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2017 MAC Men’s Basketball Preview: Toledo Rockets vs. Ball State Cardinals

Jonathan Williams and the Toledo Rockets look to bounce back against Ball State

Toledo Rockets guard Jonathan Williams (1) puts up a nice finger roll at the basket
Toledo Athletics

The Toledo Rockets (11-10) will waltz into John E. Worthen Arena on Tuesday night to face the Ball State Cardinals (14-7) in an inter-division showdown. Toledo lost a heart-breaker in their last contest to Northern Illinois by just two points, while Ball Sate handed Western Michigan a six point loss. The Cardinals will try to solidify their lead in the MAC West by attempting to bulldoze an offensive heavy Toledo Rockets squad.

Toledo has the offensive advantage in this one with their three headed monster. Jonathan Williams, Jaelen Sanford, and of course the big man down low, Steve Taylor Jr. Williams has been sensational this year averaging just above 20 points per game and shooting 45.7 percent from the field. Sanford has been hot and cold all season, but almost led the team to victory against Northern Illinois with 29 points. Finally, Taylor has been remarkable as well, averaging a large double-double with 15.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. Clearly, offense has not been the issue for the Rockets. On the defensive side they have struggled, allowing 78.5 points per game. Their offense better be explosive as ever on Tuesday, as they are facing a Ball State squad who preach defensive religiously.

This Ball State defense has been phenomenal all year long. They have allowed 73.4 points per game for the season, and force their opponents to turnover the ball averaging 6.4 steals per game. Their offensive production has been stellar in their last five games, averaging 88.2 points per game, which is much better than their season average at 79.9 points per game. The offensive leader for the Cardinals has been sophomore Taylor Persons, averaging 15.7 points and 5.0 assists per game. Persons was masterful in his last game out, going 9-for-11 from the field with 24 points. The Rockets will have their hands full with the complete team that Ball State has proven to be.

The key for the Rockets in this one will be controlling the ball and being methodical on offense. The more time they spend juicing out each offensive possession to get a quality shot attempt, the less time the Cardinals will have to push the ball up court and do the same on the other side. The key for both teams really is patience. Ball State has shown that they can play this style of play, now the Rockets need to prove that they can compete with one of the best teams in the MAC.

Ball State is favored by 4.