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No. 13 Dayton pulls away late for 71-58 win over North Texas

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DAYTON, Ohio — Jalen Crutcher banged knees with a North Texas player and went down hard in the second half. But just as the Flyers have done all season, he was back in place for the big shot at the end.

Crutcher scored 16 points and hit a comeback-blunting 3-pointer Tuesday night, Ryan Mikesell also had 16 points, and No. 13 Dayton finally shook free at the end for a 71-58 victory over North Texas.

The Flyers (9-1) took the court with their highest ranking since December 1968, when they made it as high as No. 6. A sloppy second half — eight turnovers — kept it close.

“Part of the growth I want to see us make as a team,” coach Anthony Grant said. “They turned the pressure up and we made some poor decisions.”

North Texas (4-7) cut the lead to nine with six minutes left, but Crutcher hit an unguarded 3-pointer that blunted the comeback as the Mean Green fell short in their bid for a fourth all-time win over a ranked team.

Crutcher bumped his left knee with a North Texas player early in the second half and sat out for several minutes before returning and steadying Dayton down the stretch. The Flyers allowed North Texas to stay in it by turning the ball over and allowing the Mean Green open shots.

“In the second half, they’re a team that’s desperate and they made some 3s,” Crutcher said.

Javion Hamlet had 19 points, and Zachary Simmons added 18 points and a team-high six rebounds for North Texas. After missing all four of its shots from beyond the arc in the first half, North Texas went 9 of 15 in the second half.

The Mean Green tied the school record with 19 3-pointers during their last game, a 23-point win over Little Rock. Dayton extended its defense and made sure there would be no repeat. The Mean Green missed six of their first seven shots — only one from beyond the arc — while Dayton pulled ahead 14-2.

The Flyers’ surge stalled, and North Texas kept it within single digits most of the half. Obi Toppin and Mikesell hit 3s during a late first-half run that built the lead to 16 points.

The Mean Green made four 3s in a row — each by a different player — to open the second half and eventually cut it to 57-48 on Umoja Gibson’s 3-pointer. Crutcher’s open 3 from the corner blunted the comeback. North Texas turned it over twice in the final minute to help Dayton put it away.

The game took on an edge during an inbounds play in the second half, with players jawing at each other. The referees separated the teams and gave technical fouls to North Texas’ James Reese and Dayton’s Trey Landers.

BIG PICTURE

North Texas: The Mean Green also played their first two games against ranked teams close, losing by three points to VCU and by nine against Utah State. North Texas’ last win over a ranked team came on Feb. 27, 1971, a 79-73 victory at Louisville.

Dayton: The Flyers came in with the best field goal percentage in Division I (54%) and the most assists (20.1) per game. Against North Texas, they shot 50% from the field and had 20 assists on 24 baskets.

KEEPING FOCUSED

The Flyers’ last three home games have been against Houston Baptist, Drake and North Texas. Grant has been on the Flyers in practice to stay focused even though they’re facing a team they’re expected to beat.

“Everybody’s happy we’re ranked No. 13,” Crutcher said. “We’ve just got to keep it going. We can’t let it get to our heads.”

MISSING FLYER

Dayton reserve forward Chase Johnson missed a second straight game because of illness.

FAMILIAR FACES

North Texas has started the same five players in each of its 11 games — Hamlet, Simmons, Gibson, James Reese and Deng Geu.

CONTAINED

Gibson has been the Mean Green’s top player the last six games, averaging 20.2 points per game. Dayton held him to six points on 2-of-9 shooting.

UP NEXT

North Texas hosts UAPB on Saturday.

Dayton plays Colorado on Saturday at the United Center as part of the Chicago Legends event.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top 25

Return to ranks: No. 19 Dayton beats Houston Baptist 99-68

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DAYTON, Ohio — Obi Toppin soared to corral a rebound with his left hand and slammed the ball down, his emphatic dunk the signature moment of Dayton’s return to the rankings.

Toppin scored 17 points and had that dunk off one of his 10 rebounds Tuesday night, leading No. 19 Dayton to a 99-68 victory over Houston Baptist.

The Flyers (6-1) vaulted into the Top 25 after an impressive run at the Maui Invitational that included drubbings of Georgia and Virginia Tech followed by an overtime loss to Kansas in the title game. Dayton hadn’t been ranked in the Top 25 since February 2016.

Back on the mainland, Dayton struggled before pulling away from the depleted Huskies (0-6), who are in a brutal opening stretch of road games. They’d given up 100 points in each of their last three losses against Texas Tech, Michigan and Houston.

The Huskies led for much of the first half, before Dayton’s size and depth started wearing them down. The Flyers looked as though their first ranking in years had softened them a bit.

