The drama, the pageantry, the grittiness of the Arch-Baron Cup manifested in the college basketball game of the year (Scott Van Pelt and Stanford Steve’s words, not mine). A simple roundball contest on a Friday night in January turned into a seminal moment for the tenure of Anthony Grant. If you are reading this, you know what happened but there were layers to this game. When you peel back the curtain and look at what were many game changing moments, you find what makes college basketball so special. First and foremost, it’s the Arch-Baron Cup and, for two programs who couldn’t be more fundamentally different, were extremely evenly matched last night. Two, the first half of the ballgame was mid-major basketball personified. It was ugly, slow, low-scoring, with inconsistent officiating, it had it all. Let’s take a detailed look at this wackiness of a basketball game and get a better idea of how everything went down.
Dayton came right out of the gates fast, opening with the first four points of the game. SLU punched back and the game was knotted up at 6 at the 17:31 mark. After the first TV timeout, SLU began to control the game and dictate the action. Trey Landers picked up his second foul and wouldn’t see action for the rest of the half, which clearly had an impact on the squad. An old habit reared its ugly head last night as Dayton would go scoreless for a five minute stretch before an Ibi Watson free throw. Obi made Dayton’s only three in the first half at the 10 minute mark to push Dayton into double digits, but the BIllikens still held a four point advantage. After a three point jumper from Terrance Hargrove to make it 21-14, palms began to sweet throughout the Gem City.
Two Ibi Watson jumpers that were sandwiched by a stick back by Chimichanga cut the deficit to 1. That run was quickly nullified by a 10-0 run from St. Louis, allowing the Bills to grab an 11 point lead, their largest of the half. Dayton would cut that to 8, and Jalen Crutcher had lay up go begging at the end of the half, with an Obi miss on the follow-up slam attempt thrown in for good measure (I think that is the first dunk I have ever seen Obi miss). SLU did exactly what they needed to in the first half. They protected the paint where Dayton has been so successful this season and forced the Flyers to make open jumpers. Dayton responded by going 1-11 in the first half from three and found themselves in an unfamiliar predicament. Adjustments needed to be made and shots needed to go down if the Flyers were gonna remain undefeated in A10 play and make a case for a Top 10 ranking come Monday.
SLU kept the tempo right where they wanted it for the first 10 minutes of the second half as well. Shots still weren’t falling for the Flyers and it looked like we were gonna be seeing the same movie that we have seen before in previous road trips to St. Louis. Dayton would get it to as low as 5 but just couldn’t seem to get it down to one possession. The Billikens tried to keep the Flyers at arm’s length, opening up a seemingly insurmountable thirteen point lead with just 7:47 to go. That is when the shots finally began to fall. Ibi led off the barrage, getting the game back into single digits. Crutcher followed him up with a trey of this own to get it down to 5. After trading some baskets and free throws Ibi hit his second three of the stretch, followed by The Wooden Award front runner and best player in the country (Jay Bilas’ words, not mine) Obi Toppin cutting the lead to 2.
After two missed free throws by Jordan Goodwin (a recurring theme for the SLU on this night) Trey Landers once again would nail a clutch three, giving Dayton their first lead since 4-2 in the first two minutes of the game. A rare make from French at the foul line tied the game back up, but once again, Obi buried a three from the wing and then a transition layup to give Dayton the lead at 66-61 with 1:37 to go. Ironically enough, SLU used free throws to claw back into it, and Dayton missed some key freebies down the stretch of regulation to allow SLU to hang in it. With 5 seconds to go Trey Landers split a pair from the line to give Dayton a two point advantage. Anthony Grant elected not to call timeout (a move he said he regretted post game) and Jordan Goodwin went straight down court for a layup at the buzzer to give everyone in St. Louis free basketball with a very nice score of 69-69.
The overtime period felt like it went by in a flash. After two SLU free throws, Ibi tied it back up at 71 with a jumper. Javonte Perkins, who played extremely well for the BIllikens gave them the lead. Jalen Crutcher made four free throws down the stretch. With under ten seconds to go, Yuri Collins went to the line, on a pretty questionable foul call in my opinion, where he made both to give SLU a one-point edge with six seconds to go. Every Dayton fan knew where the ball was going. Jalen Crutcher came across the timeline and, off a powerful screen from Obi (it wasn’t a moving screen, SLU fans), buried the signature shot of the season for the Dayton Flyers. A dagger three from the top of the key with .1 seconds left in the game. All the folks wearing white were stunned, shocked, simply COULD NOT believe what had just happened. All the loyals wearing red, however? It was pure LOWD euphoria, THAT IS WHY YOU FOLLOW THE RULES WE GIVE YOU! Crutcher was mobbed under St. Louis’ basket by the entire team and Dayton absorbed Saint Louis’ best punch, somehow found a way to hijack the game from the Billikens clutches. The replays of Crutchers shot began running non-stop on social media — and on an angle from the opposite baseline, after making the go-ahead bucket, Jalen turned put his hands in the air and uttered 4 simple, but now legendary words.
