The Ball State men’s basketball team returns to Worthen Arena to host Miami University for a 2 p.m. tipoff Saturday as Mid-American Conference play continues.
The game will mark the first Ball State Sports Network broadcast of the year with the game airing on WIPB in Muncie and WRTV 6 in Indianapolis in addition to the full list of affiliates below.
Both teams are coming off losses to last year’s league co-champions. Ball State (3-11, 0-3 MAC) fell Wednesday at Ohio, while Miami (5-9, 1-2 MAC) lost at Akron.
Ball State head coach James Whitford will get his first look at one of the school’s longest-running rivalries from the home bench at Worthen Arena. He spent 11 years on the staff at Miami from 1994-2005 before moving on to assistant stops at Xavier and Arizona.
Ball State vs. Miami University
Saturday, Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. ET -- Worthen Arena (Muncie, Ind.)
• Television: Ball State Sports Network; Vince Welch (play-by-play); Jerry Peirson (analyst). Affiliates: WIPB-TV (Muncie), WRTV 6 (Indianapolis), WHME 46 (South Bend), WANE 15.2 (Fort Wayne), WJTS 18 (Jasper)
• Radio (Flagship): Ball State Radio Network (104.1 FM WLBC); Joel Godett (play-by-play); David Eha (analyst)
• Internet: Live video and audio available through the Ball State All Access package at ballstatesports.com; Live stats also available.
What You Need to Know
• Ball State is looking for its first Mid-American Conference win as it plays the fourth in a stretch of five straight games against the MAC East Division.
• The Cardinals are returning home after back-to-back road defeats at Kent State (86-74) and Ohio (71-51).
• A challenging start to league play has only enhanced Ball State’s strength of schedule, which is now rated No. 18 in the country by Ken Pomeroy and No. 20 by Jeff Sagarin.
• Senior center Majok Majok is one of 15 players in the country averaging a double-double at 10.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
• A preseason All-MAC West Division selection, Majok ranks 11th in the nation in rebounding.
• Freshman point guard Zavier Turner leads the Cardinals with averages of 12.5 points and 3.8 assists per game.
• Seniors Chris Bond (11.3 ppg) and Jesse Berry (10.3 ppg) are also averaging double figures.
• Turner is the top free throw shooter in the MAC and 12th in the country at 91.1 percent (41 for 45).
• For the season, freshmen have accounted for better than 42 percent of the Cardinals’ minutes and scoring.
• Ball State is playing its 93rd season of basketball and its first under head coach James Whitford.
• Whitford got his start in coaching at Miami University, where he served on the staff from 1994-2005.
• Miami has won five of its past nine games after opening the season with losses in its first four.
• Three of those four losses came on the road at Notre Dame, Arizona State and Xavier.
• The RedHawks are 1-2 in conference play with a victory over Central Michigan (77-70) and losses in their last two games to Western Michigan (78-77 in OT) and Akron (59-52).
• Senior forward Bill Edwards returned from a knee injury to scored 24 points in the Western Michigan game and is averaging 16.5 points over the two games he has played.
• Senior forward Will Felder is averaging 14.6 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds per game, while sophomore guard Geovonie McKnight is scoring 10.5 per game.
• Miami is shooting 43.3 percent from the floor and allowing opponents to shoot 47.4 percent.
• The RedHawks have forced their three league opponents into an average of 16.3 turnovers.
The Series with Miami
• Ball State and Miami will be meeting for the 97th time with the RedHawks owning a 59-37 lead in the all-time series.
• Ball State posted an 82-62 road win last year in Oxford, while Miami earned a 59-53 win two years ago in Muncie.
• The Cardinals are 22-22 against Miami in Muncie.
• Ball State owns a 9-8 edge in games played in Worthen Arena, although the RedHawks have won five of their past six games in the building.
• Miami was Ball State’s opponent for the first ever game in Worthen Arena, a 70-64 Cardinals’ victory on Jan. 15, 1992.
Turner to be Honored as Mini Mr. Basketball
• Before Saturday’s game, Ball State freshman guard Zavier Turner will be honored as Hoosier Basketball Magazine’s Mini Mr. Basketball for his senior season last year at Indianapolis Pike High School.
• Garry Donna of Hoosier Basketball Magazine will present the award, given each year to the state’s top graduating senior under 6-feet tall. It is always presented during the winner’s freshman season of college.
Whitford’s Miami Connection
• Ball State first-year head coach James Whitford has strong ties to the Miami University men’s basketball program.
• Whitford got his start at Miami in 1994 as an administrative assistant and spent 11 years there, eventually becoming the staff’s top assistant.