“You’re human — OK, 19th in the country, you get a little bit of a big head,” said Trey Landers, who had 16 points and eight rebounds. “I think it was good that they humbled us a little bit. So we needed that.”

Their best player was the constant.

Toppin was the Atlantic 10’s top freshman last season and has been the catalyst in the Flyers’ breakout run, scoring at least 20 points in all but two games. The forward opened the game with a dunk on an alley-oop pass from Jalen Crutcher and went high to snare a rebound with his left hand and slam it down.

Toppin finished with his third double-double of the season in only 24 minutes.

“Obi is Obi,” Landers said. “Everybody else, we play to our strengths. We’re just starting to figure out what we can do individually.”

Jalon Gates led an early Huskies surge, scoring 16 points in the first eight minutes. He was the focus of Dayton’s defense the rest of the way and got off only three more shots, missing them all. Ian DuBose, the All-Southland Conference guard, started despite a sore ankle and had 18 points in 32 minutes.

The Huskies threw a chill into the Flyers early as Gates made five straight shots — four from beyond the arc — for a 22-13 lead, silencing the crowd at University of Dayton Arena. But the Flyers started wearing down Houston Baptist late in the first half. Jhery Matos hit back-to-back 3-pointers during a 10-0 run that put Dayton up 40-35.

“When you’re dealing with young people, sometimes you have to get a reality check,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “Maybe the first 10 minutes tonight was something of that.

“A lot of our errors in the first half were mental things. They got about 16 points off our mistakes. At halftime, it was more about being able to flush whatever happened and come out and play the way we felt we were capable of playing.”

The Flyers made 15 of their first 22 shots in the second half while pulling away.

BIG PICTURE

Houston Baptist: The Huskies are short-handed with three players missing time, including forward Benjamin Uloko.

Dayton: The Flyers got one home game between tournaments. They head to Phoenix for the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Colangelo Classic next weekend.

LOPSIDED

Dayton’s last four wins have been by 25, 19, 27 and 31 points.

MORE MINUTES

Dayton junior center Jordy Tshimanga played his third game since returning from a knee injury and went 13 minutes — more than the last two games combined — with five rebounds and eight points.

UP NEXT

Houston Baptist hosts Samford on Saturday, the Huskies’ only home game in their first 10.

Dayton plays Saint Mary’s in Phoenix on Sunday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top 25

No. 18 Auburn routs Richmond to win Legends Classic

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NEW YORK — Auburn is first and foremost a school that’s known for its football program.

Which is fine with Bruce Pearl, who believes the Tigers are “a pretty good basketball team right now.”

And he has the school’s first in-season tournament championship since 2004 to make his argument for him.

“Our guys came to Auburn to make history,” Pearl said after No. 18 Auburn to a 79-65 win over Richmond in the championship game of the Legends Classic on Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

“That was important to our team.”

Samir Doughty scored 22 points to lead the Tigers. Austin Wiley, who was named the tournament MVP, scored 18 points. He joined Doughty on the all-tournament team, along with Wisconsin’s Nate Reuvers, and Richmond’s Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden.

Daniel Purifoy chipped in with 13 for Auburn, which improved to 7-0 overall, and 3-1 in four all-time meetings against the Spiders.

“Guys are beginning to see the dimensions that we have,” Pearl said. “We have a lot to be thankful for, a lot to be blessed (with).”

Following a five-game winning streak, Richmond dropped to 5-1 with its first loss of the season.

Golden led the Spiders with 14. Gilyard and Nick Sherod finished with 12 each.

“I just thought we didn’t have quite enough energy for shotmaking to hang in longer in the second half,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. “They’re a very good team.”

Trailing 35-34 at the half, Auburn opened the second half with an 11-4 run in a span of 4:27 to take a 45-39 lead. The advantage grew to 53-41 on Jamal Johnson’s layup at 13:10.

After Richmond cut the deficit to 56-49, Wiley finished the next two possessions with a two-handed dunk and a tip-in, causing Mooney to call a time out.

“Hats off to them,” Mooney said.

Auburn’s lead grew to as much as 22 in the final minutes.

“One of their players–I’m not going to say who–came up to me and was like, β€˜(You guys) are killing us right now,’ Doughty said. “Each and every team we’ve been playing throughout the year has been saying that in the second half. Once he said that, I just told my guys, β€˜Let’s keep that foot on the pedal, let’s run the score up a little bit more, let’s get those guys who are not really playing into the game.'”

Gilyard’s running floater at the buzzer gave Richmond a 35-34 lead to cap a first half that the Spiders started quick and finished fast. Richmond scored 15 points in the first 12:34 and ended the first half by scoring 16 points in the final 7:48.

