Valpo Hosts Southern Utah In 3 p.m. Saturday Matinee
Friday, January 23, 2004
VALPO (7-9, 4-3 Mid-Con) vs. SOUTHERN UTAH (6-11, 2-4 Mid-Con)

WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 24 - 3 p.m. CST

WHERE: ARC, Valparaiso, Indiana

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

TV: Fox Sports Net - Brian Anderson & Norm Van Lier announcing

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is guided by Homer Drew, who has a career record of 512-315 in his 27th season and a record at Valpo of 243-193 in his 15th season. Southern Utah is led by Bill Evans, who has a career mark of 166-167 in his 12th season and a record at SUU of 166-167 in his 12th season.

SERIES RECORD: Valpo leads 10-4
LAST MEETING: 2002-03 - Valpo won 69-61

LAST GAME: Valpo defeated Centenary 77-66 on Thursday in Valparaiso. Southern Utah lost to Western Illinois 83-75 in overtime on Thursday in Macomb, Illinois.

NEXT UP: Valpo hosts Oakland on Thursday at 7:05 p.m.

Valpo, which continues to crawl up the Mid-Con standings after winning three straight games, hosts Southern Utah on Saturday in a special 3 p.m. matinee. The game is being televised live on Fox Sports Net. The Crusaders (7-9, 4-3), who defeated Centenary 77-66 on Thursday, are one-half game behind IUPUI (4-2) and UMKC (4-2) for second place in the Mid-Con. Oral Roberts (6-1) is in first place. Southern Utah had a two-game win streak snapped Thursday with an 83-75 overtime loss at Western Illinois.

In Valpo's win over Centenary, Dan Oppland led four Crusaders in double figures with 16 points. Kikas Gomes notched his ninth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Oumar Sylla added 13 points and Ali Berdiel tallied 12 points and seven assists.

DAN OPPLAND PLAYING AT HIGH LEVEL: Sophomore Dan Oppland has been the model of consistency. The 6'8" forward, who leads the team in scoring (14.8 ppg.), has tallied double-figure points in 15 of the 16 games and grabbed twin-digit rebounds three times. He has been particularly impressive in Mid-Con games, averaging 17.6 ppg. and shooting .622 from the field. Oppland stands 4th overall in the Mid-Con in field goal percentage (.569).

GOMES LEADS MID-CON IN REBOUNDS, BLOCKED SHOTS: Kikas Gomes, who has nine double-doubles on the season, leads the Mid-Con in both rebounding (10.1 pg.) and blocked shots (2.0 pg., 32 in 16 games) through Jan. 23. Gomes has blocked 10 shots over the last three games.

BERDIEL DEMONSTRATES COMPLETE GAME: In the last four games, Ali Berdiel has provided solid numbers in several areas. The 6'6" junior has averaged 16.5 ppg., 8.3 assists and 3.8 rpg. during the quartet of games. Through games of Jan. 23, Berdiel ranks 2nd in the Mid-Con in assists with 6.38 per game (102 in 16 games).

FRESHMEN MILES, SYLLA, HARRIS MAKING NOISE: Freshmen Jimmie Miles, Oumar Sylla and Kenny Harris have been coming on strong recently. Miles scored a team-high 17 points in last Saturday's win over Western Illinois. Sylla, who has become a major defensive force, established his career high for the second straight game with 13 points against Centenary after netting 10 versus Western Illinois. Harris has ignited Valpo off the bench in the pivot, scoring a career-best nine points against Centenary and grabbing a career-most seven rebounds against WIU.

VALPO LEADS MID-CON IN TWO DEFENSIVE CATEGORIES: The Crusaders have played solid defense this season as evidenced by their leadership of two Mid-Con categories. Valpo tops the league in field goal percentage defense (.409) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (.299).