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Published: Friday, 12/22/2006

Rockets face hot Drake in El Paso tournament


EL PASO Coming off a pair of wins in its first two home games of the season, the University of Toledo men s basketball team is in Texas to compete in the 46th annual State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament.

The Rockets (4-5) will meet Drake (7-2), a team that has won six in a row, including a 75-59 home triumph over Iowa in its last outing on Dec. 16. UTEP (6-5) will face Jackson State (5-6) in the other first-round matchup at 9 p.m. with UT s matchup with the Bulldogs at about 11:30.

The Rockets 73-63 victory over Detroit on Tuesday extended their nonconference home winning streak to 18 games. UT is now 38-4 (.902) in Savage Hall since the start of the 2003-04 campaign.

Sophomore Tyrone Kent led the Rockets to their win with career highs in both points (17) and rebounds (8). Senior Justin Ingram contributed 16 points and a season-best six assists, while seniors Keonta Howell and Florentino Valencia were also in double figures with 11 points apiece. It was the second straight game

UT had four players reach double digits in the scoring column.

Howell leads the Rockets and ranks second in the Mid-American Conference averaging 18.7 points per game.

Ingram is fifth in the MAC with 15.9 ppg, while Valencia is putting in 13.1 ppg and is ninth in the conference with 6.8 rebounds per game.

Drake s six-game win streak is its longest in Tom Davis four years as head coach.

The Bulldogs start is their best since the 1984-85 team also opened at 7-2.

Seniors Ajay Calvin and Nick Grant combined for 25 points in the second half in Drake s 75-59 win over Iowa last Saturday. The Bulldogs win ended a string of 27 consecutive losses to Iowa.

It also marked the first time since the 1978-79 season that Drake had beaten Iowa and Iowa State in the same campaign.

The Bulldogs lead the Missouri Valley Conference with 83.4 points per game, 10.89 steals per game and a plus-10.3 rebounding margin and are second with a 49.1 field-goal percentage.

Calvin leads the conference with 19.3 points per game with senior guard Nick Grant registering a conference-best 2.22 steals per game.

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