• He served under head coaches Herb Sendek (now the head coach at Arizona State) and the late Charlie Coles, who passed away in June at the age of 71.
• He also coached alongside future had coaches Jim Christian (Kent State, TCU, Ohio), Thad Matta (Butler, Xavier, Ohio State), Sean Miller (Xavier, Arizona) and Rob Senderoff (Kent State).
• Whitford was a part of four MAC regular season titles, three NCAA berths and one Sweet 16 appearance with the RedHawks.
Grunkemeyer’s Miami Connection
• One of the players on that Sweet 16 team for Miami in 1999 was current Ball State assistant coach Jason Grunkemeyer, who played at Miami from 1998-2001.
• Grunkemeyer still ranks among the top 10 in Miami history in 3-point field goals, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage.
• He later returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach under Charlie Coles from 2007-12.
Whitford and Grunkemeyer vs. Ball State
• Ball State and Miami met 25 times during coach James Whitford’s 11 years as an assistant in Oxford with Miami posting a 15-10 record versus the Cardinals during that stretch.
• The RedHawks were 5-2 against the Cardinals in assistant coach Jason Grunkemeyer’s three seasons playing at Miami.
• One of Ball State’s wins during that stretch was a 61-58 victory in the 2000 MAC Tournament championship game that sent the Cardinals to the NCAA Tournament.
Majok One of the Nation’s Best on the Boards
• Senior center Majok Majok leads the MAC and ranks 11th nationally in rebounding at 10.6 boards per game.
• He owns nine double-digit rebounding games, including a career-best 18-rebound effort Jan. 3 against Oakland City. The 18 rebounds against Oakland City are the most in a game by a MAC player this season.
• Majok led the MAC last year and ranked 18th nationally at 9.8 rebounds per game.
Majok Majok’s Double-Doubles
• Majok Majok is averaging 10.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game as one of 15 players in the country averaging a double-double.
• The last Ball State player to average a double-double in a season was Theron Smith, who tallied 19.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game in 2001-02.
• Majok owns six double-doubles on the year and 15 for his two-year Ball State career, including a 16-point, 13-rebound performance in the Jan. 8 MAC opener against Akron.
• With 25 points and 18 rebounds in the non-conference finale versus Oakland City, Majok became the first Ball State player with at least 20 points and 15 rebounds in a game since Terrance Chapman did it in a January 2005 game at Eastern Michigan.
• For his two-year Ball State career, Majok is averaging 10.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Ball State’s Iron Man
• Senior forward Chris Bond has made 45 consecutive starts dating back to the last game of the 2011-12 season.
• Bond is the only Ball State player to start every game this season and was one of only two (Jauwan Scaife) to start all 30 a year ago.
• He has started 83 games in his career, including all 72 in which he has played over the past three seasons.
Bond Keeping Good Company
• Chris Bond enters Saturday’s game with career totals of 843 points, 501 rebounds and 130 steals.
• In surpassing 500 career rebounds Wednesday at Ohio, Bond became only the second player in Ball State history with at least 800 points, 500 rebounds and 125 steals in a career.
• Bonzi Wells (1994-98) is the other. He ended his career with 2,485 points, 843 rebounds and 347 steals.
Turner’s Fast Start
• Freshman point guard Zavier Turner is leading the Cardinals with averages of 12.5 points and 3.8 assists per game.
• He has reached double figures a team-high 10 times this season.
• Turner became the first Cardinal with at least 17 points and at least four assists in the first three games of a season since Larry Bullington in 1973-74 and just the second to accomplish the feat since Ball State began tracking assists in 1973.
• He became the first Ball State freshman with at least 17 points in the first three games of a season since Jim Fields in 1975-76 and just the second since freshmen became eligible for varsity competition in 1972.
Turner at the Stripe
• Zavier Turner leads the MAC and is tied for 12th nationally with a .911 free throw percentage, having made 41 of his 45 attempts from the charity stripe.
• Turner was leading the country until his percentage dropped with a 3-for-5 night at the line Wednesday at Ohio.
• He had a streak of 27 consecutive made free throws earlier this year.
Turner from Beyond the Arc
• Zavier Turner ranks second in the MAC in 3-pointers per game (2.1) and third in the league in 3-point percentage (.448).
• Turner has hit at least three 3-pointers in six of the Cardinals’ 14 games, including a career-high four at Marquette. He has been held without a trey only twice.
More Turner Rankings
• Zavier Turner also ranks in the top 20 in the MAC in minutes per game (31.9, 6th), assists per game (3.8, 7th) and points per game (12.5, 18th).
