LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP)Devon Dotson seemed to be running on fumes as the game wore on, but he still made big shots and continually found ways to get to the rim.
Big man Udoka Azubuike bulled his way through Dayton’s defense all day, particularly in overtime, and even hit his free throws.
The duo is one of the best Bill Self has had in 16 seasons at Kansas.
They’re certainly a big reason the Jayhawks won their third Maui Invitational title and will be among the favorites to cut down the nets in April.
Dotson scored 31 points, Azubuike had seven of his 29 in overtime and No. 4 Kansas outlasted Dayton 90-84 in the Maui Invitational championship game on Wednesday.
”When he has it going and the attention is on him, that opens up for other players,” Dotson said. ”So it’s just kind of a 1-2 punch. We read the defense, take what’s given to us.”
The Flyers and Jayhawks spent much of the afternoon trading leads and highlight-reel plays in a bleacher-shaking atmosphere inside the bandbox Lahaina Civic Center.
Kansas (6-1) looked as if it would run away with a late 11-0 run in regulation.
The Flyers refused to back down, tying it when Jalen Crutcher buried a 3-pointer from about 5 feet behind the new, deeper arc with 2.1 seconds left.
”When he had the ball in his hands I went straight to the rim and I told him, `Just let it go,”’ said Ryan Mikesell, who led Dayton with 19 points. ”He’s a competent shooter and fortunate enough it went in.”
The Jayhawks absorbed the blow and delivered a few in overtime with their 7-foot, 270-pound center.
Kansas went to Azubuike early in the overtime and the big man delivered, scoring three baskets at the rim. A 32% free throw shooter entering the game, he also hit three from the line in overtime.
Marcus Garrett made three free throws in the final 18 seconds to seal Kansas’ second Maui title in four years.
”I do think we got some competitive pieces that, if we improve a little bit, this could be a pretty dangerous team down the stretch,” Self said.
Dayton made a name for itself by winning the first two Maui games, then went toe-to-toe with a blue-blood in the final.
The Flyers (5-1) came up short against Azubuike and the Jayhawks, but they figure to be a popular pick when the brackets come out in March.
Obi Toppin had 18 points and Dayton finished 16 for 33 from 3-point range to keep Kansas within reach.
”Obviously, it’s a tough loss, but like I told them in the locker room, whatever it was, five, six days ago when we came here we wanted to find out what we needed to do as a team to continue to move forward, I think these guys did a great job of answering that,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. ”They fought obviously to the very end.”
Toppin dominated the first two games, scoring 49 combined points while hitting 19 of 25 shots.
The Flyers took down Georgia of the SEC and Virginia Tech of the ACC in Maui.
The Jayhawks imposed their massive will on two undersized opponents to open the tournament, taking down Division II Chaminade and BYU.
As expected, Dayton and Kansas played a fast-paced, high-level game with the championship on the line, trading dunks, 3-pointers and buckets in transition.
With Kansas doubling Toppin in the post on every touch, the Flyers worked their kickout game, hitting their first five 3-pointers and eight in the first half to lead 37-36.
The Jayhawks had success getting the ball down low early for dunks and that opened things up for Dotson, who had 17 points by halftime.
The shots kept falling, the crowd kept roaring and the lead stayed tight to start the second half.
”That was a great basketball game,” Self said. ”Two good teams competing against each other and in a terrific atmosphere.”
Dayton burst into the national consciousness with its run in Maui, beating two larger-conference schools and taking Kansas to the wire.
Kansas survived a tying shot at the end of regulation and wore the Flyers down with its size in the overtime. With top-ranked Duke and No. 3 Michigan State both losing, the Jayhawks should move up in Monday’s AP Top 25.
Dayton hosts Houston Baptist on Tuesday.
Kansas hosts Colorado on Dec. 7.
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