Charles Cooke

VIDEO: No. 1 seed Dayton advances to Atlantic 10 semifinals

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Friday’s quarterfinal round at the Atlantic 10 tournament marks the debut of the top four seeds in the event, beginning with top seed Dayton. Archie Miller’s Flyers took care of business against No. 9 seed Richmond, beating the Spiders 69-54 to advance to Saturday’s semifinal round.

Charles Cooke III led three double-digit scorers with 14 points while also grabbing eight rebounds, and Kyle Davis added 11 points and Dyshawn Pierre ten along with a game-high 14 rebounds. But the key in the win for Dayton was their defense. The Flyers limited the Spiders to 31.8 percent shooting from the field overall and 5-for-20 from beyond the arc. T.J. Cline led all scorers with 25 points, but no other Richmond player scored in double figures.

Players other than Cline combined to shoot 10-for-40 from the field, with guard ShawnDre’ Jones making just one of his 11 field goal attempts.

Next up for Dayton is No. 4 seed Saint Joseph’s, which came back to eliminate No. 5 seed George Washington in the second quarterfinal of the day.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: No. 20 Duke visits No. 5 North Carolina

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 20 Duke at No. 5 North Carolina, 9:00 p.m.

This choice is a simple one, with one of the best rivalries in all of sports taking place. Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils have won four straight games, with their defensive improvements being a key reason why (our Rob Dauster has more on that here). Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram have led the way offensively for Duke, but getting stops will be key for them not just tonight but in March as well. How well Duke fares on the defensive glass against the bigger Tar Heels will be a key, but UNC has its own questions to address.

The biggest: how engaged will Justin Jackson and Brice Johnson be? Johnson made his way into the ACC POY conversation and Jackson saved the Heels at Boston College, but both have to bring consistent effort for Roy Williams’ team to reach its full potential.¬†North Carolina played well in its win over Pittsburgh Sunday, but can they build on that momentum?

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 15 Dayton at Saint Joseph’s, 6:00 p.m.

There are two big games in Philadelphia tonight (more on the other one below), and this one will have a major impact not only on the Atlantic 10 race but on NCAA tournament profiles as well. Archie Miller’s Flyers are well positioned to land a good seed next month, and a win here would keep Dayton (who’s won nine straight) alone atop the A-10 standings. Dyshawn Pierre’s return has been key, but the contributions of Charles Cooke III and Scoochie Smith should not be overlooked either. Saint Joseph’s will counter with the incredibly versatile DeAndre Bembry and the A-10’s most improved player in forward Isaiah Miles, who’s been a key option in the front court for Phil Martelli’s Hawks.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. No. 1 Villanova will step outside of Big East play as they visit Big 5 rival Temple (7:00 p.m.) in a critical game for the home team. Fran Dunphy’s Owls sit atop the American, and a win here would (barring a collapse) in all likelihood sew up an NCAA tournament bid. Villanova, on the other hand, is once again in the mix for a one-seed and can wrap up the outright Big 5 title with a win.

2. Unless Villanova falters down the stretch, No. 8 Xavier is the only team capable of chasing down the Wildcats in the Big East standings. The Musketeers, two games back, will need to avoid any losses if they’re to accomplish that beginning with their game against No. 23 Providence tonight (7:00 p.m.). The Friars lean upon the tandem of Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, but they’ll need more against the deeper Musketeers.

3. One team that may not be receiving as much “bubble” chatter as they deserve is Alabama, which has won four straight including wins over Texas A&M and Florida. The Crimson Tide visit LSU tonight (9:00 p.m.), with both teams in a position where another quality win would help their cause. LSU won the first meeting by two points in Tuscaloosa, with Ben Simmons going for 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

4. After getting swept last weekend USC looks to get back on the right track with a win over Colorado (11:00 p.m.) in Los Angeles. Andy Enfield’s Trojans have yet to lose at home this season, and their offensive balance (six players averaging double figures) is one reason why. Colorado, which is also well positioned to reach the NCAA tournament, did not have Josh Scott (ankle) last week and his status for tonight has yet to be determined. That’s a key for the Buffs, given how good USC’s front court with the likes of Nikola Jovanovic, Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu has been this year.

