Editor’s note: This article has corrected the Rockets are now tied for first place in the MAC West.
The University of Toledo men’s basketball team shot the lights out and avenged a loss earlier this season to Kent State with a 78-58 win Saturday against the Golden Flashes at Savage Arena.
The Rockets (13-12, 6-6 MAC) shot 65.2 percent from the field for their best single-game shooting performance since hitting 66.7 percent against Arkansas State in 2002.
Toledo assisted on 24 of its 30 field goals in making up for an 85-61 loss Jan. 21 at Kent State.
IN PICTURES: UT men 78, Kent State 58
“We played with more positive energy, and that started yesterday in practice,” UT senior guard Jonathan Williams said. “We were locked in with our scouting and our positive energy just came over into today.”
Williams led Toledo with 21 points, Steve Taylor, Jr., added 20, Jaelan Sanford scored 15, and Nate Navigato had 13.
“When we share the ball as a team it’s good for us,” Williams said.
UT coach Tod Kowalcyzk said he was impressed by the overall performance of Williams, who was 7-of-10 from the field and had a team-high six assists.
“Huge credit to Jon Jon,” Kowalcyzk said. “This was by far the best he’s ever played. That started yesterday in practice. The positive energy, the positive vibe and the positive leadership he had was absolutely contagious and infectious within our team yesterday and today. The positive talk he had with his teammates was tremendous. When he does that he plays better.”
For the second straight game, the Rockets held an opponent under 60 points after limiting Eastern Michigan to just 57 points Tuesday.
“I think both games were different,” Kowalczyk said. “When you play Eastern, it is going to be a low possession game, so you can’t look so much at the point totals, because it’s such a low possession game. Today was a little bit more possessions and more of a fast pace. Overall I am happy with the growth of our defense.”
Jaylin Walker led Kent State (13-12, 5-7 MAC) with 13 points and Jimmy Hall added 10 points.
Toledo controlled the game from the start as Kent State’s last lead of the game was at 5-2. The Rockets made 78.9 percent (15-of-19) of their first-half shots and took a 44-34 lead into halftime.
Kent State cut the lead to eight points with the first basket of the second half, but would not get any closer as Toledo led by as many as 22 points.
“That was, from start to finish, just a really good performance for our guys,” Kowalczyk said. “I thought in the first half, defensively, we were locked in. They had some offensive rebounds, but we’ll look at the film and correct that. I thought the only time they had really good looks in the first half was from our turnovers. In the second half, we just played very,very efficient on both ends. We continue to improve defensively.”
After losing four of five games, Toledo has now won two straight games.
This week, Toledo picked up two important home wins in a tight Mid-American Conference race. The Rockets are now tied for first place in the MAC West with Ball State, Central Michigan, and Northern Illinois.
“We don’t want anyone to come in our house and take any wins from us,” Williams said. “We need every home game and we need to take a couple road games too.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6110.
Toledo’s Jordan Lauf, left, is fouled by Kent State’s Jimmy Hall during Saturday’s Mid-American Conference game at Savage Arena. BLADE/ANDY MORRISON