The Ball State men’s basketball team continues a challenging opening stretch of Mid-American Conference play Saturday with a 7 p.m. contest at Kent State.
Both teams enter the game coming off losses to last year’s MAC regular season co-champions.
The Cardinals (3-9, 0-1 MAC) pushed Akron into the final minutes of Wednesday’s league opener but came up on the short end of a 72-68 decision. Kent State (9-5, 0-1 MAC) suffered a 59-53 loss to Ohio.
Ball State at Kent State
Saturday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. – M.A.C. Center (Kent, Ohio)
• Radio (Flagship): Ball State Radio Network (104.1 FM WLBC); Joel Godett (play-by-play); David Eha (Analyst)
• Internet: Live audio available through the Ball State All Access package at ballstatesports.com; Live video through the MAC Digital Network at mac-sports.com; Live stats at kentstatesports.com.
What You Need to Know
• Saturday’s game at Kent State is the second for Ball State in a three-game stretch against perennial Mid-American Conference East Division powers.
• The Cardinals opened league play Wednesday with a 72-68 loss to two-time defending MAC regular season champion Akron. They will visit defending co-champion Ohio on Wednesday.
• Chris Bond led Ball State with 18 points against Akron, while Majok Majok had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
• The reigning MAC West Player of the Week, Majok is one of 16 players in the country averaging a double-double with 11.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. His rebounding average ranks 10th in the nation.
• Majok is averaging 19.7 points and 15.0 rebounds per game over the past three contests.
• Freshman point guard Zavier Turner leads the Cardinals with averages of 12.8 points and 4.1 assists per game.
• Seniors Jesse Berry (11.3 ppg), Majok (11.3 ppg) and Bond (11.2 ppg) are also averaging double figures.
• Turner is the top free throw shooter in the country at 97.1 percent (34 for 35).
• For the season, freshmen have accounted for better than 42 percent of the Cardinals’ minutes and scoring.
• The Cardinals’ strength of schedule is rated No. 30 nationally by Ken Pomeroy and No. 35 by Jeff Sagarin.
• Ball State is playing its 93rd season of basketball and its first under head coach James Whitford.
Scouting Kent State
• Kent State is 9-5 on the year and enters Saturday’s contest with losses in three in a row.
• The Golden Flashes are 7-3 at home but dropped Wednesday’s MAC opener at home to Ohio, 59-53.
• Five Kent State players are averaging better than 9.0 points per game, led by Kris Brewer (11.5) and Central Michigan transfer Derek Jackson (10.9).
• Kent State and Ball State share one common opponent so far in Cleveland State. The Vikings defeated Ball State 78-55 (Nov. 30) and topped Kent State 78-70 (Dec. 28).
The Series with Kent State
• Ball State and Kent State will be meeting for the 77th time with the series deadlocked at 38-38.
• Each team is 26-10 in home games against the other and 2-2 in neutral-site contests.
• Kent State has won each of the past nine meetings in the series with Ball State’s last win coming in Muncie in 2005. The Cardinals’ last road win over the Golden Flashes came in 1999.
• Kent State won 61-47 last year in Muncie.
• Ball State head coach James Whitford and Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff served together on the staff at Miami University during the 1995-96 season as graduate assistants and again the next season after Whitford became a full-time assistant.
• The two remain close friends today, and both were in the other’s wedding.
• Herb Sendek (now the head coach at Arizona State) was the head coach of that Miami team.
• The assistants on that staff all went on to be head coaches: Charlie Coles (Miami), Jim Christian (Kent State, TCU, Ohio), That Matta (Butler, Xavier, Ohio State) and Sean Miller (Xavier, Arizona).
• Coles had also previously been the head coach at Central Michigan.
Another Staff Connection
• James Whitford is not the only member of the Ball State staff familiar with Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff.
• Jaron Henry, Ball State’s first-year director of basketball operations, served as a graduate assistant on Senderoff’s staff at Kent State the past two seasons.
Majok Named MAC West Player of the Week
• After averaging 21.5 points and 16.0 rebounds over two games last week against James Madison and Oakland City, Majok Majok was named Monday as the MAC West Division Player of the Week.
• It was the first player-of-the-week honor for Ball State this season and the third of Majok’s career. He won it twice last season.
One Constant in the Lineup
• Senior forward Chris Bond has made 43 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 81 games in his career, including all 70 in which he has played over the past three seasons.
Bond Keeping Good Company
• Chris Bond enters Saturday’s game with career totals of 819 points, 495 rebounds and 130 steals.
• He is one of only three players in Ball State history to surpass 800 points, 475 rebounds and 125 steals for a career, joining Bonzi Wells (1994-98) and John Williams (1979-82).
• Wells finished with 2,485 points, 843 rebounds and 347 steals. Williams had 973 points, 497 rebounds and 167 steals.
Turner’s Fast Start
• Freshman point guard Zavier Turner is leading the Cardinals with averages of 12.8 points and 4.1 assists per game.
• He has reached double figures eight 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 Leading the Nation at the Stripe
• Zavier Turner ranks first in the country with a .971 free throw percentage, having made 34 of his 35 attempts from the charity stripe.
• He has made 27 straight free throws dating back to the second half of the Nov. 18 game against Southeast Missouri.
Turner from Beyond the Arc
• Zavier Turner also leads the MAC in 3-pointers per game (2.3) and is tied for sixth in the league in 3-point percentage (.450).
• Turner has hit at least three 3-pointers in six of the Cardinals’ 12 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 (31.6, 5th), assists per game (4.1, 6th) and points per game (12.8, 16th).
• He leads MAC freshmen in each of those categories (including the ones in the previous note) except 3-point percentage, where he ranks second only to teammate Mark Alstork (.483).
Majok One of the Nation’s Best on the Boards
• Senior center Majok Majok leads the MAC and ranks 10th nationally in rebounding at 10.8 boards per game. He has recorded 45 rebounds over the past three games.
• He owns eight double-digit rebounding games, including a career-best 18-rebound effort last Friday 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 coming off his sixth double-double of the season and 15th of his Ball State career in a 16-points, 13-rebound performance versus 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.
• Majok is now averaging 11.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game as one of 16 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.
• For his two-year Ball State career, Majok is averaging 10.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Alstork Developing as Scorer
• Freshman Mark Alstork has reached double figures in six of the past eight games, including a career-high 13 points in the Jan. 3 non-conference finale versus Oakland City.
• Alstork has been efficient from beyond the arc this season, knocking down 48.3 percent (14 of 29) to rank second the MAC in 3-point percentage.
• He hit a trio of 3-pointers against both Marquette and Oakland City.
Persistent Crowder Gets His Chance
• Ball State walk-on senior guard Kindon Crowder has seen action in three of the past five 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.
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.
Berry Reaches 1,000
• Senior guard Jesse Berry surpassed 1,000 points for his career Nov. 30 at Cleveland State.
• He now owns 1,056 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 184 for his career. He ranks second in school history with 531 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 12 games.
• Nine different Ball State players have started at least one game.
• Chris Bond has started all 12 games, while Turner and Majok have each made 11 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.