Western Michigan (18-8) at Ball State (4-21)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 26, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthen Arena (11,500) -- Muncie, Indiana. Television: TWC. Home Record: Western Michigan 12-2, Ball State 4-8. Away Record: Western Michigan 4-6, Ball State 0-13. Neutral Record: Western Michigan 2-0, Ball State 0-0. Conference Record: Western Michigan 11-3, Ball State 1-13. Series Record: Western Michigan leads, 60-58.
GAME NOTES: The Western Michigan Broncos will do everything in their power to improve on their current seven-game win streak as they travel to face the Ball State Cardinals in Mid-American Conference play at Worthen Arena.
Western Michigan has won seven consecutive games dating back to the beginning of this month, and has won nine of its last 10 games altogether. The Broncos defeated Eastern Michigan on Sunday, 75-67, at home to improve to 11-3 in the conference. Thanks to the recent success, the Broncos own a share of the MAC West Division lead with Toledo.
Ball State, on the other hand, is having about as rough a season as any team could experience. The Cardinals have lost nine straight games and 13 of their last 14 overall. The last win for Ball State was over a month ago - a 71-68 victory over Buffalo at home. At 1-13 in the conference standings, the Cardinals occupy the bottom spot in the MAC West.
Western Michigan holds a slim all-time series lead over Ball State, 60-58. The Broncos' two-game lead was extended from just a single-game lead back on Jan. 26 when WMU outlasted the Cardinals, 62-53.
Western Michigan jumped ahead of its intrastate rival Eastern Michigan early and led at the half by eight points, 34-26. The Broncos were able to thwart any comeback attempt by erasing any Eagles' offensive baskets with offense of their own. Shayne Whittington led Western Michigan with 22 points and 11 rebounds, and David Brown contributed 20 points of his own in the win. Austin Richie chipped in 10 points, and A.J. Avery came off the bench to grab eight rebounds.
Brown and Whittington are a dangerous one-two punch for the Broncos this season. Brown, the guard who is adept at scoring from the outside, leads the team with 18.7 ppg on 41.7 percent shooting from the field. His 37 steals is the most on the Broncos, and a 1.7 apg average is third on the squad. Whittington is the inside presence for WMU. He scores 15.1 ppg and brings down a team-high 8.8 rpg with 28 blocked shots. Connar Tava adds 11.8 ppg with a team-high 2.8 apg.
Ball State suffered through yet another loss Sunday against MAC West Division co-leader Toledo. The Rockets jumped ahead by 11 points when the buzzer sounded at the end of the first half, and the short-staffed Cardinals weren't able to shave any points off the Toledo lead in the second. Chris Bond scored 22 points to lead Ball State with eight rebounds, eclipsing 1,000 career points in the process. Jesse Berry netted 17 points, hitting 5-of-12 from 3- point range, and Mading Thok chipped in 12 points with five rebounds.
Bond's hot play recently has led to his taking over as the team's top scorer. Bond is averaging 12.7 ppg this season on 46.2 percent shooting from the floor with a team-high 25 steals and a second-best 5.9 rpg. The man he surpassed as the team's leading scorer, Zavier Turner, is right behind Bond with a 12.2 ppg average and a team-high 89 assists. Berry checks in at 11.1 ppg, and Majok Majok, who is questionable to play with a sprained right ankle, adds 10.5 ppg with a team-high 10 rpg.
It's not enough that Ball State is weakened by superior competition in the MAC this season, but the Cardinals are experiencing some injuries to key players that are leaving the team extremely hobbled.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 79, Ball State 63
02/26 10:35:35 ET