Ball State guard Tayler Persons attempts to push past Eastern Kentucky guard Dillon Avare during the game on Dec. 10 in Worthen Arena. The Cardinals are riding a two-game Mid-American Conference win streak as they head into their game against Central Michigan Jan. 17. Grace Ramey // DN File
PREVIEW: Ball State men's basketball vs. Central Michigan
Heading into the game Jan. 17, Ball State men’s basketball (11-6, 2-2 MAC) has won two consecutive Mid-American Conference match-ups.
Balancing that momentum can be tough.
Ball State stats:
Scoring offense: 78.5
Scoring defense: 71.9
Leading scorer: Tayler Persons - 15.3
Central Michigan stats:
Scoring offense: 89.0
Scoring defense: 82.1
Offensive rebounding: 40.2
Leading scorer: Marcus Keene - 28.7
“The key for us is to never get too low or too high,” head coach James Whitford said. “We must lock in on the process of being good.”
Through 17 games last year, Ball State posted a 9-8 record, and so far this season the Cardinals are 11-6. The next test is taking on a high-scoring Central Michigan team.
The Chippewas lead the MAC in scoring, averaging 89 points per game. On the team is junior guard Marcus Keene. Keene is the leading scorer in the nation, averaging 28.7 points per game. Keene also averages 5.2 assists per game, which ties for second in the MAC.
Not only does Central Michigan have the nation's leading scorer, but they also have the third-ranked scorer in the MAC in senior guard Braylon Rayson, who averages 19.2 points per game.
“They are really good on offense,” Whitford said. “Marcus Keene and Braylon Rayson, when they get going, they are incredibly dynamic and they spread you out with these guys that can shoot threes. They can probably score 100 on just about anyone.”
While the Chippewas are the best-scoring team in the MAC, their defense is last with 82.1 points against per game, though their 3-point field goal percentage defense ranks third in the MAC (31.8 percent).
“To me, where they trick you on defense is they are confusing,” Whitford said. “They go back and forth between zone and man, and they blend defenses.”
Ball State's offense, however, is third in the MAC in 3-point field goal percentage (37.5 percent).
“I think we will be able to get threes off,” Whitford said. “I am not worried about that.”
Whitford said by not getting carried away with Central Michigan’s mixed defenses, Ball State will win.
“You know, we really just got to play the game the right way and we will be fine,” Whitford said.
Ball State comes in with a two-game win streak, while Central Michigan captured their first MAC victory Jan. 14, defeating Toledo 96-86.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at Worthen Arena.