California (5-1) vs. Dayton (5-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 27, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lahaina Civic Center (2,400) -- Maui, Hawaii. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: Cal 4-0, UD 3-0. Away Record: Cal 0-0, UD 1-0. Neutral Record: Cal 1-1, UD 1-1. Conference Record: Cal 0-0, UD 0-0. Series Record: California leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: On the final day of the Maui Invitational, the California Golden Bears and Dayton Flyers will square off in the third-place game at the Lahaina Civic Center.
Following its opening-round victory over Arkansas, Cal was sitting with a perfect record through its first five games of the season, but its unblemished ledger was finally tainted in the semifinals when it fell victim to a late Syracuse rally to lose to the nationally-ranked Orange, 92-81. The Golden Bears had an impressive shooting night, as they made 51.9 percent of their field goal tries, although only 6-of-21 (.286) came from 3-point distance, and they could not stop Syracuse at the other end as it drained greater than 53 percent of its tries from the field. Justin Cobbs had an outstanding game out on the perimeter with 18 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals. Jabari Bird netted 17, David Kravish poured in 15, and Jordan Mathews scored 12 points off the bench.
Dayton got its season off to a fast start with wins in each of its first five games, which included an opening-round triumph in this event over No. 11 Gonzaga, 84-79. The Flyers had another chance to be a giant killer in the semifinal round against 18th-ranked Baylor, but while they led for most of the game, including by 10 with under seven minutes to play, they fell victim to a game-winning shot with just 17 seconds left to lose in heartbreaking fashion, 67-66. UD had an outstanding shooting night from 3-point range (11-of-20), and both Jordan Sibert (20 points) and Devin Oliver (14 points, six rebounds, five assists) drained four long-range buckets. However, the rest of the team struggled, as no one else finished in double figures.
Cal has beaten Dayton in two of previous three matchups in the series, although the squads haven't met since the 1985-86 season.
The Golden Bears are off to a fast start on offense, scoring 77.5 points per game on 46.6 percent from the field, but where they stand out from the crowd is with their play at the defensive end, as they yield just 65.0 points per game. They've also been dominant on the glass, outrebounding opponents by more than 11 boards per contest. All five of Cal's starters score in double figures, led by Bird's 14.3 points per game on 14-of-27 from 3-point range. Cobbs, in addition to being a strong scorer (13.0 ppg), has an outstanding assist (40) to turnover (13) ratio. Kravish (11.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Richard Solomon (11.0 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 2.0 bpg) are imposing forces down low, and Tyrone Wallace rounds out the balance attack with 11.0 points per game.
The Flyers have had a similarly successful first month of the season at the offensive end of the court, as they make nearly 47 percent of their field goal attempts for 76.8 points per game, with the majority of their success coming from 3-point range (42-of-96, .438). Sibert has been the team's most consistent scorer with 16.3 points per game on greater than 53 percent shooting from long distance. Oliver (13.0, 6.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.8 spg) contributes across the stat sheet, while Dyshawn Pierre (11.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Khari Price (11.0 ppg) also produce on a consistent basis.
Dayton is hot from beyond the arc, and as it showed in the first two rounds, it is more than capable of beating just about anyone if it can knock down its shots. However, Cal has a more well-rounded lineup and a strong defense to attack the Flyers, meaning the Golden Bears should be able to claim third place as their own.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 79, Dayton 75
11/27 10:40:24 ET