Toledo (12-1) turned in a dominant defensive performance on Saturday afternoon en route to its 10th straight victory, a convincing 77-45 triumph over Penn (10-3) in Savage Arena. The victory came against a Quaker squad which had posted wins over defending NCAA champion Villanova and Miami (Fla.) earlier this season.
Penn's 45 points were the fewest by a Rocket opponent since a 59-44 win over Eastern Michigan in the 2014 Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals. In addition, Toledo limited the Quakers to a 30.5 field-goal percentage, the lowest by a UT opponent since Miami (Ohio) shot 30.4 percent on Feb. 13, 2016.
Seniors Jaelan Sanford and Nate Navigato paced a balanced attack with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Sophomore Marreon Jackson also scored in double digits for the fourth time in five games, finishing with 12 points and a team-high three steals.
Junior Willie Jackson tied his career high with 16 rebounds to go along with eight points. He teamed with junior Luke Knapke (9 pts., 10 rebounds) and freshman AJ Edu (6 pts., 7 reb.) to help the Rockets own a 45-35 advantage on the glass.
Knapke and Edu also dominated the paint defensively with four and two blocked shots, respectively.
Junior AJ Brodeur led Penn with a game-high 19 points.
Toledo will begin league play on Friday, Jan. 4 with a nationally-televised matchup vs. West Division rival Ball State (9-4). Tip-off time for the contest will be 7:00 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Toledo led for the first six minutes with its biggest advantage coming after Chris Darrington's trey put the Rockets up, 9-4, at the 15:08 mark.
• The lead changed hands four times over the next 11 minutes until an 8-0 spurt put UT ahead to stay, 30-25, with 2:44 remaining in the half. Four different Rockets - Jaelan Sanford, Nate Navigato, Willie Jackson and Marreon Jackson - scored during the stretch.
• Sanford closed out the half with a pair of baskets in the final 1:10 to give UT a 34-27 halftime lead.
• Toledo shot 55.2 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
• The Quakers cut Toledo's lead to six twice in the first three minutes after halftime.
• Back-to-back three-pointers from Navigato provided the Rockets their first double-digit cushion, 44-32, with 16:29 remaining.
• Six straight points from AJ Edu pushed the Rockets to their first 20-point lead, 57-37, with just under 10 minutes remaining.
• Penn's deficit didn't fall under 18 points the rest of the way.
• The Rockets limited Penn to 18 points and a 24.1 shooting mark in the second half.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• The Rockets' 12-1 start matches their best start since opening the 2013-14 campaign with a 12-1 record.
• Toledo is 7-0 at home for the first time since winning all 15 home games in its 2013-14 season.
• Toledo had fewer than four players score in double digits for just the third time this season.
• The Rockets' seven three-pointers and 19 three-point shots were their fewest since a 67-60 win over UC-Irvine on Nov. 21.
• Toledo held a double-digit rebounding advantage for the seventh time this season.
• UT registered a season-high seven blocked shots.
• The Rockets committed just 10 turnovers, marking the fifth straight home game UT has had 10 or fewer miscues.
• Willie Jackson registered his ninth double-digit rebounding effort this season.
• Luke Knapke blocked a season-high four shots.