Dayton's Jalen Robinson drives past a Xavier defender during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013.
Photo: ERIK SCHELKUN
Photo: ERIK SCHELKUN

UD needs to be ready to contend with Xavier on boards

CBS college basketball analyst Seth Davis provided color commentary when Dayton played at Xavier earlier this season, and he shared his impressions of the game on Twitter afterward.

“I enjoyed my experience courtside at Dayton-Xavier. It also reinforced my opinion that college hoops is waaaaayy too physical,” he said in a Tweet.

Davis wouldn’t get much argument from many who follow the sport, but the rematch between UD and Xavier on Saturday probably will be called the same way, which means the Flyers had better buck up or prepare for another pounding.

The Musketeers had a 36-18 edge on the boards and hugged 20 offensive rebounds in their 66-61 win, pummeling the Flyers inside — sometimes literally.

When UD trailed by one and was forced to foul in the final 30 seconds, the Musketeers missed a 1-and-1 but grabbed an offensive rebound. They missed another 1-and-1 but also retrieved that errant shot. Getting hacked a third time, they made two free throws and survived a potential game-tying 3-pointer by Matt Derenbecker that went down but rattled out.

Afterward, Pat Forde, a Yahoo! Sports columnist, tweeted, “First was a complete failure by Dayton to box out the shooter. Second was a serious shove in the back by X.”

Xavier had 35 second-chance points (almost maxing out on those 20 boards), the most allowed by the Flyers since at least 2002-03, the first year UD began including them in game stats.

Coach Archie Miller, though, isn’t looking for relief from the refs when the teams meet again Saturday.

“They really took it to us in the first game from a physical standpoint,” he said. “In my two years here, I don’t think our team has been out-muscled, pushed around, beat up, punked — however you want to say it — like that. The film doesn’t lie.

“I think our guys are going to have to man up and get ready to play a physical battle because I think Xavier is playing as well as anybody in the league.”

Since a 15-point loss to Cincinnati on Dec. 19, the Musketeers (14-9, 7-3 Atlantic 10) have won the board battle in 13 straight games. In league play, they’re first in rebound margin at plus-8.3 per game.

“We’ve become a much better rebounding team. It’s been an emphasis in every single drill,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “I can’t tell you the amount of times we had the ‘bubble’ up on the top of the rim (in practice) so there’s always going to be a rebound. It’s really become a mentality for our kids.

“If you can defend and rebound, you’re always going to have at least a chance to win the game.”

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