Sophomore forward Kyle Mallers gets fouled by Stony Brook’s Junior Saintel as he brings the ball down the court during Ball State’s game against the Seawolves on Nov. 17 in John E. Worthen Arena. Mallers got 26 minutes of playing time. Paige Grider, DN
Dominating first half keeps Ball State perfect at home
Any travel fatigue that Ball State had appears to be gone now.
Ball State trailed only once against IUPUI on Saturday. The Cardinals gave up a 7-0 run that gave the Jaguars a 7-6 lead early in the game.
From there, back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers gave Ball State a lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the game.
“I thought it was our best defensive performance of the year, especially in the first half," head coach James Whitford said. "We scored the ball plenty of times this year, we did again tonight, but the difference in this game and some of the other ones was our defense was better."
Ball State (4-4) allowed just 23 first half points, a season low, in its 83-64 win over in-state rival IUPUI (2-4) on Saturday.
The victory brings the Cardinals season record to .500 and marks the third straight win for the team - all against in-state opponents.
In the contest, seven different players accumulated more than 20 minutes of playing time and five finished in double-digits in terms of scoring. Junior Tahjai Teague led the way with 14 followed by sophomore Kyle Mallers , who finished with a double-double pulling in 11 rebounds and 12 points, and junior Trey Moses who had a season-high 12 points as well.
"When I talk about our team, I feel like we have 10 guys that can start at any Division l school," Moses said. "You want playing time obviously, but guys are out there competing every day in practice."
Moses, who averaged 20-plus minutes per game last year eclipsed 20 minutes for the first time this season on Saturday.
While Moses said that he's still working through some things, staff members have told him to "trust the process," which he said has boosted his confidence as the season has progressed.
His return, paired with Teague down low, makes it difficult for opposing teams to shoot well on offense, according to Whitford. Two of IUPUI's forwards, 6-foot-7 Evan Hall and 6-foot-6 Aaron Brennan finished shooting 5-19 in the game.
"We had kind of been struggling a little bit on defense coming into this," Mallers said. "I think we had a couple of really good practices coming into this game and I think defensively we showed up."
Coming into this game, Ball State had been allowing 83.7 points per game to opponents, a number that has shrunk to 60.5 in the past two games.
Offensively, the Cardinals remained sharp for the third straight game, shooting 53.4 percent from the field and 35.7 from 3-point range, despite shooting just 64.7 percent from the free throw line.
The win keeps Ball State perfect at Worthen Arena this season, with this game being played in front of 3,505 fans in attendance.
Other notable performances came from senior Sean Sellers who finished with 11 points shooting 3-6 from behind the arc and junior Tayler Persons who finished with 11 points after being honored prior to the game for scoring 1,000 career points.
Having 10 players consistently rotating is something that Whitford says is "a good problem to have."
"We have 10 guys that I have confidence in," he continued. "Whether that will last the whole year or not, I don't know, but it's a lot easier to shrink your rotation than it is to grow it."
Moving forward, Ball State will play its only road game in December against No. 5 Notre Dame (6-0) next Tuesday.
Contact men's basketball reporter Robby General at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @rgeneraljr.