‘Shock of the year’ as Flyers upset No. 4 Kansas in Orlando

Sophomore forward Mustapha Amzil (pictured with basketball Nov. 9 against UIC) got his shot to fall as time expired to give the Flyers a shocking 74-73 win over No. 4 Kansas on Friday in Orlando, Fla. Photo courtesy of Keegan Gupta, Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett | Sports Editor

In a rematch of the 2019 Maui Jim Maui Invitational final, which was a classic won by Kansas 80-74 in overtime, the Dayton Flyers faced the Jayhawks in the semifinals of the ESPN Events Invitational on Friday.

This time around, the Flyers were coming in with a 2-3 record and faced the No. 4 team in the nation, but the game was once again a classic. And this time, the Flyers got what ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale called the “upset of the year” on a buzzer beater by sophomore forward Mustapha Amzil for a 74-73 Flyers win. 

https://twitter.com/espn/status/1464333637168545802

A common issue popped up again for the Flyers in the early minutes of the game, as they missed their first five field goals. The Jayhawks bursted ahead for an 11-1 lead before the Flyers called timeout with 16:20 left in the first half. 

But the Flyers made four straight field goals to cut into the deficit and trailed 17-11 with 11:22 left in the first half. At the timeout, the Flyers had scoring from five different players. 

Most of the first half remained in favor of Kansas by a comfortable but not quite dominant margin. The Jayhawks finished the first half with a 45-35 lead, as the Flyers shot 11-22 from the field and stayed in the game by holding the Jayhawks within range, even with eight first-half turnovers.

In the second half, however, the Flyers went on a 12-0 run over a two-minute period, led by sophomore forward Toumani Camara, redshirt junior guard Elijah Weaver, freshman forward DaRon Holmes II and sophomore forward Koby Brea. The four players combined for 41 points as the Flyers had come back to tie the game at 49 with 15:36 left in the second half.

Out of the media timeout, the Jayhawks knocked down one free throw, but that was followed by a pair of powerful dunks by Holmes, the second of which gave the Flyers their first lead of the game after a steal by freshman guard Malachi Smith. Kansas called timeout with 14:47 left as the Flyers led 53-50. 

Making nine of their last 10 field goals, the Flyers held onto their slim advantage at 57-56 with 11:42 left in the game, as Holmes and Camara were both up to 14 points each, and Brea had 10. 

After his steal leading to Holmes’ second dunk, Smith started hitting shot after shot for the Flyers, making three straight to help the Flyers stay tied or in front. With eight points, four rebounds and six assists, one to Weaver for a three to give the Flyers a 66-61 lead with under eight minutes left.

The Flyers would extend that lead to seven after a layup by redshirt sophomore forward Moulaye Sissoko, but Kansas finally stopped the run with a layup by Christian Braun to cut the deficit to 68-63 with 6:03 left in the game and the Jayhawks needing to step up to avoid what Vitale was proactively calling the “shock of the year.”

The Jayhawks did respond by forcing three straight turnovers by the Flyers, and scored after all three to go on a quick 6-0 run to force a Dayton timeout with 4:57 and the lead trimmed to 68-67.

Another dunk by Holmes from a Weaver feed gave the Flyers a 70-67 lead at the final media timeout with 3:19 left in the game.

Similar to what they did against UMass-Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay, the Flyers got cold when it mattered most, missing four straight field goals on some “questionable shot selection,” according to Vitale, and turning the ball over for the 20th time to lead to a fastbreak dunk by Ochai Agbaji. The slam gave the Jayhawks a 73-70 lead and forced Dayton to call timeout with one minute left. On 11 possessions, the Flyers shot 1-6 and turned the ball over six times.

But the Flyers fought back, as Smith made a layup to trim the deficit to one, and David McCormack was then called for an offensive foul with 19.6 seconds left, giving the Flyers the ball and a chance to win after head coach Anthony Grant called a timeout with 15.8 seconds.

On the possession, Smith drove the ball but the shot was blocked by McCormack. The ball fell to sophomore forward Mustapha Amzil, who had yet to shoot a field goal during the game. Amzil put up a high arching shot that seemed to bounce off the rim a hundred times before it fell and gave the Flyers the “upset of the year” over No. 4 Kansas. 

The huge 74-73 win gave the Flyers their first win over an AP top five team since Feb. 18, 1984 over No. 3 DePaul. 

After such an emotional and shocking win, the Flyers will take on Iona or Belmont in the ESPN Events Invitational Championship on Sunday at either 1 or 4 p.m. 

One more perspective of the game-winning shot on the call by WHIO Radio:

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