Conor Hockett

In his first home game in nearly ten months, sophomore guard Tyrae Robinson said the nerves were there, but it didn't matter.

After two consecutive losses against IUPUI and Morehead State, the team needed to fix its rebounding and offensive struggles with Mid-American Conference play starting next week.

Ball State did exactly that Saturday in a 86-58 rout of winless Chicago State in Worthen Arena.

Robinson controlled the offense with 13 points and five assists as the team put out its best offensive game of the season.

The 86 points were a season-high and the Cardinals 51.9 percent shooting tied the previous season-high against UT-Martin back on Dec. 3.

Ball State's half-court offense was efficient, but the team did the most damage in transition. Taylor said the 19 fast-break points set the tone early for his team.

"We knew we'd see a lot of full court pressure," Taylor said. "We didn't handle it well last game at Morehead State. I thought we were much sharper with our passing, catching and finishing. Tyrae pushing the pace out in transition helped soften up the defense for easy baskets."

In Ball State's last game against Morehead State, the team allowed 18 offensive rebounds. The second chances never allowed the Cardinals to get out on the break and show its athleticism. Taylor said he saw great improvement in Saturday's game.

"Chicago State commits a lot of guys to the offensive boards," Taylor said. "It's really a credit to our team for only allowing six offensive rebounds to a team that's very athletic, very lanky. We did a good job of getting defensive rebounds so we could get out and go."

The game was never in doubt after after the Cardinals' 46-23 lead at halftime, but the Cougars made a run . The team went 8-11 from downtown in the second half and cut the deficit to 14 points with just over 10 minutes left.

Junior guard Matt Samuels led the Cougars with 18 points in 40 minutes. He and forward Lee Fisher's 16 points kept the team in it.

That's when Robinson took over. He said Ball State needed life once Chicago State started hitting from 3-point range, so he tried to go on a little spurt.

At 6'2, Robinson used his quickness to penetrate the defense, draw double tams and kick to open shooters. When the defense didn't collapse, Robinson took advantage. He scored eight of the next nine points for Ball State and the lead ballooned back to 20 points.

"I know a lot about my teammates," Robinson said. "I know where their hot spots are. Coming out into the half, coach always tells us to jump out on them. I want to feed those guys to get them going early. So now they [the defense] is mixed up. They don't know who's hot, who's off. Everyone is going to be rolling."

Rolling is certainly a word to describe Ball State's offense with Robinson back in the lineup. The tempo increases and four players fill the lanes for Robinson to pick-and-choose between.

"Every time Tyrae is in the lineup, we push the ball and get stops too," sophomore forward Matt Kamieniecki said. "That really helps. You always hear him on the outlets. He's always pushing the ball and it leads to easy transition baskets."