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The Morning Dish – Saturday, January 13, 2018

January 13, 2018 The Morning Dish No Comments

Dayton did not exactly get off to a great start in Anthony Grant’s return to his alma mater. But the Flyers may be hitting their stride at a good time, with Friday night being the latest evidence of that.

An offensive showing the likes of which they had on Friday night will certainly help that perception. But the truth is, even before the Flyers blew out VCU 106-79, scoring 66 points in the first half, this team was already trending up.

Dayton went 6-6 in non-conference play against one of the toughest schedules in the country. However, unlike a number of teams with such schedules, the Flyers lost a game to a team below 150 in RPI, and since Atlantic 10 play have lost two more. And as this looks like a down year in the Atlantic 10 – the Flyers are one of just four teams with RPIs that have two digits – one thing is clear: Dayton won’t get to the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid this season.

But the groundwork is being laid for a late run and future teams under Grant to be like the Dayton teams we have seen for several years.

On Friday, the Flyers were unstoppable against the Rams, especially in the first half. They set a program record with 66 points in the first half, then later set another one as they hit 17 three-pointers, going 17-32 from long range as part of a scorching 62.9 percent shooting night. All five starters scored in double figures, led by Darrell Davis’ career night with 28 on 9-10 shooting and nine assists. Jalen Crutcher posted a double-double with 12 points and ten assists as the Flyers assisted on 34 of 39 made field goals, an incredible statistic.

Dayton is just 3-2 in Atlantic 10 play, so they’re one of a few teams chasing Rhode Island and will be all season. They take on Rhode Island next weekend at home, a chance to show how far they have come. Though they opened Atlantic 10 play with a loss at Duquesne, the Dukes have been better than expected and that game was in Pittsburgh. They beat St. Bonaventure, one of the top contenders behind Rhode Island, and in fairly convincing fashion. A tough loss to UMass is not good, but they went to Richmond and won before blowing out VCU.

Grant’s track record suggests that this year will basically be a bridge year. Davis and little-used Joey Gruden are the only seniors on this team, so how they finish up this season will give an idea how well-positioned they could be for next year. To that end, the Flyers are not only much better on offense in conference play thus far, but they’re also better defensively, including a better rebounding margin, and they have evened out their turnovers.

Despite an uneven start to the season, the Flyers are picking it up at a good time now. Friday night was the best example of that yet, and one more signed they appear poised to end the season a lot better than they started.

 

Side Dishes

A fundraising site for Texas guard Andrew Jones was announced by the school and has quickly gained a good deal of donations. The school said donations will go straight to the family for medical and other essential expenses within NCAA rules, and it is the only web site approved by the family. The school release can be found here, and the Web site itself can be found here.

Utah athletic director Chris Hill took a hit from the Pac-12 office on Friday, as they fined him $10,000 and publicly reprimanded him after letting loose on the conference’s coordinator of men’s basketball officials after the Utes lost to Arizona State on Sunday. Although it didn’t happen in public view, Hill’s comments were audible from the room where Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak was addressing the media.

Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner has filed a civil lawsuit in Arizona related to the NCAA. The suit, filed in Superior Court in Arizona, alleges defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting and injurious falsehoods against Ron Bell and Jennifer Pendley. Bell and Pendley told CBS Sports in November that they provided extra benefits to current Yellow Jackets Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson, each of whom received suspensions after the NCAA confirmed it. Not only did Bell, who once served four years in prison after being convicted of felony drug charges, claim Pastner knew about the violations, but he and Pendley also allegedly told investigators that Pastner assaulted Pendley. There is more detail in a well-done story by ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach, and needless to say, Bell comes off as an incredibly shady character.

In Big East action, Butler evened their conference mark at 3-3 with a 94-83 win over Marquette, led by a career-high 37 points from Kelan Martin, while Providence used a strong second half to beat DePaul 71-64 in Rosemont to go to 3-2.

 

Tonight’s Menu

What should be a great day of action features a few rivalry games along the way.

  • In the ACC, Florida State hosts Syracuse (2 p.m.), then Clemson tries to bounce back from their first ACC loss as they host Miami (3 p.m.), Louisville hosts Virginia Tech (4 p.m.), Notre Dame tries to bounce back from a loss as they host North Carolina (6 p.m.)
  • In the American Athletic Conference, Cincinnati tries to stay on a roll at USF (7 p.m.), while Wichita State tries to do the same at Tulsa (7:30 p.m.)
  • The Atlantic 10 gets things going with the first game of the day as St. Bonaventure visits Rhode Island (11 a.m.)
  • A full day of Big 12 games starts with one of the rivalry games as Kansas hosts Kansas State (noon), then TCU goes to Oklahoma (1 p.m.), West Virginia goes to Texas Tech (2 p.m.), Iowa hosts Baylor (3 p.m.) and Oklahoma State hosts Texas (5 p.m.)
  • The Big East slate features Xavier hosting Creighton (2 p.m.) and St. John’s hosting Villanova (8 p.m.)
  • Big Ten play has good ones right off the bat as Michigan State hosts Michigan and Purdue goes to Minnesota at noon.
  • A good Mountain West matchup on tap is Boise State hosting San Diego State (10 p.m.)
  • In the Pac-12, Oregon goes for the road sweep as they visit Arizona (2 p.m.), while Oregon State visits Arizona State (6 p.m.), Washington welcomes Stanford (8 p.m.) and Colorado goes to UCLA (10:30 p.m.)
  • SEC action features Florida traveling to Ole Miss (1 p.m.), Mississippi State hosting Auburn (3:30 p.m.), Texas A&M trying for their first win as they travel to Tennessee while Arkansas hosts Missouri (both at 6 p.m.)
  • The SWAC has two undefeated teams in action as 3-0 Texas Southern visits 4-0 Jackson State (6:30 p.m.)

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