While it would be unfair to call Dayton a one-man team, there’s no question who that individual is.
Senior point guard Brian Roberts looks to lead the 14th-ranked Flyers to the best start in school history Wednesday night when they host Massachusetts in an Atlantic 10 matchup.
Behind 30 points from Roberts, Dayton (14-1, 2-0) matched the best start in school history with its 13th straight win, 68-57 in overtime at Saint Louis on Saturday.
The Flyers, who also started 14-1 in 1955-56, had to guard against being overconfident after Saint Louis scored an NCAA record-low 20 points in a loss to George Washington in its previous game.
“We didn’t know how (the Billikens) were going to come out,” said Roberts, who scored seven of Dayton’s 13 overtime points. “We didn’t know if they were going to be down about that or if they were going to be fired up. We tried not to focus on how they were going to come out. We wanted to focus on how we came out.”
The win moved Dayton up four spots in the poll, its highest since it was No. 6 in 1967-68.
The Flyers are enjoying their longest win streak since a 14-game run from the end of the 1961-62 season to the start of the following campaign.
Roberts, a two-time all-Atlantic 10 selection, leads the Flyers and ranks third in the conference with 20.1 points per game. Chris Wright is the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 10.4 points.
Roberts was named Atlantic 10 player of the week for the second time in the last three weeks. He averaged 26.5 points and 5.0 assists while shooting 15-for-28 from the field and 17-for-19 from the free-throw line in wins over Rhode Island and Saint Louis.
He is one of only seven players in the nation ranked in the top 50 in scoring average, 3-point field goals per game and 3-pointers made.
Roberts hasn’t backed off when facing some of the nation’s best teams. In Dayton’s three games this season against ranked opponents, Roberts has averaged 27.3 points on 60 percent shooting (27-for-45), including 10-for-20 from 3-point range.
Dayton is 10-0 at home for the second consecutive season. The Flyers won their first 14 home games last season before that streak ended with a 77-69 loss to Massachusetts on Feb. 18.
The Minutemen (11-4, 0-1) will have to cool off one of the country’s hottest teams to avoid their first three-game losing streak since Feb. 8-15, 2006.
UMass opened conference play with a 98-92 loss to Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 5, ending its 15-game home win streak.
“I did not like how we competed in that basketball game, but this is a marathon, not a sprint,” coach Travis Ford said. “This is a tough league and every night out, you have to be ready to go.”
Ricky Harris scored 25 points and Gary Forbes added 22 for the Minutemen, who rank sixth in the nation with 85.6 points per game.
Forbes is one of only two Atlantic 10 players scoring at a higher rate than Roberts. Forbes leads the league with 20.9 points per game.
UMass has dropped five straight against ranked opponents since a 76-74 overtime victory against George Washington on Jan. 15, 2005.
Dayton has lost two in a row against Massachusetts after winning the previous five meetings.