The contest against Toledo and VCU was one of the most anticipated match-ups of ESPN's 24-hour tip-off marathon, and it didn't disappoint. The Rockets put together a 45-point first half and held a three point lead at halftime, but couldn't hold it together in the second half, ultimately falling 87-78.
Nathan Boothe lead the way for the Rockets, posting eighteen points and eight rebounds to go along with three blocks. Julius Brown lit it up from beyond the arc, going 5-7 from deep and finishing with seventeen. Surprisingly, Brown finished with no assists and six turnovers, a stat line completely foreign to those familiar with Brown's game.
Although Briante Weber wasn't the leading scorer for the Rams, he contributed majorly in every facet of the game. He nearly had a quadruple-double: eighteen points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and nine steals. That's pretty impressive. Both Melvin Johnson and Treveon Graham paced the way in scoring for VCU, putting in 22 points apiece.
Toledo had trouble with VCU's famed "Havoc" defense, something that many teams struggle with. The Rockets committed 21 turnovers; none more important than Stuckey Mosely's with just under two minutes left. Coming out of a timeout down by six, Mosely got pickpocketed by Weber who drove coast-to-coast to put in a lay-up. That put the Rams up eight and they never relinquished the lead for the rest of the contest, hitting seven of eight free throws to seal it.
Not many teams win at the Siegel Center in Richmond, and Toledo did well to keep the game close and even have a lead at halftime. That didn't go unnoticed by the national media:
We are a long ways away from Selection Sunday but Toledo looks like a mid-major that can do damage in March. Up 3 vs VCU at half. Gr8 poise!— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 18, 2014
Toledo big man Nathan Boothe could start for a third of the teams in the Big Ten. Great IQ and terrific hands. Makes 3's. Mismatch.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 18, 2014
That's some pretty high praise right there.
The Rockets are right back at it on Friday, as the fly across the country to play at Oregon as a part of the Legends Classic. The Ducks are 2-0 on the young season, with wins over Coppin State and Detroit.