By: Alec Runyan
Ball State Sports Link
The Ball State men’s basketball team travels to Cincinnati on Wednesday to take on the Xavier Musketeers. The Cardinals (3-4) look to get their first true road win of the season against a very tough opponent in Xavier (7-1).
Just one of two starters returning for Ball State this season, Luke Bumbalough has set the pace for the Cardinals in the early going. The junior guard leads the Cardinals in points (13.3), assists (3.4), and minutes (33.1) played. Much like the past two seasons, Bumbalough has been a real threat from deep having already knocked down 21 threes through seven games.
“I feel good out there right now, I’m pretty confident. Obviously I feel a lot different than my freshman and sophomore year and the role I have,” Bumbalough explained. “I get a shot, I feel like it’s going to go in and I just like to get my guys involved too. I think it’s always a little different though when you create a shot for another guy, get them going and see their confidence go up. I know I’m scoring this year but I like to get other guys involved.”
Offensively the Cardinals have been impressive through the first few weeks of the season, especially given the fact they welcome so many new key contributors. Ball State has scored 70 points or more in six of its first seven games, averaging 77 points per game (third in the MAC).
Two big reasons for that have been balance and 3-point shooting. Five Cardinals currently average nine points or more (Bumbalough, Sparks, Cochran, Thomas, Windham). Ball State also leads the MAC in 3-pointers made (70) and 3-point percentage (42%).
Tyler Cochran has been a large part of the Cardinals success offensively, showing off his ability to make an impact in multiple ways. The junior transfer from Northern Illinois is second on the team in both assists (2.9) and rebounds (5.4), while also averaging just over 9 points per game. In a much needed win against a strong UMass team two weeks ago, Cochran took over with 22 points, nine rebounds, and four assists helping the Cardinals beat the Minutemen 89-86.
Where things have gone wrong for Ball State in the early going has been on the defensive side of the ball.
The Cardinals are one of just three teams in the MAC giving up 80 points or more a game. Coming off a 93-80 loss at Western Illinois last week, Ball State will look to turn things around after having a week to prepare for the Musketeers.
Ball State and Xavier will tip off at 6:30 on Wednesday, the game can be found on Fox Sports 1 (FS1). Follow along with @bsusportslink for more updates!