The Rockets sit at the top of the Mid-American Conference standings with an 11-1 record after defeating Akron in a battle of the top two teams in the MAC.
TOLEDO, Ohio — The Toledo Men’s Basketball team is now 11-1 in the MAC and 16-4 overall. Last night they defeated Akron 91-76 in a showdown of the top two teams in the MAC.
Toledo beats Akron 91-76. The Rockets are now 11-1 in the MAC.
JT Shumate: 25 points
Marreon Jackson: 19 points
Spencer Littleson: 17 points
Keshaun Saunders: 14 points
Full highlights here: pic.twitter.com/4mbiZuhBoc
— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) February 3, 2021
Five things we learned from Toledo’s victory over Akron:
1. This team can handle adversity. Marreon Jackson had three fouls in the first half. He picked up a fourth early in the second half. Somehow, he managed to finish the game and was still effective. Spencer Littleson was also in foul trouble. None of it mattered. They were able to lock in defensively when it mattered. They also had built up a huge lead and saw it all disappear. The Rockets were up 16 early in the second half but Akron rallied back to tie it at 61 with 10:06 left in the game. The Rockets absorbed Akron’s best punch and then delivered a few blows of their own. Littleson hit back-to-back threes after that and the rest was history.
2. They’ve got a lot of different ways to beat you. Ryan Rollins is Toledo’s second leading scorer at over 14 points per game. Last night, he didn’t score. He went 0-7 from the field. He did impact the game in other ways. Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk acknowledged after the game that Rollins actually played a good game and didn’t have shots fall. But without his scoring, they got it from some other guys. This team has seven guys who could lead them in scoring any given night. That’s what makes this team so good right now.
3. Toledo is special. It’s OK to start thinking big. I know, I know. There is still a lot of season left to go. No one wants to jinx this. This team hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1980. They’ve been close but haven’t gotten over the hump. I understand all of that. There has been so much heartbreak. But it’s OK to let yourself think about the possibilities. This team is special. The long stretch of – close, but no cigar – has absolutely zero bearing on this group. They have everything needed to get there. Does that guarantee they’ll be dancing in March? Of course not. But it’s OK to start thinking about the possibilities.
4. JT Shumate is a game-changer. Somehow, every Division I College Basketball coach in America missed on this kid. He went to Division II Walsh University and transferred to Toledo before this season. It’s fair to say, he’s found his stride at Toledo. Since becoming eligible, he’s slowly taken on more of a scoring role every game. He’s clearly feeling more comfortable. Against Akron, he scored 25 points and carried the offense on a night when Ryan Rollins didn’t score all night. Sidenote: Shumate didn’t play in three of Toledo’s four losses this season. Think about where this team would be if they had him to start the season.
5. This team has swagger. You can see it from the second they step on the court. In pregame warmups, this team is bouncing around and dancing without a care in the world. The videos they’ve posted on social media in the locker room after a game paint the same picture. It sounds simple, but this team just seems to like each other. They have fun playing this game and it’s very obvious. It’s something you can’t fake. You either have it or you don’t. After the game, Kowalczyk talked about what he’s learned this year and he pointed to the importance of recruiting guys that fit into their culture. This group is playing loose and free and right now it’s got them in the driver’s seat in the Mid-American Conference with a month to go before the conference tournament.
— Toledo Men’s Basketball (@ToledoMBB) February 3, 2021