A dominating second-half performance along with an equally impressive showing on the glass kept Toledo unbeaten in a 78-65 triumph at Arkansas State (5-4) in Jonesboro.The Rockets’ 10-0 start to the season is their best in 15 years and equals the third-best start in school history.
After trailing 44-40 at halftime, UT outscored the Red Wolves, 38-21, in the final 20 minutes. The Rockets also controlled the boards by a 44-25 margin.
“We came out focused in the second half; when we went up by 10 points, I think we took the spirit out of Arkansas State,” Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “I’m very proud of the way we played against a quality team on the road. It’s great to bring back a 10-0 record to Toledo.”
Junior guard Justin Drummond paced a balanced Toledo attack with 19 points with sophomore center Nathan Boothe (14 points), senior guard Rian Pearson (11 points) and junior forward J.D. Weatherspoon (10 points) also in double figures.
Freshman guard Jordan Lauf topped Toledo on the glass with a season-high eight rebounds, and Weatherspoon grabbed seven.
The Rockets shot 46.8 percent from the field and 82.6 percent (19 of 23) from the charity stripe. UT made all 12 of its free throws in the second half.
Senior forward Kirk Van Slyke led Arkansas State with 22 points.
UT limited the Red Wolves’ leading scorer, Melvin Johnson III, to just two points. Johnson entered the contest averaging 17.9 points per game and was the nation’s leading three-point shooter at 63.8 percent.
“We did a tremendous job defensively on Johnson,” Kowalczyk said. “We didn’t give him any good looks, and it was a great team effort.”
Toledo returns to action Saturday, Dec. 21, with a 2 p.m. game vs. Horizon League foe Cleveland State (5-5).