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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

Phil Leister 11 months 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.

Benz Junque 11 months 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.

John Randall 11 months ago

It is a little late in the season for this kind of "good neighbor" exhibition game, but there is no reason to lose your cool over it.

Walter Bridges 11 months ago

Pretty sure SDSU doesn't need any help in scheduling games and what difference does it make?

Pretty sure the sky isn't falling 'chicken little'...

Benz Junque 11 months ago

Good grief drama kings, I am not "losing my cool over it". It's called a conversation. Would you be OK with Kansas playing a regular season game against an NAIA team that they would maul by 80 points?

I just find it interesting (and ridiculous) that a program that is ranked in the Top 25 plays games like this.

Walter Bridges 11 months ago

"I just find it interesting (and ridiculous) that a program that is ranked in the Top 25 plays games like this."

Now who is being a drama queen? SDSU is simply helping a first year hoops program from northern San Diego County get a little exposure and a payday. Didn't realize SDSU had become such a perennial powerhouse...

Should Wichita cancel any future games with ESU now that they're a Top 10 ranked team?

Suzi Marshall 11 months 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?

Kent Richardson 11 months ago

It's a balance between inertia (it takes an effort) and complacency (I'll run with the herd). JoJo is still a UFO and not enough of a perceived threat to make them look beyond a box score or big momma's highlight machine. Glitter and titter.

Ron Franklin 11 months ago

I guess at least people won't be able to say that Self wastes talent a la Selby. If he has to take credit for Wiggins sliding back, then he also gets to take credit for Embiids progress.

Erich Hartmann 11 months ago

Disagree. Self didnt "waste" ANYTHING with Josh Selby. Here are the correct facts: The NCAA wasted 8 games that Josh could have been eligible for. He got hurt once in the summer (hand), then a different injury (foot) after the USC game in AFH where he saved our home win streak. He remained less than 80% until a month after the VCU loss. Self tried to play him. Selby was also diving into tables after loose balls. The only "waste" was that Josh himself made the wrong decision to go pro, and is now in China. He should have used a royalty-program's hi-profile ESPN games and March Madness exposure to his own advantage, but he did not use KU's free publicity.

I'm sorry for you that you have been carrying around mis-information and misconceptions about Selby...man, its been 3 yrs since he's been gone. Fate + NCAA screwed him. And he compounded it by leaving too soon. Self thought he was going to stay...so Self actually got hosed a bit by that situation also.

Walter Bridges 11 months ago

Erich..all good points and I agree..the only issue is 'perception' which isn't based on fact.

Mike Barnhart 11 months ago

I believe Ron was referring to "perception." People (including recruits) may perceive that Selby was not "coached up" at KU. In reality, Selby is not and never has been an NBA quality player. The recruiting services were flat our wrong about the guy.

RJ King 11 months ago

The criteria makes it more difficult to assess freshman - "candidates must be full time students with a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 or higher throughout their college career" and "outstanding contributions to team play and citizenship are mandatory for selection," yet Parker and Gordon among the ten.

East Coast/West Coast bias may be a factor, as the (over 1,000) voters are sportswriters and sportscasters who collectively represent each of the 50 states - AND the number of voters from each state is based on the state’s population. However, that means Texas has a bunch of votes and still Randle is not much higher than Wiggins.

Parker impressed immediately. If the award were handed out right now, I'd give him the nod over any Kansas player. Again, NBA drafts on potential, so Joel much closer to the top on that (than others mentioned in the "top ten.")

It's a long horse race. I think the mail-in voters do so just before the Sweet Sixteen, with online voters just before the FF. At this point in the season, the Wooden Award is non-news for a slow day.

Dirk Medema 11 months ago

As much as Jo is realizing more of his potential than any of us ever anticipated, it just shows more and more how much remains untapped. We all also realize that the draft is still based on potential. It also shouldn't come as a shock to anyone that awards, especially the hype in advance is based on O #'s. If our team is deep and balanced, the players won't receive as much award recognition - just like '08. NC's are better.

Dirk Medema 11 months ago

Also worth noting - "ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan has listed his top 10 candidates ..." The machine all all it's nuts and bolts are infallible. The machine all all it's nuts and bolts are infallible. The machine all all it's nuts and bolts are infallible. ...

John Randall 11 months ago

Outstanding college player and outstanding NBA prospect fit different sets of criteria ...

Armen Kurdian 11 months 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.

Erich Hartmann 11 months ago

Umm...maybe G'town "not on their game" had to do with KU's well-played defense? Just give a little credit. Even Jay Bilas was praising KU's defense.

Also, credit Villanova and Colorado for throwing crafty game plans at a very young frosh KU team (it worked...). Both teams were well-coached. But I bet neither Colo or Villanova want to meet KU again later this season...

Jack Wilson 11 months 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.

John Randall 11 months ago

Should be no surprise that karate chop to head and neck resulted in more than one injury. Either a concussion or bruised nerve in neck leave Perry vulnerable to further injury from less flagrant contact, at least for a few weeks.

Dirk Medema 11 months 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.

Bryce Landon 11 months ago

Would that include an NCAA National Title trophy among the hardware?

John Randall 11 months ago

Any single-elimination event is a crap shoot, but there is no reason yet to rule out either a (more impressive) tenth straight conference title OR a national championship.

Dirk Medema 11 months 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.

Bryce Landon 11 months ago

"The KSU"? Kansas State is no Ohio State by any stretch. Just sayin'...

Dirk Medema 11 months ago

half switched from "the kitties". Trying to be more respectful. Ooops.

Lance Topeka 11 months 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)

Aaron Paisley 11 months ago

Here's how Toledo got their nickname per wikipedia.

When The University of Toledo played the then-powerful Carnegie Institute of Technology in football on September 29, 1923, Pittsburgh sports writers were surprised to learn that UT did not have a nickname. Though an underdog, Toledo fought formidably, recovering a series of embarrassing fumbles by favored Tech. Pittsburgh writers pressed James E. Neal (1904–1983),[1][2] a UT junior pharmacy student and writer for The Campus Collegian who was working in the press box, to come up with a nickname for his school's team. Despite UT's 32-12 loss, the student labeled the team "Skyrockets," obviously impressed by his alma mater's flashy performance against a superior team. William B. Hook, who started as an unknown substitute guard and ended a hero, grabbed a Carnegie fumble out of the air and raced 99 yards for a touchdown. A sportswriters remarked that Hook looked more like a rocket than a skyrocket as Carnegie Tech players failed to overtake him. Other writers began using the name "Rockets" with quotation marks in their stories, but after one week the quotation marks were dropped and The University of Toledo's nickname remained the Rockets.

Erich Hartmann 11 months 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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