PREVIEW: Ball State men's basketball vs. Western Michigan
In a double header scheduled with the women’s basketball team for the 25th anniversary of John E. Worthen Arena, the Ball State men’s basketball squad (13-7, 4-3 MAC) takes on the Western Michigan Broncos (6-13, 2-5 MAC) at 1 p.m. Jan. 28.
Ball State stats:
Field goal percentage: 46.7
Rebounding margin: +4.5
Leading scorer: Tayler Persons - 15.3
Western Michigan stats:
Field goal percentage: 44.6
Rebounding margin: +1.5
Leading scorer: Thomas Wilder - 17.6
With seven freshmen on the Broncos roster, head coach James Whitford still pins Western Michigan as an experienced team.
“[Thomas] Wilder is a three-year starter and an all-conference first-team player,” Whitford said. “Tucker Haymond has been in the league longer than I have, he signed his letter of intent when I was at Arizona.”
Junior guard Thomas Wilder averages 17.6 points and 3.6 assists per game while senior forward Haymond Tucker adds another 13.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
Wilder has shot 77 threes this year and has made 38 of them for a 49.4 percentage beyond the arc and has a 43.0 percent field goal percentage. Whitford is concerned with Wilder at all levels of the floor.
“He shoots threes very well, he gets to the rim and scores, he creates assists and he gets fouled a lot,” Whitford said.
Ball State will not want to send Wilder to the free-throw line much, as he his shooting 79.8 percent from the charity stripe this season.
The Broncos sit at 2-5 in conference play, but Whitford said the team is focused on the kind of opponent that is entering Worthen Arena this weekend.
“We got swept by Bowling Green,” Whitford said. "This is a dangerous game."
Bowling Green also sits at 2-5 in conference play.
“There is not one part of anyone here that thinks this won’t be a competitive game,” Whitford said. “With two minutes to go it will probably be anyone’s game.”
During the non-conference schedule, the Broncos played UCLA, Washington and Villanova, losing by a total score of 250-219. They were competitive.
Whitford spoke about the need for wins during this three-game home stand if the Cardinals want a shot at winning the conference.
“If you lose all three of these you can’t win the conference,” Whitford said. “In the race of the conference these games are going to be really important.”
The first chance for a win during the home stand is against Western Michigan at 1 p.m. Jan. 26. the women’s basketball game will follow.