MEN'S BASKETBALL: Cardinals get first win of season behind Jones
Senior scores career-high 26 points in win over IUPUI
In the first half of last Friday's game against Indiana State, Ball State was lucky if one pass went untouched by a Sycamore defender.
Against IUPUI Wednesday, the team passed on the selfish plays that got them into trouble earlier in the season.
Ball State's willingness to share the ball showed during the first play of the game.
After a good entry from the wing, sophomore forward Matt Kamieniecki had an open five-foot shot on the baseline. It was a good look, but Kamieniecki wanted a better one. He made the extra pass to senior center Jarrod Jones for an uncontested layup.
The unselfish tone was set and everyone followed suit. Ball State rode the momentum to a 69-62 win in its first home game of the season.
"Our guys did a really good job of that [moving the ball]," coach Billy Taylor said. "Even some of our turnovers — we were trying to help teammates and get assists for teammates. I like that style of play better. That's the kind of ball movement we want. That's the kind of sharing we want."
Jones was the beneficiary of a lot of the sharing Wednesday. He scored a career-high 26 points on 10 of 16 shooting from the floor.
"There wasn't a lot of work that I had to do as far as moves," Jones said. "A lot of it was just the guards breaking down the defense and getting me an easy look to score one-on-one. If they're going to work hard to get the ball in there, the least I can do is finish and get us some assists."
They did just that. Ball State assisted on 11 of the 14 made field goals in the first half and 16 of 23 for the game. Senior point guard Randy Davis led the team with nine assists and added 13 points.
Passing was made easy by the ball and player movement on offense for Ball State. The big men inside created separation through good cross screens all game long.
"I think we had really good execution--something we didn't have the first two ball games," Taylor said. "Today we actually did cut and we screened. We had guys cutting into the paint open and we had guys looking to make those feeds. We were able to deliver some for layups."
As efficient as Ball State's offense was, the team missed some uncharacteristically easy shots inside five feet. Taylor said that, and some defensive breakdowns made for a much tighter finish down the stretch.
"Toward the end of the game they downsized their lineup," Taylor said. "They were able to successfully attack some of those cross matches and get the ball driven into the paint. They were able to score off those drives or get offensive put backs. That really kept life in the game."
With 1:22 left in the game, IUPUI cut the lead to two points, 64-62. Davis traveled on the ensuing possession and IUPUI got the ball back.
The Jaguars got two cracks at tying the game, including a wide-open 3-pointer by sophomore guard Ian Chiles, but they couldn't convert.
Davis, Jones and redshirt sophomore Tyler Koch combined for five free throws down the stretch to seal the game.
"Coming into the game, we worked on a lot of situations and stuff," Davis said. "We had some guys miss one-and-one's down the stretch so we still need to work on that. Handling the pressure was the biggest thing."
After losing the lead down the stretch to Arizona and a poor performance at Indiana State, the pressure was on Ball State to produce.
The win improved Ball State's record to 1-2. IUPUI fell to 1-4 on the season.
"It wasn't a thing of beauty, but we certainly feel good about getting the win," Taylor said.