UD sophomore Oliver emerges big in win

Well, that is if you go by his play Wednesday night against Charlotte or if you simply peruse the final box score. But not if you focus on his chin, said his Dayton Flyers teammate Chris Johnson.

UD clawed past Charlotte 75-65 at UD Arena and in a lot of ways — from his career-high 14 points and perfect 4-for-4 offering from the free-throw line to his six rebounds, two assists, one big swatted 49ers shot, no turnovers and decent interior defense — it was a coming out party of sorts for the sophomore forward.

And yet in one area Oliver has not emerged.

“That’s no beard,” Johnson scoffed as he pointed to Oliver’s fuzz-spotted jaw line and chin after the game. “He’s got no hair there ... and there. Mine’s all thick and everything, but his? He might get there in about five years.”

Johnson does have some ample chin whiskers. He looks kind of like an Amish guy who can sky.

He finished with 22 points and nine rebounds. Most of the production came in the second half as he lifted the Flyers, who had trailed throughout the opening 20 minutes.

“He told me during the game, ‘Watch me work,’ ” said Oliver. “He said those exact words. And that’s what he did ... I swear that kid is wired different. He plays so hard on every single possession.”

Oliver did as well and the Flyers especially needed him on a night when Kevin Dillard was hampered by foul trouble, Paul Williams still had trouble hitting a basket and Matt Kavanaugh had more than he could handle inside with Charlotte’s Chris Braswell, who finished with 27 points.

“Devin played his best game of the season,” said Flyers coach Archie Miller.

It didn’t start that way for Oliver though.

He came off the bench early and promptly missed his first three shots.

Then late in the half, he was about to finish off a Flyers fast break with a dunk when Charlotte’s E. Victor Nickerson clobbered him hard into the padded basket support.

Oliver crumpled to the floor, lay there a second and then pulled himself upright.

“I knew he was coming but I didn’t think he was gonna foul me like that,” Oliver said. “I wish I had finished it and got the dunk, but he kind of took my legs out ... But you know. I think it got me going.”

It certainly did. He made the two ensuing free throws and then a pair of 3-pointers — scoring eight of the Flyers’ next 10 points.

Now Oliver said he has one more thing to work on.

He heard Johnson needle him about his beard and laughed: “The guys mess with me and say I just got wisps, but I’m trying, man. Maybe I’ll catch ’em one day and look good, too.”

So many other ways Wednesday, he already did.

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