Holy mackerel do we need to make that last Ball State game a distant memory.
The Cardinals (2-3) host instate foe Indiana State (3-4) on Saturday in Muncie. BSU can't get back to the home floor quick enough. Wednesday night the Cardinals traveled to Eastern Illinois in a game that can only be described as frigid. Ball State's 24-18 halftime lead was quickly erased, courtesy of a 14-2 Panther run to kick off the second half. From there EIU cruised to a 61-54 win in which BSU only managed to shoot 30% from the floor.
"We were completely frustrated with our offense and we really let that impact our ability to defend in the second half," Cardinals coach James Whitford said.
Critical to turning things around on Saturday will be the guard play for the Cardinals. Freshman Sean Sellers entered the game against EIU as the MAC's leading scorer at 19.5 points per game. Wednesday he was held to just four points in 36 minutes.
In his return from a two week suspension, last season's MAC Freshman of the Year Zavier Turner led all scorers with 20 points. Perhaps most crippling was the shooting performance of Franko House. The sophomore forward shot 1-11 from the field for just 3 points. He did lead all Cardinals with 10 rebounds.
Freshman Jeremie Tyler also struggled against the Panthers. He'll look to rebound from his 3-10 shooting night. Matt Kamieniecki and Rocco Belcaster split minutes in the frontcourt against EIU combining for 6 points and 6 rebounds.
Ball State's Missouri Valley Conference opponent enters Saturday's matchup on three game slide, albeit against top competition. The Sycamores have dropped the last three against Illinois, Memphis, and Butler respectively. Most recently ISU fell to the Bulldogs 77-54, in a game that was decided by the half.
The bulk of Indiana State's scoring is handled by the backcourt. Junior Devonte Brown averages 13.4 points per game on 44% shooting. Junior Khristian Smith contributes 12 points per contest, and shoots 33% from the field.
Like Ball State, the Sycamores get significant minutes from freshman. Guard Alex Etherington averages 18 minutes per game, and Brenton Scott plays more than 26 per, and is ISU's third leading scorer.
Indiana State boasts a senior laden frontcourt led by Jake Kitchell. Kitchell averages 8 points and 5 rebounds per game. Justin Gant averages 6 and 4, but was held scoreless for the first time this season against Butler.
Both teams hit the road after Saturday's game. Indiana State will travel to Iona, and Ball State has a date with Valparaiso. The Cardinals and Sycamores tip off from Worthen Arena in Muncie at 2pm ET.