Dayton Xavier Basketball

Xavier wins 28th straight in Cincinnati over Dayton

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Matt Derenbecker’s top of the key three rimmed in-and-out and as Justin Martin corralled the rebound, he secured the Musketeers 28th straight victory (in the last 33 years) over the Flyers in Cincinnati.

Martin sank both free throws to ice the game for a 66-61 win Wednesday night over arch-rival Dayton. The Flyers have not beat Xavier in Cincinnati since Jimmy Carter was president.

Not only to Martin ice the game, but he made a quick defensive switch that kept Kevin Dillard from a corner three. Dillard passed to the wing and cut to the corner off the backscreen. Martin, the 6-foot-6 sophomore quickly switched and swarmed Dillard in the corner. Dillard found Derenbecker open at the top of key, as miscommunicaiton between two Xavier defenders left two guys on Dayton’s Jalen Robinson.

Derenbecker was one swing away from getting Dyshawn Pierre – who hit a big three late to put Dayton up 59-58 with 2:47 remaining – a wide open look but Derenbecker had a nice enough look and had connected on 3-of-4 from behind the arc before that shot.

The win for Xavier not only keeps its home winning streak against Dayton alive, it also puts the Musketeers back in the win column after consecutive conference losses to Charlotte and St. Joseph’s. Xavier moves into a tie with VCU for second place in the A-10.

Under two minutes to go, the game changed hands four times until Semaj Christon shot put the Musketeers up 62-61 with 60 seconds to go. Although Dayton was inches away from forcing an extra session, the Flyers were dominated on the board by Xavier. The Musketeers nearly doubled the Flyers on the board, 30-16 (14-9 offensive).

Dee Davis had 14 points to lead Xavier. Jeff Robinson added 12 and five rebounds, while Travis Taylor chipped in eight with a game-high 11 rebounds. Vee Sanford led Dayton with 16. Dillard added 12 and five assists

The battle of the Ohio foes headlined an exciting night for Atlantic 10 basketball as UMass went to Philadelphia and beat La Salle by one in the first game for the Explorers since knocking off Butler and VCU in consecutive games.

Terrence is also the lead writer at and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.