Cover photo from UD men’s basketball game earlier this season. Courtesy of Griffin Quinn
Entering the first of two Maui Invitational semifinal matchups on Tuesday, both the Dayton Flyers and the Virginia Tech Hokies were coming off their most impressive wins in the early goings of the 2019-2020 campaign. Just a day before their meeting, the Flyers defeated a young and athletic Georgia Bulldogs squad by 29, and the Hokies upended the third-ranked Michigan State Spartans, 71-65.
While Virginia Tech was unable to continue the offensive rhythm they found against Michigan State, the only thing that looked different about the Flyers from the day before was that they were sporting red uniforms for the first time this season.
After trading baskets with their Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opponent to open the game, Dayton – fueled by stout defense and lights out shooting – began to pull away.
In the final seconds of the half, a rare Obi Toppin missed three-pointer (he made three of five on the night) led to an emphatic Ibi Watson putback as the buzzer rang.
The Flyers led 49-31 at the break, and they didn’t let up there.
Toppin continued his offensive dominance. He finished with 24 points, becoming just the third Division I player to ever begin a season with five straight 20-plus point performances, according to ESPN.
Both Rodney Chatman and Trey Landers added 13 points of their own while Ryan Mikesell contributed 10.
The high-octane offense, which ended the game shooting 63.6 percent from the field and 45.8 percent from behind the arc, would not let up on Virginia Tech, routing the previously undefeated Hokies to an 89-62 clobbering.
With another impressive win, the Flyers move to 5-0 on the season.
In each of the five games to open the year, Anthony Grant’s team has scored 80 or more points. And, in the words of ESPN basketball analyst and on-air talent Jay Bilas, “This team is absolutely legit.”
The Toppin-led Flyers will hope to extend its dominant start in the Maui Invitational championship game today when they take on the fourth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks who defeated Brigham Young 71-56 in the second of the two semifinal matchups.
2003 was the last time the Flyers found themselves in the Maui Invitational championship. Led by Keith Waleskowski (who won the tournament’s MVP award that year), the Flyers defeated Hawaii 83-73 and hoisted the championship trophy.
We’ll have to wait to see if history can repeat itself.
The game will tip off at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN. For live updates, follow @FlyerNewsSports on Twitter.