Baylor Scott Drew

Baylor comes back to defeat Dayton, will play No. 8 Syracuse in Maui final

Leave a comment

Dayton led for more than 37 minutes in the Tuesday night’s Maui Invitational semifinal against No. 18 Baylor. Credit to the Bears, they hung tough, chipped away at the double-digit deficit and made some plays down the stretch to take a 67-66 win right out of the hands from the Flyers and punch their ticket to the Maui Invitational championship game against No. 8 Syracuse on Wednesday night.

The Bears trailed by 10 with seven minutes to play, but three minutes later, had cut it to a two-possession game.

The wild final two minutes began when Royce O’Neale drilled a three for Baylor, matched by Devin Oliver on the other end for Dayton. Gary Franklin followed, making a three of his own, cutting the Dayton lead to 66-65 game. After a stop, Baylor had the chance to take its first lead since 1-0. Kenny Chery’s shot from the baseline hit the front rim, but the ball fell right into the hands of Cory Jefferson, who put in the second chance opportunity.

Chery and O’Neale both led the pairs 13 points apiece, while Franklin, Jefferson and Isaiah Austin added 10 each.

Dayton was looking for its second win over a ranked opponent in as many days. It’s a painful loss for a scrappy Flyers team. Dayton could of gone for its third win over a ranked opponent in as many days on Wednesday night, but will have to settle for a third-place game against Cal team. Dayton was picked seventh in the Atlantic 10 this season, but looks like a team that could fight towards the top of the A10 standings led by Ohio State transfer Jordan Sibert.

The comeback over Dayton sets Baylor up for its first game against a ranked opponent this season. Baylor has a quality out-of-conference win over Colorado in the season opener and still has a Dec. 3 meeting with No. 3 Kentucky in Arlington, Texas. After stealing the game from the Flyers, Baylor can cash in with the Maui title and a win over a top-10 team.

The key to Wednesday night’s championship game with the Orange will be Austin. He ended with 10 points and seven boards, but he started the second half on the bench after going scoreless through the first 20 minutes. He and Jefferson will go head-to-head with another talented front court led by C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant, Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman.

Wednesday night’s game begins at 10 p.m. EST.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.