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Published: Saturday, 2/7/2004

Explosive UT meets stingy Miami

Something will have to give today when the University of Toledo s high-scoring offense meets Miami s stingy defense, with the result having possible long-term implications for both teams.

The Rockets are averaging 77.1 points per game, the best in the Mid-American Conference. The tough-nut-to-crack RedHawks are giving up 60.7 points a game, the fewest in the MAC.

With both teams in second place in their divisions - Toledo trails Western Michigan in the West, Miami is looking up at Kent State in the East - today s winner will have a leg up to at least finish with the third-best league record, and grab one of three first-round byes in the conference tournament that goes with it.

“We re trying to stay as close as we can to Western Michigan, and our goal is to win the conference,” UT coach Stan Joplin said. “It s a big game for us because we could put some distance between us and Miami, and we would also hold the tiebreaker with them.”

One of the reasons that few teams score much on the RedHawks is their style of offense, which uses most of the shot clock, thereby limiting the number of possessions for their opponents.

But that offense also has Miami as the lowest-scoring team in the MAC. In their two home losses this season the RedHawks scored 36 and 50 points, against Xavier and Ball State, respectively, so the Rockets probably won t need to hit their average and still have a chance to win.

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