BY JACK KIZER | Sideline Reporter for Ball State Basketball on WCRD 91.3 FM
Ball State Basketball comes off of a tough loss on the road to Valparaiso and looks to rebound in a long home stretch beginning with a matchup against IU-Kokomo Tuesday followed by IUPUI on Saturday. Saturday’s game against the Jaguars is produced by Sports Link and will air on ESPN3.
Valparaiso 79 Ball State 73
On Sunday, the Cardinals started promisingly, but couldn’t hold on as the Valparaiso Crusaders pulled away down the stretch.
After a 33-30 halftime lead, Ball State gave up 49 second-half points to Valpo. That is the fifth time in six games this season in which the Cardinals have given up 40-or-more second half points.
Another team issue exploited in Sunday’s in-state matchup was Ball State’s inability to take care of the ball. The Cardinals committed 23 turnovers, nearly six more than the team average of 16.8 per game.
Senior forward Franko House and sophomore guard Tayler Persons were held to single-digit scoring for the first time this season. Persons ranks fifth in the MAC at 17.3 points per game, while House is averaging 14.8.
Despite the loss, and continued struggle with second-half defense and turnovers, Ball State did show positive signs. The offense was efficient shooting 51 percent from the field and 43 percent from behind the arc. Of the 27 shots made, 19 of them were assisted, proving the ball movement was at least satisfactory.
The turnovers, however, were simply too much for the team to overcome as the Crusaders scored 21 points of BSU’s turnovers. The loss moved Ball State to 3-3 and Valparaiso to 6-1 on the season.
House became the 29th member of Ball State’s 1,000-Point Club in Sunday’s game at Valparaiso. House surpassed the mark with a three-point play in the second half and now owns 1,004 points for his career. He is one of only four players in Ball State history with at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 175 assists in a career.
The Next Two:
Ball State’s next two games against IU-Kokomo and IUPUI are fantastic opportunities for Cardinal victories.
IU-Kokomo is 2-5 on the season including a 117-54 loss at MAC opponent Central Michigan. The Cardinals and Cougars have met twice all time and both have been blowout victories in Muncie: 90-54 (2014) and 101-62 (2015). The matchup serves as a confidence builder and chance for the team to work on its recent struggles. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. and tipoff is at 7 p.m. with Sports Link Radio on 91.3 WCRD.
IUPUI, out of the Summit League, is more of a challenge than the Cougars, but have struggled as of late. The Jaguars have lost its last two games, moving the team’s record to 2-4 on the season.
Against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Nov. 26, Senior Matt O’Leary shouldered the offensive load with a career-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting and classmate Darell Combs added 16 points, including some clutch late threes.
Ball State and IUPUI have split the last four meetings, but Ball State grabbed the close win last season 71-68. Last year’s leading scorer, Franko House, was held to two points and fouled out of the game, while Francis Kiapway led the way with 13 points.
Saturday’s game will be a Sports Link production available live on ESPN 3. Radio coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. and tipoff is at 2 p.m. with Sports Link Radio on 91.3 WCRD.