- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The long arms of Cole Aldrich forced the Dayton Flyers down for a rough landing.

Aldrich, the 6-foot-11 Kansas sophomore, posted a triple-double with 13 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocked shots to lead the defending NCAA champions past the 11th-seeded Flyers 60-43 in the second round Sunday.

Shaquille O’Neal set the NCAA tournament record with 11 blocks in a game for LSU in 1992. Shawn Bradley had 10 in 1991 for BYU. Aldrich’s feat was, officially, the sixth triple-double in the history of the tournament.

Sherron Collins had 25 points to pace the third-seeded Jayhawks (27-7), who moved on to play the USC-Michigan State winner in the Midwest Region semifinals next Friday in Indianapolis.

Chris Wright had 10 points for Dayton, which shot a woeful 22.2 percent for the game.

This was Dayton’s lowest scoring total of the season. The Flyers shot 9-for-40 in the first half, and the misses didn’t stop there. Mickey Perry’s layup cut the Kansas edge to 35-30 midway through the second half, but with Aldrich getting a brief break on the bench Tyrel Reed sank a 3-pointer and Collins followed with a layup to stretch the lead back to 10.

During a 10-minute stretch, with Aldrich gobbling up those wayward shots and swatting some of them away before they even got to the rim, the Flyers went 3-for-20. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks _ who weren’t in rhythm offensively and sure needed Aldrich’s altering presence underneath on defense _ ran away.

The Flyers (27-8), one of four teams given at-large bids from conferences other than the big six, already had their first NCAA tourney win since 1990 but they were after more than that.

A few dozen Michigan State fans wearing dark green got an early start on their cheering, standing and clapping with Dayton’s fight song. Flyers coach Brian Gregory has deep ties to MSU, having served as an assistant under Jud Heathcote and then Tom Izzo. He found inspiration from their presence at the Metrodome this weekend, the latest stop on his attempt to rebuild this program into a perennial tournament team.

Wright and Charles Little shot a combined 16-for-27 in the first round, a 68-60 victory over West Virginia, but all of the Flyers were way off at the beginning of this game. They’re so fast and such high jumpers that sometimes they play out of control, and few of their early looks at the basket could fairly have been called good shots.

UD was 1-for-12 from the floor at one point, going more than 6 minutes without a make, until freshman Luke Fabrizius swished the first of his two 3-pointers to cut the Kansas lead to 13-7. The TV microphone on Dayton’s rim was cranked way up for a few possessions, exaggerating each brick with a fittingly amplified clang.

The Jayhawks didn’t seize their opportunity to build a big advantage. Collins was in his usual get-to-the-lane high gear, scoring 14 points before halftime, but Kansas missed nine of 11 attempts from 3-point range and, worse, seven of 10 foul shots.

Aldrich was all over the boards, but after an early series of putback, tip-in and up-and-under layup on three straight possessions, he stopped attacking the basket with the same aggression and had two passes out of the post go for turnovers. He did, however, convert a three-point play after relentlessly staying with the rebound of his own miss and give the Jayhawks a 29-23 lead at the break.

The official list of NCAA tournament triple-doubles dates to 1986, when steals and blocks were formally added as statistics. Assists were added in 1984. Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson had a handful of unofficial triple-doubles before the stats were streamlined. The last one was in this building, actually, by Dwyane Wade for Marquette in the 2003 regional final win over Kentucky.

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