Bulls take on MAC bottom feeders before brutal final stretch

By BEN TARHAN
On February 4, 2014

  • Zavier Turner is the Cardinals’ leading scorer this season, but the Bulls held him scoreless when the teams met Jan. 23. Courtesy of Ball State Athletics

After dropping its third road game in four chances, the men's basketball team returns to Alumni Arena on Wednesday night to put its undefeated home record on the line before a two-game road trip.

The Bulls (11-7, 5-3 Mid-American Conference) host Ball State (4-15, 1-7 MAC) on Wednesday before traveling to Central Michigan (7-13, 0-8 MAC) for a Saturday night matchup.

Buffalo played the Cardinals in Muncie, Ind., on Jan. 23, and fell 71-68 in Ball State's lone MAC win thus far. UB lost despite a few strong senior performances. Senior forward Javon McCrea recorded a double-double, scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 boards; senior guard Josh Freelove scored 15 points; and senior guard Jarod Oldham assisted on 11 baskets and scored seven points.

Ball State had four double-digit point performances, including a double-double from Chris Bond and 21 points from Jesse Berry.

In Buffalo's last matchup with the Cardinals, the Bulls held Ball State's leading scorer, Zavier Turner, scoreless.

Since then, the Cardinals have lost three straight. They are allowing their opponents to shoot 46 percent from the field and are averaging 16.8 turnovers per game this year.

The only team with a worse MAC record than the Cardinals is the Chippewas.

Central Michigan hasn't won a game since Friday, Jan. 3, when it defeated NAIA opponent Marygrove. Its last victory over a Division I team came against Jacksonville State on Dec. 7.

The MAC's leading scorer, Chris Fowler, who is averaging 17.9 points per game and is shooting 56 percent from the field, leads CMU. He also leads the team with 98 assists.

Central Michigan is allowing opponents to shoot 48 percent from the field and ranks last in the MAC in defensive rebounds and ninth in offensive boards.

The Chips are dangerous, however, from beyond the arc. They lead the conference with 61 3-pointers and rank sixth overall in points scored despite their winless conference record.

The Bulls have played their last three games without sophomore guard Jarryn Skeete (knee injury), and it is unclear whether he will play this week. McCrea has also been unable to play his normal amount of minutes of late due to foul trouble, as he fouled out against Bowling Green (10-11, 4-4 MAC) on Sunday and played only 25 minutes against Western Michigan (12-8, 5-3 MAC) last Wednesday.

The Chips present a potential trap game for the Bulls, who have already fallen on the road to Ball State - one of the worst teams in the conference. After losing to West Division leader Toledo on a buzzer-beater, the Bulls have lost to Ball State and Bowling Green; both teams are under .500.

With the top four teams in the East separated by only one game, Buffalo can't afford to lose any more games against bottom teams going into its final stretch of conference play. In its final eight games, Buffalo plays the other top three teams in the East Division six times. 

Tip is set for 7 p.m. at Alumni Arena on Wednesday. Saturday's game is set for 7 p.m. at Central Michigan, and all conference games can be viewed on mac-sports.com.  

 

email: sports@ubspectrum.com


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