McNeese State (11-13) at Toledo (12-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Savage Arena (7,300) -- Toledo, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: McNeese St. 8-4, Toledo 6-2. Away Record: McNeese St. 3-9, Toledo 5-9. Neutral Record: McNeese St. 0-0, Toledo 1-0. Conference Record: McNeese St. 5-9, Toledo 8-4. Series Record: Toledo leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams hoping to pick up a head of steam as the postseason looms get together at Savage Arena on Saturday afternoon, as the McNeese State Cowboys challenge the Toledo Rockets in a BracketBuster event.
McNeese State, which calls the Southland Conference home, brings an 11-13 overall record into this contest, and the team is 5-9 in league play, which has it well off the pace set by elite squads at Stephen F. Austin, Northwestern State and Oral Roberts. The Cowboys took care of visiting Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday, 65-58, giving them their first win streak of any length since running off five straight victories from Nov. 27 to Dec. 16. McNeese State is just 3-9 on the road this season.
Toledo got off to a poor 6-10 start, but the team has turned a corner over the last month or so, winning six of its last seven, including five straight from Jan. 26 to Feb. 9. The Rockets claimed a 73-64 decision at Central Michigan last Saturday, improving their record against the rest of the Mid-American Conference to 8-4. As a result, they are currently tied with Western Michigan atop the league's West Division standings.
Toledo won the only other meeting between these two teams, taking a 76-63 decision from the Cowboys during the 2012 CIT.
Dontae Cannon scored 19 points, Desharick Guidry tallied 17 points and nine rebounds, and Kevin Hardy finished with 14 points, seven boards and five assists, all of which McNeese State used to push past Southeastern Louisiana the last time out. The Cowboys shot 45.1 percent from the field, hitting 4- of-9 3-point attempts along the way, and they easily won the rebounding battle, 38-26. The team's defensive effort resulted in the Lions hitting only 38.0 percent of their total shots, and committing 13 turnovers. For the season, McNeese State is in the middle of the Southland pack in terms of scoring (65.8 ppg), as well as in points allowed (69.2 ppg). The team does a nice job thwarting foes in the paint, ranking second in the conference in blocked shots with 118 (4.9 bpg). Cannon (12.1 ppg, 3.4 apg) and Guidry (11.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg) pace the unit, while Hardy (9.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.5 apg), Jeremie Mitchell (8.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg) and Craig McFerrin (8.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg) have all proven valuable as well.
Toledo played exceptional defense in its recent clash with Central Michigan, holding the Chippewas to 33.3 percent field goal efficiency, which included a dreadful 6-of-31 showing from 3-point range. Nathan Boothe scored 19 points to lead four players in double figures for the Rockets, who made good on 45.5 percent of their total shots, despite missing 12 of their 17 long-range bombs. Rian Pearson had a highly-productive game with 18 points and 12 rebounds, the team logging a 39-32 edge on the glass. Toledo outscored CMU in the paint, 34-24. Pearson (18.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg) leads the MAC in scoring, while pacing his team in rebounding, and he is joined in double figures by Julius Brown (13.3 ppg, 5.6 apg), who also serves as the team's primary playmaker. Overall, Toledo is netting 68.1 ppg while allowing slightly more at 68.7 ppg. The Rockets are in the red in terms of rebounding margin (-2.6), but are ahead of the curve in turnovers (+1.6).
Despite having to travel, the Cowboys are likely to play hard, but in this clash of two rather ordinary teams, expect the Rockets to prevail.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 66, McNeese State 59
02/23 10:31:47 ET