MEN'S BASKETBALL: Ball State opens season at No. 16 Arizona
Cardinals open season on road for first time in seven years
Ball State will open its season on the road for the first time in seven years as it travels to the No. 16 Arizona.
Although the Wildcats lost Derrick Williams to the NBA Draft, last year's PAC-12 Player of the Year, they still have plenty of quickness to make up for the loss.
"They've got tremendous speed at really all five positions from point guard to center," coach Billy Taylor said. "They do a great job of dribble driving the basketball."
The speed that Arizona possesses allows them to push the basketball up court quickly, which draws many fouls, sending the Wildcats to the free throw line frequently.
It its first two games, Arizona has attempted 66 free throws, shooting 69 percent as a team.
While 69 percent isn't an ideal percentage, the number of times Arizona has been able to get to the line is still a major concern for Taylor and his defense.
"[Arizona] attacks the glass and gets to the line in a variety of ways, but their dribble penetration is clearly a concern," he said. "If you leave yourself one on one to guard [Kyle] Fogg or [Josiah] Turner you're going to be in trouble. You have to do it with team defense when dealing with players of that caliber. "
Last season the Wildcats had a 30-8 overall record and advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
Guard Jordin Mayes leads Arizona in scoring through its first two games averaging 13.5 points. Jesse Perry is the Wildcats main scorer inside the paint averaging 12.5 points and a team-high 10.5 boards.
Both Mayes and Perry are two players that Taylor said Ball State must key in on to be affective.
Taylor said along with keeping an eye on Mayes and Perry, the Cardinals have to get easy baskets and that starts with transition offense.
Junior guard Jauwan Scaife will be one of those players Taylor expects to get out in the open floor.
"I don't think any team can score in a half court every single possession," Scaife said. "We need to find easy ways to score to help our half court offense flow."
Taking on a Top 25 team in nation is a tough way to begin the season, but Taylor and his team are excited for the challenge and realize this will give them an idea of where the program is at.
"This first game will be a measuring stick to how far we've come, but it's not the ultimate for us," he said. "It's our first test and it gives us an opportunity to see what we need to continue to improve upon."