Ball State men's basketball continues to thrive in second half, defeats Arkansas Pine-Bluff

Junior forward Basheer Jihad makes a drive to the basket against Oakland City Nov. 14 at Worthen Arena. Jihad had 6 rebounds in the game. Andrew Berger, DN
Junior forward Basheer Jihad makes a drive to the basket against Oakland City Nov. 14 at Worthen Arena. Jihad had 6 rebounds in the game. Andrew Berger, DN

Despite Ball State men’s basketball moving to 5-1 with a 92-74 win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff, it was the same story as it has been throughout each of the Cardinals first six games this season.

Michael Lewis told his players after Ball State’s 92-51 win over Oakland City that he needed the Cardinals to start motivating themselves heading into games. He didn’t want to have to light a fire under them at halftime like he did that night. 

The next game Ball State fell to Evansville by 24 points. The game after that, the Cardinals got back on track with a 75-58 win over USC Upstate. 

Lewis was pleased with the squad’s effort from start to finish and said he wanted them to stay consistent in their self motivation.  

However, Ball State found itself down 46-40 at halftime against Arkansas Pine-Bluff. The Cardinals found themselves once again needing a fire lit under them at halftime. 

“[The coaching staff] put the time in to dig out the film and put a good report for us, so we got to be a bit better paying attention to start the game,” Basheer Jihad said. 

Ball State went into the half losing the turnover margin 9-7, something Lewis said affected the Cardinals’ play style moving forward.

“You want to play fast, so let's not turn the ball over and I’ll let you play as fast as you want,” Lewis said. “But when you turn the ball over and take rushed shots against a defense that I know we can break down in the half court, I'm trying to win the game.” 

While this was the first time Ball State went into halftime trailing in a game the red and white won, the second half result was the same as it's been all season. The Cardinals outscored the Lions 52-28 in the second half, something Ball State has done in each of its wins this season.

Junior guard Jalin Anderson yells for an open pass against Oakland City Nov. 14 at Worthen Arena. Anderson had 2 steals in the game. Andrew Berger, DN

Lewis said he’s been pleased with the Cardinals making the right adjustments as soon as they’ve been asked to do so this season, crediting the players with the second half turnaround against Arkansas Pine-Bluff rather than himself.

“I’m not getting any stops, these guys did it,” Lewis said.

Of the nine Cardinals who saw playing time, five finished with double-digit scoring numbers. Jihad, a junior forward, recorded his first career double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Jihad said he knows he’s capable of having dominant games inside like today, but wants to be more consistent in that approach. 

Junior guard Jalin Anderson, who finished with 15 points and eight assists, nearly recorded a double-double himself. As one of the main facilitators of the offense so far this season, Anderson said he tries to make the right play each time the ball is in his hand, whether that means passing or shooting. 

The only freshmen to score in the contest were guard Trent Middleton and forward Mason Jones, and guard Joey Brown and center Zane Doughty only recorded a combined 14 minutes. Lewis cited former UCLA guard Peyton Watson as inspiration for the young players on the team who may not be seeing the floor as much as expected. 

Watson was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, yet only averaged around six points per game at UCLA. However, he accepted his reduced role and found other ways to contribute for the Bruins, resulting in a first round NBA Draft selection by the Denver Nuggets. 

“I don't want guys that aren't playing that are freshmen in this program happy about not playing,” Lewis said. “I don't want that, but I want them to be great teammates. I want them to learn and grow.” 

Ever since the preseason, Anderson has respected Lewis’ commitment to making sure the Cardinals are learning in every game they play, win or loss. 

“He wants to win, we want to win, so we trust him,” Anderson said. “Going out there and being conscious of the details, that's what wins games.” 

It wasn’t all positive for Ball State in the win, however. Junior guard Davion Bailey led Ball State scorers at the half, and even finished the game with 16 points in 19 minutes, but he went down with a seemingly serious injury in the second half. 

After defending an Arkansas Pine-Bluff (3-4) layup, Bailey crashed to the floor, tried to get back up and after taking a couple of steps, fell back down, clutching his right leg. He went to the back of Worthen Arena for medical attention, and returned to the Cardinals’ bench sporting a boot and crutches. 

Ball State returns to action, likely without Bailey, Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. against Little Rock (1-4) in Arkansas. 

Contact Kyle Smedley with comments via email at or on X @kylesmedley_.


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