KU, Dayton to meet in semis of Florida tourney. It’s a rematch of 2019 Maui final.

·3 min read

Kansas and Dayton played a one-for-the-ages men’s basketball game two seasons ago in paradise.

“The pieces are all different than what they were when we had one of the best games in both of our school histories,” KU coach Bill Self said Thursday after the Jayhawks’ 71-59 quarterfinal victory over North Texas set up an ESPN Events Invitational semifinal game against the Dayton Flyers — 76-60 winners over Miami on Thursday in a quarterfinal also contested at HP Events Fieldhouse at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Tipoff for KU-Dayton will be 12:30 p.m. Central time Friday. It will be shown on ESPN.

“It was a fabulous basketball game in the finals in Maui,” Self stated.

KU defeated the Obi Toppin-led Dayton Flyers, 90-84, for the 2019 Maui Invitational title.

Former KU guard Devon Dotson, who actually attended Thursday’s KU game — his Chicago Bulls are in town for a game against the Orlando Magic — scored 31 points, and Udoka Azubuike had seven of his 29 in overtime, to pace the Jayhawks in Hawaii.

Toppin had 18 points and Dayton finished 16 for 33 from three-point range in that 2019 meeting.

“When we played in Maui ... Dayton may be the only team — we go over there (every) four years — they may be the only team that challenged us for most fans. I think at this one they may have more (fans) than us, here. I think if not full tomorrow, it’ll be close to it. It will probably be a great atmosphere,” Self said.

HP Field House seats 5,000.

KU and Atlantic 10 opponent Dayton appeared to be supported by at least 1,000 fans apiece during quarterfinals action Thursday.

“Anthony (Grant, Dayton coach) is pressing more than they did (two) years ago,” Self said, noting, “they probably played their best game of the year to date (in improving to 2-3 by beating Miami of the ACC) based on what I’ve seen to date.

“They looked good. They dominated the game from start to finish. We’re going to have to attack pressure. Even if we beat pressure we’ve got to score with a shorter clock tomorrow because they’ll make us use time beating the pressure. It’s something we’ll talk about a lot from now until tomorrow.”

Dayton started three freshmen on Thursday in 6-10 DaRon Holmes, 6-6, R.J. Blakney and 6-0 Malachi Smith. Dayton also went with 6-6 junior Elijah Weaver and 6-8 soph Toumani Camara to open the Miami game.

“It makes the court look smaller, more crowded,” Self said of playing a tall team. “I don’t know their standing height. They are starting four guys in the 6-5 to 6-10 range. It’s something we’lll have to deal with. I almost welcome that. We’ve played three teams in a row that are tiny (Tarleton State, Stony Brook, North Texas). I actually welcome playing some bigger guys that are more our size.”

Iona wins over ‘Bama

Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels surprised No. 10-ranked Alabama, 72-68, in Thursday’s quarterfinals. That means there is no chance of a Big 12/SEC final on Sunday. Belmont was to play Drake in the other Thursday night quarterfinal. This means if KU advances it will meet either Iona, Belmont or Drake in the title game in Florida.

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