GAME NOTES: The suddenly slumping Toledo Rockets return to Savage Arena to host the red-hot Akron Zips in a Mid-American Conference matchup on Wednesday.
The Rockets lost their second consecutive game on Saturday when they dropped a 76-67 decision to Ohio University in Athens. The slump dropped Toledo to 2-2 in the MAC, placing it in a four-way tie for the West Division lead. Coach Ted Kowalczyk has a pair of weapons in his arsenal, as his squad features the MAC's top scorer in junior guard Rian Pearson leading the league at 18.7 ppg. Sophomore guard Julius Brown also appears in ninth place with his 13.5 ppg.
Akron extended its winning streak to nine games and rose to a 4-0 MAC record with a 71-67 victory at Kent State on Saturday. Coach Keith Dambrot's squad is outscoring its opponents by 17.2 points per game and holding a +11.7 rebounding margin during the span of the streak. The Zips have the top scoring offense (75.8) in the MAC as well as the third best scoring defense (63.1). Zeke Marshall posts 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks per contest while Demetrius Treadwell contributes 10.4 points and 7.1 boards a game. Both had double-doubles in the Zips' triumph over the Golden Flashes.
Toledo owns a 29-25 advantage in the all-time series which began during the 1915-16 season. Akron has won the last six meetings, including an 86-72 win at the JAR last season (Feb. 1). The Zips are 9-20 on the road against UT, but have won their last two meetings with the Rockets at Savage Arena.
The Zips converted just 37.1 percent of their field goal attempts and only 12- of-26 at the charity stripe versus KSU, but they collected 26 offensive boards and sank 6-of-15 from distance after the break to overcome a 10-point halftime deficit. Marshall tallied 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, while Treadwell finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Fifteen of the duo's collective boards came on the offensive glass, as Akron enjoyed a key 23-8 edge in second-chance points. Chauncey Gilliam added 11 points in 16 minutes off the bench
Toledo is the worst in the MAC defensively with an allowed average of 70.1 ppg. Its inability to limit the opposition was apparent on Saturday, as the Bobcats converted 50.9 percent of their field goal attempt and dealt out 16 assists to just five turnovers. Matt Smith went 7-of-9 from the floor to lead the Rockets with 16 points, Pearson added 14 points, and Dominique Buckley tallied 13. Brown was an ice cold 3-of-16 from the floor for nine points, but managed to deal out nine assists as well.
The seven-foot Marshall is the fifth leading shot blocker among Division I players this season and has been crucial to Akron's interior defense. Toledo's high-scoring backcourt duo will have to settle on outside shots, which will give Toledo a shooter's chance in this one.