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Toledo hangs on to top Cleveland State

Cleveland State hung tough with the Toledo Rockets at Savage Arena on Saturday, but a standout performance by J.D. Weatherspoon helped the Rockets inch out the victory to remain 11-0 on the season.

Toledo head coach, Tom Kowalczyk and the Rockets got quite the scare from Cleveland State on Saturday.
Toledo head coach, Tom Kowalczyk and the Rockets got quite the scare from Cleveland State on Saturday.
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it wasn't the rout everyone was expecting on Saturday when Toledo took on Cleveland State. The Toledo Rockets came in gaining national attention with a perfect 10-0 record prior to Saturday's game against the Vikings.

Toledo began the game the way everyone expected, they ran the floor and got the ball to junior forward, J.D. Weatherspoon who had no trouble getting to the rim early in the first half. An early 18-4 lead for the Rockets had them overly-confident to begin the game. However, the Vikings came charging back. It was sophomore guard Trey Lewis who provided a spark off the Cleveland State bench to help the Vikings go on a 18-3 run and take the lead 22-21 with 9:03 remaining in the first half. After the large run to get back in the game, Toledo was never able to pull away. A dismal 3-18 three-point shooting on the day for the Rockets allowed Cleveland State to remain right in the game. After the Rockets took a 42-37 lead into the half, everyone was ready for the second half runaway by J.D. Weatherspoon and the Toledo Rockets.

As the second half began, Toledo junior guard Justin Drummond and sophomore center Nathan Boothe helped Tod Kowalczyk's Rockets jump out to an eight-point lead. Then the Vikings came  right back into the game with a three-pointer from senior forward, Jon Harris to pull within one, 47-46. Cleveland State would tie the game twice late in the second half, but would never get the lead as the Rockets finished late to take the 71-67 victory.

Today Toledo was led by none-other than Weatherspoon who had 18 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. Aside from Weatherspoon, the Rockets were able to get production from Boothe who added fourteen points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. Senior guard Rian Pearson was also in double-digits with eleven for Toledo.

The Rockets will now remain in the national spotlight this week before they take on Coppin State next Saturday at home. For the Rockets, a win over Coppin State next week (and this game teaches you not to overlook Coppin State) means they would be a perfect 12-0 going into Lawrence, Kansas to take on Bill Self and the nationally-ranked Kansas Jayhawks before beginning MAC play on January 8 at Western Michigan.

After the scare to the Vikings today, the Kansas match-up should be the last thing on Toledo's mind. The Rockets still have a lot to prove to the rest of the country despite the 12-0 record but (and it's a big but) the Rockets have a great chance of cracking the Top-25 poll this week.