Preview: Men's basketball returns home to face Ball State

Junior forward David Dileo looks to get an easy two points on Nov. 25 at McGuirk Arena.

Central Michigan men's basketball will host its third home Mid-American Conference game in McGuirk Arena Saturday as they get set to take on the Ball State Cardinals. 

The Chippewas (14-3, 3-1) took possession of first place in the MAC West Division on Jan. 15 with a road win over Northern Illinois, leaving Dekalb, Ill. with a 78-69 win. 

On the other end, the Cardinals (10-7, 1-3) have dropped three-straight games, and the latest setback was a 79-78 loss to Bowling Green also on Jan. 15. 

The last time out, senior guard Larry Austin Jr. only scored one point, but dished out nine assists. Despite the low performance in scoring, Davis appreciated Austin's ability to involved his teammates.

"I would start with Larry Austin," Davis said. "He usually scores and (against NIU) he has nine assists which says a lot about who he is. They guarded him well by the basket but it opened up opportunities for other players."

CMU had four players score in double digits with senior guard Shawn Roundtree Jr. leading with 21, junior forwards David DiLeo and Rob Montgomery scoring 18 and 16, respectively, and junior guard Kevin McKay added 10 points. 

Davis hopes for similar contributions, as Ball State allows 73.2 points per game and pour in 81.7. CMU scores 87.1 points per game but allows 76.

Strong guard play, both offensively and defensively, is Davis' key for CMU. He's looking to Austin, Roundtree and McKay for strong performances. 

Maintaining possession of the ball and not turning it over is another key for the Chippewas. They allowed just 11 points off of turnovers against the Huskies, which is an improvement from the 24 they gave up to Bowling Green. 

Scouting Ball State

Senior guard Taylor Persons, junior forward Tahjai Teague and junior guard K.J. Walton lead the Cardinals, each averaging more than 13 points per game. 

Persons is a two-time Second Team All-MAC selection who scores 16.9 points per game and is third in the MAC with 4.9 assists per game. Shutting him down will be the key for CMU. 

The Cardinals shoot 49.7 percent from the floor and are 71 percent from the free throw line. 

One outside threat for Ball State is junior forward Kyle Mallers, who has made a team-high 27 triples on the campaign. 

The Chippewas and Cardinals tip-off at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday in McGuirk Arena.