Cardinal defense tightens in second exhibition

Ball State allows only 60 points against EA Sports All-Stars.

Last Wednesday, when facing Team Nike in exhibition action, Ball State's defense was far from what Coach Tim Buckley was looking for. In fact, after the game he sternly said that "it would change."

Saturday, in Ball State's second and final exhibition game of the preseason against EA Sports All-Stars, it changed.

Ball State created 22 turnovers for the afternoon and picked EA Sports' pocket with 12 steals for the contest as Ball State cruised to a 84-60 win over its opponent.

"Our players set their goal for the game, and I think they took really good ownership in making the game difficult for EA Sports," Buckley said.

Chris Williams said Ball State had a couple of days in practice this past week that involved zero offense.

"The past nine or ten days, we have been focusing on defense only," Williams said. "There were maybe four or five days where we didn't even shoot the ball in practice. We came out, and I think it was a good day for defense."

Ball State's defensive effort continued to be solid Saturday. Four minutes into the game, the score was 4-0 with EA Sports on top.

Both Williams and Buckley noted those first four minutes as something to be happy about.

"I'm proud of the guys because usually if we aren't knocking down shots we aren't guarding, but we kept guarding," Williams said. "That's something to be proud of."

There were only two aspects of Ball State's defensive game that were frowned upon after the game by Buckley and his players. After a couple of quick baskets by EA Sports in the beginning of the second half, Buckley replaced the entire lineup with subs.

"Other than that three of four minute lull there, I thought our guys did a good job of managing their intensity," Buckley said.

Aside from that two minute lapse, Ball State fell two percentage points short of it's goal.

Williams said Ball State set a pregame goal of holding EA Sports to 40 percent shooting from the field. The All-Stars ended the game at 42.9 percent.

It wasn't all defense on Saturday, though. By the end of the game, Ball State's offensive gears began to click as four Cardinals rounded double figures Saturday. They were lead by Williams who finished with 18 points shooting four of seven from behind the three point arc.

Cameron Echols, also a player who scored in double figures with 14 points showcased a double-double performance in his second outing as a Cardinal. He had 10 rebounds for the game.

"When everybody is going, and their are four guys scoring like that, it really frees you up," Williams said. "They can't concentrate or double team 'T' (Smith) because he can just kick it out to Cameron (Echols) or (Robert) Owens."

Buckley was also content with the defensive depth his team displayed Saturday, especially with freshmen Kevin Cates and Kyle Cox.

"I'm very pleased with our depth," He said. "Kevin Cates did a great job on the defensive end, he rotated and got some deflections.

"Kyle did a great job of running the club. Kyle just made great decisions and he played quick defense."

Cox finished the game having played 24 minutes. No player for Ball State played more than 26 minutes for the game.


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