The Dayton Flyers may have walked past the Charles Barkley statue outside Auburn Arena on Saturday, though the players probably know Barkley more for his analyst role on TV than for his Hall of Fame playing career.
Barkley played next door at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum during his days at Auburn. That facility still stands next to the new arena, which opened in 2010.
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Dayton’s Anthony Grant coached at both arenas during his six seasons at Alabama, but he had no interest in revisiting those days. After an 82-72 loss to No. 8 Auburn, Grant declined to comment on his feelings about returning to face his old rival.
“I think I’ll leave that one alone,” Grant said.
Grant did have plenty of good things to say about Bruce Pearl’s team, which has looked like a potential Final Four team in the first five weeks of the season, and Pearl returned the favor in his post-game comments on Auburn radio.
“Dayton’s going to have a very good year,” Pearl said. “They’re going to compete in that A-10 if (Grant) develops maybe one or two more guys off the bench because they’ve got seven really good players.”
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Of course, Dayton has an eight-man rotation because of the season-ending injury suffered by Jhery Matos, so Grant won’t be able to add any depth at this point. Nonetheless, Pearl raved about what he saw from the Flyers.
“I love the way his teams play,” Pearl said. “His team’s bought in, this Dayton team. They guard. They believe in what they’re doing offensively. They didn’t quit, and we hit them in the mouth pretty good.”
Limited minutes: Dayton forward Obi Toppin played only three minutes in the first half. He left the game after picking up his second foul at the 10:28 mark and didn’t play again until the second half. He finished with 10 points and three rebounds in 16 minutes.
Josh Cunningham, who had 14 points and five rebounds in 31 minutes, also picked up two fouls in the first half.
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“Between he and Josh, who could play with two fouls better in that situation?” Grant said. “I felt Josh could. I obviously didn’t anticipate the run they went on to close the half. I think it was still a seven- to nine-point game for most of the half, and then they went on that run to push that lead (to 51-32) a little bit.”
Around the A-10: With Dayton’s loss to Auburn and Virginia Commonwealth’s 57-49 loss Sunday at Virginia, the A-10 fell to 0-4 against the Southeastern Conference and 2-7 against the Atlantic Coast Conference. The conference is 0-3 against the Big Ten and 1-3 against the Big 12. It has not played a team from the Pac 12.
The only top-six conference the A-10 has had success against this season is the Big East. It’s 4-4 against the Big East with two victories against Butler (Dayton and Saint Louis).