Cardinals stop 2-game losing streak in win against IU Kokomo

Freshman center Payton Sparks (5) dunks the ball against IU Kokomo on Dec. 12, 2021 at Worthen Arena in Muncie, IN. Sparks scored 12 points throughout the game. Amber Pietz, DN
Freshman center Payton Sparks (5) dunks the ball against IU Kokomo on Dec. 12, 2021 at Worthen Arena in Muncie, IN. Sparks scored 12 points throughout the game. Amber Pietz, DN

Ball State Men’s Basketball (4-5, 0-0 MAC) defeated IU Kokomo (12-2, 5-1 RSC) 85-58 Dec. 12 to snap its two-game losing streak.

In their previous matchup Dec. 8, the Cardinals lost a 46-point game to Xavier in what head coach James Whitford described as a step back for Ball State. 

“In Cincinnati, the game got hard and [we] didn't have the discipline and that kind of toughness to play the right way through that,” Whitford said. “We wanted to get that back today. And I really thought we did.”

Redshirt junior forward MiryneThomas said a few of his teammates were struggling with non-COVID related illnesses and Ball State’s deep rotation helped the Cardinals forward.

“We’ve got a deep roster of guys who can go on on the floor and execute what we need to be done,” Thomas said. “Our coaches trust the guys that are on the bench. That's just how we play.”

Four Cardinals scored in double-figures against the Cougars, including junior guard Tyler Cochran with a team-high 19 points. Thomas scored 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting, while junior guard Luke Bumbalough and freshman center Payton Sparks each finished with 12 points. Sparks grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

Ball State totaled 19 assists against IU-Kokomo, something Whitford highlighted after the game, but said the Cardinals defense needs more work throughout the season. 

“When we're able to function, and have good possessions on offense, we're a really good team,” Whitford said. “We're really skilled when you shoot the ball… But we have to get better on the defensive side of the ball. Our defensive numbers today at the end of the day were good, but I will tell you I don’t think we defended as well as we needed to especially early in the game.”

The Cardinals return to Worthen Arena for their next game against Illinois State Dec. 18. Tipoff is 4 p.m.

Contact Daniel Kehn with comments at daniel.kehn@bsu.edu or on Twitter@daniel_kehn.

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