Miller spent time practicing pick-and-pop shooting and his 3-point form.
“They’re putting us in situations where we can work on conditioning so when we get minutes we can be ready to go,” Miller said.
Rebounding edge: Miller said the Flyers knew Friday night they wouldn’t have McElvene. He said his status will be day to day going forward. Even without McElvene, Dayton out-rebounded George Mason 41-24.
The Patriots entered with the best rebounding margin in the Atlantic 10 Conference (plus 7.5). George Mason center Shevon Thompson, the A-10’s leading rebounder (10.3 per game), had six rebounds. Scoochie Smith led Dayton with eight rebounds. Dyshawn Pierre had seven.
“George Mason does a great job on the glass,” Miller said. “Their front line is as physical as any we’ve seen.”
Quote of the night: First-year George Mason coach Dave Paulsen called the Flyers the best team his team has faced this season and said they put together a complete performance.
“(Dayton) played like a hungry team,” Paulsen said. “They didn’t play like a team that was trying to defend the national ranking. They played like a team that was ticked off they weren’t ranked higher.”
Next game: Dayton plays Duquesne at 7 p.m. Tuesday at UD Arena. The Flyers beat the Dukes 66-58 in their A-10 opener Jan. 2 in Pittsburgh.
Duquesne (15-8, 5-5) had won five of six games — beating Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure, George Mason, La Salle and Saint Louis again — before losing 93-82 at home to Davidson (13-8, 5-5). The Dukes are 0-5 against teams in the top seven in the conference.
Around the A-10: St. Joseph’s (19-4, 8-2) bounced back from an 83-73 loss at home to St. Bonaventure by beating Fordham 82-60 in Bronx, N.Y., on Saturday. The third-place Hawks trail Dayton (19-3, 9-1) and Virginia Commonwealth (17-6, 9-1) by a game.