Dayton vs. Kansas: Series features three memorable games

Teams will meet in a tournament for the fourth time Friday

The Dayton Flyers, who stopped a three-game losing streak by beating the Miami Hurricanes 76-60 on Thursday, and Kansas Jayhawks will meet for the fourth time at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals of the ESPN Events Invitational.

The first three meetings have taken place on even bigger stages. Here’s a look back at the three games:

1. March 23, 1968: Dayton 61, Kansas 48

Dayton’s only victory in the series came in the NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden. One season after losing to UCLA in the NCAA championship game, Dayton started 7-9 before winning 14 straight games. That included NIT victories over West Virginia, Fordham and Notre Dame.

In the final game, Don May overcame first-half struggles and scored 10 of Dayton’s 12 points in the first seven minutes of the second half as the Flyers took a 37-32 lead. May made 6 of 7 shots in the second half, scoring 17 of his 22 points after halftime.

The Flyers took only 11 shots as a team in the second half and only one in the last seven minutes. They made 12 straight free throws during that stretch.

“I knew we would beat this team,” May said. “We were better than Kansas. We knew that.”

Talking about his team’s slow start to the season after the final game, coach Don Donoher said, “They could have been the biggest joke in UD history. They start 7-9 when they were picked in the top 10, then win 14 straight. I haven’t had much time to think about what winning this NIT means to me. But never has there been a season like this.”

2. March 22, 2009: Kansas 60, Dayton 43

This game took place in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Dayton beat West Virginia 68-60 in the first round for its first NCAA tournament victory since 1990.

The Flyers, who won 27 games that season, went cold in the second round against a Kansas team that lost in the next round, the Sweet 16, to Kansas State. Here’s what Doug Harris, of the Dayton Daily News, wrote about the second game in the Dayton-Kansas series.

The University of Dayton men’s basketball team kept its game with Kansas close into the second half, but the defending national champions had too much firepower for the Flyers.UD’s first trip to the NCAA tournament in five years ended in the second round with a 60-43 defeat.

Playing in his home state, Kansas sophomore center Cole Aldrich had 13 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocked shots to spearhead the victory.

Although he may not have been happy with the result, UD coach Brian Gregory was pleased with his team’s effort.

”We’ve never worried about the score; we’ve worried about how hard we’ve played and how competitive we’ve been,” he said. “I’m proud of our guys because they played hard.UD finished the season with a 27-7 record — the second-most wins in school history.

Meanwhile on the UD campus, a few hundred students gathered on Humanities Plaza to watch the Flyers game on a giant mobile screen.

”We gave a hard-fought fight, at least until the last six or eight minutes. The heart was there, you could see it,” junior Hillary Rutan said. “The shooting just wasn’t there today.”

3. Nov. 27, 2019: Kansas 90, Dayton 84 (overtime)

The most recent game in the series took place two years ago in the championship game of the Maui Invitational. This was the first of two losses for Dayton in its 29-2 season. Here’s what I wrote about the game:

Anthony Grant threw his arm around Jalen Crutcher’s neck as they left the court following a 90-84 loss to No. 4 Kansas in the Maui Invitational championship game on Wednesday at the Lahaina Civic Center.

Crutcher made a game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. It was a big moment in three action-packed days full of great memories for Dayton and its fans. The Flyers got everything they wanted out of the experience except a happy ending.

”Right now, I’m very, very proud of our team,” Grant said in the postgame press conference. “Our guys battled in three highly-competitive games in three days. These guys gave everything they had for each other. They battled it out all the way through the end. Obviously, it’s a tough loss. But like I told them in the locker room — whatever it was five, six days ago when we came here — we wanted to find out what we needed to do as a team to continue to move forward, and I think these guys did a great job of answering that. They fought obviously to the very end.”

Dayton made 16 of 33 3-pointers, while Kansas made 4 of 11. The Jayhawks won the game by dominating the paint, outscoring the Flyers 52-22 with 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike scoring 29 points and guard Devon Dotson added 31. Those players combined to make 23 of 31 shots and 13 of 18 free throws.

”You got to give Kansas credit,” Grant said. “Their guys were able to step up and make plays — enough plays to be able to come out with the victory. But these guys battled and hopefully as we move forward we’ll learn lessons from this. There will be some things that we’ll look at it and it will be tough to watch and some things that we’ll learn from.”

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