• He leads MAC freshmen in each of those categories (including the ones in the previous note).
Alstork Developing as a Scorer
• Freshman guard Mark Alstork has reached double figures in seven of the past 10 games, including a career-high 15 points last Saturday at Kent State.
• Alstork has been efficient from beyond the arc this season, knocking down 42.9 percent (15 of 35) to rank fourth the MAC in 3-point percentage.
• He hit a trio of 3-pointers against both Marquette and Oakland City.
Alstork’s Big Night at Kent State
• Last Saturday at Kent State, Mark Alstork became the first player since 2008 to lead Ball State in points, rebounds and assists in a game.
• Alstork finished with career highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds and matched his career best with five assists.
• The last Ball State player to accomplish the feat was Peyton Stovall on Jan. 16, 2008 against Western Michigan. Stovall led the team with 18 points and tied for team-high honors with seven boards and one assist.
Youth and Experience
• Ball State’s lineup this season is heavy on both experience and youth.
• There are only two scholarship players on the Cardinals’ roster outside the freshman and senior classes, so those two classes account for the majority of the minutes on the floor.
• Ball State’s freshmen have stepped in to make an immediate impact, accounting for more than 42 percent of the team’s minutes and scoring.
Persistent Crowder Gets His Chance
• Ball State walk-on senior guard Kindon Crowder has seen action in four of the past seven games. He knocked down a 3-pointer against both Marquette and Southern Illinois.
• Crowder is a former team manager for the Cardinals who first earned a roster spot as a practice player a year ago.
• He played high school basketball his freshman year at St. Francis de Sales in Chicago but did not play his final three seasons at Munster High School in Indiana.
Berry Reaches 1,000
• Senior guard Jesse Berry surpassed 1,000 points for his career Nov. 30 at Cleveland State.
• He now owns 1,064 career points, the most of any current Ball State player.
• Berry is the 27th member of Ball State’s 1,000-point club. Former teammate Jauwan Scaife, now a graduate student manager for the Cardinals, became the 26th member last season.
Berry from Downtown
• Jesse Berry matched his career-high with six 3-pointers Dec. 30 at James Madison.
• Berry has moved into third place on Ball State’s all-time 3-pointers list with 186 for his career. He ranks second in school history with 542 3-point attempts.
• Former Ball State teammate Jauwan Scaife set the school record for 3-pointers last year, finishing his career with 203 treys. Patrick Jackson (1998-2002) is second with 202.
Varying Lineup Combinations
• Ball State has utilized seven different starting lineup combinations through its first 14 games.
• Nine different Ball State players have started at least one game.
• Chris Bond has started all 14 games, while Turner and Majok have each made 13 starts.
Whitford Era Underway
• James Whitford, who was introduced April 10, 2013 as the 19th head coach in program history, earned his first career win in the Cardinals’ 73-53 victory Nov. 12 over Taylor.
• Whitford came to Ball State after serving the previous eight years on Sean Miller’s staff at Xavier and Arizona, including the past two as the Wildcats’ associate head coach.
• He also has previous MAC experience with 11 years at Miami University under head coaches Herb Sendek and Charlie Coles.
• During his career as an assistant coach, Whitford’s teams posted an overall record of 400-208 and reached the postseason 13 times, including 10 NCAA tournament appearances.
Kamieniecki to Miss Season
• Senior post player Matt Kamieniecki is sitting out the season after undergoing wrist surgery. He will redshirt and return to the floor as a fifth-year senior in 2014-15.
• Kamieniecki has played in 74 games through his first three seasons at Ball State. He averaged 4.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a junior, starting 11 of the final 16 games after being limited by injury in the first half of the season.
• At this point, Kamieniecki will be the only senior on next year’s Ball State roster.
Returning for the Cardinals
• The loss of Matt Kamieniecki leaves Ball State with six returning letterwinners from last year, four of which are seniors -- center Majok Majok, guard Jesse Berry and forwards Chris Bond and Tyler Koch.
• Ball State’s two additional returning letterwinners are both sophomores in forward Bo Calhoun and guard Chase Brogna.
Majok Tabbed Preseason All-MAC
• Majok Majok was named preseason All-MAC West Division in a vote of the league’s media. He was joined in the West Division by Toledo’s Rian Pearson and Julius Brown, Western Michigan’s Shayne Whittington and Eastern Michigan’s Glenn Bryant.
• The preseason All-MAC East Team consisted of Buffalo’s Javon McCrea and Will Regan, Akron’s Demetrius Treadwell and Quincy Diggs, and Miami’s Will Felder.