5. Texas Tech, which beat two ranked teams in Iowa State and Baylor last week, has another opportunity to get a marquee win as they host No. 3 Oklahoma. Keenan Evans is averaging more than 17 points per game over the last three for Tubby Smith’s Red Raiders, who can also call upon Devauntagh Williams and Toddrick Gotcher on the perimeter. Buddy Hield and company are looking to rebound from their loss to No. 2 Kansas, but that won’t be easy to do in Lubbock.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 4 Iowa at Penn State, 6:30 p.m.
  • Virginia Tech at No. 11 Miami, 9:00 p.m.
  • Arizona State at No. 12 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.
  • Syracuse at No. 18 Louisville, 7:00 p.m.
  • Nebraska at No. 22 Indiana, 8:30 p.m.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Stony Brook at Albany, 7:00 p.m.
  • George Washington at Duquesne, 7:00 p.m.
  • Seton Hall at Georgetown, 9:00 p.m.
  • Boise State at New Mexico, 10:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Key contests in Atlantic 10, Pac-12

Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: UCLA at No. 17 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.
The Bruins and Wildcats have already met once this season, with a Bryce Alford three-pointer giving UCLA an 87-84 win. But UCLA has continued to struggle with consistency since then, and the chance at payback should serve as a motivating factor for Arizona. Sean Miller’s team welcomed back Allonzo Trier in Saturday’s win at Washington, and in forward Ryan Anderson they have one of the conference’s best players. The “rivalry” aspect of this game should make it a good one, as UCLA tends to show up for big-name opponents, but it could also be another major blow to the Bruins’ fleeting hopes of getting back to the NCAA tournament.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 19 Dayton at Rhode Island, 7:00 p.m.
The Rams have struggled with injuries all season, most recently dealing with Jarvis Garrett’s broken jaw and Kuran Iverson’s concussion. Garrett’s back on the floor, playing with a face mask that appears to be inspired by Hannibal Lecter, and it’s that team toughness that makes URI a serious threat to first-place Dayton at the Ryan Center (Iverson’s been medically cleared but remains a game-time decision). Charles Cooke has been outstanding for the Flyers this season, and Dayton’s depth makes them a tough matchup for any team much less one as banged up as URI.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. As a result of No. 11 Oregon’s loss at Cal last night, No. 23 USC finds itself tied in the loss column atop the Pac-12 standings heading into their game at Arizona State (8:00 p.m.). Outside of keeping opponents off the offensive glass the Sun Devils have had issues defensively in conference play, and with the Trojans’ many scoring options led by guards Jordan McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs this will be a tough matchup for the home team.

2. Monmouth looks to maintain its lead atop the MAAC standings, as they visit Rider (9:00 p.m.). The Broncs haven’t been the conference contender many envisioned them being when the season began but they’re still dangerous, with players such as guard Teddy Okereafor capable of giving opponents fits. Justin Robinson, who’s been excellent at the point all season long, leads the way for a Monmouth team that still has hopes of earning an at-large bid should they need it.

3. Having lost to Yale last weekend, Columbia’s in a position where they need to hold serve ahead of the rematch in New York City March 5. That makes games like tonight’s against Penn (7:00 p.m.) that much more important for Kyle Smith’s Lions, who have done a good job of turning opponents over in league play (22.8 TO%). Penn’s had issues taking care of the basketball, and that combined with Columbia’s tandem of Maodo Lo and Alex Rosenberg could prove to be the difference at Levien Gym.

4. Two teams looking to make a push in the MAC East race meet in Buffalo, as the Bulls host Ohio (7:00 p.m.). Nate Oats’ team had its four-game win streak snapped by Toledo, with the Rockets beating Buffalo by two Wednesday night. They’ll look to rebound with a defense that has been the best in the MAC in conference play (tops in defensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage), but they have to take care of the basketball in order to do so.

