South Dakota (4-5) at Ball State (3-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 8, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthen Arena (11,500) -- Muncie, Indiana. Television: Ballstatesports.com. Home Record: USD 3-1, BSU 3-2. Away Record: USD 0-3, BSU 0-2. Neutral Record: USD 1-1, BSU 0-0. Conference Record: USD 1-1, BSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Ball State Cardinals will be at home first in a rare back-to- back non-conference home-and-home series, as the South Dakota Coyotes visit Worthen Arena on Saturday.
This will be the first meeting between these schools on the hardwood. They both return to action next Saturday, Dec. 15 when Ball State visits South Dakota for an instant grudge match.
The Coyotes are coming off of an 87-63 setback at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to Iowa they suffered on Tuesday. The defeat dropped South Dakota to 4-5 overall and it is also 1-1 in Summit League action after enduring a close loss to Western Illinois (73-71) before completing a rout of IUPUI (88-68). Coach Dave Boots' squad is averaging 72.9 ppg, but it is allowing opponents to score 75.4 ppg so far.
Ball State ended a four-game losing slide its last time out with an easy 76-57 victory over NAIA program Holy Cross (Ind.). Prior to that, the Cardinals were handed losses by Indiana State, Indiana, Cleveland State, and Butler. Coach Billy Taylor has a chance to guide his team back to .500 in this one as it enters with a 3-4 mark. Taylor's squad is scoring only 62.4 ppg on 39.8 percent shooting from the field while allowing 67.7 ppg. Three-point shooting is a weakness for BSU, as it has made less than a quarter of its attempts from beyond the arc.
South Dakota could not match its Big Ten opponent up front its last time out, as Iowa outscored South Dakota 54-14 in the paint and tallied 24 second chance points. The Hawkeyes also had a 50-32 edge in rebounds and brought down 20 offensive boards. Junior center Trevor Gruis led the Coyotes with 16 points and freshman guard Casey Kasperbauer added 14 points in the loss. Senior guard Juevol Myles, who leads the team with 14.9 points and 4.2 assists per game, finished 2-of-12 from the floor for eight points with two assists to six turnovers. Gruis and junior guard Karim Rowson are tied for second on the squad in scoring with 11.8 ppg each.
The Cardinals looked like a powerhouse versus their NAIA opponent on Wednesday as they outscored the Saints 36-18 in the paint and forced them into 18 turnovers. Ball State's outside shooting woes continued as it converted only 5-of-18 from long range, but it did manage to convert 42.4 percent of its field goal attempts. Majok Majok dominated inside with a monster double-double of 18 points and 17 rebounds. The junior forward is now averaging a double- double of 13.7 points and 10.1 boards per game, both of which are team-leading marks. Junior guard Jesse Berry is a decent scorer from the backcourt with 12.7 ppg and Marcus Polsey's passing skills are yielding 3.1 assists per outing.
Ball State will have to slow the tempo down to pick up their second win in a row. If it is able to do so, Majok's overpowering post play will be of much greater value. The Coyotes are capable of taking this one, especially if they find success from distance early on the contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota 68, Ball State 64
12/08 10:33:21 ET