Samford (1-3) vs. Toledo (0-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 21, 4:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alico Arena (4,500) -- Fort Myers, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: Samford 1-0, Toledo 0-3. Away Record: Samford 0-3, Toledo 0-0. Neutral Record: Samford 0-0, Toledo 0-0. Conference Record: Samford 0-0, Toledo 0-0. Series Record: Tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Toledo Rockets hope to find their first win of the season in the Sunshine State as take on the Samford Bulldogs in the Atlantis on the Mainland Tournament at Alico Arena.
Samford comes in with an unappealing 1-3 record after losses on the road to Louisville (80-54) and Memphis (65-54) on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. The Bulldogs were also defeated in their only other matchup with a Division I foe when Austin Peay handed them a 75-64 defeat in their season opener. Samford has struggled on the offensive end early in the season. Even in its lone win over Martin Methodist of the NAIA, Samford managed to score just 59 points after going 7-of-23 from three-point range and 8-of-16 at the free throw line. With very few big men on the roster, first-year head coach Bennie Seltzer has implemented a run-and-gun style of play into the program.
The Rockets' slow 0-3 start is disappointing on the surface after they were considered the favorites to win the MAC's West Division this season. The prediction was derived from the 2011-2012 team's impressive 19-17 overall finish. All five starters are back from that squad, but it has not led to any check marks in the win column thus far. However, the Rockets have played decent opposition in tough atmospheres as it had to go on the road to play Loyola-Illinois (62-50), Minnesota (82-56), and Northern Iowa (84-81 OT) to start the season. Coach Tod Kowalczyk is in his 10th year with the program. He enters just one game below .500 with a 159-160 record.
The Bulldogs hope to find more success now that their treacherous road trip through the top 25 is over and done with. Freshman forward Tim Williams has been consistently outstanding in the early season for Samford. The Chicago native opened up the season with back-to-back double-doubles before averaging 18 points and six rebounds per game versus the ranked opposition. Williams earned his first-ever SoCon Player of the Week award for his efforts. Sophomore point guard Raiijon Kelly has also scored in double figures in all four games this season. Kelly is doing a good job distributing with 4.8 assists per game, but he has committed 17 turnovers over his past three games. Tyler Hood (7.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Connor Miler (7.0 ppg) are both playing big- time minutes, but the team needs more out of returning starter Will Cook, who has scored only six points in four games.
The Rockets were bottled up by Loyola-Illinois and Minnesota in their first two outings, managing just 53 ppg on 36.1 percent shooting from the floor in those contests. Toledo broke out of its slump versus Northern Iowa by hitting 44.9 percent of its field goals, including a season-high nine three-pointers. It came up just short and lost in the extra session despite the improved shooting and stellar performances by Julius Brown, Dominique Buckley, and Rian Pearson. Brown managed to score 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the floor and grab four boards versus UNI. The sophomore guard made only 9-of-29 field goal attempt in his first two outings. Buckley and Pearson combined to add 37 more points versus the Panthers. Pearson is expected to have a big season after tying for the MAC lead with 16.4 ppg and finishing third in rebounding (8.3 rpg) as a sophomore last year.
Both these teams have been challenged early on this season. The Rockets seemed to have broken out of their slump offensively, which could mean trouble for a Samford squad that has very little focus on the defensive end.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome:
11/21 10:33:46 ET