Cincinnati v Dayton: Hoops Classic Preview

An old rivalry will renew on Saturday night inside Heritage Bank Center downtown Cincinnati when the Bearcats (8-1) meet Dayton (7-2) in the Hoops Classic presented by Altafiber and Caresource.

The match up will mark the 92nd meeting between the two programs, first since 2010. Cincinnati leads the all time series 60-31, and have won 15 of the last 18 meetings dating back to 1989.

Cincinnati enters Saturday's match up off an 85-53 win over the Bryant Bulldogs. Aziz Bandaogo led 5 double figure scorers for UC with 12 points, 17 rebounds, and 4 blocks. 

Dayton held off Troy 82-70 at UD Arena last Saturday.  Kobe Elvis scored a career-high 24 points, while DaRon Homes II contributed 23 points, career-high 17 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. More on those two later. 

Key Stats and Notes:

-  Dayton was the preseason favorite in the Atlantic 10, receiving 20 of the 25 first-place votes from the league coaches and voting media members.

The Flyers are currently third in the A-10 in scoring defense (64.8 points a game) 

- Dayton ranks 262nd in points per game (71.3) , which is odd because they are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country. They currently rank 10th nationally in 3-point percentage (40.3).

- Rebounding will be a key for both teams. Dayton is one of the worst rebounding teams in the country (318th), while Cincinnati is 9th nationally.

- Dayton has been good at protecting the rim, however, averaging 5 blocks per game. 

- Cincinnati moved up to 26th in the Kenpom rankings after the Bryant win. Dayton is currently 57th. Offense has been the Flyers strength (37th AdjO 110 AdjD) despite playing a slower pace (357 AdjT). The Bearcats are top 30 in both Adjusted offense and of only 14 teams.

- Temple transfer Jamille Reynolds will make his Cincinnati debut Saturday night after a TRO against the NCAA's transfer rule was converted to a preliminary injunction through the spring sports calendar. Reynolds adds much needed depth and size to the Cincinnati front court and will also bring a different dynamic at both ends with his power and strength around the rim. 

- The last time these two programs met, also at Heritage Bank Center, the Bearcats won 68-34.

Players to Watch:

- 6'10 Jr Forward DaRon Holmes ( 16.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3 apg, 51% FG)

The Dayton offense runs through the big man out of Goodyear, AZ. He is currently tied with Obi Toppin for most career dunks, while defensively, he is the Dayton career leader in blocked shots. Holmes is really good around the rim at both ends and doesn't deviate away from that much.

The 6'10 forward was named Preseason First Team All-Atlantic 10 and to the Preseason All-Defensive Team.  He was the only player on the first team and the defensive team. Last season, he was also First Team All-A-10 and on the All-Defensive Team as well as the Most Outstanding Player of the 2023 Men's Basketball A-10 Championship (21.7 ppg., 10.1 rpg., 4.0 bpg.).

Holmes was on the preseason watch lists for the Naismith Award, John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame's Karl Malone Award.

Holmes tested the NBA waters during the off season but ultimately decided to return to school after receiving primarily second round draft grades. 

- 6'7 Jr Forward Nate Santos (12.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 55.7% FG, 60.7% 3FG)

Santos transferred to Dayton after spending 2 seasons at Pitt and is off to a blistering start from beyond the arc. The versatile forward is currently 3rd in the A-10 in 3-pt fg% and has three games with three or more makes from outside. 

Santos' season high came against Grambling on 12/2 when he made 6-of-7 attempts from 3 for 26 points. Cincinnati will have to be aware of Santos at all times out on the perimeter. He leads the team in minutes played through 9 games. 

- 6'6 Jr Guard Koby Brea ( 11.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 50% FG, 49% 3FG)

Brea is another big time shooter for the Flyers and has proved it by being a 40% career 3-point shooter.

Dayton's 69-65 loss to Houston is the only game in which Brea didn't make 2 or more 3-pointers. Cincinnati has been good defensively out on the perimeter but both Santos and Brea will apply pressure with their shooting ability. 

- 6'2 Jr Guard Kobe Elvis ( 9.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4 apg, 34.6% FG, 35% 3FG)

Elvis is coming off a 24 point showing against Troy in which he went 4-of-6 from outside. 

The Canada product originally committed to Depaul out of high school but has spent the past 3 seasons in Dayton.

While he isn't as prolific a shooter as Santos and Brea, he has the ability to get hot and beat you from outside. The consistency is the thing that makes him a tough scout. He has five games where he made multiple three-point attempts and 4 games where he made zero attempts. 

- 5'10 So Guard Javon Bennett (7.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 3.3 apg)

Bennett had 11 points in the win over Troy but isn't known for his shooting or scoring ability. He is shooting 29% from the field, and 25% from 3-point fg range.

Bennett is another guy that hasn't shown consistency with his outside shot, but has games where he has knocked down multiple attempts from outside. Bennett is going to get shots up. He made 4-of-13 3-point attempts on his way to 16 points against LSU.

- 6'3 Jr Guard Enoch Cheeks (6.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 47.8% FG, 36.8% 3FG)

Cheeks rebounds well for his size (10 v LSU) and is third on the team in that category. Not someone who shows up at the top of a scouting report when looking at the Flyers offensively, but averaged 15 ppg last season at Robert Morris as an All Horizon third team selection. 

Bench Play:

Dayton has 6 guys averaging 25 minutes per game, but after that, 6'11 forward Isaac Jack is the only Flyer averaging 10 minutes per game or more.v

Final Thoughts:

Dayton is extremely talented offensively. Their lack of size at the two guard positions puts them in a bad position against a bigger team like Cincinnati, but they are as talented offensively as anyone that Cincinnati has seen to date. UC has a size advantage so it will be important for them to attack the rim if shots aren't falling early. CJ Fredrick has yet to make a shot away from Fifth Third Arena...small sample size, but worth noting. Getting him going and having him be aggressive has typically been a good way to get the UC offense rolling. Nine of his 14 points against Bryant came during the first half when UC absolutely needed someone to step up. 

Get to the rim. Rebound. Take Care of the ball.

Cincinnati 76 Dayton 65


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