Conor Hockett

All the talk during Monday's press conference was geared towards closing out possessions and ultimately basketball games.

Over the past month, there have been countless examples to look back on as to why the Ball State men's basketball team struggled so much.

Coach Billy Taylor highlighted the defensive rebounding woes that gave opponents extra possessions. Sophomore guard Jauwan Scaife talked about his team's carelessness with the ball late in games.

But both players and coaches seem to agree on two things: these problems are mental, and they can be changed.

"They [the players] are certainly disappointed by the losses — but our guys do have a lot of confidence in themselves," Taylor said. "They know we're capable of turning the tide back in our favor. It's really about making the simple plays and that's what we've talked about."

Ball State plays Eastern Michigan at home Wednesday in a game that may come down to hustle plays.

The last time the two teams played, the Cardinals held on for a 60-51 victory from clutch free throw shooting down the stretch.

The Eagles post a weak record (8-18) coming into the game, but they have a beast inside that can take over games. Senior forward Brandon Bowdry torched the Cardinals last game for 26 points.

Taylor said the key will be stopping him.

"Eastern is a very physical basketball team and they have a great scorer in Brandon Bowdry," Taylor said. "He's got a lot of toughness. He can will his team to stay in games. When you have that kind of senior, toughness and leadership — they're going to be in games and it will be close."

Scoring didn't come easy for Ball State in its last game.

The team shot 37.9 percent from the field and struggled to create offense. Scaife said when that happens, the team needs to adjust their attack.

"We have to continue to be more aggressive," Scaife said. "When we find a shot is not falling, we have to find other ways — we have to play dirty. Offensive rebounding, steals, deflections — when your shot is not falling, you look to those areas as well. As you do that, you get into a rhythm and then your shots may fall later on."

After Kent State beat Western Michigan on Monday, Ball State took over the lead in the Mid-American Conference West Division.

Western Michigan and Ball State have identical 7-5 records in conference, but Ball State holds the tiebreaker. A win against Eastern Michigan would give Ball State the outright lead.