Dayton is flying, and Vanderbilt is suddenly reeling.
Archie Miller’s unranked Flyers went into Nashville on Wednesday night, got down by as many as 16 points but ultimately rallied to earn a terrific 72-67 road win against the 21st-ranked Commodores.
Vanderbilt, a preseason top 20 team, has now dropped three of four. Kevin Stallings’ guys had a chance late when trailing, after Luke Fischer-Davis hit a 3 with 25.3 to go to cut the Dayton lead to 69-67. But normally solid Vandy sophomorme guard Wade Baldwin turned the ball over on Vanderbilt’s critical possession with less than 10 seconds remaining.
That did the ‘Dores in.
Before that, Dayton got the insurance it needed when Kendall Pollard — who isn’t known for his long-distance ability — drained a 3 to make it 69-62 with 49 seconds to go. Pollard finished with a game-high 21 points.
Both teams were shorthanded. For Dayton, this was its last game against a major opponent without star Dyshawn Pierre, who was barred from school for the fall semester. For Vanderbilt, junior center Luke Kornet did not play; he’s out 4-6 with sprained MCL, an injury the school announced before Wednesday’s game.
Without Kornet, Dayton (not exactly a big team, mind you) took control in the paint. The Flyers had 41 rebounds and only allowed Vanderbilt two second-chance points. Miller had to feel even better about the win, considering Polloard picked up his fourth personal foul with 6:21 to go and Dayton clinging to a 58-56 lead at the time.
Vanderbilt was led by Baldwin and Damian Jones, who put up 18 points each.
Going forward, SEC programs might want to think twice about scheduling the Flyers, no matter the venue. Wednesday’s win marks Dayton’s 12th victory in its past 15 games against SEC programs. That is an incredible clip for any A-10 team to hold against any multi-bid conference.