The Cardinals are coming off their worst shooting night of the season in their loss to James Madison on Tuesday. Ball State shot just thirty percent from the field, and a disgraceful 26 percent from behind the arc.
The Cards can be dangerous from all over the court though. Freshman Sean Sellers will need to get back to his usual form if the Cards want any shot at a victory. Sellers is the team's leading scorer and is averaging thirteen points per game on the young season. But, against James Madison, Sellers hurt his right knee near the middle of the second half. He also finished with just two points and didn't record a field goal; a large reason why the Cardinals fell by twenty on Wednesday.
If Sellers is unable to go on Saturday, that means that reigning MAC Freshman of the Year Zavier Turner will have to step in a big way for Ball State. Since Turner's return from suspension, the sophomore guard has put up at least thirteen points all but once. Turner is also averaging 4.5 assists per game, a big reason for Ball State's high early season shooting percentage. Ball State is still shooting over forty percent from outside on the season, despite the cold shooting night versus the Dukes.
Forward Rocco Belcaster will be looking for a rebound game after scoring no points in two of BSU's last three games. Matt Kamieniecki will also be looking for more playing time after playing just thirteen minutes in Wednesday's loss. Jeremie Tyler will be another name to watch for Ball State. The freshman is second on the team in minutes played, and along with Sellers, has provided the spark for the Ball State offense at multiple points this season.
San Diego State has had one common opponent with Ball State, a 53-49 victory over Utah. The 7-3 Aztecs dropped Wednesday's match-up with Cincinnati on the road, 71-62. SDSU also had another bad loss to Washington earlier in the season, scoring just 36 points for the game. But, other than those two games, there hasn't been much for Aztec fans to complain about. San Diego State has victories over the previously mentioned Utes, BYU in Maui, and a one-point triumph over the always pesky Long Beach State 49ers.
The Aztecs have three players who already have played at least 250 minutes in Winston Shepard, Dwayne Polee II, and J.J. O'Brien. These three have led SDSU in points, for a team, who, unlike Ball State, relies much more their two point shooting ability than their outside shooting ability. The Aztecs shoot over 54 percent from inside the arc, compared to under 27 percent from three point land.
If the Cards can slow down SDSU to around 45 percent field goal shooting, and keep their outside shooting to SDSU's normal mark, this might provide the Cards a chance. They would need guys like Sellers, Turner, and Tyler have a big night if the Cards want a happy flight home.
Unfortunately, the loss to Cincy might be enough to light a spark for the Aztecs to pull away early. The good news is the Cards wont be held to 27 or likely even under 50 or 60 by a team who does that often to their opponents. Expect Ball State to shoot well enough to keep themselves in the game until the early-middle second half, when sustaining the high shooting marks will become improbable. Still, Ball State finds a way to force SDSU into a higher-scoring game than they probably would have liked.
Ball State 54, San Diego State 71