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Rockets Head to NIU on Saturday for Lone Meeting vs. Huskies

TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo men’s basketball team (10-6, 1-2 MAC) looks to bounce back from Tuesday’s 75-63 loss at first-place Kent State and win its first conference road game on Saturday, Jan. 14 when it travels to DeKalb, Ill. to face Northern Illinois (5-11, 1-2 MAC). Tip-off time is set for 3:30 p.m. CT (4:30 ET) at NIU’s Convocation Center with live streaming on ESPN3.

Senior Setric Millner Jr. topped Toledo’s attack with 16 points and sophomore Ra’Heim Moss added 13 points and six rebounds in Tuesday’s loss to the first-place Golden Flashes. The Rockets rallied from a 28-18 deficit to take a 35-32 halftime lead. UT again fell behind by 10 with 11:44 to play, but could never regain  the lead despite making it a one-point game, 55-54, at the 7:21 mark. Kent State held a 66-62 lead with 1:54 to play and secured the win with a game-ending 9-1 run.

Toledo enters this weekend ranked eighth nationally with a MAC-best 84.6 ppg as well as ranking 22nd with 10.6 TOs/game and 25th with a 48.5 FG%.

Individually, RayJ Dennis ranks 15th in the nation with 5.9 apg and 22nd with a 2.9 A/TO ratio, and is one of 11 players in the country averaging 17.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 4.0 apg. JT Shumate ranks third in the MAC with 18.4 ppg and is the only player in the MAC to rank in the Top 10 in FG% (56.7/5th), 3PTFG% (42.3/4th) and FT% (90.0/3rd).

Northern Illinois registered its first MAC victory with Tuesday’s 73-54 home win over Central Michigan. The Huskies opened league play with losses at Akron and Buffalo. Junior Keshawn Williams leads NIU and ranks fifth in the MAC with 17.9 ppg but didn’t play in the Huskies’ win over the Chippewas. Sophomores David Coit (23 pts.) and Zarique Nutter (22 pts.) picked up the slack in Williams’ absence.

Toledo has won its last three meetings vs. NIU after sweeping the season series with a 94-63 home triumph and a 100-72 road win last year.

TOLEDO VS. NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Date:
Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.
Tip-Off: 3:30 p.m. (CT)
Location: DeKalb, Ill.
Arena: Convocation Ctr. (10,000).
Television: ESPN3. Andy Garcia will provide play-by-play for broadcast with Mark Lindo serving as analyst.
Radio: Rocket Radio Network. WSPD (1370 AM) in Toledo. Mark Beier will provide play-by-play for broadcast with Jay Lehman serving as analyst.

SERIES
Toledo leads 51-31.
The Rockets have won four of their last five games in DeKalb and three straight overall vs. the Huskies. Toledo will be facing NIU only once in the 2022-23 campaign.

SHOOTING SUCCESS
Toledo has shot 50 percent or higher from the field in four of its last five games during which it has a 51.7 FG% (155-of-300). The Rockets rank 25th nationally with a 48.5 FG%.

Five Rockets are shooting 50 percent or better in the last four games led by Tyler Cochran (64.7, 11-of-17), Dante Maddox Jr. (57.1, 20-of-35), Ra’Heim Moss (55.0, 22-of-40), JT Shumate (53.8, 28-of-52) and Setric Millner Jr. (50.9, 29-of-57).

UT is also shooting 39.8 percent (45-of-113) from behind the arc in its last five games.
 
PROTECTING THE BALL
Toledo ranks 22nd in the nation with a MAC-low 10.6 turnovers per game. The Rockets have committed 10 or fewer turnovers in nine of 16 contests and just 8.7 miscues per game in their last six games.
 
ROCKETS IN THE NCAA RANKINGS
•  Toledo ranks eighth in the nation with 84.6 ppg.
•  The Rockets are also in the Top 40 in fewest turnovers/game (22nd/10.6), FG% (25th/48.5), A/TO ratio (29th/1.42), and three-point FG% (39th/37.8).
•  RayJ Dennis ranks 15th with a career-high 5.9 apg and 22nd with a 2.88 assist/turnover ratio.
•  JT Shumate ranks 19th with a 90.0 FT% and 50th with a 56.7 FG%. Shumate has made 12 straight free throws and has a 56.3 FG% and 53.8 three-point FG% (14-of-26) in his last six games.
 
