Josh Blessing

Ball State looks to stay undefeated in the Mid-American Conference as it travels to Eastern Michigan tonight.

The Cardinals are 3-0 to begin conference play for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

Thanks to its fast start, Ball State (11-4, 3-0 MAC) is now ranked 24th in the Mid-Major top 25 according to collegeinsider.com.

Coach Billy Taylor said teams will be coming after the Cardinals since they sit atop the MAC West in first place.

"We know we have a target on our chest," Taylor said. "We're going to get everybody's best punch so we know we need to play well against Eastern [Michigan]."

Eastern Michigan (4-12, 1-2 MAC) has several bright spots within their lineup, despite their disappointing record. Brandon Bowdry, a preseason All-MAC selection, has had a lot of success this season.

Bowdry is second in the MAC in scoring at 20.9 points per game and averages 10 rebounds. Taylor said they will have to limit what Bowdry is able to do.

"We all know Bowdry is really talented. He scores the ball inside, outside, makes threes and gets to the basket," he said. "We're going to have to guard extremely well because it probably will be more of a controlled tempo kind of ball game."

The Eagles won both matchups last season. They defeated the Cardinals 57-53 in the first game and 72-67 in the second.

Taylor said in order to slow down Bowdry his team will have to force him to take a lot of bad shots. He said in both games last year, Bowdry was able to penetrate the lane resulting in efficient shots.

"[Bowdry] is just as effective on the perimeter as he is on the block," Taylor said. "We have to throw some different bodies at him to give him different looks and not allow him to get comfortable."

Taylor said Malik Perry will be guarding Bowdry for most of the game, but he plans to use Pierre Sneed and Chris Bond as well.

With the Eagles' record of 4-12, Taylor expressed what it would take to keep his players from just looking past Eastern Michigan.

"Just show them last year's film," he said. "I don't think we're in any position where we can get [overly] confident and look past anybody on our schedule. You have to come out and give 100 percent effort because if not, you're going to get cracked."