DAYTON, Ohio (AP)—It was a battle of streaks. Pittsburgh’s ended. Dayton’s didn’t.
Brian Roberts scored 31 points and Dayton upset No. 6 Pittsburgh 80-55 on Saturday night, extending the Flyers’ winning streak to 10 and handing the Panthers their first loss of the season.
Pittsburgh (11-1) had no answer for Roberts, who got repeated open looks and took full advantage.
“Brian Roberts is phenomenal,” Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. “I’ve been saying for a long time he’s the most efficient guard in the country, but now I think he’s becoming one of the best.”
Marcus Johnson added 15 points and Kurt Huelsman 12 for the Flyers.
Dayton (11-1) also hit 22 of 28 free throws and outrebounded the Panthers 41-34. The Panthers had been averaging 11.1 rebounds more than their opponents.
“We knew what this was coming in,” Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. “They’re a very good team. It’s a tough place to play. We didn’t play well.”
When Roberts wasn’t shooting from the outside, Dayton was able to get the ball inside to the 6-foot-10 Huelsman, who would drive to the basket, dish the ball off or kick it back outside.
“I always say you have to double Kurt’s rebound total because even though he might not get them, he helps somebody else get them,” Gregory said. “They chose not to double down (on Huelsman). He doesn’t back down from anybody. He was a huge part of our success tonight.”
Dayton’s stifling defense often thwarted Pittsburgh’s efforts to cut to the basket and forced the Panthers to take outside shots. Dayton hit 52 percent from the floor, compared to 30 percent for the Panthers.
Sam Young lead Pittsburgh with 15 points, and Levance Fields added 13.
The Flyers held freshman DeJuan Blair to nine points and six rebounds. Blair, who was averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds, sat out much of the first half because of foul trouble, and played 15 minutes of the second half with four fouls.
“We went small,” Dixon said. “Maybe that wasn’t the right thing to do.”
Fields went down at 15:45 of the second half with an ankle injury. He was helped to the locker room and didn’t return to the game.
Roberts had 19 points in the first half—scoring 12 in a span of 3:19. His 3-pointer with a second remaining gave the Flyers a 45-33 halftime lead.
Blair cut the Flyer lead to 11 with a layup at 16:20, making the score 51-40. But Johnson had a layup, and Charles Little added two buckets to give Dayton a 57-40 lead at 14:29, and the Flyers never looked back.
When Roberts hit a 3-pointer at 8:05 to give Dayton a 20-point lead, the sellout crowd of 13,435 went wild, waving Flyers towels that turned the arena into a sea of white.
“We watched a lot of tape on him and thought we had him figured out,” Young said of Roberts. “But he just played really well.”
The Panthers played for the first time since defeating then-No.6 Duke on Dec. 20, looking for their third 12-0 start in five seasons.
“I’d say were back down to earth,” said Pitt’s Keith Benjamin. “I feel like we’re a very humble team, so we’re not going to dwell on it.”
Dayton’s Chris Wright, a freshman forward who had been averaging 12.5 points, finished with four. He is recovering from a deep bone bruise to his ankle that forced him to sit out Dayton’s Dec. 22 game against Loyola-Maryland and has limited his practice time.
Dayton’s 11-1 start matches its best start to a season since the Flyers won their first 14 games in 1955-56.