Five things we learned from Toledo basketball’s win over Akron

The Rockets top the Mid-American Conference with an 11-1 record after beating Akron in a battle between the two best teams in the MAC.

TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo men’s basketball team is now 11-1 in the MAC and 16-4 overall. Last night they defeated Akron 91-76 in a showdown of the two best teams in the MAC.

Toledo beats Akron 91-76. The missiles are now 11-1 in the MAC.

JT Shumate: 25 points
Marreon Jackson: 19 points
Spencer Littleson: 17 points
Keshaun Saunders: 14 points

Full highlights here: pic.twitter.com/4mbiZuhBoc

– Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) February 3, 2021

Five things we learned from Toledo’s victory over Akron:

1. This team can handle adversity. Marreon Jackson had three fouls in the first half. At the beginning of the second half, he got a fourth. Somehow he managed to finish the game and he was still effective. Spencer Littleson was in bad trouble too. None of that mattered. They could lock themselves in defensively if that mattered. They had also built a huge head start and saw everything go away. The Rockets were 16 early in the second half, but Akron rallied back to tie it at 61, with 10:06 in the game. The missiles absorbed Akron’s best blow and then dealt several blows of their own. After that, Littleson met three in a row and the rest was history.

2. You have many different ways of beating you. Ryan Rollins is Toledo’s second top scorer with over 14 points per game. He didn’t meet last night. He went 0-7 off the field. He influenced the game in other ways. Head coach Tod Kowalczyk admitted after the game that Rollins had actually played a good game and no shots were fired. But without his rating, they got it from some other guys. This team has seven people who could lead them to scoring any night. This team is doing so well right now.

3. Toledo is special. It’s okay to think big. I know, I know. There is still a lot of season left. Nobody wants to jinx this. This team has not been to the NCAA tournament since 1980. They were close, but didn’t get over the hump. I understand all of this. There has been so much heartbreak. But it’s okay to think about the possibilities. This team is special. The long distance – close, but no cigar – has absolutely no impact on this group. You have everything it takes to get there. Does that guarantee they will dance in March? Of course not. But it’s okay to think about the possibilities.

4th J.T Shumate is a game changer. Somehow every Division I college basketball coach in America missed this kid. He attended Division II at Walsh University and moved to Toledo before that season. It’s fair to say he found his move in Toledo. Since qualifying, he’s slowly playing a bigger role in every game. He feels much more comfortable. Against Akron, he scored 25 points and carried the offensive on a night Ryan Rollins didn’t hit all night. As a side note: Shumate has missed three of Toledo’s four defeats this season. Think where this team would be when it started the season.

5. T.His team has boast. You can see it from the second you walk in the square. In the pre-game warm-up exercises, this team is jumping around and dancing without caring about the world. The videos they posted on social media in the locker room after a game paint the same picture. It sounds easy, but this team just seems to like each other. You are enjoying this game and it is very obvious. It is something that cannot be faked. You either have it or you don’t. After the game, Kowalczyk shared what he’d learned that year, and he pointed out the importance of recruiting people who fit into their culture. This group plays loose and free and now has them in the driver’s seat of the Mid-American Conference a month before the conference tournament.

😉😉😉😉😉😉 #GoRockets pic.twitter.com/J0oBNsEZpx

– Toledo Men’s Basketball (@ToledoMBB) February 3, 2021

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