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Originally published December 26, 2013 at 10:46p.m., updated December 27, 2013 at 12:12a.m.

KU’s next foe, Toledo, still undefeated

Arkansas State's Brandon Reed (3) drives past Toledo's Justin Drummond during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 at The Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark. Toledo defeated Arkansas State 78-65. (AP Photo/The Jonesboro Sun, Rob Holt)

Arkansas State's Brandon Reed (3) drives past Toledo's Justin Drummond during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 at The Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark. Toledo defeated Arkansas State 78-65. (AP Photo/The Jonesboro Sun, Rob Holt)

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Players and coaches on nine college basketball teams gave their fans the best possible present on Christmas Day: an undefeated record to digest with the turkey and ham.

Teams that remain undefeated as the calendar approaches the New Year: Arizona (13-0), Ohio State (12-0), Wichita State (12-0), Wisconsin (12-0), Iowa State (11-0), Oregon (11-0), Syracuse (11-0), Villanova (11-0), and Toledo (11-0).

Toledo, which plays Coppin State at home on Saturday, figures to bring a perfect 12-0 record to Allen Fieldhouse for Monday’s 7 p.m. game against 8-3 Kansas University.

“We have the mindset we’re not losing any games,” junior guard Julius Brown told the Toledo Blade after the Rockets’ 71-67 win over Cleveland State on Dec. 22.

Toledo is off to the school’s best start since 1966-67 when the Rockets opened with a school record 14 consecutive wins en route to a 23-2 season. A win Saturday would tie Toledo's second-best start, 12-0 in 1940-41.

The Rockets have won at home against Northwestern Ohio (102-55), Florida A&M (79-69), Detroit (91-75), Sam Houston State (77-61) and Cleveland State (71-67). The Rockets have won at Boston College (95-92), Robert Morris (80-77) and Arkansas State (78-65) and beaten Stony Brook (103-99), Detroit (80-78) and Florida Atlantic (94-74) in Detroit.

Toledo’s strength of schedule is 249th nationally according to cbssports.com and realtimerpi.com. KU, meanwhile, is rated No. 1 in strength of schedule by both websites. CBS has KU No. 3 overall in RPI and Toledo No. 42.

The Rockets’ five starters all are double-digit scorers.

Rian Pearson, a 6-4 senior guard, leads the way at 16.1 ppg, followed by 6-4 junior guard junior Justin Drummond (14.9 ppg), 5-10 Brown (12.8 ppg), 6-6 junior forward J.D. Weatherspoon (11.3) and 6-9 sophomore center Nathan Boothe (10.7).

Toledo this week was ranked third in CollegeInsider.com’s Mid-Major Poll. Wichita State and Harvard checked in at Nos. 1 and 2. Toledo totaled 27 points in this week’s Associated Press poll — 42 points behind No. 25 Missouri. Oklahoma (65), Illinois (53), Texas (47) and George Washington (43) were ahead of Toledo.

The Rockets received 13 points in the ESPN/USA Today poll, 32 behind No. 25 Missouri with UCLA (44), Pittsburgh (26), Creighton (25), Saint Mary’s (23) and George Washington (20) also ranked ahead of them.

Toledo is led by third-year coach Tod Kowalczyk, who went 4-28 in his first year and 19-17 in his second after eight years at UW-Green Bay.

“Toledo is still undefeated and San Diego State 9-1,” KU coach Bill Self said of the Rockets and No. 20-ranked Aztecs who visit KU Jan. 5. “We have a chance to get some momentum by beating good teams if we play well before the start of conference play (Jan 8 at Oklahoma).”

A win tonight against tiny St. Katherine College would extend San Diego State’s win streak to 10 games, marking the fifth double-digit win streak in school history. Three of the four previous streaks have come this decade — 20 games (2010-11), 11 (2012-13) and 11 (2011-12). S.D. State won 13 straight games in 1955-56.

The school’s media relations department points out, “The Aztecs have won 47 straight games against unranked nonconference opponents, 44 in a row at home vs. unranked non-league foes, 36 straight vs. schools from California, 27 in a row in the month of December vs. unranked squads, 20 straight home games against unranked opponents regardless of the month, and 11 consecutive December home games.”

Wooden contenders: ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan has listed his top 10 candidates for the Wooden Award at this stage of the season. Duke’s Jabari Parker tops the list, followed by Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, Louisville’s Russ Smith, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, UConn’s Shabazz Napier, Florida’s Casey Prather, Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, Syracuse’s C.J. Fair and Oregon’s Joseph Young. KU’s Andrew Wiggins was listed honorable mention behind Kentucky’s Julius Randle, UCLA’s Jordan Adams and Michigan State’s Keith Appling.

