Ball State men’s basketball starts home stand against IU Kokomo
Ball State men's basketball will have a chance to rack up some wins as it begins a six-game home stand after a difficult season-opening schedule.
The Cardinals (3-3) host IU Kokomo, an NAIA team, Nov. 29 after playing just one home game in their first six games. Last season, Ball State was 13-6 at home and 8-8 away from Worthen Arena.
“This is an important month for us,” head coach James Whitford said. “We have played one game at home and we are really home till Dec. 27, so this is big stretch for us to get better.”
All games at Worthen Arena
Nov. 29: Ball State vs. IU Kokomo
Dec. 3: Ball State vs. IUPUI
Dec. 6: Ball State vs. Bradley
Dec. 10: Ball State vs. Eastern Kentucky
Dec. 19: Ball State vs. Longwood
Dec. 22: Ball State vs. Alabama State
Whitford scheduled road games at Valparaiso (7-1), Alabama (3-2) and Saint Louis (2-3) as an early season test that would resemble a post-season schedule -- Valpariaso and Alabama both made the National Invitation Tournament last season.
The six home games will also help serve as a transition to Mid-American Conference play.
“It is getting better at your scheme so you can do it even when things are coming at you fast or even when you are tanked,” Whitford said.
Defensive fundamentals was a major focus in the offseason, and Whitford said it's paying off – at least in the first half. In the loss to Valparaiso, the Cardinals held the Crusaders to 33.3 percent shooting from the field in the first half, only to allow Valparaiso to hit 50 percent of its second half shots.
Offensively, sophomore guard Tayler Persons (17.3 points per game) and senior forward Franko House (14.8 points per game) lead Ball State.
IU Kokomo comes into Worthen Arena with a 2-5 record and is shooting 40 percent from the field, averaging 78.5 points per game. Junior guard Trent Elliott leads the Cougars with 22.1 points per game.
Last season, the Cardinals beat the Cougars 90-54 to start a five-game home stand. Ball State went on to win four of those games, and Whitford looks to start a similar hot streak this season.
“This is big stretch for us to practice the right way, to be able use these games as an opportunity to get better,” Whitford said. “More importantly we need to use this month to build our team in the right direction.”
Tipoff against IU Kokomo is slated for 7 p.m. Nov. 29 at Worthen Arena.