5. Grand Canyon, which can’t play in the NCAA tournament as they’re still in the Division I transition process, looks to remain a game behind New Mexico State in the WAC standings. Dan Majerle’s Antelopes visit Seattle (10:00 p.m.), which handed GCU its first conference loss 13 days ago. GCU shot just 6-for-23 from three in that game, which they led by ten late in the first half. If Seattle is to win they’ll need to slow down the tandem of sophomore Joshua Braun and senior Grandy Glaze, who combine to average 31.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.

No. 19 Dayton rallies late for 76-74 win over Duquesne

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DAYTON, Ohio (AP) Scoochie Smith hit a 3-pointer that put No. 19 Dayton ahead to stay as the Flyers overcame a late 12-point deficit and beat Duquesne 76-74 on Tuesday night.

The Flyers (20-3, 10-1 Atlantic 10) got their eighth straight win by going on a closing 19-5 run. Smith’s 3-pointer from the top of the arc put Dayton ahead 73-70 with 46 seconds left, and the Dukes (15-9, 5-6) never pulled even again. Smith hit a free throw with 2.7 seconds left.

Charles Cooke led Dayton with 22 points and Smith added 14.

Micah Mason had 27 points for Duquesne. Derrick Colter had 19 of his 21 in the second half.

Dayton took the court with its highest regular-season ranking since Nov. 19, 2009. The Flyers hadn’t been ranked so highly this late in the regular season since Feb. 15, 1968.

They needed their home-court advantage to pull it out. They have won 35 of their last 36 at home, and have won 20 straight A-10 games at Dayton Arena.

Mason missed the Dukes’ 66-58 loss to the Flyers on Jan. 2 with an ankle injury. He made the difference early, hitting his first three shots from beyond the arc and his first five overall. He had 13 points as the Dukes pulled ahead 28-16, making 12 of their first 17 shots overall against the A-10’s stingiest defense.

Sam Miller had two 3s and a follow-up basket as Dayton went on an 11-0 run. The Dukes went more than 4 minutes without a basket, helping Dayton pull into a 35-35 tie at halftime.

The Flyers opened the second half with a 10-2 run featuring a layup, a free throw and a 3-pointer by Kyle Davis.

Colter, the Dukes’ leading scorer at 18.3 points per game, made only one of his six shots in the first half. He rallied the Dukes after Dayton’s opening run in the second half, making two 3s and a three-point play as the Dukes pulled ahead 56-53 midway through the half.

Two 3-pointers by Mason pushed the lead to 69-57 with 5:41 to go, but the Dukes couldn’t hold on.

TECHNICAL ISSUE

Duquesne coach Jim Ferry got a technical foul while yelling at referee Tony Chiazza after one of the Dukes was called for a foul with 3:48 left in the first half.

TIP-INS

Duquesne: The Dukes are 47-118 all-time against ranked teams. They beat No. 10 Saint Louis 71-64 on Feb. 27, 2014, and lost to No. 17 VCU 70-64 on Jan. 17, 2015, in their last two.

Dayton: Dyshawn Pierre had only six points, ending his streak of nine consecutive games in double figures. Pierre missed the first part of the season under a university suspension, but has played in the last 12 games, starting 10.

UP NEXT

Duquesne: Hosts Massachusetts on Sunday.

Dayton: Plays at Rhode Island on Friday.

Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

VIDEO: Dayton clamps down on Duquesne, wins A-10 opener

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Charles Cooke scored 21 points to lead the way offensively for the Dayton Flyers, as they won their Atlantic 10 opener at Duquesne by the final score of 66-58. Cooke was the lone Flyer to score in double figures on an afternoon in which their defense was the story of the game. Dayton limited Duquesne to 32.7 percent shooting from the field and forced 18 turnovers, converting those mistakes into 18 points on the other end.

Dayton wasn’t much better offensively, shooting 36.5 percent, but their ability to manufacture points through their defense made the difference. Duquesne’s Derrick Colter, the team’s leading scorer on the season, led Jim Ferry’s Dukes with 14 points but he did not have his best day. Colter shot 2-for-12 from the field and committed eight turnovers, with Dayton’s guards making things difficult for him throughout.

Dayton reserves Darrell Davis and Sam Miller scored nine points apiece, and Dyshawn Pierre grabbed ten rebounds in his second game of the season for the 11-2 Flyers.