Ball State (16-9 SU, 8-11 ATS, 8-10-1 O/U) at Akron (11-13 SU, 10-12-0 ATS, 10-12-0 O/U)
When and Where: Tuesday, Feb. 13, Rhodes Arena, Akron, Ohio, 7 p.m. EST.
Ball State looks to continue its late-season surge and get in position to claim a bye to the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference tournament as it faces Akron in a cross-divisional clash Tuesday night.
Cardinals look to retain inside track for first-round bye
Ball State (16-9, 7-5 Mid-American West) is tied for second with Western Michigan in the West Division as both teams have the third-best overall record in the conference.
The top four teams get byes to the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament, which will again be held at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland after the first round of games are held on campus sites of the fifth through eighth-best teams.
The Cardinals are looking for a third straight win and fifth in six games overall after rolling past Kent State 87-68 on Friday night. Trey Moses tied a career high with 22 points while Tahjai Teague added 20 and a career-best 14 rebounds as Ball State ended a 15-game losing streak to the Golden Flashes dating back to 2005.
Sean Sellers and Tayler Persons chipped in 15 and 13, respectively, as each made three 3-pointers. Ball State shot 56.7 percent, its highest mark since a season-high 61.7 percent in a 93-85 win at Indiana State on Nov. 25.
Persons averages team highs of 14.6 points and 4.4 assists while Teague (10.8 ppg), Moses (10.8) and Kyle Mallers (10.3) contribute to a balanced offense that averages 75.0 points despite ranking eighth in the conference in 3-point shooting at 33.7 percent. The Cardinals had shot 25.8 percent from beyond the arc in their prior three games before making 8 of 20 against Kent State.
Akron seek fifth victory in six home games
Akron (11-13, 4-8 MAC East) is seeking back-to-back wins for the first time in three weeks after beating Central Michigan 69-63 on Saturday to snap a four-game losing streak.
Freshman Eric Parrish scored a season-high 21 points and pulled down nine rebounds in his first start in five games for the Zips, who also received 20 points from Daniel Utomi and 19 from Jimond Ivey.
But it was Akron’s perimeter defense that finally delivered, holding Central Michigan to 5 of 22 from 3-point range after opponents had connected on 46 of 102 attempts (45.1 percent) from beyond the arc during its four-game skid.
Utomi, Ivey and Malcolm Duvivier comprise most of Akron’s offense, with Utomi averaging a team-best 15.6 points while Ivey and Duvivier combine for 28.1 per contest. The trio have accounted for 183 3-pointers as the Zips rank fourth in the MAC in 3-pointers made (234) and 3-point shooting percentage (36.2).
Akron has been a tough out at Rhodes Arena, going 11-2 while shooting 41.1 percent from long range and averaging 75.8 points. Its two losses came to MAC division leaders Buffalo and Toledo.
Ball State is:
- 2-7 ATS in its last nine games vs. Mid-American opponents.
- 0-4-1 ATS in its last five road games as favorite.
- 7-23-2 ATS in its last 32 road games as favorite between 0.5 and 6.5 points.
- 7-3 ATS in its last 10 home games as underdog.
- 6-0 ATS in its last six home games vs. opponents with a losing road record.
- 7-3 ATS in its last 10 home games as an underdog between 0.5 and 6.5 points.
Teague had a career-high 26 points as Ball State needed two overtimes to put away Akron for a 111-106 victory at home Jan. 27. Persons also scored 26 and Moses had 22 for the Cardinals, who withstood a career night by Ivey as he went 9 of 12 from 3-point range and set a school record with 48 points.
Ball State snapped a 15-game losing streak to Akron dating back to 2004 and will now try to end a nine-game skid at Rhodes Arena dating back to an 81-62 win Feb. 28, 2001.