Once the College of Charleston game against Boston College ended with the hometown Cougar getting a Red Line Upset, the TD Arena turned into a human traffic jam. You had the Charleston fans walking up the aisles, not wanting to stick around for the second game of the afternoon and the Dayton Flyer fans that were waiting on the concourse for the game to end walking down the aisles
There was a crush of people in the stairway with some trying to leave and others trying to get a prime seat around center court. I did not realize what the big hurry was, seeing as there would be plenty of room for everyone, especially if the Flyer fans had just waited five minutes for people to clear out. The Dayton fans would have none of it, and as Ian McCormick already went over
, they showed up to the Charleston Classic in droves to root on their Flyers.
I was in the middle of this mass of humanity and knew I did not want to get stuck cramped in with people on each side of me. I saw a small opening and cut through the stream of people and cut over a section to walk up to the concourse. I decided to go to the upper level for the next game, since there really is not a bad seat in the TD Arena. It would also give me a preview of the seat I had purchased for several other Charleston games I would be going to throughout the season. There were only three other people nearby when I made it to the next level; it gave me plenty of room to stretch out while also giving me a nice perch for the upcoming game.
While there was still plenty of time left before the start, it went by quickly as the Stall High School band was there to entertain the crowd during the break, and as Joe Wright said
, they are one of the best in the area.
I had known about Dayton as much as any other mid-major fan. While I did not know in depth how good they would be this year, I knew they are a strong contender in the A-10 every year. I also secretly wished that former Flyer Chris Wright had found a sixth or seventh year of eligibility and be on this Dayton squad to throw down a few nasty dunks, but obviously no such luck.
I was hoping to be 2-for-2 on Red Line Upsets for the day, and thought it might be a good possibility since I could not even remember the last time Auburn was decent in basketball, while Dayton already had one RLU under its belt when they knocked off Boston College two days earlier.
Defense was not at a premium on the first few possessions for both teams as they let each other get fairly easy lay-ups. The Flyers tried to change that when they went to draw a charge, but instead a block was called. I do not know if it was because I was sitting up higher, but the negative reaction of the Dayton fans was easily louder than anything I had heard in the previous game.
As the game wore on, you could sense the passion the Flyer Fanatics have for their team. It even made me start to think of when a trip to Dayton could be feasible, to see the full brunt of that fan base. Dayton would be able to break open what was a tight game right before the half. A Matt Derenbecker three had UD up by 10 at the half.
The second half turned into somewhat of a role reversal. I have seen it a thousand times before where the plucky underdog usually from below the Red Line is trying to knock off the big bad giant usually from a BCS conference, but their physical disadvantages lead to too many fouls and the powerhouse building a lead that the small guy cannot overcome. That is how things were playing out except Dayton was playing the role of the bully. Auburn was fouling plenty and the Flyers were cashing in from the charity stripe.
Auburn was running out of time as they were down 15 with seven minutes to go, but Dayton gave them no breathing room. Kevin Dillard was solid from the line going 12-of-14, giving the Tigers no glimmer of hope.
Whenever I scan the scoreboards or receive a tweet notifying me of an RLU I get pretty excited, but this was about as ho-hum of a win for Dayton that you could get. I will never be one to say "That is not an upset"
. I know the advantages Auburn has, and the amount of money they made just by winning a national title in football is probably at ridiculous levels. I am just glad there are strong programs out there like Dayton that can overcome that and beat these teams above the Red Line on a consistent basis.