Cardinals pay visit to 19th-ranked Aztecs

Dec 20, 2014 - 3:31 PM San Diego, CA ( - The Ball State Cardinals face their second nationally-ranked opponent of the season, as they clash with the 19th-ranked San Diego State Aztecs at Viejas Arena on Saturday night.

The Cardinals, who began the 2014-15 campaign with a loss to nationally-ranked Utah, 90-72, enters the weekend two games below .500 thanks to back-to-back defeats. The latest setback occurred on Wednesday night when the squad fell hard against James Madison at home, 72-52.

As for the Aztecs, they've already tallied their third loss of the campaign, something that did not happen last season until late February. In addition to defeats versus Arizona and Washington from the Pac-12 Conference, SDSU was also turned away by Cincinnati in overtime three nights ago, 71-62.

The good news for the Aztecs, who have won 19 straight games at home, is that they've gone 56 games without having lost back-to-back outings.

This is the fifth all-time meeting between these two programs, but the first since 1999, with the Cardinals holding a 3-1 series advantage.

At home in Worthen Arena, the Cardinals were limited to just eight field goals in the first half and 17 for the game as they shot a mere 29.8 percent from the floor and 6-of-23 behind the 3-point line in the 20-point setback to JMU. Ball State failed to have a single player score in double figures in that outing, although Franko House and Xavier Turner came close with nine points apiece, even as the latter shot a woeful 2-of-12 from the field.

The shooting performance versus the Dukes was the worst of the season for BSU, the previous low being 30.4 percent versus Eastern Illinois earlier in the month. The team is now shooting 43.9 percent from the field, but a very decent 40.6 percent out on the perimeter which is rather surprising. Turner paces the group with 13.7 ppg and Sean Sellers comes in with another 13.0 ppg, thanks not only to 55.6 percent accuracy beyond the arc but also 27-of-30 (.900) at the free-throw line.

Despite coming back from a five-point deficit with just 42 seconds remaining in regulation, the Aztecs still felt the sting of yet another loss on Wednesday as they bowed to Cincinnati at Fifth Third Arena. Guilty of 18 turnovers, San Diego State shot just 5-of-25 behind the 3-point line, with Dwayne Polee II missing all seven of his opportunities as he tallied nine points in 25 minutes of action.

The top offensive threats versus the Bearcats were Winston Shepard and Trey Kell with 17 and 11 points, respectively, the former also accounting for five of the unit's 11 assists in the losing cause.

The Aztecs don't have many offensive stars these days due in part to their efforts at the other end of the floor where they have limited opponents to just 56.6 ppg on 37.1 percent shooting from the field and 30.4 percent behind the 3-point line. Unfortunately, as a group the Aztecs, who are led by Shepard with his 10.9 ppg, are knocking down a pitiful 27.0 percent out on the perimeter and a disappointing 62.4 percent at the free-throw line where they've attempted 105 more shots than the competition.

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