Ball State (2-6) first-year head coach Steve Whitford will have a lot of searching to do to find some positives after the Cardinals received a beatdown from Marquette (7-4) Tuesday night, losing 91-53, their fifth straight.
Marquette, members of the new-look Big East, came in with a simple game plan: they were going to use their size to dominate the inside game, and they executed it effectively. The vast majority of the Golden Eagles' points came in the paint, and they out-rebounded the Cardinals 41-30.
This plan also was successful in neutralizing Ball State's best player in big man Majok Majok. By attacking the paint, they put him in foul trouble early and kept his contributions to a minimum. He finished with 4 points, 6 rebounds, and fouled out.
The offense never seemed to be able to get in a rhythm, finishing with 38% shooting from the floor. Their free throw percentage was even worse, making only 6 on 21 attempts for 28.6%.
Turnovers continued to plague the young Cardinals, giving the ball over 23 times, which was greater than their number of made baskets (19). Marquette constantly interrupted the Ball State passing lanes and at times used full court press to force errant throws.
The only bright spot for Ball State was emerging star freshman Zavier Turner out of Indianapolis. The point guard, who leads the team with 13.4 points per game, finished with 16 points, but also committed 6 turnovers.
Perhaps the most curious move by Whitford in this game was starting freshman Mark Alstork instead of veteran and second-leading scorer Jesse Berry. It seemed to work, as Alstork finished with 11 points, and Berry with 2 on 1-6 shooting.
Marquette had seven players with double digit scoring, led by senior Chris Otule with 14 points.
Ball State will have to regroup before taking on Southern Illinois (2-8) in Carbondale, Illinois on Saturday.
Marquette will face New Mexico (7-3) in Las Vegas Saturday.