#rv/rv Valparaiso (20-4, 10-1 Horizon)
Game #25 - Thursday, February 11 - 7 p.m.
Northern Kentucky (9-14, 5-7 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team returns home to the ARC in search of its fifth consecutive victory on Thursday evening as the Crusaders host Northern Kentucky. Four of the Crusaders’ next five games will be at home as Valpo looks to maintain its spot atop the Horizon League standings.
Last Time Out: Valpo senior Vashil Fernandez set the Crusaders’ career blocked shots record last Saturday afternoon as Valpo won its 20th game of the season with a 73-55 victory at UIC. Fernandez’s second block of the game broke Raitis Grafs’ previous record, and Fernandez would end the game with six blocks to go with eight points and nine rebounds. Alec Peters paced Valpo with 15 points and added seven rebounds as well.
Following the Crusaders: Video – ESPN3 - Todd Ickow (PxP) and David Huseman (Color)
Radio - WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso)
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (114-46) 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: The Crusaders’ all-time series against Horizon League newcomer Northern Kentucky just started this season with Valpo’s first trip to Highland Heights. Valpo claimed the victory in that showdown on Jan. 24, 71-46, holding NKU to just 30% shooting for the game. Offensively, four Crusaders scored in double figures, led by 16 points from Keith Carter.
...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 UIC
- The Crusaders led by 20 points at the half en route to their 10th double-figure victory in as many league games.
- Valpo handed out 20 assists, setting a new season high - the Crusaders have tallied at least 19 assists in each of their last three games after not reaching the mark in their first 21 games.
- Keith Carter came up one assist shy of his career best, tallying eight assists, and set a new career high with five steals.
- Vashil Fernandez recorded eight points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots.
- The Crusaders out-rebounded UIC 48-41, including 20 offensive rebounds which Valpo turned into 22 second-chance points.
- Valpo limited UIC to 32.8% shooting, while the Flames were just 2-of-15 from 3-point range.
- UIC leading scorer Dikembe Dixson scored 18 points, but the Crusaders held him to 7-of-23 shooting from the field.
- Valpo continues this home weekend as it hosts Wright State on Saturday, Feb. 13 on Hall of Fame Night.
- The Crusaders will then travel to Ohio for the third time within league play, taking on Cleveland State at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 15 regular season home games scheduled for the Athletics-Recreation Center in 2015-16 and is already 11-0 at home this year.
- The Crusaders have won 24 consecutive home games dating back to December of 2014.
- The Crusaders posted a 15-1 record at the ARC last season, the second-most home wins in a single season since the building opened.
- Valpo’s .938 home winning percentage last year was also the second-best since the ARC opened.
- Over the last 21 years, the Crusaders own a 261-57 (.821) winning percentage on their home court.
There’s No Place Like Home
- Every win at the ARC adds further to the Crusaders’ record home-court winning streak.
- Valpo enters Thursday’s game against Northern Kentucky with 24 consecutive home wins, breaking the previous record of 20 last month.
- The Crusaders have not lost at home since falling to New Mexico on Dec. 6, 2014 - Valpo went 15-0 at the ARC in the 2015 calendar year.
- The previous 20-game home win streak at the ARC started Nov. 24, 2001 with a win over Milwaukee and came to a close Feb. 1, 2003 with an overtime loss to UMKC.
- Valpo’s 24-game home winning streak currently ranks seventh nationally.
- Northern Kentucky enters Thursday’s game at 9-14 overall this season and owns a 5-7 record in its first season of Horizon League play.
- The Norse are coming off of a 75-71 home victory over Milwaukee last Saturday evening.
- Senior Jalen Billups leads four NKU players in double figures, averaging 13.8 ppg on 63.3% shooting.
- Sophomore Cole Murray adds 10.4 ppg and ranks among the nation’s top shooters, hitting at a 49.2% clip from 3-point range.
- This season marks the fourth time in Crusader history that Valpo has been 20-4 or better through 24 games.
- Last year’s team also was 20-4 through 24 games en route to a school-record 28 victories.
