Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year Julius Brown, who registered his first double-double with 15 points and a season-high 11 assists, quarterbacked a Rocket attack that registered a 61.4 shooting mark for UT’s best offensive showing since a 62.5 field-goal percentage at Central Michigan March 3, 2004.
Joining Brown in double figures were junior guard Curtis Dennis (18 points, 4 rebounds), sophomore guard Rian Pearson (17 points, team-high 7 rebounds) and junior guard Dominique Buckley (11 points, 4 steals).
Toledo limited the Cowboys to a 42.6 field-goal percentage and also held a slim 28-27 advantage on the boards. UT did a solid defensive job on Southland Conference Player of the Year Patrick Richard, holding him to 10 points on 4 of 17 shooting. Freshman forward Desharick Guidry and sophomore forward Adrian Fields paced MSU with 11 points apiece.
The Rockets controlled much of the first half and took their largest lead, 34-20, on a pair of Pearson free throws just over four minutes before halftime. MSU ended the stanza with a 14-2 run though to reduce UT’s lead to 36-34 at intermission.
The Cowboys remained in striking distance until a 10-0 spurt by the Rockets gave UT a 64-48 advantage with 6:41 to play.
Toledo hit six of eight free throws in the final three minutes to ice the game.
The Rockets will face a yet-to-be determined opponent in the second round this weekend.