The a.m. Shootaround: Ball State grabs impressive road victory

Ball State men's basketball coach James Whitford speaks with his team following a practice at Worthen Arena earlier this season in Muncie. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
University of Saint Francis senior guard Derek Hinen
Clemson's Donte Grantham, center, and teammates react on the bench during the second half of a game against North Carolina on Tuesday in Clemson, S.C. Clemson won 82-78. (By The Associated Press)
Kentucky's Quade Green (0) hits the game-winning shot, while defended by Vanderbilt's Saben Lee during the overtime of a game Tuesday in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 83-81. (By The Associated Press)

Toledo hadn’t lost a Mid-American Conference game at Savage Arena all season, but it has now.

Ball State got six consecutive points from redshirt sophomore Tahjai Teague and junior center Trey Moses to open the game Tuesday and eventually win 75-63.

The production from those two and momentum from the Cardinals never slowed, as they built a 17-point first half lead.

Teague finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Moses added 15 points and 14 boards.

Cardinal guard Tayler Persons had a solid outing in scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds, while also passing for eight assists.

Carroll High School graduate and Ball State sophomore forward Kyle Mallers also was active on the glass with nine rebounds, while he hit half of his six shots and scored seven points.

Ball State (14-8, 5-4 Mid-American Conference) wasn’t particularly accurate, as it sank just 39 percent of its shots overall and 28 percent from 3-point line.

In addition, the Cardinals missed on five of their nine free throws. However, they absolutely crushed Toledo 19-7 on the offensive glass.

Ball State still trails the Rockets (15-7, 7-2) by a couple of games in the MAC West standings, and the two teams will meet again Feb. 17 in Muncie.

The Rockets had won seven straight games, but Ball State matches-up well with them, as the Cardinals have now won four of its past five meetings in the series.

For Moses, the double-double was his seventh in his last 12 games, while for Teague, it was his fourth double-double of the season, but second-straight game in which he has done so.

The Pike High School graduate has totaled 47 points and 23 rebounds in the past two games.

Ball State has nine games remaining, five of which are at Worthen Arena, where it is 10-1 this season. After dropping four of six games, the Cardinals have bounced back with consecutive victories.

Ball State travels to Eastern Michigan (12-10, 3-6) Saturday at noon (ESPN3).

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COUGARS CONTINUE ROLLING

Saint Francis forced Taylor into missing 20 of its 28 second-half shots and ultimately crushed the Trojans 89-58 at the Hutzell Athletic Center Tuesday.

The win allowed the No. 3-ranked Cougars (21-4, 11-2 Crossroads League) to maintain their lead in the conference. Saint Francis is one game ahead of rival and No. 8-ranked Indiana Wesleyan (19-6, 10-3). The two teams will meet Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. at Hutzell.

Saint Francis placed four players in double figures Tuesday, led by senior guard Derek Hinen, who totaled 17 points.

Senior center Bryce Lienhoop nearly had a double-double, as he scored 16 points and nine rebounds, while Conner Lautzenheiser (13 points) and Chandler White (10 points, seven rebounds) also contributed.

The Cougars have not lost at home in seven Crossroads League games and have won nine consecutive there.

Saint Francis travels to Goshen (10-14, 3-9) Saturday at 3 p.m.

OTHER NOTABLES

∙ No. 20 Clemson holds off No. 19 North Carolina

Clemson made critical plays late after blowing a 16-point second half lead to beat North Carolina 82-78 in Clemson.

After the Tar Heels rallied to tie the game at 74, the Tigers answered with five consecutive points to give them some breathing room.

The victory was the Tigers’ first over the Tar Heels in over eight years.

A year ago, Clemson (18-4, 7-3) lost 9 of 11 games decided by six points or fewer (and overtime), but it has won 6 of 7 such games this season.

The Tigers are tied with Duke (19-3, 7-3) for third place in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while the Tar Heels are a couple of games back (16-7, 5-5).

∙ Kentucky rallies to prevent upset

Kentucky had to claw its way back late just to force overtime, but eventually made a lay-in in the final seconds to top Vanderbilt in overtime 83-81 at Rupp Arena.

The No. 21-ranked Wildcats (17-5, 6-3) trailed by 11 with less than 10 minutes remaining, but fought back to force overtime before surviving the Southeastern Conference bottom-dwelling Commodores (8-14, 2-7).

“This game really hurts,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew told the Associated Press afterward. “We took some of their runs and responded and had a great opportunity to win this game in the last three minutes. It just wasn’t meant to be there at the end.”

For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010 and on Facebook at Thomas Davis.

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