Ball State's guard/forward Ryan Webber pushes his way for two points against Bradley Braves guard in the final half of the game Dec. 6 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals will play against the Miami Redhawks Jan. 10 in the third Mid-American Conference game of the season. Grace Hollars // DN
PREVIEW: Ball State men's basketball set to play Miami
In its third Mid-American Conference game of the season, the Ball State men's basketball team (9-6, 0-2 MAC) hosts Miami (8-7, 1-1 MAC) Jan. 10 in what feels like a must-win for the Cardinals.
“There is definitely a sense of urgency around the team,” senior forward Ryan Weber said. “We got to get things back on track, every game counts in the MAC, you can’t drop a lot and finish where you want to finish.”
Ball State, started conference play with two losses. The first a 100- 90 loss against Kent State Jan. 3 and the second Jan. 7 when Bowling Green defeated Ball State at home 76-71.
Points: Tayler Persons: 15.4
Rebounds: Trey Moses: 8.7
Blocks: Tahjai Teague: 1.1
Points per game: 77.1
Rebounding margin: +5.3
Miami of Ohio
Points: Michael Weathers: 17.9
Rebounds: Logan McLane: 6.3
Blocks: Michael Weathers: 1.5
Points per game: 74.1
Rebounding margin: -2.8
According to the MAC preseason poll, the Cardinals were slated to be the fourth-best team in the conference. But after its 0-2 conference start, the Ken Pomeroy rankings have Ball State ranked as the ninth in the MAC out of 12 teams.
After the 5-point loss to Bowling Green, head coach James Whitford did not blame the X’s and O’s, but rather the team's current mentality.
“We have to get our locker room in order,” Whitford said. “We got to have some tough soul searching sessions and I got to play the right guys.”
He spoke about a lack of effort and chemistry during the loss at the hands of the Falcons and said they deserved to lose Jan. 7.
But, it would be hard to imagine the Cardinals coming out with a lack of energy against the RedHawks. Last season, Miami eliminated Ball State from the first round of the MAC tournament in a 49-47 at Worthen Arena.
“It’s a good thing we have a chance to get revenge on a team that knocked us out,” Weber said. “I know the guys that were on the team last year are chomping at the bit to get after it.”
Miami is returning two starters from last season in redshirt junior guard Dion Wade, who is averaging 5.1 rebounds per game, and junior guard Abdoulaye Harouna, averaging 7 points per game.
But there's another worry for the Cardinals that wasn't on the roster last year.
“They have a freshman point guard that is really good,” Weber said. “He is a really good player and has the ball in his hands a lot.”
That freshman point guard, Michael Weathers, has a 17.9 points per game average, which has him ranked in the top five in scoring in the conference.
The 6’2” freshman also leads the MAC in blocks averaging 1.5 per game, which could cause potential problems for redshirt sophomore guard Tayler Persons, who is averaging 15.4 points per game, to drive to the rim for Ball State.
Over the last two games, Ball State has turned the ball over 37 times and logging 31 assists while its opponents have 24 turnovers and 26 assists against them.
“We are going to have to play really well on defense and execute on offense if we want to win,” Weber said.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at Worthen Arena.