The UT men’s basketball team, led by upperclassmen play, won a tight matchup against MAC-West foe, Central Michigan. The matchup came after an overtime loss the Rockets had to Kent State.
This contest against Central Michigan is the first of two meetings between the two with the Rockets traveling to Mount Pleasant, Michigan in March for their next meeting.
The contest started slow for the Rockets who tripped out of the gates and trailed early, 17-7. A prompt timeout by head coach Tod Kowalczyk brought the Rockets out from slumber when they responded with a 10-2 run led by third-year center Luke Knapke.
Knapke kept up his phenomenal play and was aided by fourth-year guard Jaelan Sanford, who paced the Rockets as they used the rest of the first half to claim the lead and the momentum going into halftime, 34-30.
Sanford netted 14 first-half points as the Rockets remained dominant on the boards.
This dominant play on the boards carried into the second half. The game was neck and neck as time ticked away.
Both teams had small runs of 9-2 a piece, resulting in a 53-51 Central lead. The contest went back and forth from there and both squads found themselves in a deadlock at 67.
With 15 seconds left, Knapke threw down an alley oop that sent Savage arena into a frenzy and gave the Rockets the game-sealing lead, which they held onto for a 76-72 win.
A piece of history was made for the Rockets as they blocked 11 shots in the contest, the most in a single game in school history. The Rockets had their worst three-point shooting game of the season, but were still able to prevail against the stingy Chippewas.
Sanford and Knapke led the scoring charge for the Rockets with 22 and 21 points respectively.
“I thought our late game execution was spot on,” remarked Kowalczyk.
“It was a very good win for us coming off a tough loss against Kent,” said second-year guard Marreon Jackson.
The Rockets continue MAC play Jan. 29 when they travel to Oxford, Ohio to play the Miami Redhawks.