Kashif Payne was brought to Toledo for one reason - to stir things up. The 5-9 guard from Chester, Pa., specializes in just being disruptive.
Last night, the freshman jitterbug helped the Rockets (6-7, 2-2) harass and hurry their way to a 77-67 Mid-American Conference win over Ball State by just being himself.
Payne put intense pressure on the ball on the defensive end, and juked his way through and around the Cardinals while constantly setting up his teammates for baskets on the way to an eight-assist performance.
"Payne hurt us tonight. He was the difference in the game," Ball State coach Tim Buckley said. "We didn't handle his pressure very well, and we let him attack us. We didn't get up and guard him."
Payne was the most annoying in the second half, when Toledo came back from five points down to tie the game a final time at 52 on a twisting, turning drive by Payne with eight minutes to play. UT never trailed again, and when Payne drove deep into the lane and then kicked the ball out to Sammy Villegas for a 3-pointer with 3;22 left, it stretched the lead to 68-58 and drove a dagger into the Cardinals.
"We let him break us down off the dribble, and we let him get all the way to the basket. When you give those kinds of things up, you pay,"Buckley said.
Payne spread things around nicely, and the Rockets finished with four players in double figures for the first time this season. Keith Triplett led UT with 16 points, while Keonta Howell had 14, Justin Ingram 13 and Viillegas added 12.
"I wanted to drive and then kick the ball out and give my teammates good opportunities to score," said Payne, who hit all three of his shots for six points. "We had more speed than they did out there, and that allowed us to play at a fast pace. And I felt like I was getting in the lane pretty well when we ran our
Payne helped the Rockets force 20 Ball State turnovers and hold the Cardinals to just 34 percent shooting from the field.
"I just wanted to pressure the ball and create havoc for the other team, and get them out of their offense," Payne said. "Our defense played a big role in the win, because it allowed us to get out and run and score in transition."
Ball State (7-5, 2-2) led by as many as eight points with about three minutes left in the opening half, but with UT's big men in foul trouble and starting center Allen Pinson sitting out the game after suffering an apparent concussion in the loss at Buffalo on Sunday, Toledo coach Stan Joplin went with a small lineup, led by the diminutive Payne.
"That was probably our best lineup tonight," said Joplin, who won his 143rd game at UT last night, and moved into second place on the school's all-time win list behind Bob Nichols.
"We wanted to play solid defense and not let them penetrate, plus not let them sit out there and shoot 3-pointers,"
Joplin said. "Kashif, when he puts pressure on the ball like he did tonight it becomes a contagious thing. He can be disruptive out there, and he can get to the basket. Sometimes I want to cringe when he throws one of those passes, but he's kind of like the roadrunner out there."
Ingram said there was nothing unusual about Payne's performance.
"Kashif played great tonight, but he was just doing what he does best," Ingram said. "He's so quick, he can get by anybody."
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