- Prior to that, you had to go back to the FDR administration, as the “World’s Tallest Team” in 1944-45 ended the season 21-3.
- The Crusaders won their first 19 games in 1923-24 en route to a 24-4 record, while the 1930-31 squad finished at 16-2.
- This year’s team reached 20 victories with the win over UIC - the 19th team in Valpo men’s basketball history to win at least 20 games and the fourth under Bryce Drew.
- Last year’s team reached 20 wins on Jan. 31, the earliest in program history, while this year’s squad reached the mark on Feb. 6 - no other Valpo team has reached the 20-win mark before Feb. 12.
King of Blocks
- Senior Vashil Fernandez brokeValpo’s career blocked shots record in Saturday’s game at UIC.
- Fernandez blocked six shots to finish the win over the Flames with 233 career blocks, surpassing Raitis Grafs’ previous Crusader record of 228.
- Fernandez blocked 14 shots as a freshman, 58 as a sophomore and 98 as a junior - he has tallied 63 blocked shots to date during his final season, already fifth-most in a single season in program history.
No Doubt In League Play
- Outside of the loss at WSU, the Crusaders have had little drama in the stretch run of Horizon League games, as each of their first 10 league wins have come by at least 12 points - including five by at least 25 points.
- Valpo started the HL campaign with six straight wins, all by at least 12 points.
- 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.
- The Crusaders already own five league road wins by 17 or more points after winning just five such games total over the last four years combined.
Glance at the Rankings
- For the fifth straight week, Valpo received votes this week in both the AP (9) and the coaches (14) top-25 polls.
- The Crusaders are in their seventh week this year receiving votes in the AP poll, and picked up 30 points Jan. 18 - their highest total of points ever in the AP poll.
- The Crusaders earned 16 points in the coaches poll Jan. 18 as well, their highest regular-season tally in poll history (Valpo finished ranked #23 in the postseason poll in 1998).
- As of Tuesday’s results, Valpo ranked 45th in the nation in RPI.
- Valpo enters this week ranked atop in the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 and second in the Mid-Major Madness Power 15.
- 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 Tuesday’s results, Valpo ranks #23 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 Tuesday’s results, Valpo was atop the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency.
- Valpo’s scoring defense (59.8 ppg) ranks fourth nationally, while its field goal percentage defense (36.9%) is good for third in the nation.
- Valpo has held 11 Division I opponents to one of their three worst offensive efficiencies of the season.
- Valpo has given up 47 or fewer points five times already this year - the first time the program has done that in one season since the 1946-47 campaign.
Crashing the Glass
- Combined with their stellar defense has been a tremendous effort on the glass, as Valpo currently ranks sixth nationally with a +10.5 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 +7 on the boards in all 11 Horizon League games and have held a double-figure advantage in eight of the 11 games.
- In league play to date, Valpo owns an average edge on the boards of +16.5, while Vashil Fernandez (10.3 rpg) and Alec Peters (8.6 rpg) rank 1-3 in the league in rebounding in league-only action.
- With 508 rebounds through 11 Horizon League games, Valpo is on pace to shatter the previous record for league-only rebounds of 689 - the Crusaders are also on track to shatter the record for league-only rebounding margin of +11.1.
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 95-54 (.638) 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 59-18 (.766) within Horizon League play.
Look at the Record Book
- Both senior Vashil Fernandez and junior Alec Peters are moving up the Crusader career record books in a number of categories.
- Beyond his school-record block total, Fernandez also ranks 14th in Crusader history with 599 career rebounds.
- Meanwhile, Peters sits in 13th place in Valpo history in scoring with 1,412 career points - 18 shy of 12th place and 58 away from cracking the top-10.
- Peters also ranks second in 3-point % (43.5%), fourth in 3-pointers made (198), eighth in free throw % (82.1%) and 16th in rebounding (578).
- In addition, senior Keith Carter moved into Valpo’s all-time top-20 in assists last time out as well, as he ranks 20th in Crusader history with 234 career assists.