(BALL STATE RELEASE)
MUNCIE – The Cardinals brought a different kind of energy in to a Wednesday 2 p.m. game at it showed, as Ball State built a 26-point lead and won 90-71 over Kent State at Worthen Arena.
Head coach James Whitford had said the team had practice hard, physical and energetic the last two days after not being able to play Sunday’s game. The players were throwing lob dunks and running sprints in the pregame warm-ups before the game, and a fun energy carried the day as the Cardinals never trailed and blew out a Kent State team that’s near the top of the MAC standings.
Jarron Coleman had 26 points – 20 at halftime – to go with six assists and Ishmael El-Amin and K.J. Walton each scored 16. The Cardinals shot 13-for-26 from 3-point range and made 11 treys before halftime.
TURNING POINT: The score was 19-15 early when the Cards went on an 11-2 run that featured two 3-pointers from El-Amin and five points from Coleman. THe game was never in doubt after that, as BSU continued to hit from long range for a 57-31 lead at halftime. It was the most points in a half in more than a year, when Ball State scored 62 in the second half vs. IUPUI in December 2019.
STRAIGHT FROM THE COACH: “It was a really good win. The first half was our best half of the year when you put both sides of the basketball together,” head coach James Whitford said. “It was a real step forward for us in the sense of us doing well with a physical low post guy inside. We did a great job defending a physical, powerful team in Kent. Ish and Jarron are starting to get a rhythm playing together, and it’s taken awhile. It’s starting to form in a really good win.”
1K FOR ISH: In his 100th game, Ishmael El-Amin surpassed 1,000 career points at Ball State. The 1,000th point came at the foul line after a technical foul on Kent State. K.J. Walton reached the milestone earlier this year. After Wednesday’s game, El-Amin downplayed the accomplishment, but Whitford commented on how 1,000 career points is something that results from the entire package that El-Amin has brought in his four years at Ball State.
“He means a ton to the program because of who he is, the head coach said. “He came in as a freshman and had a few decent years, and he’s gotten way better. He’s put that work in. When you look who he is off the court, he stands up for what he believes in. And that’s something everyone should be proud of.”
WE LIKE TO MIX IT UP: “Anybody who missed a dunk had to run a sprint,” El-Amin said about the Cardinals’ warm-ups. Ball State brought a workmanlike yet fun energy to the pregame warm-up and after a few shots fell, the final product was the best performance of the season for the Cards. Coleman said, “we like to mix it up. We’re bringing a whole new energy.”
WE SCORED 90, BUT IT WAS THE DEFENSE: After the game, the first thing James Whitford mentioned was how well the Cardinals defended. Danny Pippen, among the league’s leading scorers, had six points on 2-for-12 shooting. Kent State also shot just 5-for-24 from long range on the day.
UP NEXT: The schedule currently says that BSU will play Central Michigan at home Saturday at 1 p.m. The next two games listed on the current schedule are at home, Saturday vs. Central Michigan and next Tuesday vs. Eastern Michigan.