After a 71-59 loss at Toledo two weeks ago, Miami men’s basketball sat at 0-4 in the Mid-American Conference and was tied for the worst record in the league.

Oh, how quickly things can change.

Just 14 days later, the RedHawks are riding a three-game win streak and have the opportunity to improve to .500 in the MAC with a win over the same Toledo Rockets tonight.

The Rockets are the first opponent Miami will see twice this season, though neither team looks exactly as they did in the first matchup.

After sophomore guard Spencer Littleson started against the RedHawks on Jan. 15, junior forward Willie Jackson rejoined the first team for the three games since then. Jackson is Toledo’s leading rebounder at 10.3 boards per game.

Miami also made a rotation switch, with head coach Jack Owens inserting redshirt senior guard Abdoulaye Harouna into the starting lineup for sophomore guard Jalen Adaway.

While each player’s court time remains unchanged, the substitution has made Adaway the team’s new sixth man — a role that was supposed to be filled by sophomore guard Isaiah Coleman-Lands before he went down with an injury.

The RedHawks have a bit of momentum for the first time since their non-conference schedule ended in December. They’re coming off a 67-53 home victory over the previous MAC No. 1 Bowling Green Falcons. Owens called the game his squad’s best defensive effort of the season.

But with the way his team’s been playing, Owens feels confident about Miami’s chances of ending its 11-game losing streak to Toledo.

“At the end of the day, we just have to continue to execute on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively,” Owens said. “I think if we do that, I definitely like our chances.”

As it proved last time, Toledo won’t be a pushover. The Rockets have won four of their last five and currently hold first place in the MAC West division.

“I just think it’s going to be a great game for us,” Owens said. “Hopefully, we have the carry-over from practice to game, and we’ll have success.”

SCOUTING REPORT

 

THE GAME

Tipoff: 7 p.m. tonight at Millett Hall

TV/Radio: ESPN+/Miami IMG Sports Network

 

MIAMI REDHAWKS

Record: 11-9 (3-4 MAC)

Offense: 73.4 ppg

Defense: 70.2 ppg

PROJECTED LINEUP

Player (position, height, key stat)

Darrian Ringo (guard, 6’2”, 5.3 apg)

Nike Sibande (guard, 6’4”, 16.3 ppg)

Abdoulaye Harouna (guard, 6’5”, 4.3 ppg)

Dalonte Brown (forward, 6’7”, 13.4 ppg)

Bam Bowman (forward, 6’8”, 9.3 ppg)

 

TOLEDO ROCKETS

Record: 16-4 (4-3 MAC)

Offense: 80.7 ppg

Defense: 69.2 ppg

PROJECTED LINEUP

Player (position, height, key stat)

Marreon Jackson (guard, 6’0”, 10.6 ppg)

Jaelan Sanford (guard, 6’4”, 17.0 ppg)

Willie Jackson (forward, 6’6”, 10.3 rpg)

Nate Navigato (forward, 6’8”, 12.2 ppg)

Luke Knapke (center, 6’11”, 11.7 ppg)

 

PLAYER TO WATCH

Jaelan Sanford

Sanford torched the RedHawks for 15 first-half points on Jan. 15 but was held to just four in the second half. While he’s a solid shooter (36 percent on 3-pointers), Sanford also possesses the ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays off the dribble, whether it be driving to the basket or dishing out to open teammates. He ranks second on the Rockets in total assists.

“[Sanford] is their best player,” Owens said. “He makes them go. He’s capable of scoring points in bunches.”

Nike Sibande figures to be Sanford’s main defender tonight.

NCAA NET Ranking: Miami (149); Toledo (62)

 

vinelca@miamioh.edu

@ChrisAVinel

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