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Rockets Head to Kent to Battle Golden Flashes

TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo men’s basketball team (10-5, 1-1 MAC) heads to northeast Ohio on Tuesday when it visits Kent State (12-3, 2-0 MAC) for the only meeting of the season between the top two teams in the MAC’s Preseason Coaches Poll. The Golden Flashes are in a four-way tie for first place and were picked to win the league, while the Rockets were selected as the runner-up and are a game behind in the standings. Tip-off time is set for 7:00 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center with streaming on ESPN+.

Toledo is ranked fifth nationally with a MAC-best 86.0 ppg, 16th with a 38.8 three-point FG%, 21st with a 48.9 FG% and 10.6 TOs/game, and 33rd with a 75.6 FT%. UT will be facing a KSU squad that is eighth in the nation with 10.3 spg, 11th with 18.0 turnovers forced, 16th in FG% defense (38.4) and 30th in scoring defense (61.9).

The Rockets showcased their high-scoring attack in Friday’s 102-74 triumph over WMU to even their league record at 1-1. JT Shumate topped UT with 23 points and buried a season-high four three-pointers. Tyler Cochran tallied a season-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three-point range.

Individually, Shumate ranks third in the MAC with 19.1 ppg and is the only player in the MAC to rank in the Top 10 in FG% (57.6/5th), three-point FG% (43.3/4th) and FT% (90.0/3rd). RayJ Dennis ranks fourth in the league with 18.6 ppg, as well as 13th in the nation with 6.0 apg and 22nd with a 2.9 assist/turnover ratio.

Senior Sincere Carry leads Kent State with 17.3 ppg and 4.8 apg, while senior Malique Jacobs is averaging 12.1 ppg and a MAC-best 3.2 spg. Senior Miryne Thomas is also averaging in double digits with 10.9 ppg as well as 5.3 rpg.

The Golden Flashes handed the Rockets two of their three conference losses last year, posting a 66-63 win in the M.A.C. Center and a 72-59 victory in Savage Arena. In the 2020-21 season, Toledo swept the season series with an 84-82 road win and a 76-74 home triumph.

TOLEDO VS. KENT STATE
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.
Tip-Off: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Kent, Ohio.
Arena:  M.A.C. Center (5,421).
Streaming: ESPN+. Dave Wilson will provide play-by-play for broadcast with Jana Ashley 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 85-53. Toledo has a 7-8 mark in its last 15 meetings vs. Kent State. Three of the last four games in the series have been decided by three points or less.

SHOOTING SUCCESS
Toledo has shot 50 percent or higher from the field in four straight games during which it has a 53.9 FG% (131-of-243). The Rockets rank 21st nationally with a 48.9 FG%.

Five Rockets are shooting 50 percent or better in the last four games led by Tyler Cochran (64.3, 9-of-14), Dante Maddox Jr. (60.7, 16-of-27), Ra’Heim Moss (59.3, 16-of-27), JT Shumate (57.1, 24-of-42) and Setric Millner Jr. (51.0, 25-of-49).

UT also ranks among the national leaders in 3PTFG% (16th/38.8) and FT% (33rd/75.6) and is shooting 44.1 percent (38-of-86) from behind the arc in its last four games.
  
PROTECTING THE BALL
Toledo ranks 21st in the nation with a MAC-low 10.6 turnovers per game. The Rockets have committed 10 or fewer turnovers in nine of 15 contests and just 8.2 miscues per game in their last five games.
 
ROCKETS IN THE NCAA RANKINGS
•  Toledo ranks fifth in the nation with 86.0 ppg.
•  The Rockets are also in the Top 40 in three-point FG% (16th/38.8), fewest turnovers/game (21st/10.6), FG% (21st/48.9), A/TO ratio (26th/1.45), FT% (33rd/75.6).
•  RayJ Dennis ranks 13th with a career-high 6.0 apg and 22nd with a 2.90 assist/turnover ratio.
•  JT Shumate ranks 19th with an 90.0 FT% and 44th with a 57.6 FG%. Shumate has made 12 straight free throws  and has a 59.3 FG% and 59.1 three-point FG% (13-of-22) in his last five games.
 
ROCKETS IN THE MAC RANKINGS
•  Toledo leads the MAC with 86.0 ppg, over seven points better than Buffalo (78.7), and is also first in FG% (48.9), three-point FG% (38.8), assists/game (15.3), A/TO ratio (1.45) and fewest turnovers/game (10.6).
•  The Rockets are also second with a plus-2.47 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. BGSU’s Leon Ayers, NIU’s Keshawn Williams and EMU’s Emoni Bates are tied for third with six 20-point contests.
•  Millner Jr is tied for sixth with 6.5 rpg, and Dante Maddox Jr. is sixth with a 41.5 3PTFG%.
 
TEAM TIDBITS
•  Toledo was ranked No. 13 in last 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.
•  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 81.3 ppg in four road contests.
•  Toledo has three MAC Player of Week honorees this season – RayJ Dennis (Nov. 14, Dec. 12) and JT Shumate (Nov. 21). Shumate also earned MAC Male Scholar-Athlete of Week honors on Dec. 14.
•  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 has scored in double figures in 14 straight games since scoring only seven points vs. Valpo in UT’s season opener. He tied his career high with 33 points on 15-of-21 shooting vs. Oakland (Nov. 16) to earn MAC Player of Week honors.
•  Shumate has posted a 50.0 FG% or higher in nine straight games to raise his FG% to 57.6%.
•  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.
•  Ra’Heim Moss scored a season-high 18 points vs. Lourdes and is averaging 11.8 ppg with a  57.1 FG% (20-of-35) in his last five 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 10.1 ppg and sixth in the MAC with a 41.5 3PTFG% (22-of-53). He is averaging 12.5 ppg with a 60.7 FG% (17-of-28) in his last four 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
The Rockets will remain on the road to visit Northern Illinois (4-11, 0-2 MAC) in DeKalb, Ill. on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 3:30 p.m. CT. Toledo returns home to meet Ohio (8-7, 0-2 MAC) on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 7:00 p.m.
 
 

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