Obi Toppin has no problem calling Virginia Commonwealth a rival. In fact, he voted yes on that question in a Twitter poll conducted by Grant Kelly, of A10Talk.com. More than 1,300 people voted in the poll, and 53 percent said, “Yes, VCU is Dayton rival.”
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There was no question the teams played like rivals Tuesday at UD Arena. There were four technical fouls — three on VCU — in Dayton’s 79-65 victory.
One play symbolized the game’s intensity. VCU’s Marcus Evans, who made two go-ahead shots in the last minute of games last season to beat the Flyers, wrestled Dayton’s Rodney Chatman to the ground while trying to grab the ball. It was such a violent move players from both teams converged on the two, and there were some tense moments as the officials tried to restore order.
“Two great teams, wanting to win,” VCU’s De’Riante Jenkins said. “Both of us want to win. Players (are) trying to make plays, and leave it all out there, and, credit to them, they made more plays than us tonight and they won.”
While trying not to make too much out of the game because it’s one of 18 Atlantic 10 Conference games, Dayton’s Trey Landers had to admit there’s something different about the games against VCU.
“All those games are live,” he said. “You know the VCU game is live. The (fans) get up for that. It helps us. It gives us a boost of confidence. They were there for the whole 40 minutes. We appreciate that.”
Looking ahead: Dayton plays at Saint Louis at 7 p.m. Friday. The Billikens (14-3, 3-1) have beaten Massachusetts, George Washington and Richmond since starting A-10 play with a 73-59 loss at Duquesne.
Standings update: Dayton (15-2, 4-0) moved into a tie for first place with Duquesne (14-2, 4-0), which plays Fordham (6-9, 0-3) on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
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Saint Bonaventure (11-5, 3-0), which plays at home against Massachusetts on Wednesday, remains the only other team without a league loss.
Preseason favorite VCU (12-5, 2-2) fell to seventh place. It has already lost as many A-10 games this season as it lost all of last season. It finished 16-2 in the conference in 2019 and won the regular-season championship by two games over Davidson.
Around the A-10: The only other game Tuesday matched improving Richmond against fading Davidson. The Spiders (13-4, 3-1) won 70-64 at Davidson (7-9, 1-3). Nick Sherod scored 18 points, and Richmond shot 40.9 percent (9 of 22) from 3-point range.
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