ROCKETS IN THE MAC RANKINGS
•  Toledo leads the MAC with 84.6 ppg, nearly six points better than Buffalo (78.8), and is also first in FG% (48.5), A/TO ratio (1.42) and fewest turnovers/game (10.6).
•  The Rockets are also second with a three-point FG% (37.8), assists/game (15.1), and a plus-2.06 turnover margin.
•  UT is the only school to have three players among the MAC’s Top 15 scoring leaders — JT Shumate (19.1/3rd), RayJ Dennis (18.6/4th), and Setric Millner Jr. (14.7 ppg/T-11th).
•  Dennis leads the MAC with 6.0 apg and a 2.9 assist/turnover ratio.
•  Shumate is the only player in the MAC to rank in the Top 10 in FG% (57.6/5th), 3PTFG% (43.3%/4th) and FT% (90.0/3rd).
•  Shumate leads the MAC with nine 20-point outings, while Dennis is second with eight. EMU’s Emoni Bates ranks third with seven 20-point contests.
•  Millner Jr is seventh with 6.4 rpg, and Dante Maddox Jr. is fifth with a 42.1 3PTFG%.
 
TEAM TIDBITS
•  Toledo is ranked No. 16 in this week’s CollegeInsiders.com poll. Kent State is the only other MAC team in the rankings at No. 4.
•  Toledo is the only MAC school to win 13 or more league games four of last five years.
•  Toledo is looking to become the first school to win three straight outright league titles since Cincinnati won four in a row from the 1947-48 through 1950-51 seasons.
•  Since opening the season with a three-game winning streak, the Rockets have won two straight games on three occasions. UT registered a nine-game win streak last year and an eight-game unbeaten stretch in the 2020-21 campaign.
•  The Rockets have scored 90 or more points on five occasions and have topped the 100-point mark three times. Toledo scored 112 points vs. Oakland (Nov. 16) to match its most points ever scored under Coach Kowalczyk.
•  UT is averaging 92.0 ppg in its seven home games and 77.6 ppg in five road contests.
•  Toledo has three MAC Player of Week honorees this season – RayJ Dennis (Nov. 14, Dec. 12) and JT Shumate (Nov. 21). Shumate has also earned MAC Male Scholar-Athlete of Week honors on two occasions (Dec. 14, Jan. 11).
•  Toledo was 8-2 in conference road games last season after posting a 6-3 mark in league contests away from home in the 2020-21 campaign.

POST TOUCHES
•  RayJ Dennis has scored in double digits in every game this season (16 or more in 12 games) after ending the 2021-22 season by scoring in double digits in a career-high 14 straight games.
•  Dennis tallied a career-high 29 points, a season-best nine rebounds and six assists vs. Canisius (Dec. 10) to help him earn MAC Player of Week for a second time this season. He also scored 23 points vs. Valparaiso (Nov. 7) and UAB (Nov. 11) to earn MAC Player of Week honors. Dennis dished out a career-high 12 assists and scored 17 points vs. Oakland (Nov. 16).
•  JT Shumate’s streak of 14 straight games scoring in double figures ended with a nine-point outing at Kent State (Jan. 10). He tied his career high with 33 points on 15-of-21 shooting vs. Oakland (Nov. 16) to earn MAC Player of Week honors.
•  Last year, Shumate ranked in the MAC’s Top 15 in seven categories. He was first with a 48.2 three-point FG%, second with 1.3 bpg, fourth with a 55.4 FG%, fifth with an 82.0 FT%, ninth with 2.1 offensive rpg, tied for 10th with 15.0 ppg, and 12th with 6.1 rpg.
•  Setric Millner Jr. has four 20-point outings as well as three double-doubles this season. He leads UT with a career-high 6.5 rpg and ranks third in team scoring with 14.7 ppg. Last year, Millner scored a career-high 28 points at WMU (Feb. 22) and tied his career best with five triples.
•  Millner, Jr. has scored 16 points in each of last two outings with a 55.6 FG% and 60.0 3PTFG%.
•  Ra’Heim Moss scored a season-high 18 points vs. Lourdes and is averaging 12.0 ppg with a  54.2 FG% (26-of-48) in his last six games. He led the MAC in league play with a 2.78 assist/turnover ratio and scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed seven boards vs. Akron (Jan. 28).
•  Donta Maddox Jr. ranks fourth on the team with 10.0 ppg and sixth in the MAC with a 42.1 3PTFG% (24-of-57). He is averaging 11.8 ppg with a 57.1 FG% (20-of-35) in his last five games.
•  Tyler Cochran returned to action last Tuesday vs. Ball State after missing seven of eight games due to a sprained toe. He scored a season-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting & 3-of-4 from three-point range and grabbed five boards vs. WMU (Jan. 6).
 
ON THE HORIZON
     Toledo returns home to meet Ohio (9-7, 1-2 MAC) on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 7:00 p.m. The Rockets will then visit Buffalo (8-8, 2-1 MAC) on Friday, Jan. 20 at 8:30 p.m. for a nationally televised contest on the CBS Sports Network.
 
 

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