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Published: Saturday, 2/14/2004

Toledo out to keep home record clean


Certainly, there s no place like home for the University of Toledo this season.

The Rockets, who host Eastern Michigan tonight at 7 at Savage Hall, have taken care of business on their home court, where they are 9-0 this season.

Yet UT coach Stan Joplin is cautious about facing Eastern Michigan, even though the Rockets rolled to an 85-69 win on the Eagles court on Jan. 19.

“They ve got good size and shoot the ball really well,” Joplin said.

UT (16-5 overall, 10-3 Mid-American Conference) overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to knock off Northern Illinois 69-61 on Wednesday to extend its home win streak to 10 games dating back to last season. The Eagles (9-11, 4-8) are the last team to defeat the Rockets at Savage Hall. A last-second 3-pointer by Michael Ross lifted the Eagles to a 76-73 victory last season.

In Joplin s eight years as coach the Rockets have never gone undefeated at home for an entire season.

UT s last undefeated home season was 1966-67, when the Rockets were 14-0.

“I thought the players did a great job in the nonconference season with winning a lot of close games,” said Joplin. “This could be a special season if we finish strong.”

The Rockets have been successful using three freshmen in the starting lineup and two other freshmen off the bench.

However, senior guard Keith Triplett, a MAC player of the year candidate, has led the way from the start. Triplett leads the Rockets by averaging 19.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

EMU sophomore forward John Bowler averages a team-leading 13.5 points and 8.1 rebounds.

Joplin hopes for a fast start by the Rockets against EMU.

“We really haven t put teams away,” he said. “We let teams hang around too much and I think that s due to our youthfulness.”

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