Kent State vs Ball State Preview

Kent State vs Ball State

Ball State welcomes Kent State for a nationally televised game on ESPNU in the second meeting between the teams this season. The Golden Flashes won 88-80 in overtime on their home floor back on Jan. 23.

Kent State has a more difficult challenge this time around–Ball State is 11-1 on their home floor this season. Their only loss came against MAC leader, Buffalo–the Cardinals are 35-12 at home over the past three years.

Ball State is tied for second place in the MAC West Division with Western Michigan. Both teams are three games behind a Toledo team the Cardinals defeated on the road.

Persons heroics

Junior point guard Tayler Persons hit his third game-winner of the season Tuesday against Bowling Green. He drained a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left to lift the Cardinals to a 59-56 victory. It was the sixth time this year Persons has scored a go-ahead or game-tying bucket in the final 20 seconds.

Persons surpassed the 100-assist mark for the season Saturday at Eastern Michigan. He ranks second in the MAC with 4.4 assists per game for the year, behind only Miami’s Darrian Ringo (7.6). Persons’ 4.7 assists-per-game average for his BSU career ranks second in school annals only to Jim Hahn who handed out 5.7 per game from 1975-79.

Get to know Kent State

Kent State is the only MAC team to beat league-leading Buffalo this season. The Golden Flashes defeated the Bulls 82-79 Jan. 30 for their third straight win, but they have since dropped two in a row to Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan.

Kent State is tied for second in the MAC East Division, four games behind Buffalo.

The Golden Flashes lead the MAC in offensive rebound percentage (.325) and rank second in 3-point defense (.333).

Junior guard Jaylin Walker ranks fifth in the MAC in scoring at 17.4 points per game and leads the league in three-pointers per game at 2.9. Backcourt mate Jalen Avery owns the MAC’s best assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.8-to-1. The next-best in the league is 2.3-to-1 by Miami’s Darrian Ringo.

All-time series

Ball State trails 44-38 in the all-time series with Kent State and leads 26-12 against the Golden Flashes in Muncie. The Cardinals’ most recent victory in the series came in 2005. The teams met just three weeks ago in Kent, Ohio, with the Golden Flashes winning 88-80 in overtime. Tayler Persons led the Cardinals with 19 points and hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

Prediction

Ball State is a solid team who is difficult to beat on their home floor. With wins over Notre Dame, Valpo and Toledo the Cardinals have an impressive resume but will need to run through the MAC to have any hope of a Tournament berth.

Kent State comes in battling consistency. They have lost their last two games, but were winners of their previous three games before their slide, including their win against MAC power Buffalo.

LINE: -5 Ball State

Ball State 69 Kent State 60

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