College basketball savants were pysched for an old-school Atlantic 10 throwdown on Sunday.
Dayton vs. Xavier. Hey! That’s a nice blast from the past. Those are two of the best programs to roam that league over the years. But the intra-state Ohio rivalry is no more, as Xavier left Dayton in its A-10 pigpen and moved to the new Big East back in 2013. Fortunately, both teams won their way into the championship game of the AdvoCare Invitational down at the Disney megaplex in Florida.
Unfortunately for short-handed Dayton, the game was a snooze. Xavier, which is still undefeated, fried the Flyers 90-61. It was almost a year ago, Dec. 6, 2014, when Xavier last put up 90 points or more. For Dayton, it’s the first loss of the team’s season; the 29-point margin is the greatest for Archie Miller in his career, but he has lost by that many on two previous occasions (Nov. 30, 2011 and Feb. 2, 2013).
The separation came when the Musketeers went on a 21-0 in the second half, pushing Dayton into submission. Jalen Reynolds — who should no longer qualify as one of the nation’s most underrated players in, I don’t know, maybe two weeks? — had the ultimate misleading boxscore. He finished with 11 points, five rebounds and four fouls, but when he was on the floor Dayton was unable to solve him.
Here he is going one on two.
Jalen Reynolds is a bad man. pic.twitter.com/AV57b74xYn
— Adam Comarow (@ComarowsCorner) November 29, 2015
Bad loss aside, Dayton should be OK long-term. Dyshawn Pierre will be back soon, and it’s still likely this will be a top-three team in the A-10. Everybody has clunkers, and let’s remember how Dayton got a nice win over Iowa on Thanksgiving.
With victories against Michigan, Alabama, USC and Dayton, Chris Mack’s team is looking mighty fine. Do I hear a top-15 ranking for Xavier come Monday afternoon? It’s possible. Mack’s suddenly got a roster with some depth and myriad options at every position and every level. After all this team needed to do in relying on Matt Stainbrook last year, to see how things have changed makes for one of the nice surprises in the sport into the early part of the season.
The Muskies now get two winnable games at home in the next nine days: Western Kentucky on Saturday, then Wright State on Dec. 8. If X wins both of those games, the 9-0 record will be the best of Mack’s coaching career and will match the 9-0 opening the Musketeers pulled off in Sean Miller’s final year with the program in 2008-09.