INJURY REPORT:

Golden suffered an ankle injury landing after a basket with 1:44 left. Golden laid on the court for more than five minutes while he was being tended to by trainers, before behind helped to the Spiders’ bench. Mooney said Golden twisted his ankle “in the first game of the year. It’s the same ankle. Structurally it seems to be okay but it’s probably something else he’ll have to be dealing with during the course of the next few days.”

UP NEXT:

Auburn: Hosts Furman on Dec. 5.

Richmond: Hosts Boston College Saturday.

VIDEO: Sean East II drains full-court buzzer-beater to end half for UMass

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UMass guard Sean East II made a ridiculous full-court buzzer-beater to end the first half as the Minutemen hosted Northeastern on Tuesday night.

In the midst of a tight game, East took the inbounds roll from teammate Samba Diallo and drained the improbable jumper — taking it from beyond the opposing free-throw line. The massive heave gave UMass a 36-34 halftime lead as they’re still battling Northeastern in the second half.

(H/t: UMass Basketball)

Santos-Silva leads No. 25 VCU past St. Francis, 72-58

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RICHMOND, Va. — Marcus Santos-Silva joked that he has a habit of stealing rebounds from teammates.

His guys weren’t the only victims on Tuesday night as he had 21 points and 18 rebounds for No. 25 VCU, which used a big early run to take command in a 72-58 victory over St. Francis in the season opener for both teams.

The Rams are not the biggest team, and Santos-Silva is just 6-foot-7, but the junior said size might be overrated.

“We just play with heart. We feel like we can beat anyone,” he said. “Height and stuff don’t matter to us. If we just go out there and play how we play, we can compete with anyone in the country.”

Coach Mike Rhoades said his big man’s secret is simple.

“You know how he rebounds everything? He goes after everything, and that’s his mentality. That’s huge,” Rhoades said.

The Rams looked sharp from the start, using a 23-5 spree to open a 25-9 lead with just over eight minutes left in the first half. Six players scored in the run, while the Red Flash missed 12 of 14 shots and turned the ball over six times.

“Against a team like that, at home, talented, the style they play, you can’t dig yourself that kind of a hole,” St. Francis coach Rob Krimmel said. His team finished with 19 turnovers against the Rams’ pressing, trapping defense, leading to 20 points for VCU.

Rhoades found plenty for the Rams to work on.

“We had some good stretches throughout the game but not enough long stretches,” he said. The coach also could have done without a few attempts at highlight reel alley-oop plays and other plays he described as “cute.”

“We got the jitters out. We got the first game out of the way,” Rhoades said.

The Red Flash, regular-season co-champions in the Northeast Conference last season, trailed by as many as 21 in the second half, but rallied to within 55-45 with 7:23 to play. But Marcus Evans scored the Rams’ next six points in an 8-2 run that pushed the lead back up to 16.

De’Riante Jenkins added 16 points and Evans scored 12 for the Rams.

Isaiah Blackmon scored 15 and Keith Braxton had 11 for the Red Flash. They finished 21 of 65 from the field, just 24.2%, with 19 turnovers.

BIG PICTURE

St. Francis: The Red Flash rely heavily on the tandem of Braxton, the reigning NEC player of the year, and Blackmon, but both struggled in the opener. They were both 2 for 9 from the field in the opening half as VCU opened its big lead. Neither ever found his stroke with Braxton finishing 4 for 15 and Blackmon 5 for 14.

“We wanted to make sure we wore Braxton down the whole time,” Rhoades said. Braxton played just over 35 minutes.

VCU: The Rams emphasized defense last season and were among the national leaders in several categories. They appear to have picked up where they left off. They forced eight first-half turnovers and limited the Red Flash to 23.5% shooting (8 for 33) and just one 3-pointer in 10 attempts in a dominant first half. Trying to come back, the Red Flash finished 6 for 21 from beyond the 3-point arc.

UP NEXT

St. Francis will again be in Richmond to face the Richmond Spiders on Friday night.

VCU remains at home and will play North Texas on Friday night.

Saint Louis freshman Carte’Are Gordon expected to transfer

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Saint Louis freshman big man Carte’Are Gordon is expected to transfer, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The news was first reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.

The former top-100 prospect sent out a cryptic tweet saying goodbye to Saint Louis earlier on Wednesday. The 6-foot-8 Gordon is expected to officially move on from the program by the end of the week.

Gordon was one of the highest-rated Saint Louis recruits in years as he was seen as a centerpiece for head coach Travis Ford to potentially build with. Gordon has been committed to the Billikens since late in 2016. During freshman season, Gordon was averaging 8.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while playing in 24.5 minutes per contest.

Saint Louis is expected to be a major factor in the Atlantic 10 race this season, as losing Gordon right before conference play is a major blow for the Billikens.