Rockets to Host Central Michigan in MAC Home Opener on Saturday Night
- Toledo (5-7, 1-0 MAC) looks to build momentum from Wednesday's 70-58 victory at Kent State when it hosts Central Michigan (8-6, 1-0 MAC) on Saturday, Jan. 12. Tip-off time for the contest is set for 7:00 p.m. The Rockets' win over the Golden Flashes was their first in a conference opener in five years and also ended a five-game losing streak against KSU.
- UT has played the fewest home contests (three) of any MAC school. The Rockets are now opening league play with three of their first four games on the road with trips to Kent State, Western Michigan and Ohio.
- Toledo features the MAC's top scorer with junior G Rian Pearson leading the league at 19.8 ppg. Sophomore G Julius Brown also appears in the Top 10 and is in 10th place with his 13.0 scoring mark.
- Pearson has been named the MAC West Division Player of the Week twice this season and surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his collegiate career against Chicago St. on Dec. 31.
- Toledo has picked up right where it left off as one of the MAC's top free-throw shooting squads. UT tops the conference at 77.4 percent (and ranks 12th in the nation as of Jan. 6) after leading the league last year with a 72.6 mark.
- Five of Toledo's seven losses have been by six points or less - 84-81 (OT) at Northern Iowa, 78-73 at Cleveland State, 58-53 loss vs. Chicago State, 79-73 at Detroit and 72-66 at Florida Gulf Coast.
- First-year head coach Keno Davis has Central Michigan off to its best start since it opened the 2002-03 campaign with an 8-3 ledger. The Chippewas, who posted a 73-67 win over Bowling Green on Wednesday, rank second in the MAC with a 73.2 FT% behind Toledo's 77.4 mark.
- Senior guard Kyle Randall leads the MAC with a 91.7 FT% and ranks third in league scoring at 16.6 ppg in his first season in a CMU uniform.
TOD THE BUILDER
Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk posted a seven-win improvement from Year 1 (10-20) to Year 2 (17-11) at Green Bay. He doubled that feat and more at Toledo last year as UT registered 15 more wins than his first season at the Rocket helm.
When looking at his career record minus his first season at the helm at both Green Bay and Toledo, Coach Kowalczyk's record is 150-116 (.564) overall and 77-58 (.570) in conference play.
TALKING CONFERENCE OPENERS
Toledo's win at Kent State on Wednesday was its first in a Mid-American Conference opener since a 58-54 home victory over Ball State on Jan. 6, 2008...The Rockets are 7-1 all-time vs. Kent State in MAC openers...UT has an all-time mark of 34-28 in MAC openers, but holds a 15-19 ledger in road lidlifters...Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk posted a 5-3 mark in Horizon League openers at Green Bay.
AMONG NATION'S BEST AT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF CHARITY
Toledo has picked up right where it left off as one of the MAC's top free-throw shooting squads. UT tops the conference and ranks 12th nationally (as of Jan. 6) at 77.4 percent after leading the league last year with a 72.6 mark. Davidson tops the nation with an amazing 80.6 FT% with Central Michigan (73.2-2nd), Ohio (72.5-3rd), Bowling Green (71.7-4th) and Kent State (70.3-5th) ranking behind UT in the MAC.
The Rockets have topped the 80 percent mark in a game on six occasions, including a school-record 20-of-20 vs. Chicago State (Dec. 31). UT shot 88.9 percent (16-of-18) at Kent State (Jan. 9) and had a streak of 28 straight free throws made.
Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk is no stranger to strong free-throw shooting squads. His 2008-09 Phoenix squad finished the season ranked second nationally in free-throw shooting percentage at 78.7 percent.
TAKING AN INDIVIDUAL LOOK AT UT'S FREE-THROW SHOOTING
Senior G Dominique Buckley leads the way with an 88.2 FT% and is followed by junior F Matt Smith (87.9), junior F Reese Holliday (84.4), junior G Rian Pearson (75.5) and sophomore G Julius Brown (75.5).
Pearson sank a career-best 16 free throws against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi which are tied for third most in a game in school history.
ROCKETS VS. CMU IN 2011-12
Junior G Rian Pearson led the Rockets last year vs. CMU with 17.0 ppg and 10.3 rpg, including a 20-point, 15-rebound effort in UT's second-round MAC Tournament victory at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena.
Sophomore G Julius Brown averaged 16.3 ppg and tied a school record by hitting 10-of-11 shots en route to scoring a career-high tying 29 points in a 72-67 triumph in Savage Arena on Feb. 22.
Toledo shot 49.0 percent from the field and was 39.5 percent (15-of-38) from three-point range in three contests against the Chippewas.
Former Chippewa Trey Ziegler paced CMU with 23.0 ppg and 6.7 rpg. He shot 60.4 from the field but was just 4-of-17 (23.5 percent) from the charity stripe.
CMU posted a 47.4 FG% against the Rockets and were 33.3 percent (20-of-60) from three-point range.
NOTES FROM THE ROCKETS' 70-58 WIN AT KENT STATE
- Toledo snapped a five-game losing streak to Kent State and the Rockets' victory was just their second in their last nine meetings with the Golden Flashes.
- The Rockets had a streak of 28 straight free throws made snapped dating back to the UIC game. UT has a 94.7 FT% (36-of-38) in its last two games.
- Junior G Rian Pearson scored in double figures for a career-high 11th straight game. He took a season-high 19 shots and tied his MAC career best with 10 field goals.
- Senior G Dominique Buckley's 15 points were one shy of his MAC career high and his six field goals made were the most he's made in a league contest.
- Sophomore G Julius Brown's 10 assists were the second time he has registered double-digit helpers. His career best is 11 in last year's CIT First Round game vs. McNeese State. Brown also tied his season and MAC-high with 37 minutes played.
- Junior F Matt Smith has connected for a three-point field goal in eight straight games. He leads the Rockets with a 43.8 3PTFG% and is second with an 87.9 FT%.
- Freshman C Nathan Boothe scored in double figures for a third straight game and is averaging 10.7 ppg with a 54.2 FG% (13-of-24) during this stretch. Boothe also has blocked a shot in six straight games during which he has 16 rejections.
- Freshman G Josh Lemons registered a steal for a seventh straight game.
ON THE HORIZON
Toledo will play its next two conference games on the road with matchups at Western Michigan (Jan. 16) and Ohio (Jan. 19) before hosting Akron (Jan. 23) and arch-rival Bowling Green (Jan. 26).