Toledo (12-1) will enter its 78th season of Mid-American Conference play with a 10-game winning streak when it hosts Ball State (9-4) Friday, Jan. 4.
The contest will be televised live nationally on the CBS Sports Network with a tipoff time of 7 p.m. in Savage Arena.UT was ranked No. 6 in last week’s collegeinsiders.com Mid-Major Poll and has moved up to No. 43 (as of Dec. 30) in the NCAA NET rankings.
BSU enters league play with eight wins in its last nine contests and is ranked No. 82 in the NET rankings.
Toledo turned in a dominant defensive performance in its most recent outing, a convincing 77-45 home triumph over Penn (10-3) in Savage Arena. The victory came against a Quaker squad that had posted wins over defending NCAA champion Villanova and Miami (Fla.) earlier this season. Penn’s 45 points were the fewest by a Rocket opponent since a 59-44 win over Eastern Michigan in the 2014 Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals. In addition, Toledo limited the Quakers to a 30.5 field-goal percentage, the lowest by a UT opponent since Miami (Ohio) shot 30.4 percent Feb. 13, 2016.
Seniors Jaelan Sanford and Nate Navigato paced a balanced attack against Penn with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Junior Willie Jackson tied his career high with 16 rebounds to go along with eight points. He teamed with junior Luke Knapke (9 points, season-high 10 rebounds) and freshman AJ Edu (6 points, 7 rebounds) to help the Rockets own a 45-35 advantage on the glass. Knapke and Edu also dominated the paint defensively with four and two blocked shots, respectively.
Senior Tayler Persons leads Ball State with 16.8 points per game and a 43.2 three-point field-goal percentage. Juniors K.J. Walton and Tahjai Teague also are scoring in double digits at 15.0 and 14.5 points per game, with Teague grabbing a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game.
Friday’s matchup will pit the MAC’s top two three-point shooting squads (UT 39.2 percent, BSU 38.4 percent) and two of the top three-point defending squads (UT 29.2 percent, BSU 31.3 percent).
For tickets, go to the Toledo Rockets website, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), or stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office in Savage Arena. UT employees and retirees may purchase tickets at half-price; UT students are admitted free with ID.