Toledo (19-3) at Ball State (4-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthen Arena (11,500) -- Muncie, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: Toledo 11-0, BSU 4-5. Away Record: Toledo 6-3, BSU 0-11. Neutral Record: Toledo 2-0, BSU 0-0. Conference Record: Toledo 7-2, BSU 1-8. Series Record: Toledo leads, 43-40.
GAME NOTES: The Ball State Cardinals return home to Worthen Arena on Saturday to host their East Division rival Toledo Rockets for a Mid-American Conference bout.
Toledo continued its impressive campaign on Wednesday with an 83-76 victory over the Bowling Green Falcons. Coach Tod Kowalczyk's squad improved to 19-3 overall and stayed in front of Western Michigan by a game in the East Division race with the win. The Rockets' uptempo style of play has helped it score 83.5 ppg, which leads the MAC and ranks 13th nationally. While Toledo is also 26th among Division I programs in both assists (15.8) and field goal percentage (.479), it is on the other end of the spectrum defensively, surrendering 74.6 ppg, which is the highest points per game allowed in the conference.
Ball State has lost four games in a row and eight of the its last nine to drop to a 4-16 overall record. The Cardinals were dismantled in their last appearance and fell, 69-48, to Buffalo in upstate New York. Coach James Whitford's team defeated the same Bulls team on Jan. 23 at Worthen Arena, where it has gone 4-5. The Cardinals are ranked second to last on the MAC's scoring leaderboard at 63.3 ppg and rank 10th in the league in scoring defense (71.6 ppg).
Ball State and Toledo will be meeting for the 84th time with the Rockets holding a 43-40 edge in the all-time series. The teams split the season series in 2012-13 with the away squad coming out of each encounter victorious.
The Rockets fended off BGSU in their last outing with the help of a 29-of-35 clip at the free-throw line. Toledo used a collective effort in the contest with Justin Drummond leading the charge with 22 points. J.D. Weatherspoon notched a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Rian Pearson netted 16 points. Julius Brown contributed 10 points and seven assists. Four different Rockets own double-digit scoring averages through 22 games with Drummond narrowly leading the pack at 14.7 ppg. Pearson is posting 13.8 ppg and Julius Brown also plays a vital role with 14.3 ppg and a team-high 6.7 apg.
Ball State has shown balance with four players netting 9.9 ppg or more. Freshman Zavier Turner has made his mark right away to post a team-high 12.1 ppg with the senior trio of Chris Bond (11.9 ppg), Majok Majok (10.9 ppg) and Jesse Berry (9.9 ppg) are all close behind. Turner is not the only rookie learning on the job as 40 percent of the Cardinals' scoring and minutes have been accounted for by freshmen. Majok, who finished with eight points and 11 boards versus UB on Wednesday, leads the MAC and ranks 18th nationally in rebounds per game (9.8). Bond scored a team-best 15 points while Turner provided 11 points.
The Cardinals were held to 35.2 percent shooting from the floor by Buffalo. They will need to be much more efficient against Toledo's high octane attack. Ball State should find it easier to put points on the board versus the Rockets, who tend to focus their effort on the offensive end. However, Toledo has way too much experience and talent for the hosts to keep up from start to finish.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 83, Ball State 67
02/08 10:21:04 ET