By: Connor Onion | @Conion22
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For the second time this season Ball State (19-10, 10-6) takes on Central Michigan (16-13, 9-7). In the last meeting Feb. 13, the Cardinals defeated the Chippewas, 75-63, to hand Central Michigan only its third loss in 30 home games.
Ball State can clinch the Mid-American Conference West Division championship outright with a win Tuesday over Central Michigan. The Cardinals are one game clear of the Chippewas with two regular season games remaining. They are one game behind Akron for the overall MAC lead.
Ball State came into Saturday’s game against Eastern Michigan as the 11th most productive scoring attack in the Mid-American Conference. They left Saturday pouring on perhaps the most explosive offensive performance in school history.
Say it with me: One Hundred Fifteen Points.
The 115 mark is the fifth most in school history and the most ever against a Division I opponent. The previous record against a Division I foe came in a 105-104 loss to Akron in 2003.
No team in a Mid-American Conference league game had reached such heights since 2002 when Kent State dropped 116 points on Marshall.
Ball State was powered by 18 threes, also a school record.
Seven of those came from Sean Sellers. Sellers’ career has come full circle as he matched his career high of 26 points, the same number her totaled in his college debut vs. Utah a season ago.
Thank You, Seniors
Ball State celebrates the senior class in tonight’s home finale with Central Michigan.
When asked to describe this group, Ball State Head Coach James Whitford was quick to respond, “unique.”
There’s only one four-year player amongst Jeremiah Davis, Nate Wells, Bik Gil and Bo Calhoun.
Davis transferred from Cincinnati with two years of eligibility remaining. Nate Wells transferred after last season from Bradley with one year to spare. Bik Gill came in at the beginning of last season as a junior from Owens Community College.
The man with the greatest story to tell is Bo Calhoun.
During his first two and a half seasons in Muncie, it was not uncommon for Calhoun to get down on himself.
“There would be times when I would cry,” he told the South Bend Tribune. “When I wasn’t playing or wasn’t playing enough.”
The Washington High School graduate averaged a pedestrian two points and three rebounds as a sophomore.
Last year as a junior, Franko House encouraged Calhoun to be more aggressive. The aggression culminated with a 30-point explosion against Toledo late last season.
Ever since, Calhoun has been a steady force in the middle for Ball State. His numbers have escalated to 11 points and nine rebounds per outing. His work on the boards is fourth best in the conference.
“We’ll miss his example,” Whitford said.
Levels of Accomplishment
History is on the line again tonight.
With a win, Ball State clinches the West Division outright. Since the divisions were created in 1998, titles have been elusive for the Cardinals.
Ball State split the West title three ways in 2009 and has not won the division outright since 2002.
Coach Whitford admits it would be special to claim the division and would be a testament to the progress made over the course of three seasons.
However, Whitford is never satisfied.
“There are different levels we are playing for. The overall race in the conference is not over, we are playing for a seed, and most importantly, and we want to play our best basketball heading into the conference tournament.”
The Cardinals have won six of their last eight games. Are the Cardinals playing their best basketball right now?
“Yes,” Whitford said.
Win tonight, and Ball State will be west champions and a 20-game winner for the first time since 2002.