Yes, it’s funny: KU freshman Joel Embiid turned movie reviewer on Twitter on Christmas Day. “Anchorman 2 is so funny...... Must watch for everyone,” wrote the Cameroon native.

Condolences: Southern Illinois University on Wednesday offered condolences on its website to basketball coach Barry Hinson.

Hinson’s son-in-law, Niles Thomason, died on Christmas morning. Thomason and Hinson’s daughter, Tiffany, had been married since 2004 and live in Colorado. They have one son, Carter. Hinson is former Kansas University director of basketball operations.

“Words cannot express the grief and sadness we are feeling upon hearing the news of coach Hinson’s loss of a family member,” SIU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “As a university, we stand by Barry’s and (wife) Angie’s side to offer them our heartfelt support. We ask Saluki Nation to keep the Hinsons in their thoughts and prayers.”

SIU has a game Sunday at Miami of Ohio.

Welcome back: All the KU players made it back in time for practice on Thursday, KU coach Bill Self said Thursday night. He indicated Andrew White III (hip bruise) and Perry Ellis (concussion symptoms in Georgetown game) have been medically cleared to practice in preparation for Monday’s game vs. Toledo.

Comments

Erich Hartmann 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Look at all the teams Toledo has played. And some of those who dat? teams only got beat by 5-6pts. These guys are going to get bounced out of AFH by 20+!! What's that whistling sound a bottle-rocket makes when it runs out of fuel in 1sec...? (silence).

Here's a dose of reality type of headline: "Undefeated Toledo take on a very deep, loaded, high-major-elite royalty program: Kansas."

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Lance Topeka 3 months, 3 weeks ago

So Toledo calls themselves the Rockets? I called "Rocket" my record label in the mid-70s. Yours, Neil Sedaka

(Lance in Topeka, formerly Louisville; from the Jim Rome Show)

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Dirk Medema 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Gotta love that the Big12 teams are showing up strong this year - even Texas and the KSU. Having more than half the conference showing up strong on a national basis does wonders for the conference national perception. It would seem to add to the margin of error for #10 as well. I'll take Coach Self in a tight game against anyone in the league. The more the rest of the league can beat up on OSU and each other the better for us.

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Dirk Medema 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Coach Self is getting the team developed the way that we thought Joel might develop. While Embiid has blown away the learning curve, the team is coming along nicely. There should be huge progress this week and next in particular when they live in the gym during break. The '08 team improved their FT% 10-20% beginning during the break, to take a early season concern (60-ish %) to a strength 70-80% and NC (14-15).

This team still has so much room to grow, especially on team D. They've already come so far from the slightly better than AAU ball to start the season. It should be a typical Coach Self suffocation job by March with lots of hardware as a result.

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Jack Wilson 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Most interesting note is referencing Perry as have "concussion symptoms." Post-game, Self said it was a pinched nerve in the neck. Saying he has "concussion symptoms" doesn't say he definitively had a concussion, I guess, but it certainly implies it.

And obviously, a concussion moving forward is a big concern because if he takes a big blow to the head at some point, it could end his season.

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Armen Kurdian 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I was just wondering what our strength of schedule was...small consolation for the team I'm sure having lost three, but they are definitely having to work for their paychecks, that's for sure. GU was definitely not on their game when they came here...guess you could say the same for us when we lost to Colorado.

Personally hoping KU comes to San Diego next year or somewhere nearby so I can see them play down here in SoCal.

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Suzi Marshall 3 months, 3 weeks ago

p>KenPom.com has Toledo and SDSU ranked at 75 and 29, respectively.

Wooden Award: Seriously, Embiid has not made a dent on the Wooden watch? His play has been good enough for some of the draft boards to now have him listed to go at 1 in the NBA draft (http://nbadraft.net/2014mock_draft). Wiggins out of the top 10?

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Benz Junque 3 months, 3 weeks ago

San Diego State ticket holders should demand more of their program. Every year they play at least one joke of a game against a ridiculous team. Their opponent tonight is St. Katherine College, an NAIA team in their first year of existence. Ridiculous.

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Phil Leister 3 months, 3 weeks ago

"Toledo is off to the school’s best start since 1966-67 when the Rockets opened with a school record 14 consecutive wins en route to a 23-2 season. A win Saturday would give Toledo its best start since 13-0 in 1940-41."

Something is wrong with this. Isn't 14-0 in 1966-67 better than 13-0 in 1940-41? So a win Saturday would give Toledo its best start since 1966, not 1940.

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