In the second game between Ball State men’s basketball (15-8, 6-4 MAC) and Buffalo (11-12, 5-5 MAC), the Bulls defeated the Cardinals 96-69 Feb. 3.
“We got our butt kicked,” head coach James Whitford said. "They out played us, out toughed us, and made a lot of shots."
Strong offense and balanced scoring from Buffalo snapped the Cardinals' three-game winning streak. The Bulls had four players score double digits and shot 50 percent from the field.
Heading into the second half, Ball State trailed Buffalo 44-38, and the closest the Cardinals came to catching them was within that six-digit deficit. At the 19-minute mark, redshirt sophomore guard Tayler Persons scored his eleventh point and kept Ball State within six at 46-40.
Shortly after, senior guard Blake Hamilton hit a 3-ball at 17:04 to stretch out a 53-42 Buffalo lead.
Ball State stats:
Field goal percentage: 48.1
3-point percentage: 26.7
Leading scorer: Franko House - 24
Field goal percentage: 50.0
3-point percentage: 45.8
Leading scorer: Blake Hamilton - 25
“[Hamilton] is playing at an elite level right now,” Whitford said. "He really hurt us in the pick and rolls."
Whether Hamilton was scoring or passing off the pick and roll, he had a productive night. Whitford did not have an answer for Hamilton's play.
Hamilton finished with 25 points, shooting 60 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. He also added eight assists and four rebounds.
Shooting just 26.7 percent from beyond the arc, the Cardinals offense could not rally behind senior forward Franko House's career-high 24 points. House also added six rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.
"This was our worse offensive performance in a long time," Whitford said.
Persons and House were the only Ball State players to score double digits. Junior guard Jeremie Tyler and redshirt freshman forward Tahjai Teague added seven each for the Cardinals.
The next game for Ball State is Feb. 7 against the 19-3, 9-0 Mid-American Conference leading Akron Zips.
“Our schedule coming up is really hard,” Whitford said. "We have to make sure we are moving on to the next game."