Ball State will travel to Northern Illinois

Last week Ball State went on the road for two Mid-American Conference games and lost both. As of late, Ball State hasn't been all that successful when it comes to winning on the road. The Cardinals have defeated only two MAC opponents in five road conference games this season.

The Cards will try to change their luck on the road as the team goes on a two-game road trip this week. The Cardinals take on Ohio Saturday, but before facing off with the Bobcats, Ball State will make the trip to DeKalb, Ill., to take on Northern Illinois tonight at 8 EST.

The Cards travel to Northern after marking a home win last week against Eastern Michigan, 90-56. Ball State succeeded in that game with the help of a dominating performance from junior Theron Smith. Smith finished the contest with 30 points and 15 rebounds. It marked his 14th double-double of the season, tying Smith for sixth best in the nation.

Smith also ranks No. 4 in the nation in rebounding, averaging 11.6 boards a game. In conference play he averages 12.4 rebounds a game.

"It just shows his athleticism and his desire to get the basketball," Northern Illinois head coach Rob Judson said.

Smith also leads Ball State in scoring, averaging 19.8 points a game.

"He is an extremely gifted athlete," Judson said. "He presents problems because he is really athletic inside, but he can step out and hit that three."

Smith was named MAC West Player of the Week for the third time this season. He was awarded the honor after averaging 28 points and 16 rebounds after last week's games against Marshall and Eastern Michigan.

Northern Illinois will bring a threat of its own: Leon Rodgers. Rodgers averages 20.1 points a game. The next highest scorer for the Huskies is P.J. Smith, who averages only 9.6 points a game.

When Judson was asked what strengths his team had over Ball State, he laughed and then replied, "Probably the fact that we're on home court, but I'm not sure how much difference that will make with Ball State."

"We just want to be competitive," Judson said."(Ball State) is a heck of a team. The fact that they were able to beat Kansas and UCLA says a lot."


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