After losing its first game in the last eight, Ball State (12-5) returned to Worthen Arena Saturday afternoon to take on the Miami Redhawks (7-10) in Mid-American Conference (MAC) play.
After taking the lead right out of the gate and leading for the entire game, the Cardinals were able to defeat the visitors 75-61.
Here are three takeaways from today's game.
Payton Sparks is still playing aggressively
In Ball State's last contest, sophomore center Payton Sparks got into foul trouble very early. This may have had Cardinal fans wonder if he should start off easier.
But coming into this game, it looked like that never happened as he started the exact same way. He bullied anyone that tried to stop him from getting to the hoop and with that, drew many fouls.
Ball State is one of the top college teams in the country in getting to the free throw line, and Sparks is a big reason why. He led the Cardinals as he went 6-of-9 from the foul line.
He would finish the home game with a double-double as he had 12 points, 14 rebounds and 3 assists.
Early success from deep
After the first ten minutes of the game, the Cardinals led 24-9. This was partially because of their ability to knock down 3-pointers, hitting three out of their first five attempts.
It wasn’t just the fact that they hit them, but who hit them. Four different Cardinals hit their first four and this affected the Redhawks' defense.
When a Miami defender had a Cardinal on lockdown, they just passed the ball to the next guy for a basket.
Senior guard Demarius Jacobs led the team on 3-pointers as he went 3-3.
Keeping a lead
Ball State hit the game's first basket 18 seconds into the game, and after that, they led for the entire first half.
Miami’s closest chance to grab the lead was when they cut it to a seven-point deficit, but the Cardinals hit multiple shots and went into halftime up 17.
Multiple factors led to this accomplishment. Good defense, multiple Cardinals scoring and the Redhawks missing a lot of shots.
In the first half, Miami went 12-of-28 (42.9 percent) and went 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) from the three-point line. For Ball State, they went 14-of-27 (51.9 percent) and went 5-of-10 (50 percent) from deep.
The second half was no different as the Cardinals once again led for the entire second half. Even though the Cardinals' shooting numbers were down from the first half, they never allowed their opponents to get back within 10 points.
The Cardinals finished the game going 26-of-59 (44.1 percent) and 7-of-20 (35 percent) from deep. The Redhawks finished 26-of-61 (42.6 percent) and went 1-of-13 (7.7 percent ) for 3-point shooting.