While some games stayed nerve-wrackingly close, the A-10 had a very successful Tuesday night as it went undefeated as a conference. Dayton kicked off the day by beating Alabama 77-72 in part of ESPN’s hoops tip off marathon. George Washington followed up the Flyers win with a victory of their own. The Colonials fought off pesky Siena 77-75. George Mason blew out Lebanon Valley 90-65 while La Salle defeated Delaware 74-68. In the final A-10 game of the night, VCU survived a close one at Liberty 64-59. The Rams win put the cap on a nice 5-0 day for the Atlantic 10.
1. Dayton beats Alabama but Josh Cunningham goes down with a brutal injury
In their first road game of the season, the Dayton Flyers came away with a quality win against Alabama. Dayton relied heavily on seniors Charles Cooke and Scoochie Smith in this hard fought victory over the Crimson Tide. Cooke notched a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds on 9-13 shooting from the free thrown line. As for Scoochie, he led the Flyers in scoring with 20 points to go along with four assists. Smith really took control of the action as the game entered crunch time. With such a clutch senior duo, Dayton will be very tough to beat this season.
Not only did the Flyer’s seniors shine in their 77-72 win over Alabama, sophomore forward Ryan Mikesell also put together a nice game. Starting in place of the injured Kendall Pollard, Mikesell grabbed five rebounds to go along with 12 points. Mikesell also showed some guts, hitting an important three with just 1:30 remaining in the game to put Dayton up by four. If the Flyers want to keep winning, Mikesell must continue proving he belongs in the starting lineup.
Despite picking up an outstanding win, the Flyers leave this game with heavy hearts as they await news regarding Josh Cunningham’s injury. With just six seconds left to play, Cunningham threw down a monster dunk over an Alabama defender to seal the victory for Dayton. When he landed, though, it appeared Cunningham seriously injured his leg/ankle/knee. Trainers immediately carried Cunningham off the court, clearly in a lot of pain. While Cunningham will not visit an Alabama hospital, he will have the leg examined tomorrow as the injury looked to be very serious. If Cunningham does indeed miss a long period of time, the Flyers will find themselves in quite a bind. Kendall Pollard has already been ruled out for Saturday’s match-up against #17 Saint Mary’s leaving Dayton with virtually no depth down low. Nevertheless, the True Team is used to adversity, expect Archie Miller’s squad to keep fighting with everything they have.
2. VCU survives Liberty
What was expected to be a rather easy game for VCU turned into a battle that the Rams narrowly escaped. After winning their season opener, the Liberty Flames were hungry for an upset. It is not every day does Liberty get to host a team of VCU’s caliber on their home floor, and the Flames nearly took advantage. Led by senior guard John Dawson who dropped 14 points, Liberty hung around the entire game. In the end, however, the Flames did not have enough as VCU won 64-59.
As usual, senior duo JeQuan Lewis and Mo Alie-Cox carried the load for the Rams. Lewis led the way for VCU in scoring tonight with 13 points while Alie-Cox pulled down six rebounds to go along with 12 points. As a team, the Rams struggled to find consistency from behind the arc tonight. VCU shot just 33% from three and 65% from the free throw line. While the Rams had a couple other guys contribute, no other player besides Lewis or Alie-Cox scored in double figures. If VCU wants to have the type of season it is capable of, other guys must start stepping up more.
So far this season VCU is just not clicking on all cylinders. The Rams lost their exhibition game to Queens and this close contest against Liberty shows that VCU simply has not found its rhythm yet. In order for the Rams to turn things around, they need more bench production. While Lewis and Alie-Cox will do their thing, other guys must bust out with strong performances on a nightly basis. Despite the slow start, VCU sits at 2-0. Have no fear Ram fans, VCU will get things going soon enough.
3. Jordan Price leads La Salle over Delaware
Following a narrow overtime loss to Temple, La Salle looked to pick up their first win of this young season against the Delaware Blue Hens. With senior leader Jordan Price doing what he does, the Explorers did just that. Price dropped 15 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists in La Salle’s 74-68 victory. Pookie Powell and Demetrius Henry also scored in double figures to help lead the Explorers over Delaware. Now 1-1, La Salle will try to keep things rolling against Texas Southern on Saturday.
Entering this season La Salle was hyped as the A-10’s most improved team. If the Explorers want to live up to these expectations, they will need continued production from guys not named Jordan Price. While Price may lead the way over the entirety of this season, other players will be key to La Salle’s overall success. The Explorers can become the A-10’s most improved team and accomplish a lot this year if role players continue to step up around Price.