#rv/rv Valparaiso (16-4, 6-1 Horizon)
Game #21 - Sunday, January 24 - noon CT
at Northern Kentucky (7-11, 3-4 Horizon)
BB&T Arena (9,400) - Highland Heights, Ky.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks to bounce back from its first Horizon League loss of the season on Sunday afternoon as the Crusaders make their first trip to league newcomer Northern Kentucky.
Last Time Out: The Crusaders rallied to re-claim the lead with less than four minutes to play in a Horizon League battle with Wright State Friday night in Dayton, Ohio, but the Raiders scored the next eight points as Valpo eventually fell by a 73-62 final, suffering its first defeat within league play. Valpo led by nine points with 13 minutes to play before a 16-0 WSU run turned the tables. Darien Walker led the Crusaders with 17 points, connecting on five first-half 3-pointers, while Alec Peters added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Following the Crusaders: Audio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow (PxP) and Aaron Leavitt (Color)
TV - American Sports Network - Jeff McCarragher (PxP) and Jan van Breda Kolff (Color) [available in Valpo area on Comcast SportsNet Chicago]
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (110-46) is in his fifth season at the helm of the Crusader men’s basketball program in 2015-16. In his first four years, Drew has led Valpo to three Horizon League regular season titles, two Horizon League tournament championships and four postseason berths, including a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. The 2012 and 2015 HL Coach of the Year, Drew ascended to the head coaching position on May 17, 2011 after spending six seasons as an assistant and associate head coach with the Crusaders.
Series Notes: This will be the first meeting for the Crusaders against Northern Kentucky, as the Norse are playing in the Horizon League for the first time in the 2015-16 season.
...and the @HorizonLeague
- Valpo has been picked to win the Horizon League in preseason polling, earning 36 of the 43 first-place votes.
- The Crusaders have not finished worse than their preseason projection in the last five years.
- Junior Alec Peters was named to the preseason First Team All-League for a second straight season.
- Seniors Vashil Fernandez and Darien Walker and sophomore Tevonn Walker all earned spots on the preseason Second Team.
...looking back at last year
- Valpo won a program-record 28 games en route to the Horizon League regular season and tournament titles.
- The Crusaders advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time since 1996 and the 14th time overall.
- Valpo has won two of the last three Horizon League Championships and three of the last four HL regular season titles.
- The Crusaders are one of just four programs in league history to capture at least three regular season titles in a four-year span.
- Bryce Drew was named Horizon League Coach of the Year for the second time, as well as NABC District Coach of the Year.
- Alec Peters was a First Team All-League selection and an NABC First Team All-District choice.
- Vashil Fernandez was named HL Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the All-Defensive Team.
- Jubril Adekoya claimed Sixth Man of the Year honors, while Tevonn Walker earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team.
...notes from Wright State
- Valpo suffered its first Horizon League loss of the year, snapping a season-long six-game winning streak.
- It marked Valpo’s first loss in regulation by double figures since falling to New Mexico 63-46 on Dec. 6, 2014.
- Valpo led by nine points on multiple occasions in the second half, the largest lead the Crusaders have held in a loss this season.
- Darien Walker hit five first-half 3-pointers against the Raiders after knocking down four first-half 3-pointers last time out.
- Alec Peters finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, his sixth double-double in the last 10 games.
- The Crusaders shot just 11 free throws while giving up 29 free throw attempts, matching their largest deficit of the season in that category.
- Valpo shot just 36.1% from the floor, its worst field goal percentage since hitting 35.4% in the home win over Belmont.
- Valpo returns home next weekend, taking on Cleveland State on Thursday and Youngstown State on Saturday.
- The Crusaders do not have another overnight road trip until mid-February, as four of the next five games after Sunday are at home, with the lone road game at UIC.
...on the road
- The game against NKU is the fifth road test for the Crusaders within Horizon League play, as Valpo now owns a 3-1 mark on the road in league action.
- Valpo ended the non-league slate 4-3 in true road games.
- The Crusaders’ seven true road wins and 11 true road games are more than any team in last week’s AP top-25 poll - four true road wins and five true road games were the highest by a top-25 team.
- Last season, Valpo went 8-4 in true road games, including a 5-3 mark in Horizon League road contests, and 13-5 overall in games away from home.
- Northern Kentucky enters Sunday’s game at 7-11 overall and 3-4 in Horizon League action.
- The Norse have won their last two league games, winning by 17 at Oakland and most recently taking down UIC at home in overtime on Friday night.
