Ball State freshman guard Kani Acree and freshman guard Jarron Coleman watch the Cardinals' during their game against Miami University Jan. 22, 2019 in John E. Worthen Arena. Ball State lost 65 to 71. Paige Grider, DN
Ball State Men's Basketball can't keep up with Bulls in third straight loss
While the official Running of the Bulls takes place every July in Spain, there's a herd 3,700 miles west that has been running for the second longest home winning streak in the nation.
Tonight, No. 18 Buffalo (19-2, 7-1 MAC) ran Ball State Men's Basketball (11-10, 2-6 MAC) right out of the building for the Bulls 21st straight win at home and the Cardinals third straight loss, 83-59.
While the Cardinals aren't hanging their heads after facing one of the top teams in the nation, head coach James Whitford said that the team has let the simple things get away from them for these past few games.
"If we're going to win at Buffalo, and we're playing without Brachen, Ish and Trey, we're not going to do it on a night that we go 2-23 from behind the arc," Whitford said. "I thought we competed and played hard, but I didn't think that we always played well. The key for us to get there is to do the little things that we were doing three weeks ago."
Three weeks ago, the Cardinals were coming off a double overtime loss to Eastern Michigan sitting 1-1 in conference play and 10-5 overall. Since then, the Cardinals have gone 1-6 in conference matchups, the worst start to conference play since the Cardinals seven win season in 2015. Three of the last seven games have been lost by less than six points.
"I think that this is a combination of a variety of reason, but some of this is from us being a little rattled by the way results have gone," Whitford said. "Unless you've played the game, you don't understand the emotional and psychological pressure that you feel when you're frustrated out there. As that happens, you get away from all the other things."
The team struggled in various facets of the game. The Cardinals shot for another season low from three at 8 percent alongside turning over the ball 18 times leading to 14 Buffalo points.
Ball State ended up fouling out two players in sophomore guard Zach Gunn and redshirt junior forward K.J. Walton. Walton made up the bulk of the Cardinals points downing 18 in the game before finding the bench. To pour more salt to the wound, senior center Trey Moses would end up leaving the game on an apparent knee injury after a collision.
"Tonight, our shot selection was bad, but in all fairness, Buffalo had a lot to do with it," Whitford said. "They started playing "no catch" where they would deny every catch across the board. It messed us up and sometimes we couldn't move the ball at all."
Amidst all the negatives and the blaring Queen music inside Alumni Arena on Queen night, there were some positives. Redshirt freshman center Blake Huggins took up Moses' position after he went down to post six points and 10 rebounds over the course of 19 minutes. Huggins time on the court could be key if Moses is out for an extended period of time.
"I thought Blake was great and really gave us a lift," Whitford said. "In the 19 minutes he played we were minus two and that's a heck of a stat for him and certainly in this game. For him to get 10 rebounds in 19 minutes, I thought that was great."
From tip-off, the Bulls dominated. A 7-0 run started off the game before redshirt junior guard Tahjai Teague would down the "and one" shot for a three point play, getting the Cardinals on the board. A 9-2 run late by the Cardinals would bring them within less than 10 points. However, four offensive fouls on the Cardinals and strong paint play by the Bulls would see Buffalo up, 35-22 at the half.
After an elongated halftime due to an arena power outage, and another ten Queen songs, the Bulls picked up right where they left off. The Bulls would drain 48 in the second half, downing 12-36 in the paint for a collective 50 points inside on the night. The Cardinals couldn't keep up losing Walton and Gunn to fouling, and Moses to injury. By the time the dust had cleared, the Bulls picked up the win and the Cardinals would suffer their worst loss of the season.
In the loss, the Cardinals put two in double figures seeing Walton with 18 and Teague with 13. Huggins led in rebounding with 10 followed by Gunn at nine. Redshirt senior guard Tayler Persons' silence was defining as he would finish with six points going 2-12 from close and 1-6 from deep.
In what can be assumed as a quite locker room after the game, just as the horns that chased them off the court, Whitford said the team is taking "no bull" from this game.
"No B.S." Whitford said. "These guys are really good and are the most athletic team we've ever played. That includes Purdue and Virginia Tech and they're certainly as good as both those teams. You can definitely make the argument that they are the best of both those teams."