The Ball State men’s basketball team continues a challenging stretch by welcoming Buffalo to Worthen Arena for an 8 p.m. tipoff Thursday.
The game will be televised by Time Warner Cable Sports Channel as part of the Mid-American Conference TV package. Comcast 81 in Indiana will carry the game, and it will also be available on ESPN3.
Ball State (3-12, 0-4 MAC) is coming off 64-52 loss to Miami University despite a career-high 24 points from Zavier Turner. Buffalo (9-5, 3-1 MAC) has won five of its past six games and is part of a three-way tie for first place in the MAC East Division standings.
The first 2,000 fans Thursday will receive a free Ball State beanie courtesy of Shane Co.
Ball State vs. Buffalo
Thursday, Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. -- Worthen Arena (Muncie, Ind.)
• Television: Time Warner Cable Sports Channel/Comcast Indiana 81/ESPN3; Michael Reghi (play-by-play); David Cecutti (analyst)
• 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 audio available through the Ball State All Access package at ballstatesports.com; Live stats at ballstatesports.com.
What You Need to Know
• Ball State is looking for its first Mid-American Conference win as it plays its fifth straight game against the MAC East Division to open league play.
• The Cardinals will be playing their second straight at home after a 64-52 loss Saturday to Miami University.
• Ball State’s strength of schedule, which has been rated as high as No. 16 in the country this season, currently checks in at No. 41 according to Ken Pomeroy.
• Senior center Majok Majok is one of 15 players in the country averaging a double-double at 10.7 points and 10.5 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 13.3 points and 3.7 assists per game.
• Turner is coming off a career-high 24-point performance Saturday against Miami.
• Senior Chris Bond (11.5 ppg) is also averaging double figures after five straight games of 10 or more points.
• Turner is the top free throw shooter in the MAC and 20th in the country at 89.5 percent (51 for 57).
• 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.
• Buffalo (9-5, 3-1 MAC) comes to Muncie with wins in five of its past six games.
• The Bulls’ only loss during that stretch came on a buzzer beater at MAC West leader Toledo.
• Buffalo’s league wins have come against Northern Illinois (67-46), Eastern Michigan (76-66) and Kent State (71-60), all at home.
• The Bulls, picked to finished second in the MAC East Division, feature preseason all-conference selections Javon McCrea and Will Regan.
• McCrea is third in the league in scoring at 16.6 points per game and second in rebounding at 9.4 boards per game.
• Joshua Freelove is scoring 12.3 points per game, while Regan is adding 10.6.
• The Bulls are playing their first season under former Duke standout Bobby Hurley as head coach.
The Series with Buffalo
• Ball State and Buffalo will be meeting for the 24th time with the Cardinals owning a 13-10 lead in the all-time series.
• Buffalo has won the past three meetings, including two last season.
• The Bulls pulled out a 66-63 victory in last year’s regular-season meeting in Muncie (Jan. 23, 2013).
• Buffalo later ended Ball State’s season with a 76-61 win in the second round of the MAC Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio (March 13, 2013).
• Ball State is 8-2 all-time against Buffalo in Muncie, including a 7-2 mark inside Worthen Arena.
• Thursday’s meeting is the first of two this year between the teams with Ball State scheduled to visit Buffalo on Jan. 23.
Cardinals Excel on the Boards
• Ball State’s biggest strength this season has been rebounding.
• The Cardinals own a +4.4 average rebounding margin for the season, which ranks third in the MAC behind only Northern Illinois (+5.4) and Toledo (+5.2).
• In league play, Ball State has been the MAC’s top team in terms of rebounding margin at +5.2.
• The Cardinals have outrebounded each of their past seven opponents, including all four in conference play.
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 16.9 per game.
• Ball State has been able to hold its turnovers to 13.3 per game in its wins compared to 17.8 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 11.5 points per game in his final season for the Cardinals.
• Bond has been especially effective of late, recording five straight double-figure scoring games and averaging 14.4 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 four games.
Turner Goes for 24 against RedHawks
• Freshman point guard Zavier Turner scored a career-high 24 points Saturday against Miami University.
• Turner matched his career-high with four 3-pointers on seven attempts and set career bests for free throws made (10) and attempted (12).
• Only Majok Majok, who went for 25 points in the Jan. 3 win over Oakland City, has scored more points in a game for the Cardinals this season.
Cardinals Add Mid-Year Transfer Jeremiah Davis
• Ball State has added Cincinnati transfer and former Muncie Central High School standout Jeremiah Davis to its roster.
• He will practice with the Cardinals during the spring semester, though he will not be immediately eligible able to play in games because of NCAA transfer rules.
• His family lost its Muncie home to a fire in November, and he sought to transfer after completing the fall semester at Cincinnati.
• Davis averaged nearly eight minutes per game as a freshman in 2011-12 for a Cincinnati team that reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. He was limited to four games last season because of a wrist injury for which Cincinnati has requested a medical hardship.
• Davis helped Muncie Central to conference and sectional championships in 2009-10. He then moved on to Huntington (W. Va.) Prep for one season before heading to Cincinnati.
Majok Named Jan. 6 MAC West Player of the Week
• Senior center Majok Majok was named the Jan. 6 MAC West Division Player of the Week after averaging 21.5 points and 16.0 rebounds over two games the previous week against James Madison and Oakland City.
• It was the first player-of-the-week honor for Ball State this season and the third of Majok’s career.
Majok One of the Nation’s Best on the Boards
• Senior center Majok Majok leads the MAC and ranks 11th nationally in rebounding at 10.5 boards per game.
• He owns 10 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 10.7 points and 10.5 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 10.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Ball State’s Iron Man
• Senior forward Chris Bond has made 46 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 84 games in his career, including all 73 in which he has played over the past three seasons.
Bond Keeping Good Company
• Chris Bond now owns career totals of 857 points, 506 rebounds and 132 steals.
• In surpassing 500 career rebounds last 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 13.3 points and 3.7 assists per game.
• He has reached double figures a team-high 11 times this season, including a career-best 24-point output Saturday 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 at the Stripe
• Zavier Turner leads the MAC and ranks 20th nationally with a .895 free throw percentage, having made 51 of his 57 attempts from the charity stripe.
• Turner was leading the country as recently as a week ago. He made 10 of 12 Saturday against Miami.
• He had a streak of 27 consecutive made free throws earlier this year.
Turner from Beyond the Arc
• Zavier Turner ranks first in the MAC in 3-pointers per game (2.3) and second in the league in 3-point percentage (.459).
• Turner has hit at least three 3-pointers in seven of the Cardinals’ 15 games, including a career-high four against Marquette and Miami. 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 (32.1, 6th), assists per game (3.7, 7th) and points per game (13.3, 14th).
• He leads MAC freshmen in each of those categories (including the ones in the previous note).
Alstork Developing as a Scorer
• Despite falling short of double figures in the past two games, freshman guard Mark Alstork has scored 10 or more points in seven of the past 11 games.
• Alstork has been efficient from beyond the arc this season, knocking down 40.5 percent (15 of 37) to rank sixth 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
• 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 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 five of the past eight games. He played a season-high 14 minutes off the bench Saturday 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 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 544 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 15 games.
• Nine different Ball State players have started at least one game.
• Chris Bond has started all 15 games, while Turner and Majok have each made 14 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.