Ball State (2-2) at Utah (5-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 27, 10 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Ball St. 2-1, Utah 5-0. Away Record: Ball St. 0-1, Utah 0-0. Neutral Record: Ball St. 0-0, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: Ball St. 0-0, Utah 0-0. Series Record: Utah leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Utah Utes hope to close out their season-opening, six-game homestand with a perfect record, as they entertain the Ball State Cardinals on Wednesday night.
Ball State is an even 2-2 on the young season, the team sandwiching its two losses around a pair of wins. The Cardinals came close to bringing a 3-1 mark into this contest, but dropped a 59-58 decision to Butler last Saturday, marking the club's first home loss in three opportunities.
Utah opened the 2013-14 campaign with a 128-44 rout of visiting Evergreen State, and has posted four double-digit victories since. The latest win came in a 71-57 verdict against Savannah State last Saturday in the final game of the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, and the team's 5-0 start is its best since the 1998 team made a run to the Final Four. It's only the third 5-0 start for the Utes in the last 45 years.
Utah won the only previous meeting with Ball State, taking a 72-57 decision during the 1992 NIT.
With a record sitting at .500, it's not surprising to see Ball State sporting a similar scoring average (72.8 ppg) to that of its foes (69.2 ppg). The Cardinals boast four double-digit scorers in the form of Zavier Turner (15.3 ppg, 4.3 apg), Jesse Berry (14.5 ppg), Chris Bond (12.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Majok Majok (10.0 ppg, 10.5 rpg), and it also owns a +9.0 rebounding margin. Taking better care of the basketball will be paramount to any success the team achieves this season, as it's guilty of 15.3 tpg at the moment.
Turner is shooting 62 percent from 3-point range early on, but he tallied just eight points in the recent loss to Butler. Instead, it was Majok who led the way with 15 points and 11 boards, while Bond finished with 14 and seven, respectively. The Cardinals made good on 42 percent of their field goal attempts, including 8-of-20 from beyond the arc, but they coughed the ball up 17 times, compared to only nine by the Bulldogs.
Jordan Loveridge scored a career-high 25 points and pulled down nine rebounds to help Utah claim a 14-point victory over Savannah State on Saturday night. Princeton Onwas came off the bench to net 14 points, and Delon Wright finished with a line of 12 points, five rebounds and four steals for the Utes, who struggled from long range (2-of-11), but converted 25-of-27 free throws and committed only five turnovers.
Loveridge has gotten off to a monster start, averaging a double-double consisting of 17.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per contest, while shooting 52.7 percent from the field and handing out 3.0 apg. Wright (13.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.0 apg), Brandon Taylor (10.8 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.2 spg) and Renan Lenz (10.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.6 bpg) have all been productive as well for a club that puts up a whopping 91.2 ppg (thanks to the 222 points scored in the first two games) in hitting 54.5 percent of its total shots. The Utes' defensive effort yields only 54.4 ppg, with foes shooting a mere 35.2 percent from the floor, which includes a ridiculously-low 13.8 percent of 3-point tries (13-of-94).
Despite Ball State having some talent on the roster, the Cardinals will likely have their wings clipped by the Utes, who are looking to close out their lengthy homestand on a high note.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah 78, Ball State 63
11/27 10:39:08 ET