Ball State has not won a basketball game in Millett Hall in nine years. With that in mind, Ball State will try to snap a streak and retain one Saturday.
The Cardinals, who have won six straight games, will travel to Oxford, Ohio, to take on Mid-American Conference rival Miami (Ohio) at 3 p.m. Ball State's current winning streak marks the longest winning streak in MAC games for the Cardinals (13-5 overall, 6-1 MAC) since the 1992-'93 season.
For a few Cardinal players, Saturday's game will be the final chance at defeating Miami (7-11, 4-3) at home. Senior Brian Burns said he expects a good deal of emotion to be involved come tip-off time in Oxford.
"If there's not (emotion) there is something wrong," Burns said. "To go to a place that we've never won at makes this big."
"We have to bring our A game every time we go down there," Burns said. "It doesn't matter what their record is."
"It's going to be big. It's a big game for me," senior Patrick Jackson said. "Hopefully we can carry our momentum in after these six straight wins and get another one."
Defense may be the key to success for Ball State against the RedHawks.
"I haven't really played or been that consistent on defense," junior Chris Williams said. "Most of the time I don't show up on defense because I'm so worried about offense."
Williams went on to explain that after playing against Western Michigan Wednesday, he now realizes the importance of defense.
"It felt good out there playing defense," Williams said. He credits solid defensive play for helping his offense happen more naturally.
"We have to play strong defense and we have to go out and run," head coach Tim Buckley said. "We have to try to get some easy baskets against their strong defense. They are a different type of team this year. I think they are longer and a little bit more athletic this year so they may try to run a little bit more."
Statistically, Miami's strongest player is Alex Shorts, the only RedHawk to have started every game this season. Shorts averages 13.9 points a game.
Ball State, however, packs a bit bigger punch in the statistical matchup. Theron Smith averages 18.8 points a game and averages even more in conference play, with 19.3 points a game. Smith also averages 12.1 rebounds in conference play to complete his double-double average.
Smith also ranks No. 6 in the nation in rebounding. He's not the only Cardinal pulling rank, though. Jackson ranks No. 13 in the nation in three-point field goal percentage while the team ranks No. 8 in the nation in three-point field goals per game.
Regardless of the stats, Buckley expects a tough game against the RedHawks.
"It's a big game because it's the next game," Buckley said. "We know they are going to come out and play an extremely tough basketball game. That's what we have to focus on is having a warrior-type mentality and go down there and battle it out with them."