Jalen CLUTCHer, Jalen Big Balls, The Wheelbarrow, Memphis Magic, Big J Jalen (alright I made that one up), whatever you want to call him, added to his long catalog of clutch buckets in closing moments. Jalen scored seven of Dayton’s nine points in the extra session. Don’t get me wrong, I love Scoochie, always will, but Jalen has turned it up to 11, no pun intended (ed note: is this a pun?). Jalen Crutcher, who struggled mightily in the first half, picked himself, and this team, off the mat and did what great teams have to do — find a way to win. What made it even more memorable was that Jalen had a bunch of kinfolk from Memphis who traveled to the game to see him play. When Dayton lost Mckinley Wright, we quickly scrambled and signed a relative unknown player from the proud state of Tennessee, and we should thank our lucky stars everyday that the unheralded player I am speaking of is Jalen Crutcher, and he does in fact, “Do this shit.”
The Obi and Ibi show continues to shine
I said it earlier, but I am going to repeat it here so that everyone understands what I am saying, Obi Toppin is the front runner for the Wooden Award. Don’t adjust your screens, don’t check your eyes, you read that correctly, a player for the Dayton Flyers is the front runner for Player of the Year in college basketball. Obi finished with a hard-earned 20 points and 10 boards in the game, including clutch threes that gave Dayton the lead. He didn’t have his best stuff last night, but he still grinded out a double-double. Ibi Watson remains a walking bucket. He finished with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He scored from a plethora of areas and in a variety of ways, off the dribble, spotting up from midrange and getting to the line. Ibi is exactly the spark this team needs at times. He steadied things in the first half then chipped in down the stretch during the comeback. The instant offense he brings is worth its weight in gold and, man, am I glad that Michigan had no use for him because he looks damn good in Flyer Red (or blue).
Despite the win, the rebounding issue manifested
It was discussed in the lead up to the game and the prognostications proved correct, Dayton was worked on the glass last night. 46-33 was the rebounding margin primarily thanks to the tune of 16 offensive rebounds for Saint Louis. It remains an issue and one that Dayton is going to have to overcome on some nights. They didn’t get burned on it tonight, but it could cost them a game or two down the line.
Other notes and observations:
Couple more things I wanna talk about but don’t want to make individual sections for.
- Rodney Chatman’s struggles continue, 2 points, on 1-3 shooting and missing two clutch free throws down the stretch of regulation magnified the issue. To make matters worse, he also fouled out. Hopefully Rodney can find his mojo again because he has been really struggling since the beginning of A10 play.
- Chip had a tough night, he also fouled out on the evening with many of his fouls coming on the extremely softer side. Trey Landers sat for the majority of the first half with his two fouls but getting his toughness and physicality back on the floor paid dividends for Dayton in the second half.
- One positive development we have discussed this season is Dayton’s tendency to get up big and, hopefully, keep the starters minutes down. I think that paid off last night. Crutcher and Obi logged 43 and 44 minutes, respectively. Previous games where their minutes were under 30 really benefited them last night, as they seemed fresh down the stretch and into OT.
— #13 Barstool Flyers (16-2) (@BarstoolFlyers) January 18, 2020
The Arch-Baron cup delivered in phenomenal fashion last night. Leading SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt, being discussed on College Gameday, and being on top plays. That stuff matters to a program like Dayton, you have to get whatever publicity, no matter how small, when you are a marquee game on a night with little action. The conversation, as a whole, begins to be about our team and our program. With all of the loses by ranked teams this week, Dayton is going to have a legitimate chance to be a top 10 team in the country come Monday.
Enjoy this season. Strap in and enjoy the ride because we have entered unprecedented territory never before seen for a Dayton team in our lifetimes, we don’t know if we ever get back to this point in our lifetimes. That’s why seeing all the videos from the Ghetto flying in put such a big smile on my face. The students are enjoying it and buying in and that is what made those Archie teams so special, the communal support around it. We are all Flyers and all we want is to see this team continue to win and continue to matter. Wear Red and BE LOWD.
I almost forgot
Drewby recap game update:
5-0: Average margin of victory, 17.6. By the skin of our teeth, it stays UNDEFEATED.