Ball State Men’s Basketball (1-1, 0-0 MAC) went into halftime Saturday trailing No. 24 Purdue (2-0, 0-0 Big 10) by just one point. The Boilermakers came out on fire to start the second half to pull away with an 84-75 win. Here’s a few key points from the game.
Big stage, big performance
Redshirt senior guard Tayler Persons is no stranger to the big stage, and he isn’t afraid to take the big shot. This was evident last year when he hit the game-winning 3-pointer at Notre Dame with 1.7 seconds remaining. He went on to hit two more buzzer-beating threes against Valparaiso and Bowling Green.
Saturday saw Persons embrace the bright lights once again, as he dropped 19 points in the first half in Mackey Arena. At the 4:57 mark in the first half, Persons hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 30. Two possessions later, Purdue’s preseason All-American Carsen Edwards nailed a three to give the Boilermakers a two-point lead. Persons answered 20 seconds later with another three of his own, not backing down from the challenge.
Purdue’s defense shut Persons down in the second half, but he showed once again that he can rise to the occasion.
Saturday’s contest in West Lafayette featured 46 personal fouls. Seven players in total finished the game with four or more with two Cardinals fouling out.
Ball State’s big men in particular struggled with foul trouble. Not even 12 minutes into the game, four forwards had two fouls for the Cardinals. By the end of the first half, redshirt sophomore Brachen Hazen and redshirt junior Tahjai Teague each had three.
Ball State head coach James Whitford said the number of fouls called caused his team to start playing conservative on defense. The lack of aggressiveness allowed the Boilermakers to take advantage of softer defense and attack the basket.
In Haarms way
The Cardinals couldn’t get anything going driving to the hoop or backing down in the post. This was in large part due to Purdue’s 7-foot-3 center Matt Haarms in the paint. Haarms averaged 2.1 blocks per game last season, and while he didn’t reject a shot Saturday, his presence altered Ball State’s offense inside.
The Cardinals scored 22 points in the paint compared to the Boilermakers’ 44, and none of the Cardinal forwards were able to top eight points. Ball State’s senior Trey Moses comes closest in size to Haarms as far as regular players go at 6-foot-9, but he still gives up six inches to the sophomore from the Netherlands.
Purdue is coming off a 2017-18 season in which it shot 42 percent from behind the arc as a team, good for second in the nation. The year before, the Boilermakers were ninth in that category, shooting 40.3 percent. Saturday was a different story.
The team made only 7 of 32 (21.9 percent) attempts from deep. Edwards and Ryan Cline, Purdue’s top two 3-point threats, shot a combined 3 for 19 from downtown. The Boilermakers found contributions from other players to come out with the win, but it wasn’t the traditional scoring of Purdue Basketball.
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