Maui, HI (SportsNetwork.com) - The Maui Invitational continues on Tuesday at the Lahaina Civic Center, as the 18th-ranked Baylor Bears clash with the Dayton Flyers, with the winner advancing to Wednesday's championship game to play either California or Syracuse.
This matchup marks the first-ever meeting between the Bears and Flyers on the hardwood. The loser will fall to the third-place game.
With a 5-0 start to the season, Baylor has now won 10 straight games overall, which is the longest active streak in the nation, and it is looking to begin the campaign 6-0 for the fourth time in the last six years. The Bears' perfect season continued in the opening round on Monday against host Chaminade, and after leading by just three after a tightly-contested first-half, they pulled away after halftime to secure a 93-77 win. They shot 50 percent from the floor, which included 11 3-pointers, while dominating the rebounding battle (47-32). Five players scored in double figures, led by Gary Franklin's 22 points on 6-of-10 from beyond the arc to go with his six assists. Cory Jefferson tallied 15 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Brady Heslip netted 14, Kenny Chery and Royce O'Neale had 12 points apiece, and Rico Gathers rounded out the balanced effort by ripping down 14 rebounds.
Dayton is also off to a perfect start to the season. After a great first few weeks on the mainland, which included an 82-72 victory at Georgia Tech on Nov. 20, the Flyers landed in Maui and delivered their most impressive victory to date by knocking off No. 11 Gonzaga in the opening round, 84-79. It looked as though the Bulldogs were going to run away with it early on, as they held a 16-point lead late in the first half, but after cutting that deficit to nine at the break, the Flyers opened the second stanza on a 27-14 run to take a four-point lead with 10:33 left, and they never trailed for the rest of the game. Jordan Sibert was the catalyst in the comeback, as he scored 16 of his team-high 23 points after intermission and shot 5-of-8 from 3-point range on the day. Dyshawn Pierre logged 15 points and nine rebounds, while Devin Oliver and Khari Price chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Bears boast impressive percentages from the field (.464) and 3-point range (.420) on their way to 77.4 points per game, which is 10.8 points more than they allow. They have also owned the glass in the early going with a +9.8 rebounding margin, although they could stand to cut down on their miscues (-4.6 turnover margin). Brady Heslip (14.8 ppg) leads the team in scoring despite averaging just 22.6 minutes per game off the bench, and he has been deadly from long distance at 17-of-34. Cory Jefferson (13.4 ppg, 9.6 rpg) is a nightly double-double threat, and Isaiah Austin (10.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.6 bpg) joins him in an imposing frontcourt. Kenny Cherry (11.8 ppg) runs the points and has three times as many assists (24) as turnovers (eight).
The Flyers' are off to a similarly fast start, as they support their unblemished record with positive margins in terms of scoring (+10.0), rebounding (+4.6) and turnovers (+2.8), all while shooting greater than 47 percent from the field. Pacing a squad that nets 79.0 points per game is Sibert (15.6 ppg), who has connected on half of his 26 3-point attempts. Oliver (12.8 ppg) and Pierre (12.6 ppg) both collect at least six boards per game, while Oliver also leads the team with 2.8 assists per contest. Price (12.2 ppg, 10-of-20 from 3-point range) is just another weapon for the well- rounded starting lineup.