The Ball State men’s basketball team will face a stiff challenge Saturday afternoon against a Toledo team that brings the best record in the Mid-American Conference to Muncie.
The Rockets (19-3, 7-2 MAC) lead the league’s West Division after a Wednesday victory over Bowling Green. Ball State (4-16, 1-8 MAC) is coming off a loss Wednesday at Buffalo and looking to snap a four-game losing skid.
Ball State vs. Toledo
Saturday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. ET -- Worthen Arena (Muncie, Ind.)
• Radio (Flagship): Ball State Radio Network (104.1 FM WLBC); Joel Godett (play-by-play); David Eha (analyst)
• Radio (Student): Sports Link Radio (91.3 FM WCRD); Luke Martin (play-by-play), Sean Stewart (analyst) & Petar Hood (sidelines)
• 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 opens a three-game home stand Saturday against a Toledo team that owns the best record in the MAC (19-3, 7-2) and the league’s best RPI (31).
• It is the first of two meetings this season between the MAC West Division rivals, who will also get together Feb. 23 at Toledo.
• The Cardinals dropped their fourth straight game with a 69-48 loss Wednesday at Buffalo.
• The Cardinals have been balanced offensively with four players averaging 9.9 points per game or better: freshman Zavier Turner (12.1 ppg) and seniors Chris Bond (11.9), Majok Majok (10.9) and Jesse Berry (9.9).
• Majok, the Ball State center, owns seven double-doubles on the season and has spent much of the year averaging a double-double. He is currently averaging 11.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
• A preseason All-MAC West Division selection, Majok leads the MAC and ranks 18th in the nation in rebounding.
• For the season, freshmen have accounted for better than 40 percent of the Cardinals’ minutes and scoring.
• For the past nine games, Ball State has started three freshmen: Turner, Mark Alstork and Franko House.
• Ken Pomeroy rates Ball State’s schedule to this point as the 63rd toughest in the country and the Cardinals’ non-conference schedule as the 41st toughest.
• Ball State is playing its 93rd season of basketball and its first under head coach James Whitford.
• Toledo (19-3, 7-2 MAC) owns the best overall record in the MAC, leads the West Division and checks in at No. 31 this week in the RPI.
• The Rockets won their first 12 games of the season and have seen their only losses come on the road at Kansas, at Western Michigan and at Ohio in overtime.
• Toledo bounced back from the Ohio loss with an 83-76 win Wednesday over Bowling Green.
• Justin Drummond leads the Rockets with 14.7 points per game and is one of five Toledo players averaging 9.8 or better.
• Point guard Julius Brown adds 14.3 points per game and a league-best 6.7 assists per game, while Rian Pearson is scoring 13.8 points per game. Both of those players were preseason All-MAC picks.
• As a team, Toledo is tied for 12th in the country in scoring at 83.5 points per game.
• The Rockets lead the MAC in scoring offense, field goal percentage (.479), 3-point percentage (.361), assists (15.9 apg) and rebounding margin (+5.4).
The Series with Toledo
• Ball State and Toledo will be meeting for the 84th time with the Cardinals trailing 43-40 in the all-time series.
• Ball State has won four of the past six meetings and seven of the past 11.
• The teams split their two contests last year with Toledo winning 85-78 in Muncie (Jan. 30, 2013) and Ball State returning the favor with an 86-72 victory in Toledo (March 2, 2013).
• Ball State holds a 25-14 advantage over Toledo in Muncie, including an 18-5 mark against the Rockets in Worthen Arena.
Home and Away
• Ball State has posted a 4-5 record at home this year but is still in search of its first road victory.
• The Cardinals’ shooting numbers have been virtually the same no matter where they play -- 40.0 percent at home and 39.7 percent on the road.
• The biggest difference has come on the defensive end of the floor, where Ball State is allowing opponents to shoot 50.2 percent overall and 39.8 percent from 3-point range on the road.
• At home, the Cardinals are holding opponents to 41.1 percent shooting and 25.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Cardinals Excel on the Boards
• One of Ball State’s biggest strengths this season has been rebounding.
• The Cardinals own a +3.1 average rebounding margin for the season, which ranks third in the MAC behind only Toledo (+5.4) and Northern Illinois (+4.2).
• In league play, Ball State has a +2.0 average rebounding margin, which also ranks third in the conference.
• The Cardinals have outrebounded all but three of their MAC opponents: Western Michigan (36-34) on Jan. 26, Akron (34-28) on Jan. 29 and Buffalo (37-33) on Feb. 5. All three of those have come in the past four games, however.
Turnovers Telling the Story
• Ball State has been prone to high turnover numbers this season.
• The Cardinals are turning the ball over more than any team in the MAC at 16.8 per game.
• Ball State has held its turnovers to 13.5 per game in its wins compared to 17.6 in its losses.
• The Cardinals turned it over a season-low 10 times in the Jan. 3 victory over Oakland City and a season-worst 23 times in the Dec. 17 loss at Marquette.
Bond Picking up His Scoring
• Senior forward Chris Bond is averaging a career-high 11.9 points per game in his final season for the Cardinals.
• Bond has been especially effective of late, reaching double figures in 10 of the past 12 games and averaging 13.1 points per game over that stretch.
• He scored a career-high 20 points earlier this year against Southeast Missouri and has reached 16 points in six games, including last Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois.
Bond Keeping Good Company
• Chris Bond now owns career totals of 923 points, 541 rebounds and 141 steals.
• In surpassing 500 career rebounds Jan. 15 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.
Ball State’s Iron Man
• Senior forward Chris Bond has made 51 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 89 games in his career, including all 78 in which he has played over the past three seasons.
Majok One of the Nation’s Best on the Boards
• Senior center Majok Majok leads the MAC and ranks 18th nationally in rebounding at 9.9 boards per game.
• He owns 13 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 just shy of a double-double at 10.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Only 15 players in the country are averaging a double-double.
• The last Cardinal 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 seven double-doubles on the year and 16 for his two-year Ball State career.
• 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 9.9 rebounds per game.
Finding Lineup Consistency
• After using six different starting lineup combinations over the first 10 games, Ball State has found consistency over the past 10.
• The Cardinals have started three freshmen -- guards Zavier Turner and Mark Alstork and forward Franko House -- along with two seniors -- forward Chris Bond and center Majok Majok -- in each of the past 10 games.
• Bond has started all 20 games this season, while Turner and Majok have each made 19 starts.
Turner’s Fast Start
• Freshman point guard Zavier Turner is leading the Cardinals with averages of 12.1 points and 3.2 assists per game.
• He has reached double figures a team-high 14 times this season, including a career-best 24-point output Jan. 18 against Miami.
• 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 from Beyond the Arc
• Zavier Turner ranks second in the MAC in 3-point percentage (.426) and second in the league in 3-pointers per game (2.2).
• Turner has hit at least three 3-pointers in nine of the Cardinals’ 20 games, including a career-high four against Marquette and Miami.
More Turner Rankings
• Zavier Turner also ranks in the top 20 in the MAC in minutes per game (32.3, 6th), assists per game (3.2, 8th) and points per game (12.1, 19th).
• He leads MAC freshmen in each of those categories (including the ones in the previous note).
Alstork’s Big Night at Kent State
• Jan. 11 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 40 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 nine of the past 13 games. He played a season-high 14 minutes off the bench Feb. 18 versus Miami.
• 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 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 194 for his career. He is tied for first in school history with 579 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.
Berry Reaches 1,000
• Jesse Berry surpassed 1,000 points for his career Nov. 30 at Cleveland State.
• He now owns 1,117 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, became the 26th member last season.