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Published: Monday, 11/18/2013 - Updated: 8 months ago

Win fuels Rocket confidence

Florida A&M game starts condensed schedule for UT

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

By the time the team plane touched down in Toledo, the clock read 3 a.m.

Justin Drummond hadn’t slept a wink.

“The mood was so much excitement and gratification we just couldn’t go to sleep,” the University of Toledo guard said of the aftermath to Thursday’s win at Boston College.

Two games into this season of super-sized expectations, the Rockets have a signature victory, upending a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference for just the second time in program history.

They’ll try to add to their win total tonight against Florida A&M in a rare Monday tip-off at Savage Arena.

Toledo, 2-0, for the first time since 2003-04, will play four games over a seven-day period culminating in a Friday-through-Sunday tournament at Detroit.

But first, a look at a historic evening in the shadows of Boston. Coach Tod Kowalczyk said he knew all along he had the better team that night, and he reminded his players of that point trailing by six with about five minutes to go.

“That gave us a boost of confidence to get over that hump,” said Drummond, who was among four Rockets in double-figures with 20 points. “It was right when he said that we found that extra boost of confidence to get over the hump.”

Toledo’s best players started making plays. Nathan Boothe’s baseline hook pulled the Rockets to within 80-74 with 4:34 to go. Drummond hit a 3-pointer a minute later to cut the deficit to five. Julius Brown, who scored a game-high 23 points, drained a jumper to bring the score to 84-82 before hitting again a little later to give the Rockets the lead for good. A minute later Toledo had felled its first ACC opponent since Wake Forest in 1960 and improved to 2-2 all-time against teams from the power basketball conference.

“I think our guys knew they could win,” Kowalczyk said. “I don’t know if they felt going into an ACC opponent we were the better team. I think midway through that game they thought they were the better team.”

Kowalczyk, whose fourth team at Toledo is expected to contend for the Mid-American Conference title, sensed no difference in his team’s mind-set at practice Saturday afternoon, satisfied his team had put behind it emotions from two days earlier.

An upbeat session focused on a Florida A&M squad that appears better than the eight-win version from a year ago. The Rattlers beat Stetson 63-60 Thursday behind 37 points from senior backcourt mates Jamie Adams (23 points) and Reggie Lewis (14).

Kowalczyk called Adams, who averaged 14 points a year ago and attempted 197 3-pointers, “a tremendous point guard.”

“I can guarantee you this, they’re going to be athletic, and they’re going to be very talented,” Kowalczyk said.

ROTATION NOTE: It appears Aubrey Williams has been squeezed out of a rotation that’s shrunk to nine. The redshirt freshman forward was Toledo’s only available player to not participate in the Boston College game. Everyone else logged at least nine minutes.

“We had nine guys play really well the other night,” Kowalczyk said. “It’s a nine-man rotation right now.”



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