Rockets move to 9-0

Toledo's J.D. Weatherspoon dunks during the Rockets 77-61 win over Sam Houston State.

TOLEDO, OH â?? Toledo dominated the second half on Saturday afternoon to keep its unbeaten record intact in a 77-61 triumph over visiting Sam Houston State (7-4) in Savage Arena. The Rockets are now 9-0 this season, matching their fifth-best start in school history and leaving it one game shy of their best start in 15 years - a 10-0 opening to the 1998-99 campaign.

Junior guard Justin Drummond paced a balanced Rocket attack with 18 points, while junior forward J.D. Weatherspoon scored a career-high 16 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Freshman guard Jonathan Williams matched his season high with 15 points, including a season-best three treys. UTâ??s leading scorer, senior guard Rian Pearson, also was in double figures with 12 points.

Toledo shot 50.0 percent (30-of-60) from the field, marking the seventh time in nine occasions it has made at least half of its shots in a game. UT also tallied a season-high 21 assists while committing a season-low five turnovers. Six different Rockets dished out two or more assists led by junior guard Julius Brown's game-high six assists.

UTâ??s defense produced its best defensive effort of the season, limiting the Bearkats to a 35.6 shooting mark and a 17.6 three-point FG%. SHSU entered the contest with a 43.1 three-point FG% which ranked 13th nationally.

Senior forward Terrance Motley came off the bench to lead Sam Houston State in scoring with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

After trailing 30-28 at intermission following its lowest first-half scoring output of the season, Pearson and Drummond opened and ended a 10-0 run midway through the second stanza with treys to give UT a 53-43 cushion with 9:07 remaining. Williams then knocked down back-to-back treys a few minutes later to provide the Rockets breathing room and a 67-51 advantage with 4:24 to play.

Toledo will hit the road early next week for a matchup against a veteran Arkansas State squad on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7:05 p.m. CST. The Rockets return home for their final game before the Christmas holidays with a 2:00 p.m. matchup vs. Cleveland State.

Courtesy: Toledo Athletics