Ball State men's basketball falls to Oregon on the road, 95-71
After a tight first half, Ball State allowed 53 second-half points en route to the 95-71 road loss against Oregon.
In the first ever meeting between the two teams, Ball State (1-3) led by as many as five points against Oregon (4-0) in the first half. Oregon extended its nine point halftime lead to as much as 34 in the second half to remain perfect on the season.
"I thought we played a lot better," head coach James Whitford said in a postgame interview. "We got rattled there a little bit in the second half and I thought we lost our composure. Oregon is a really good team and my hats off to them for a game well played. "
Junior guard Tayler Persons led the Cardinals in scoring with 14 points, followed closely by Kyle Mallers who finished with 10 — all from the free throw line.
Persons, who scored 10 points in the first half, was replaced by freshman guard Ishmael El-Amin due to early foul trouble. El-Amin finished with nine points and a team-high four assists in his 18 minutes of action.
"[El-Amim] was great tonight," Whitford said. "His communication and leadership on the floor, in many respects. When things were getting hard, he was the voice I heard on the court."
As a unit, Ball State got into foul trouble early, finishing with 23 total. While no one fouled out, Persons, Mallers and sophomore forward Tahjai Teague each finished with four fouls.
Oregon had five players finish in double digits on a night where it shot 49.2 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Ball State, on the other hand, shot 37.5 percent from the field as a team and 25.9 percent from 3-point range.
"We haven't really had a great shooting night yet, which is fine, that always come and goes," Whitford said. "When you play teams like [Oregon] the things you're not good at are going to be exposed."
Some of those facets included blocking out, transition defense and mental toughness, according to Whitford.
For the second straight game Ball State made it to the free throw line quite a bit, going 22-29 as a team.
"Getting to the free throw line in back-to-back games as much as we did is a really big thing," Whitford said. "The way that they were playing us is the way really athletic teams are going to play us, trying to make us make plays at the rim, so we have to go in there and get fouled."
Now on the back-end of its road trip, Ball State will head across the country to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to play Bucknell (0-4) to close out the Phil Knight invitational. That game tips off at 7 p.m. Nov. 22.