BY JACK KIZER | Ball State Sports Link
Ball State rolls into this week off of two straight wins. The Cardinals sit atop the Mid-American Conference West Division with a record of 5-3 and 14-7 overall. Two more home games are on slate this week and are prime chances for the Cardinals to extend their lead in the standings.
Ball State is coming off an 84-78 victory over Western Michigan behind 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting from sophomore guard Tayler Persons. The Cardinals shot a season-next 58.3 percent from the floor, their second-highest mark against a Division I opponent over the past decade.
Tuesday’s game marks the midway point of the conference schedule. The Cardinals currently share the MAC West Division lead with Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois.
Ball State vs. Toledo : January 31st, 7pm
|Toledo Team Stats||Ball State Team Stats|
|PPG: 81||PPG: 79.9|
|PA: 78.5||PA: 73.4|
|FG%: 48%||FG%: 47%|
|3FG%: 35% (158-148)||3FG%: 38% (183-486)|
|FT%: 70% (370-528)||FT%: 72% (321-445)|
|RPG: 37 (Margin +3)||RPG: 38.7 (Margin: +4.0)|
|APG: 15.7||APG: 16.4|
|TOPG: 13.5 (-2.4)||TOPG: 15.3 (Margin -1.7)|
|SPG: 4.1||SPG: 6.4|
|BPG: 2.6||BPG: 3.4|
Toledo trails Ball State in the MAC West standings by one game, setting up a crucial matchup between the Rockets and Cardinals Tuesday at Worthen Arena.
By the numbers, it looks to be a game where Ball State can continue to score the ball effectively. Over the past six contests, the Cardinals are averaging 87 points per game. Toledo relinquishes upwards of 78 points per game and allows opponents to shoot an average of 47 percent from the field every time on the court.
With Ball State’s offense rolling, that’s music to the ears of all the Cardinal scorers. Ball State’s defense, however, has a big challenge ahead.
Jonathan Williams for the Rockets leads the team in scoring at 20 points per game, followed by his backcourt partner Jaelan Sanford. The two guards combined for 50 points against Northern Illinois on Saturday, and are equally dangerous scoring threats.
To compliment Sanford and Williams, Toledo boasts the third leading rebounder in the country down low. Steve Taylor Jr. is averaging 12.2 boards per game and 15 points each contest.
Ball State’s frontcourt defenders of Tayler Persons and Jeremie Tyler will have their hands full, but Trey Moses and Tahjai Teague down low will have quite the task themselves trying to limit Taylor’s scoring and rebounding.
A key category with unusual numbers going in to Tuesday’s game is turnover margin.
Both teams have a negative turnover margin, while a majority of Ball State’s opponents have had a positive margin. The Cardinals turn it over more per game, but Toledo has a worse margin at -2.4. This is good news for a Ball State offense which is inconsistent in taking care of the ball.
With the statistics for this one being relatively even, confidence and momentum is often a tie-breaker — two things the Ball State Cardinals have right now.
Ball State vs. Buffalo : February 3rd, 9pm
|Buffalo Team Stats||Ball State Team Stats|
|PPG: 75||PPG: 79.9|
|PA: 74.5||PA: 73.4|
|FG%: 43%||FG%: 47%|
|3FG%: 44%||3FG%: 38%|
|FT%: 67%||FT%: 72%|
|RPG: 40.7 (Margin +4.1)||RPG: 38.7 (Margin: +4.0)|
|APG: 14.9||APG: 16.4|
|TOPG: 14.7||TOPG: 15.3|
|SPG: 5.5||SPG: 6.4|
|BPG: 4.5||BPG: 3.4|
The next opponent for Ball State following Tuesday’s tilt is Buffalo. The Bulls are one of the Cardinals’ five conference victories to date and it came big by a score of 92-77 just two weeks ago.
Those 92 points were surprising because Buffalo had a top 50 defense in the country heading into the game. Now the Cardinals get the Bulls at home, a court they have defended well with an 8-3 record.
Most of the statistics shown above favor Ball State. The odd category sticking out, however, is three-point percentage. The Bulls lead the MAC in shooting from deep, while most of Ball State’s opponents this season shoot a worse percentage on average than the Cardinals.
This makes defending senior forward David Kadiri down low even tougher for Ball State. A player that only averages five points per game, managed 23 against the Cardinals in the first meeting between these two teams.
The Bulls’ leading scorer, Blake Hamilton, contributed 14 points, but that wasn’t nearly enough for Buffalo to overcome Ball State’s offense. Six players were in double figures for the Cardinals — Tayler Persons, Franko House, Francis Kiapway, Jeremie Tyler, Ryan Weber and Franko House.
If Ball State’s offense runs as smoothly as it did in Buffalo, it looks like another win is imminent for the Cardinals in this one.