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Around the Atlantic 10: Jonathan Williams and Dayton’s near comeback

The Atlantic 10 went 1-1 on Turkey Day as teams from around the league participated in preseason tournaments.  The VCU Rams, after losing their first game in the Battle 4 Atlantis to Baylor, bounced back with a second round 75-69 win over St. John’s. The Rams will have a chance to take fifth place and finish 2-1 for the week on Friday. Dayton, on the other hand, suffered a tough loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers after coming back from a double digit deficit. Despite taking the lead late, Nebraska would outlast the Flyers 80-78 in the Wooden Legacy.

1. Jonathan Williams had a career night in the Battle 4 Atlantis

VCU’s rising junior guard had arguably his best collegiate performance on Turkey Day as he was the driving force that helped the Rams outlast St. John’s. Jonathan Williams went for a career-high 22 points and added 6 assists and 4 rebounds as well. Williams hit some clutch shots in the second half and was VCU’s spark when it needed some offense. A lot of people have been high on Williams, and he’s beginning to live up to the hype. This marks his third double digit scoring performance of the season through 5 games. Jonathan Williams only scored in double digits three times his entire sophomore year. He seems ready to make an enormous jump.

If Jonathan Williams can continue to play at such a high-level, the Rams have a dynamic backcourt that doesn’t have to rely entirely on JeQuan Lewis. He had 15 points against St. John’s, but he struggled shooting the basketball, going just 5/12 from the field. Jonathan Williams is proving to be a great distributor of the basketball this season. He’s got the 59th best assist rate in the nation according to Kenpom, and he’s had at least 3 assists in every contest this season. Don’t sleep on VCU’s guard; he could be this team’s X-factor this season.

2. Dayton couldn’t come up with the win after an impressive comeback

Dayton trailed by double digits for most of second half against Nebraska in the opening round of the Wooden Legacy. The Flyers hit some clutch threes late and began chipping away at the deficit. In the final minutes, Dayton got a couple of steals and took the lead. Nebraska’s Glynn Watson Jr. would go down the floor and get fouled, and even though Scoochie Smith got a chance to win it at the end, the Flyers would fall just short. Charles Cooke had 17 points and Xeyrius Williams had 15 as the Flyers fall to 2-2 on the young season.

Dayton simply got outplayed by a Nebraska offense that kept coming after them. The Huskers shot 56.9% from the floor while the Flyers shot just 38.1%. It’s amazing this game ended up being so close. The Flyers probably should’ve won this game, but Nebraska came out and played like a team that’s going to finish in the top half of the Big Ten. Will that happen? Probably not, but the Cornhuskers really dominated the Flyers despite the final score. Dayton’s struggled to find offense, and it’s front line is clearly hurt by the injuries of Kendall Pollard and Joshua Cunningham. The Flyers will have to find a way to overcome the injuries and beat opponents like these.

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