ATLANTA - Once Dayton secured the lead Wednesday it didn’t give it up. Jordan Sibert scored a career-high 20 points and Devin Oliver also scored 20 as the Flyers defeated Georgia Tech 82-72 in non-conference play at McCamish Pavilion.
Sibert and Oliver led four in double figures for Dayton, which stayed unbeaten at 4-0. Georgia Tech was attempting to start 4-0 for the first time since 2008-2009, but instead fell to 0-3 all-time against Dayton.
The Atlantic 10 school grabbed its first lead at 31-30 on a lay up by Oliver at the four-minute mark of the first half and didn’t trail the rest of the way.
After Oliver’s bucket, the Flyers extended the lead thanks to a 15-2, half-ending run that was aided by a sloppy Tech offense.
The hosts had 19 turnovers, which led to 33 Dayton points - 12 of the miscues leading to 21 points in the opening half. Dayton had five of its 17 steals over a four-minute stretch of the first and turned them into five baskets.
Later, Scoochie Smith had a pair of steals, which led to a lay up by Kyle Davis and a 3-pointer from Sibert for three of Sibert’s 15 first-half points (at the time already a career high for the redshirt-junior). Sanford’s long ball capped a 13-0 spurt and gave Dayton a 37-30 cushion on its way to a 39-32 advantage at the break.
“We were able to start getting some steals in the open floor which gave us some confidence,” said Dayton coach Archie Miller. “We had a lot of guys make plays.”
“Key stat in the game was the turnover situation. (It is) disappointing because we’ve done a good job not only in practice but in some of the games,” said Tech coach Brian Gregory. “Give (Dayton) credit, they forced them.”
Trae Golden had a rough first half in particular, contributing six of the turnovers, but his two free throws with 1:45 to play ended a four and a half minute scoring drought.
“(Golden) didn’t play very well,” said Gregory. “That was a tough stretch, especially because it occurred when we were up nine points.”
Dayton did all this with leading scorer Dyshawn Pierre saddled with foul trouble and only able to play six minutes in the opening half.
Dayton built a 58-45 second-half lead on a Smith pass to Devon Scott for a dunk. That forced a Tech time out and it helped get the Yellow Jackets hang around as Travis Jorgensen’s lay up capped a quick 7-0 run that made it a 58-52 game.
Dayton didn’t flinch as Vee Sanford (15 points) and Sibert hit consecutive 3-pointers and Oliver had a steal and reverse lay up to push the lead back out to 68-54 with 6:21 left to play.
Sanford and Scott, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, helped Dayton’s bench out-score Tech’s 34-16.
“I thought our bench came through (but) we talk about it, we’re just looking for a group of finishers,” Miller said. “I don’t really care who is in the game as long as they’re getting the job done. A lot of guys stepped up and played tonight. We’re by-committee, we talk about it all the time, true team, by-committee.”
Tech jumped out to a lead immediately as Daniel Miller had a dunk and a lay up and blocked two shots within the first minute and a half.
That was part of a big night for Miller, who led the Yellow Jackets with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting and added seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
Marcus Georges-Hunt knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 7-0 and force a quick Dayton time out. Hunt kept it up, getting a put back and another 3-pointer off a feed from Chris Bolden, and Bolden nailed a long ball of his own, though it was the only made basket in 10 attempts for the sophomore guard, as the Yellow Jackets went up by as much as 22-13 with 11:36 to play.
“(Tech) hit us in the mouth kind of early, doing what they wanted to do,” Archie Miller said.
Though Georges-Hunt scored 11 points during the first nine minutes of the half, he was held scoreless for the final 11. The sophomore finished with 16 points.