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Syracuse defense is no laughing matter for Dayton

By Tim Graham

A reporter asked Dayton basketball coach Archie Miller what kind of challenge Syracuse poses.

"Ha!" Miller blurted out.

Syracuse is a perennial power. It was ranked No. 1 in the country just a month ago. Jim Boeheim won his 948th game Thursday in First Niagara Center.

Dayton, meanwhile, is trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984 after upsetting Ohio State. To do so, it must stun Syracuse here Saturday.

Miller looks like he could be Boeheim's paperboy. But he did deliver more than a visceral laugh when considering Syracuse.

"When people look at Syracuse they will start talking about the zone," Miller said of Syracuse's 2-3 defensive scheme. "But their concepts revolve around talent and speed and length.

"On both ends of the floor they take advantage of all spots."

Syracuse opponents averaged 59.3 points a game. Opponents made 41 percent of their shots this season. Syracuse averaged four more rebounds and nearly four more steals per game.

Syracuse easily beat Western Michigan, 77-53, on Thursday. Western Michigan shot 34.7 percent from the field. Syracuse had a 41-25 edge in rebounds and blocked six shots.

Dayton advanced despite a sloppy offense because Ohio State happened to be sloppier.

"We're going to have to be very sharp on offense," Miller said. "Obviously, going against something we haven't seen before is going to feel funny, but I think if we just stick with it and play our game ...

"The ball's got to move. We have to move and move quick. That's going to be a big part of the game. If it's a half-court game for us or we're standing around, it's not going to work well."