#rv/rv Valparaiso (7-2, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #10 - Saturday, Dec. 10 - 7:02 p.m.
at Missouri State (5-2, 0-0 Missouri Valley)
JQH Arena (11,000) - Springfield, Mo.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will look to bounce back with a win in its final non-league road game of the season on Saturday evening, as the Crusaders play at Missouri State Saturday evening. Valpo has not dropped back-to-back games since the start of the 2014-15 season.
Last Time Out: An early scoreless drought which lasted nearly eight minutes was too much for Valpo to overcome Wednesday night in Lexington, Ky., as the Crusaders fell to #6/7 Kentucky by an 87-63 final. Alec Peters led all players with 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Jaume Sorolla posted career highs of eight points and nine rebounds.
Following the Crusaders: Video – ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app
Radio – Valpo Sports Network [WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso); WVLP (103.1 FM, Valparaiso)] - Todd Ickow (PxP) and Aaron Leavitt (Analyst)
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich is in his first season at the helm of the Valparaiso University men’s basketball program in 2016-17 after being named the 22nd head coach in program history on April 7. Lottich previously served as an assistant coach for the last three seasons, helping Valpo earn 78 victories - including a school-record 30 last season - and a pair of Horizon League regular season titles.
Series Notes: Saturday night’s matchup will be the 21st meeting in the all-time series between the Bears and the Crusaders, with Missouri State holding a 14-6 edge all-time. Valpo has won each of the last three matchups over the last six years, however, including a 74-45 victory last season at the ARC. In that win, Alec Peters posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Tevonn Walker finished with 18 points and six rebounds.
...and the @HorizonLeague
- Valpo was picked to win the Horizon League in preseason polling, earning 35 of the 39 first-place votes.
- The Crusaders have not finished worse than their preseason projection in the last six years.
- Senior Alec Peters was named the league’s Preseason Player of the Year, Valpo’s first league preseason player of the year since Lubos Barton (2001-02, Mid-Con).
- Senior Shane Hammink joined Peters as a preseason All-League choice, earning a spot on the Second Team.
...looking back at last year
- The 2015-16 Crusader squad won a school-record 30 games, finishing the year 30-7.
- Valpo claimed the Horizon League regular season title by going 16-2 in league play, winning the league by three games.
- The Crusaders were the first Horizon League team to win the league title by at least three games since 2009-10.
- The regular season title was Valpo’s fourth in a five-year span, a feat accomplished only by Butler and Xavier previously within the league.
- Valpo set new Horizon League records in league-only play for scoring margin, rebounds, rebounding average and rebound margin.
- The Crusaders received an automatic bid into the NIT and were awarded a 1 seed as one of the First Four Out of the NCAA Tournament.
- Valpo defeated Texas Southern, Florida State and Saint Mary’s at the ARC to advance to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
- The Crusaders beat BYU in a thriller at MSG before falling in the championship game of the NIT to George Washington.
- Vashil Fernandez led the nation in blocked shots, was named National Defensive Player of the Year and repeated as Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year.
- Alec Peters was an AP Honorable Mention All-American and earned a spot on the All-Horizon League First Team for a second straight year.
- Bryce Drew repeated as Horizon League Coach of the Year.
...notes from #6/7 Kentucky
- The game against the Wildcats was Valpo’s third in the season’s first nine games against a top-25 team.
- Valpo went scoreless for an eight-minute stretch in the first half, going 0-for-14 from the floor as Kentucky went on a 21-0 run.
- The Crusaders finished the game shooting just 34.3% from the floor and 4-of-15 from the 3-point line, while Kentucky shot 45.8% and 30.4%, respectively.
- Alec Peters led the Crusaders with 23 points, 16 of which came in the second half, to continue his streak of scoring at least 20 in every game.
- Jaume Sorolla enjoyed the best game of his young career, contributing eight points and nine rebounds – seven of which came on the offensive end.
- While the Crusaders were out-rebounded by one of the nation’s best rebounding teams in Kentucky, 48-41, they did grab 18 offensive rebounds and convert them into 19 second-chance points.
...notes from #21/25 Rhode Island
- The Crusaders have now won 10 straight games at the ARC and 37 of their last 39 in the friendly confines.
- Rhode Island was the first nationally-ranked team to visit the ARC since Purdue in December of 2010 and the first ranked squad from outside the state of Indiana since Marquette in November of 2006.
- Alec Peters continued his early-season domination, scoring 27 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field and 10-of-10 from the foul line while also leading the Crusaders with nine rebounds.
- Peters was one of four Crusaders in double figures, joined by Jubril Adekoya, Shane Hammink and Tevonn Walker.
- The Crusaders went to the inside game as much as possible, taking just 10 3-point attempts on the night and just two in the second half.
- Valpo continued its strong early-season work at the foul line, going 18-of-21 (85.7%) as a team.
- The Crusaders won despite committing 17 turnovers. Rhode Island committed eight fewer turnovers, but Valpo was outscored in points off turnovers by just five points.
- Valpo will take finals week off from competition before returning to the court at the ARC Dec. 17 versus in-state foe Indiana State.
- The game against the Sycamores is the first of three straight home games, as the Crusaders host Santa Clara (Dec. 22) and Chicago State (Dec. 28).
...on the road
- Valpo enters this season having posted a winning record in true road games three of the last four years, after having not done so the previous 10 seasons.
- Last year, the Crusaders posted a 12-4 record in true road games - including an 8-1 mark on the road in Horizon League play.
- This year’s team has just three true road games on the slate during non-league action and is currently 0-2, with losses at Oregon and Kentucky.
