Ball State Men’s Basketball (3-3, 0-0 MAC) gave Evansville (2-3, 0-0 MVC) all it could handle in the Cardinals’ 82-72 win Saturday. Here are a few areas of the game that stood out.
Walton starts, Mallers finishes
Redshirt junior guard K.J. Walton was on fire in the first half against the Aces. He was clearly the go-to scorer, shooting 8 of 9 from the field with 19 of the Cardinals’ 37 first-half points. Walton wound up leading the team in scoring (20) as well as steals (3) and blocks (2). He cooled off in the second half, but junior forward Kyle Mallers picked up right where Walton left off.
Mallers didn’t score in the first half, but by the end of the game he had 17. He was most effective from 3-point range, knocking down four shots from deep. Mallers ended the game 6 of 12 from the field with all of his points coming in the second half.
Lack of variety early
Only four Cardinals registered points in the first half, and only three had scored until the 4:42 mark. Walton, redshirt junior forward Tahjai Teague and redshirt senior guard Tayler Persons combined for 35 points in the first half alone. It wasn’t until senior center Trey Moses made a hook shot in the post that someone else found their name on the scoreboard.
The ball was spread around more in the second half as a total of nine Cardinals found the bottom of the net by the end of the game.
Dimes on dimes
Persons is the Cardinals’ leading scorer through six games this season, but Saturday’s final statistics didn’t reflect that. Persons scored nine points, but he found other ways to contribute offensively, most notably with his passing. Ball State had 16 assists throughout the game. Persons had nine of them. The next closest to him in the assist column was Moses with two.
Crashing the boards
Historically, the team with the most rebounds has a better chance of winning. That was true Saturday as Ball State outrebounded Evansville 42-30. The biggest difference on the boards was offensive rebounds. The Cardinals grabbed 16 on the offensive glass to the Aces’ seven. This led to more opportunities to score for Ball State, and it took advantage of its second chances, hence the final score.
Four Cardinals finished with at least five rebounds. Three of them finished with seven or more, and every player who stepped on the court pulled down a rebound by the end of the game.
Tale of two halves
The 3-pointers were not falling for either team in the first half. They shot a combined 4 of 19 from downtown in the opening 20 minutes. A switch was flipped at halftime, and both teams came out on target from behind the arc. Each team went 6 for 9 on threes in the second half, leading to better than 40 percent from long range for the game on both sides.
Contact Zach Piatt with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.