OXFORD, Ohio - Win No. 200 couldn't be any closer for Toledo basketball coach Stan Joplin. But last night at Miami, the milestone couldn't have felt further out of reach.
The Rockets fell behind early and never threatened the RedHawks, falling 76-47 in front of a crowd of 1,506 at Millett Hall.
The setback was Toledo's 13th in a row on the road, including six straight by double figures. And the 29-point margin marked the most lopsided loss against a Mid-American Conference opponent since a 92-56 defeat at Kent State in 2004.
"On the road, I don't know if we have enough mental toughness when adversity sets in," Joplin said. "When things aren't going well, they get down on themselves and start to lose their confidence and they don't play smart basketball."
Tyrone Kent led the Rockets (7-14, 4-5) with 13 points and Ridley Johnson added 10.
But defensively, Toledo couldn't figure out a way to stop the RedHawks (11-10, 5-4) and their inside-outside combination of Tim Pollitz and Kenny Hayes.
Hayes scored 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range and Pollitz poured in 20 points to go along with 11 rebounds as Miami dominated the glass 46-24.
"46-24? That's ridiculous," Pollitz said. "Offensively we really attacked the boards."
Seventeen of Miami's 46 rebounds came on the offensive end, leading to 21 second-chance points.
"We have to compete on every play, and I don't think we did that on defense," Joplin said. "And rebounding also. It just seemed like it wasn't even close to the effort we had at home against Kent State."
The RedHawks needed less than 10 minutes to build a double-digit lead, and by halftime they were up 14.
Whatever hopes the Rockets had of making adjustments and mounting a comeback ended in a hurry when Miami opened the second half on a 10-3 run to take complete control.
"It makes it tough when you have no margin of error and your best players are struggling," said Joplin, whose team made just 15 of 47 shots from the floor, including a mere 3 of 17 from 3-point range.
"At home when we struggle, we feed off the crowd and that helps," Joplin said. "But on the road, it just seems like this year's not our time."
As if things weren't tough enough for the Toledo, junior guard Anthony Byrd went down with what appeared to be an ankle injury with 5:09 left in the game.
"I hope he's OK because if not, we'll be down to six players," Joplin said. "It's been one of those years that's been a bad dream."
Miami coach Charlie Coles can sympathize. Sort of.
Coles was stuck on his 199th win at Miami for five games and 30 days earlier this season.
"Just stay with it and don't worry about the milestone," Coles said. "He'll get it, and he'll get it real quick. And I'll be happy for him when he does."
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