No. 9 Notre Dame looks to stay perfect at home

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- No. 9 Notre Dame will try to stay unbeaten on its home court Tuesday night when Ball State visits Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.

The Fighting Irish (7-1) slid four spots in the rankings this week after losing by 18 points to then-No. 3 Michigan State. However, they regrouped with a commanding 71-53 win over St. Francis (Brooklyn) on Sunday afternoon to improve to 3-0 at home.

Ball State (4-4) will visit the Notre Dame campus for the first time since 1976. The Cardinals are seeking their first win over the Fighting Irish in 10 all-time meetings.

It will not be an easy task against Notre Dame, which is averaging 80.1 points on 50.3 percent shooting from the field. The Fighting Irish have connected on 41.4 percent of their 3-point attempts.

Notre Dame senior forward Martinas Geben will look to stay hot against Ball State. Geben is averaging 11 points in his last four contests and posted his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in the win over St. Francis.

The improvement led some to question about whether Geben could benefit from 25-plus minutes per game.

"Senior year, you're supposed to be playing your best basketball," Geben said to the South Bend Tribune. "I think I'm doing that. ... I'm extremely grateful, but it's not about my own performance. Numbers don't mean anything unless we win."

The Fighting Irish are led by power forward Bonzie Colson, who is averaging just shy of a double-double with 18.8 points and 9.8 rebounds. Colson is shooting 52.8 percent from the field and is averaging 2.6 blocks. He has scored in double figures 25 games in a row and leads all active players in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 27 double-doubles.

Guard Matt Farrell is next on the team in scoring at 15.9 points per contest. He has made 20 3-pointers in his senior season and 113 3-pointers during his career with the Fighting Irish.

Ball State, meanwhile, relies on a deep bench to provide breaks for its starting lineup. Forward/center Trey Moses is averaging 5.9 points and 5.5 rebounds as one of the team's top reserves.

"For me, when I talk about our team, I feel like we have 10 guys that can start at any Division I school, pretty much," Moses said to the Muncie Star Press. "We have them here, and it makes practices more competitive. You want playing time, obviously, but guys are out there competing every day in practice."

Junior guard Tayler Persons (15.3 points per game), sophomore forward Kyle Mallers (12.0) and sophomore forward Tahjai Teague (10.9) are the Cardinals' top scorers.

Ball State has won three games in a row over Indiana State, Oakland City and IUPUI. The Cardinals have scored 80-plus points in four consecutive games and five of eight contests this season.

Tuesday will be the first time Ball State plays a Top 25 opponent since Dec. 20, 2014, when it faced No. 17 San Diego State. The Fighting Irish are the highest-ranked opponent the Cardinals have faced since they played No. 1 Indiana on Nov. 25, 2012.
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