Valpo Hosts First-Place Southern Utah; Crusaders Continue Three-Game Homestand
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
VALPO (6-7, 1-0) vs. SOUTHERN UTAH (7-7, 2-0)

WHEN: Thursday, January 16 - 7:05 p.m. CST

WHERE: ARC, Valparaiso, Indiana

TV: (tape-delay) - Channel 43 in Valparaiso - Dick Harlan and Paul Curtis announcing. Airs Jan. 25 and Jan. 27 at 12:30 p.m. each day.

RADIO: WEFM (95.9, Michigan City), WVUR-FM (95.1, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow and Ed Schillinger announcing.

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is guided by Scott Drew, who has a career record of 6-7 in his 1st season. Southern Utah is led by Bill Evans, who has a career mark of 156-146 in his 11th season.

SERIES RECORD: Valpo leads 8-4
LAST MEETING: 2001-02 - Valpo won 71-64

LAST GAME: Valpo defeated Western Illinois 74-57 last Saturday in Valparaiso. Southern Utah defeated UMKC 82-78 last Saturday in Cedar City, Utah.

NEXT UP: Valpo hosts Chicago State on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

On Thursday, Valpo will entertain Southern Utah in a key early Mid-Continent Conference game. The Crusaders (6-7, 1-0 Mid-Con) are coming off a 74-57 victory over Western Illinois last Saturday at the ARC in the Mid-Con opener. The Thunderbirds (7-7) currently hold the top spot in the Mid-Con with a 2-0 mark after defeating Oral Roberts and UMKC last week. Valpo will be playing the second of three straight home games on Thursday.

NIEVES IGNITES CRUSADERS: Roberto Nieves has played a key role in Valpo's last two games. Last Saturday, he scored a career-high 16 points and grabbed five rebounds in the win over Western Illinois. Nieves was red-hot from 3-point land against the Leathernecks, draining four of five. He made six of nine shots overall. The 6'3" junior from Yabucoa, Puerto Rico helped ignite Valpo's comeback from a 14-point deficit in the second half against Notre Dame on Jan. 4. Nieves scored eight of his 11 points in the last 20 minutes against the Irish.

HOMECOURT WIN STREAK RANKS 9th NATIONALLY: Valpo's homecourt win streak of 17 ranks 9th nationally through games of Jan. 14. Brigham Young owns the nation's longest Division I homecourt win streak (43).

VALPO'S SCHEDULE ONE OF NATION'S BEST: Valpo has played the 11th most competitive schedule in the nation, according to the Sagarin Ratings, through games of Jan. 14, and the 28th most difficult slate in the nation, according to the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) on, through games of Jan. 13. The Crusaders have an RPI ranking of 93, the highest in the Mid-Con.

GRAFS HOT AT CHARITY STRIPE: Over the last eight games, Raitis Grafs has made 87.5 percent (42 for 48) of his free throws. Valpo is shooting 72.7 percent (133 for 183) from the charity stripe during that span.