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Ball State (13-13) at Eastern Michigan (12-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 25th, 4:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (8,800) -- Ypsilanti, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Ball State 8-5, Eastern Michigan 8-3. Away Record: Ball State 5-7, Eastern Michigan 4-12. Neutral Record: Ball State 0-1, Eastern Michigan 0-1. Conference Record: Ball State 4-9, Eastern Michigan 7-6. Series Record: Ball State leads, 55-37.
GAMES NOTES: The Ball State Cardinals and the Eastern Michigan Eagles will each try to pick up some momentum down the stretch when the teams square off in a Mid-American Conference clash at the Convocation Center.
This will be the second meeting between these squads this season after Eastern Michigan posted a hard fought 51-48 win at Ball State earlier this season. The victory still leaves the Eagles behind in the all-time series by a mark of 55-37.
Ball State has really not been the same team since opening conference play as the Cardinals have fallen to a 13-13 overall record and a 4-9 mark in the league after starting the season with a promising 12-5 record. The Cardinals have lost eight of their last nine games after being handed a 78-61 defeat to Western Michigan on Wednesday. Next up for the Cardinals is a home matchup with Central Michigan.
Eastern Michigan has also struggled recently with losses in five of its last seven games. The Eagles did get a win their last time out, narrowly edging out Northern Illinois 48-45 to hold onto the top spot of the MAC West Division with a record of 7-6 in league play. The Eagles will be on the road in their final two games of the season beginning Wednesday against Western Michigan.
Ball State was run off the floor by Western Michigan on Wednesday as the Cardinals allowed the Broncos to shoot an impressive 55.3 percent from the floor including an incredible 13-of-21 from three point range while shooting only 35.8 percent itself.
The lack of defensive pressure was out of character for Ball State which is holding its opponents to just 61.1 points per game this season. The normally solid defense has not translated into more wins because of the Cardinals' lack of offensive punch as they put in only 63.7 points per game while shooting at the second worst rate in the conference at 41.7 percent. Senior forward Jarrod Jones (15.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg) has been the linchpin for Ball State this season as its leading scorer and rebounder. Jones is also second in the conference in rebounding and fourth in scoring. On Wednesday he managed only six points, but was still effective on the glass bringing down nine rebounds. Jones has really begun to stumble late in the season on offense averaging 8.5 points per game in the last four games. Chris Bond (7.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg) led the team against Western Michigan with 14 points while Randy Davis (8.2 ppg, 5.1 apg) put in 10 points but had only one assist which was the second lowest assist total in a game for the conferences third best distributor.
Yet again it was defense that ruled the day for Eastern Michigan in its 48-45 win over Northern Illinois. Despite shooting only 31.7 percent from the floor the Eagles were able to win by holding the Huskies to 30.0 percent shooting including 4-of-21 from three point range while forcing 17 turnovers.
The Eagles' defensive prowess has been well documented this season as they allow only 58.7 points per game which is the best mark in the conference and the 13th lowest in the nation. Even a defense that stellar can't make up for the sad offensive numbers. The Eagles are the lowest scoring team in the conference (53.1 ppg) with the mark better than only two others teams nationally. Senior guard Darrell Lampley (13.3 ppg) has done his best this season to carry the teams offense as its lead scorer and the only player putting in more than seven points per game this season. Lampley had a fantastic performance on Wednesday scoring 21 points while also dishing out five assists and collecting four rebounds. Derek Thompson (6.9 ppg) has missed a chunk of games this season but has really begun to assert himself recently and after scoring 10 points has been in double figures in four straight games averaging 15.8 points per game during the streak.
This matchup really favors the hosts with Eastern Michigan's defense facing a weak offensive squad in Ball State. With Lampley continuing to play well and the resurgence of Thompson, the Eagles should get the win here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Michigan 58, Ball State 50
02/25 10:43:47 ET
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