The Ball State men’s basketball team welcomes defending Mid-American Conference champion Akron to Worthen Arena for its league opener Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The Cardinals (3-8) closed out non-conference play last week with a 94-58 victory over Oakland City. Majok Majok turned in his best performance of the season on his way to MAC West Division Player of the Week honors.
Akron (8-5) enters Wednesday’s contest off a 59-58 home victory over Marshall. The Zips were co-champions during the regular season last year and won the MAC Tournament to claim a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Ball State vs. Akron
Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. -- 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 live audio available through the Ball State All Access package at ballstatesports.com; Live stats also available at ballstatesports.com.
What You Need to Know
• Wednesday’s game with Akron marks the opening of Ball State’s Mid-American Conference schedule.
• The Cardinals finished 3-8 against a non-conference schedule rate No. 23 in the nation by both Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin.
• Ball State is coming off a 94-58 victory in its non-conference finale against Oakland City as the Cardinals snapped a seven-game losing streak.
• Senior center Majok Majok scored 25 points and pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds against Oakland City on his way to MAC West Division Player of the Week honors.
• Majok is one of 15 players in the country averaging a double-double for the season at 10.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. His rebounding average leads the MAC and ranks 11th in the nation.
• Freshman point guard Zavier Turner leads the Cardinals with averages of 13.4 points and 4.2 assists per game.
• Seniors Jesse Berry (11.3 ppg) and Chris Bond (10.5 ppg) are also averaging double figures.
• Turner is the top free throw shooter in the country at 97.0 percent (32 for 33).
• For the season, freshmen have accounted for better than 43 percent of the Cardinals’ minutes and scoring.
• Ball State is playing its 93rd season of basketball and its first under head coach James Whitford.
• Akron enters conference play at 8-5, coming off back-to-back wins over Coppin State (77-66) and Marshall (59-58).
• The Zips’ losses have come against strong opponents with defeats to St. Mary’s, Middle Tennessee, Iowa State and South Carolina twice.
• Akron finished last year as the regular season co-champion and tournament champion in the MAC.
• Preseason All-MAC East Division selections Demetrius Treadwell and Quincy Diggs lead the Zips with 12.8 and 11.5 points per game, respectively.
• Treadwell also leads Akron on the boards with 7.6 rebounds per game.
• Akron and Ball State share one common opponent this season in Cleveland State. The Zips defeated the Vikings 73-61 Dec. 7, while the Cardinals lost 78-55 Nov. 30.
The Series with Akron
• Ball State and Akron will be meeting for the 33rd time and the 29th since the Zips joined the MAC for the 1992-93 season.
• Akron holds a 17-15 advantage in the all-time series.
• The Zips have won each of the past nine meetings between the teams.
• Ball State is 10-6 at home against Akron, though the Zips have won the past four contests played in Muncie.
• The Zips defeated Ball State 71-64 last season in Akron despite a career-high 26 points and 13 rebounds for Ball State’s Majok Majok.
Majok Named MAC West Player of the Week
• After averaging 21.5 points and 16.0 rebounds over two games last week, Majok Majok was named the MAC West 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.
Varying Lineup Combinations
• Ball State has utilized seven different starting lineup combinations through its first 11 games.
• Nine different Ball State players have started at least one game.
• Chris Bond has started all 11 games, while Turner and Majok have each made 10 starts.
One Constant in the Lineup
• Senior forward Chris Bond has made 42 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 80 games in his career, including all 69 in which he has played over the past three seasons.
Bond Keeping Good Company
• Chris Bond enters Friday’s game with career totals of 801 points, 488 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 13.4 points and 4.2 assists per game.
• He has scored at least eight points in all 11 games and reached double figures eight times.
• 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 .970 free throw percentage, having made 32 of his 33 attempts from the charity stripe.
• He has made 25 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 (2.5) and ranks fourth in the league in 3-point percentage (.466).
• Turner has hit at least three 3-pointers in six of the Cardinals’ 11 games, including a career-high four at Marquette.
• He has been held without a trey only once (Dec. 4 vs. Valparaiso).
More Turner Rankings
• Zavier Turner also ranks in the top 12 in the MAC in minutes per game (31.5, 6th), assists per game (4.2, 6th) and points per game (13.4, 12th).
• 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 (.500).
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 recorded 32 rebounds over two games last week.
• He owns seven double-digit rebounding games, including a career-best 18-rebound effort Friday against Oakland City and a 16-rebound performance Nov. 12 versus Taylor. 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 fifth double-double of the season and 14th of his Ball State career in a 25-point, 18-rebound performance versus Oakland City.
• He 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 10.8 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.
• For his two-year Ball State career, Majok is averaging 10.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
Alstork Developing as Scorer
• Freshman Mark Alstork has reached double figures in five of the past seven games, including a career-high 13 points in Friday’s non-conference finale versus Oakland City.
• Alstork has been efficient from beyond the arc this season, knocking down 50.0 percent (13 of 26) 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 four games, missing only the James Madison game because of illness. 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 44 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 1,044 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 182 for his career. He ranks second in school history with 524 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.
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.