MEN'S BASKETBALL: Ball State looks to stay perfect in MAC
Berry and Scaife growing into lethal bench players
Ball State has started off the Mid-American Conference season just the way it wanted to – a perfect 2-0.
In their first two conference games the Cardinals have defeated the reigning MAC West champions, Western Michigan, and Toledo on the road with a game winner by senior forward Jarrod Jones with .6 seconds left on the clock.
Coach Billy Taylor was impressed with how his players finished Tuesday's game against Toledo. He said it was good to see the composure the team had with only 6.5 seconds left to score.
"It's a huge momentum boost for us when you win a game like that. In the most critical time of the game is when guys tend to not make the extra pass but we did that," Taylor said. "It was nice to see our guys playing as a team even in a critical stretch of a game. That certainly gives us momentum in terms of what we can do moving forward."
The Cardinals will now play host to MAC opponent Eastern Michigan (6-10, 1-1 MAC) Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Ball State (10-4, 2-0 MAC) swept the season series last season against the Eagles for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
Taylor said that Eastern Michigan is an improved team compared to a year ago. They've switched things up since conference play began by moving its leading scorer, guard Darrell Lampley, to the two position rather than playing point guard.
From that two position, Taylor said Lampley is even more dangerous. Lampley is averaging 14 points per game and has nailed 27 three-pointers. Antonio Green is second averaging seven points.
"They moved Lampley to the two guard position and I think it's been a good move for their team," he said. "It allows Lampley to focus on scoring. He's dangerous because he can make threes at a pretty high right and is very good at pick-and-roll situations."
Besides being able to hit from about anywhere on the court, Lampley is the second leading free throw shooter in the MAC. Taylor said his players have to limit his attempts from the charity stripe.
In the Cardinals' last game, sophomore Jesse Berry came off the bench and sparked the offense by scoring 18 points and a career-high five three-pointers.
Taylor said having guys like Berry and junior Jauwan Scaife, who returned last game after sitting out due to a irregular heartbeat, are key to the Cardinals' success.
"When we can go to our bench and bring in Berry and Scaife, guys who can make shots and get the ball in the basket it takes a lot of pressure off our starters so they can get some adequate rest," he said.