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BSU youngsters get plenty of run in a lopsided opening victory

By TYSON MATHEWS - Ball State Athletics Dept.

Sports editor’s note: The Courier-Times ran a story in Thursday’s edition of the newspaper about the debut of freshman Luke Bumbalough from New Castle in the Ball State men’s basketball season-opening game. Here is another story from a different writer about that game.

MUNCIE — James Whitford looked out on the Worthen Arena court with about 10 minutes left in Tuesday’s season opener and saw five freshmen on the floor for his Ball State team.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that,” Whitford said.

It was a night of debuts as the Cardinals unveiled a total of six new players, including three true freshmen and a pair of redshirts in an 87-43 win over Defiance.

Jarron Coleman played in last year’s exhibition game but then spent the rest of the season in a redshirt role, practicing each day but awaiting his chance under the lights. He took full advantage of his first real playing experience Tuesday, stuffing the state sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

True freshman Luke Bumbalough, an Indiana Mr. Basketball finalist last year, flashed his skill with a trio of 3-pointers and three assists without a turnover.

Meanwhile, the veterans led the way in the scoring column. Kyle Mallers paced a balanced attack with 12 points, while Tahjai Teague and K.J. Walton added 11 each. They also got plenty of time as spectators, watching their young teammates in the runaway win.

“They’re freshmen, but they don’t play like it.” Teague said. “We had a long summer with them. They’re more advanced than other freshmen would be because we had the trip to Costa Rica. So it’s just been teaching them the little things, and the big things they pretty much figured out from just being here.”

Lucas Kroft (six points), Miryne Thomas (five), Ben Hendriks and Kani Acree also saw their first action for Ball State. Only Thomas, a transfer and former All-MEAC Rookie selection at Maryland Eastern Shore had ever played in a college game.

Ball State played well together in its first action of the 2019-20 season, racking up 21 assists on 33 made baskets. The Cardinals limited Defiance to 29 percent shooting and just 17 percent from 3-point range.

“I thought our guys played with good intent tonight,” Whitford said. “When we stretched out a lead, I thought we looked like a mature team out there. We made a lot of mistakes, but we didn’t let it get careless or reckless.”

Ball State returns to action this Saturday with a trip to Evansville for a 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET) tipoff against the Aces at the Ford Center.

The teams split two meetings a year ago with each winning on its home floor. The game will serve as Evansville’s season opener.