MUNCIE, IND. Ball State coach Tim Buckley couldn't believe his eyes Friday night.
When the Cardinals came out for their home opener, there were more than 7,000 fans inside Worthen Arena, and Ball State gave its fans a show worth watching.
Theron Smith scored 20 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds and No. 16 Ball State set a school record with 14 three-pointers as it routed Elon 106-65.
"I was impressed. I kind of teared up a little bit when I walked out there because we were playing Elon," Buckley said, referring to the largest crowd at Ball State since February 2000. "It wasn't like we were playing Michigan or Indiana, those fans came out to see Ball State."
The game was Ball State's first in nine days. The Cardinals had not played since losing to No. 1 Duke in the Maui Invitational championship.
Ball State, which upended No. 3 UCLA and No. 4 Kansas a week earlier in Hawaii, was affected by the fan turnout, Buckley said.
"I didn't think it was easy for us to compete because this was a new environment for our guys," Buckley said. "We played with a lot of anxiety at first."
For the first 15 minutes, Ball State (3-1) struggled with its shooting and that led to problems getting back on defense.
Elon (2-4) even used a 7-0 run, which ended with David Hall's three-pointer, to tie it at 25 with 4:23 to go in the first half. Hall finished with a game-high 23 points.
That's when the Cardinals finally settled down.
"Coach kept telling us to slow down and everything," Smith said. "He said to take your time."
As Ball State began to heed the advice, it also began taking control. Guards Patrick Jackson and Zach Willingham hit back-to-back three-pointers, which ignited a 19-4 run to close the half. Ball State finished with 14 three-pointers, breaking the previous school record of 13 that it had achieved seven times most recently against Kansas last week.
Elon was at a disadvantage, playing without leading scorer Brendon Rowell, who was suspended.
Ball State shot 70.4 percent from the field in the second half, their best half of shooting in more than two seasons. The Cards also made 7-of-11 three-pointers and they played defense like they did in Maui.
"In the first half, I think we were too excited," said Chris Williams, who had 19 points. "In the second half, we started hitting our shots. I think we were just so excited to get out there and play."
No. 7 Iowa 73,
Alabama St. 64
Iowa City, Iowa Reggie Evans and Luke Recker overcame poor starts to score 14 points each and Iowa shook off feisty Alabama State in the second half. Iowa (5-2) was coming off consecutive losses to No. 3 Missouri and No. 1 Duke. Alabama State (1-5) also made things difficult for Iowa behind Keith Gamble's 25 points. The Hornets led by as many as 10 points in the first half .
No. 22 MIchigan State 81, Indiana-Purde-Fort Wayne 68
East Lansing, Mich. Freshman Chris Hill and Marcus Taylor each scored 16 points to lift Michigan State over Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne in the semifinals of the Spartan Coca Cola Classic.
Adam Wolfe added 13 points and Kelvin Torbert also had 12 for Michigan State (3-2), which extended the nation's longest home-court winning streak to 47 games. Jeremy King led IPFW (0-5) with 17 points and Nick Wise had 11.
No. 23 Marquette 76,
Texas Southern 40
Milwaukee Dwyane Wade had 19 points and seven assists and Marquette routed winless Texas Southern.
Marquette, which won the Great Alaska Shootout, improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1997, when the Golden Eagles won their first 10.
Cordell Henry added 13 points for Marquette, which never trailed, and reserve Travis Diener added 10. Rakim Hollis led the Tigers (0-4) with 15 points.