Andrew Walker

Ball State University knows Western Michigan University's David Kool comes to play each and every night.

Ball State coach Billy Taylor has seen this first-hand for three seasons now.

Play up on Kool? He drives past you and converts the layup or finds a wide-open teammate. Back off Kool? He steps back and pops a 22-foot jumper.

And don't even think twice about fouling Kool. After all, he's only the Mid-American Conference's all-time single-season free-throw percentage record holder at 91.7.

With all of these skills at his disposal, it might be hard to imagine lighting even more of a fire under Kool's behind. But Taylor and crew believe playing against Kool tonight at Western Michigan on his Senior Night is going to be one daunting challenge.

"You've got to be consistent in your effort defensively, you can't lose [Kool] and you've got to make sure you've always got a hand in his face," Taylor said. "And then we've got to make sure that our team is there with activity trying to provide help because you're definitely not going to stop Kool one-on-one."

Ball State sophomore stopper Pierre Sneed will be given the task of trying to contain Kool, Western Michigan's all-time leading scorer.

Sneed was effective against Kool in the first half of the Cardinals' 75-68 win over the Broncos, limiting the senior to just 2-of-6 shooting and four points in 20 minutes of action. But Kool caught fire in the second half, going 5-for-8 from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range to finish with a game-high 22 points.

Taylor said his team's perimeter defense must improve and return back to form from four or five games ago.

"There's always somebody on the opposition that's a big-time scorer that we're going to have to try to at least limit or try to slow down," Taylor said. "We really need everybody stepping up defensively."

The Cardinals (15-13, 8-7 MAC) need a win to have any realistic chance of receiving a bye through the first round of the MAC Tournament. With a win and an Eastern Michigan University loss against Central Michigan University, Ball State would claim the No. 2 seed and the bye.

The pressure might be felt by the team, but Taylor at this point doesn't really care about winning or losing.

"We won't be too concerned with how we start from a scoring standpoint or what we're doing in terms of if they make a couple shots early on." Taylor said. "I'm going to be more concerned and really paying attention to our energy and our effort, because that's got to be the thing that really drives us."

Ball State will know before the game whether junior forward Malik Perry will be ready to play following complications from a hamstring injury.

Perry had to sit and watch from the sidelines as Ball State lost to Eastern Michigan at home before their embarrassing loss at Toledo on Saturday.

Perry, known as the team's emotional leader, will try to provide that spark if he's able to go against the Broncos (15-14, 7-8 MAC).

"Western is going to play with great effort, just like any team we're going to face in the MAC," Taylor said. "They're going to come out and play with great energy, and we have to match or exceed that. And again, that's just the way that you have to play the game."