- The Bears enter Saturday night’s game at 5-2 on the season, most recently winning an in-state battle at SE Missouri State on Wednesday, 79-71.
- Missouri State is a perfect 4-0 at home this year.
- It is a balanced offensive attack for the Bears, as four players score in double figures and five others at least six points per game.
Bouncing Back Following Losses
- The Crusaders have proven adept over the last two-plus years in games following a loss.
- Valpo has lost 12 times (not counting the final game of the season) since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, and each time has rebounded with a victory next time out.
- Eight of those 12 wins have come by double figures, including six wins by 20 or more - the Crusaders’ average margin of victory has been 17.4 points.
- Valpo has 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.
Rematches From Last Season
- Saturday’s matchup with Rhode Island is the fifth of seven non-league games the Crusaders will have against opponents they played last season.
- Valpo has already rematched with Oregon, Ball State, BYU and Rhode Island from last year’s schedule.
- The Crusaders have avenged last season’s loss to Ball State, while defeating BYU and Rhode Island both years.
- The Crusaders have non-league games remaining against Indiana State and Chicago State, both of whom they beat last season.
Beating Ranked Teams
- Valpo snapped a 40-game winless streak against nationally-ranked opposition on Nov. 29 with the win over Rhode Island.
- The Crusaders had not taken down a top-25 opponent since their win over Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
- Prior to the win over the Rams, Valpo had not earned a home win over a top-25 team since beating Notre Dame in December of 1988.
Starting on a Winning Note
- Head coach Matt Lottich became the first Crusader coach in 36 years to open his head coaching tenure at Valpo with a win with the victory over SUU.
- Tom Smith was the last Valpo head coach to start his Crusader career with a win, winning three straight in six days at home to open the 1980-81 campaign.
- The Drews all faced tough competition in their head coaching debuts at Valpo: Homer at Butler, Scott at eventual national champion Syracuse, and Bryce at Arizona.
- Lottich is the first coach to start his Valpo career with a 7-1 record since Wilbur Allen started off the 1949-50 season by winning seven of the season’s first eight games.
Peters’ Hot Start
- Nine games into the season, Alec Peters has scored at least 20 points in every game and is averaging 25.1 points/game - good for second nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 9.0 rebounds/game and has recorded three double-doubles - he has recorded at least eight rebounds in eight of Valpo’s nine games.
- No college basketball player has averaged at least 25 points and nine rebounds per game for a full season since the 2007-08 campaign.
- Peters has been named Horizon League Player of the Week each of the last two weeks, giving him seven career weekly honors from the league.
- Peters has moved into second place in program history and is now 17th in Horizon League history in career scoring with 1,908 career points.
- Peters currently ranks third among all active players in career scoring, while his 114 consecutive games started is best among all D-I players.
- For a full list of where Peters currently ranks in Horizon League and Valpo history, see the box on page four of the notes.
Glance at the Rankings
- The Crusaders are receiving votes in both national top-25 polls this week.
- Valpo picked up seven points from four different voters this week in the AP poll and also received one point in the coaches poll.
- It marked Valpo’s first appearance in the others receiving votes this season in the AP poll, while the Crusaders had picked up two points in the preseason coaches poll.
- Last season saw Valpo reach program high-water marks in both polls on Jan. 18, when it received 30 points in the AP poll and 16 in the coaches poll.
Addition to the Trophy Case
- Valpo’s wins over Alabama and BYU gave the Crusaders the Heavyweight championship belt at the Men Who Speak Up Main Event.
- The title is the program’s fourth in-season championship in the last seven years.
- Valpo most recently earned the championship trophy in November 2014 at the Challenge in Music City.
- The Crusaders took home top honors in November 2010 at the Las Vegas Invitational and in December 2010 at the Lou Henson Award Tournament.
Wins Over Power Conference Foes
- Valpo’s win over Alabama marked its third over a power conference opponent in the last two seasons.
- The Crusaders went on the road to beat Oregon State last season and then took down Florida State at the ARC in the second round of the NIT.
- Prior to last season’s win over Oregon State, Valpo had not defeated a team from the power-5 conferences since winning at Washington in the 2008 CBI.
- Nine out of Valpo’s last 12 victories over opponents out of the power-5 conferences have come on neutral courts.
- Valpo won each of its first three games of the season by double figures, a feat not accomplished by a Crusader squad in nearly 50 years.
- The last Valpo team to earn double-digit wins in the season’s first three games was the 1967-68 team, which earned wins over Saint Procopius (110-85), Hope (79-61) and Carthage (89-68).
- Already this season, the Crusaders have earned a pair of double-figure come-from-behind wins.
- Valpo trailed in the first half versus Trinity Christian by 16 points and BYU by 12 points.
- In the last two seasons, Valpo had only overcome a double-digit deficit on two occasions.
- The come-from-behind win over Trinity Christian was the Crusaders’ largest deficit overcome since rallying from 22 points down in the second half at Detroit in January of 2013.
A Look at the Record Book
- Lexus Williams matched the program’s single-game steals record with seven against Trinity Christian.
- Williams tied a record previously shared by Milo Stovall (Dec. 12, 1999 - Texas A&M-CC) and Bryce Drew (Dec. 7, 1996 - Milwaukee).
- Meanwhile, Alec Peters attempted 29 shots versus the Trolls - the most by a Crusader in at least 22 years.
- Valpo matched a program record as a team with a perfect performance at the foul line at Oregon, going 14-of-14 from the charity stripe.
- The Crusaders’ 17 steals against Ball State as a team were third-most all-time, just two shy of the record of 19 (vs. Centenary, 12/10/88).
- Williams picked up six steals against the Cardinals, tied for fourth-most in a game by a single player.