- Jalen Billups leads four NKU players in double figures, averaging 13.4 ppg
- Lavone Holland II adds 12 ppg as well, while also leading the Norse with 5.6 rpg and 4.3 apg.
Bouncing Back After a Loss
- In Bryce Drew’s fifth season as head coach, the Crusaders have proven strong at bouncing back with a victory following a defeat.
- Valpo owns a 33-8 record in games following a loss under Bryce Drew, including an 8-0 mark in the last two seasons - the Crusaders own an average margin of victory of 17.8 points in such games in the last two years.
- The Crusaders have not suffered back-to-back losses since closing the 2013-14 season with a loss in the HL tournament semifinals and a defeat in the first round of the CIT.
Starting Horizon League Play Strong
- Prior to Friday’s loss, the Crusaders had little drama in the stretch run of Horizon League games, winning their first six league games by at least 12 points.
- Last season saw Valpo win six consecutive games by double figures in the non-league portion of the season.
- Going back to the 1940’s, this is the first time Valpo has won even five league games in a row, all by double figures.
- It’s been over a decade since the Crusaders even won four straight conference contests by double figures, as you have to go back to wins over Centenary, Oakland, Oral Roberts and Western Illinois Dec. 2005-Jan. 2006.
Glance at the Rankings
- For the second straight week, Valpo received votes in both the AP and the coaches top-25 polls.
- In their fifth week this year receiving votes in the AP poll, the Crusaders picked up 30 points this week - their highest total of points ever in the AP poll.
- Valpo’s 30 points placed it fourth in the others receiving votes section of the poll.
- The Crusaders earned 16 points in the coaches poll, their highest regular-season tally in poll history (Valpo finished ranked #23 in the postseason poll in 1998).
- As of Friday’s results, Valpo ranked 33rd in the nation in RPI.
- Valpo enters this week atop both the Mid-Major Madness Power 15 and the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25.
- Following the win over Detroit and subsequent results, the Crusaders moved up to #18 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings - their high-water mark this season.
- As of Friday’s results, Valpo ranks #27 in the KenPom ratings.
- Valpo closed last season at #61 in the KenPom ratings - its highest year-end ranking was back in 2001-02 (#51).
Getting It Done With Defense
- One of the best defensive teams in the nation last season, the Crusaders have been even stronger defensively this season.
- As of Friday’s results, Valpo ranked third in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency, just slightly behind Louisville and West Virginia.
- Valpo’s scoring defense (60.7 ppg) ranks sixth nationally, while its field goal percentage defense (37.5%) is good for tenth in the nation.
- Valpo has held nine of its 18 Division I opponents to their worst or second-worst offensive efficiency of the season.
- Valpo has given up 47 or fewer points four times already this year - the first time the program has done that in one season since the 1948-49 campaign.
Crashing the Glass
- Combined with their stellar defense has been a tremendous effort on the glass this season for the Crusaders, as Valpo currently ranks 15th nationally with a +9.6 rebound margin.
- Valpo’s +31 advantage at Youngstown State was its best against a Division I opponent in at least two decades.
- The Crusaders have been at least +8 on the boards in all six Horizon League games, including most recently +11 at Wright State - their fifth double-figure advantage in seven league games.
- In league play to date, Valpo owns an average edge on the boards of +17, while Vashil Fernandez (10.3 rpg) and Alec Peters (10.0 rpg) rank 1-2 in the league in rebounding in league-only action.
Continued Success Within the League
- Valpo has been strong within Horizon League play since joining the league prior to the 2007-08 season.
- The Crusaders own a league record of 91-54 (.628) over the last eight-plus years and have had just one sub-.500 season in league play.
- Valpo has captured three of the last four Horizon League regular season titles.
- In Bryce Drew’s fifth season at the helm, the Crusaders are 55-18 (.753) within Horizon League play.
1,000 Wins for the Drews
- The Drew family dynasty reached a milestone in the Missouri State victory Dec. 19, as Valpo’s win gave Homer, Scott and Bryce Drew a combined 1,000 collegiate head coaching victories.
- The family now owns 1,013 combined wins, as Homer Drew won 640 career games, while Scott Drew owns 263 career wins and Bryce Drew enters Sunday with 110 wins.
- The Drew family ranks third in collegiate history (most of their careers at the D-I level) for combined wins, ranking behind only the Ibas and the Suttons.
- The Drews hit another milestone as well last Saturday, as the win over Green Bay marked the 500th combined victory for the Drew family at the helm of the Valpo program.