Rockets put up fight in 93-83 loss at No. 16 Kansas

December 31, 2013 | News, UToday
By Steve Easton

Kansas’ size proved to be a little too much for Toledo to overcome Monday evening as the Rockets dropped a 93-83 decision to the No. 16 Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.

Junior Justin Drummond scored 13 points in the Rockets' 98-83 loss to Kansas.

Junior Justin Drummond scored 13 points in the Rockets’ 98-83 loss to Kansas.

The loss was UT’s first of the season, dropping its record 12-1 heading into Mid-American Conference play next week.

Sophomore center Nathan Boothe paced a balanced Rocket attack with 15 points even though he was saddled by foul trouble and played just 23 minutes. Also scoring in double digits were juniors Justin Drummond and J.D. Weatherspoon with 13 points apiece and senior guard Rian Pearson with 10 points.

Junior guard Julius Brown was just shy of double figures, finishing with nine points while dishing out five assists and committing just one turnover.

Toledo committed just eight turnovers in the contest, while forcing the Jayhawks into 18 miscues. But Kansas overcame that sizable difference with a commanding 44-28 advantage on the glass.

Sophomore forward Perry Ellis (21 points, 11 rebounds) and freshman center Joel Embiid (14 points, 10 rebounds) each registered double-doubles, while junior guard Naadir Tharpe and freshman Andrew Wiggins each scored 20 points apiece.

Toledo scored the game’s first five points, and Kansas Head Coach Bill Self called timeout just 35 seconds into the contest after the Jayhawks committed turnovers on their first two possessions. KU took its first lead, 17-15, on Wiggins’ three-point play with 11:57 remaining in the first half.

The Rockets quickly answered thanks to seven straight points from Boothe for a 22-17 lead at the midway point of the opening stanza.

Tharpe responded with an eight-point burst of his own to give the hosts the lead for good, 25-22, less than two minutes later.

Toledo reduced its deficit to one point on four occasions the remainder of the half, but the Jayhawks went on another spurt to take a 43-36 halftime advantage.

The Jayhawks carried that momentum into the second half and widened their lead to 57-43 on Ellis’ three-point play with 15:34 remaining. Toledo proceeded to cut its deficit in half thanks to a Boothe jumper followed by a layup and three-point field goal from senior forward Matt Smith.

Kansas restored its cushion back to double digits until a Pearson jumper brought the Rockets within 79-70 with 6:42 to play. UT had chances to draw even closer but came up empty on its next four possessions. Ellis finally ended KU’s scoring drought with a layup forcing Toledo to take timeout with just under four minutes left.

Brown hit a corner trey to cut the Jayhawks’ lead to 81-73 following the stoppage, but that was as close as the Rockets would get.

Toledo will return to action next week with its conference opener at MAC West Division foe Western Michigan on Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m.

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