CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Chris Johnson scored 18 points and Dayton used a strong start to beat Illinois 77-71 in an NIT quarterfinal Wednesday night.
The third-seeded Flyers (23-12) advanced to play Mississippi on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Rhode Island also is in the semifinals, giving the Atlantic 10 Conference two of the four teams remaining in the tournament. The Rams will face 2009 national champion North Carolina.
Dayton jumped out to a 23-9 lead behind excellent shooting and never let up. The Flyers shot 48.1 percent from the field, including 8 of 18 from 3-point range.
"To be honest, after watching film and seeing them play, they should probably be playing in the [NCAA tournament]," Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. "I have an unbelievable amount of respect for [coach] Bruce [Weber] and the way his team played and the type of guys he has in his program. And that just means, to me, makes this victory even more satisfying because we beat a really good team on their home court."