Valpo Hosts Oral Roberts In Battle of Mid-Con's Top Teams
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
VALPO (10-7, 5-0) vs. ORAL ROBERTS (13-5, 4-1)

WHEN: Thursday, January 30 - 7:05 p.m. CST

WHERE: ARC, Valparaiso, Indiana

TV: (tape-delay) - Channel 56 - Dick Harlan and Joe Arredondo announcing. Airs same night at 9 p.m.

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

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is guided by Scott Drew, who has a career record of 10-7 in his 1st season. Oral Roberts is led by Scott Sutton, who has a career mark of 53-55 in his 4th season.

SERIES RECORD: Valpo leads 8-6
LAST MEETING: 2001-02 - Oral Roberts won 77-74

LAST GAME: Valpo defeated Oakland 72-70 on Saturday in Rochester, Michigan. Oral Roberts defeated UMKC 76-62 on Saturday in Kansas City.

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

The most significant game in the first half of the Mid-Continent Conference season will take place Thursday night as Valpo (10-7, 5-0 Mid-Con) hosts Oral Roberts (13-5, 4-1 Mid-Con). The Crusaders, who own a five-game win streak, are coming off a sweep of a two-game road stretch at IUPUI (72-62) and Oakland (72-70) last week. Kikas Gomes made two free throws with four seconds left to give Valpo a comeback win over the Golden Grizzlies. ORU, which has won four straight, defeated UMKC (76-62) last Saturday in Kansas City.

GRAFS NAMED MID-CON PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Valpo’s Raitis Grafs was named Mid-Continent Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for his performances in two wins last week. The senior from Riga, Latvia helped the Crusaders become the first Mid-Con squad in six years to open conference play with five straight wins. Grafs averaged 20.0 points in road wins over IUPUI (72-62) and Oakland (72-70). Against IUPUI, he scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, and added seven rebounds and two blocks. Grafs followed that effort by scoring a team-best 22 points in a comeback win over the Golden Grizzlies. He made nine of 12 shots against Oakland. For the week, Grafs shot 67 percent (16 of 24) and grabbed 5.0 rebounds per game. The Mid-Con weekly award was the second this season for the 6’11" center as he was also selected Dec. 16.

HOMECOURT WIN STREAK RANKS 6th NATIONALLY: Valpo's homecourt win streak of 19 ranks 6th nationally through games of Jan. 28. Oklahoma owns the nation's longest Division I homecourt win streak (33).

TONAGEL LEADS MID-CON IN ASSIST/TURNOVER RATIO: Greg Tonagel tops the Mid-Con in assist/turnover ratio through games of Jan. 29. The 6'3" senior has earned a 2.60 ratio, averaging 3.82 assists and 1.47 turnovers per contest.

ORTIZ ENJOYS SOLID ROAD TRIP: Stalin Ortiz averaged 15.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in road wins over IUPUI and Oakland last week. The senior from Cali, Colombia scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds against Oakland. He also drained the game-tying 3-pointer with 24 seconds left against the Golden Grizzlies.