Valparaiso (13-4, 3-1 Horizon)
Game #18 - Saturday, Jan. 14 - 2:30 p.m. CT
at Cleveland State (5-12, 1-4 Horizon)
Wolstein Center (8,500) - Cleveland, Ohio
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: In the midst of a stretch of three games in five days, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks to finish off a sweep of its weekend road trip at Cleveland State on Saturday afternoon. Valpo has won nine of its last 11 meetings with the Vikings.
Last Time Out: Valpo got a lift from some unexpected sources Thursday night, as a lineup that had not played together all season long scored seven straight points to end the first half - keying a 14-0 run spanning halftime as the Crusaders went on to win at Youngstown State, 78-62. With his first basket of the game, senior Alec Peters assumed sole possession of the top spot on Valpo’s career field goals made chart.
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: Cleveland State holds a 30-18 advantage in the all-time series over Valpo, but the Crusaders have a slight 11-9 edge since they joined the Horizon League for the 2007-08 season. Valpo has won nine of the last 11 matchups between the two teams, including a series sweep last season. The Crusaders took down the Vikings last year at the ARC, 77-52, and then downed CSU at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, 66-43. Alec Peters led Valpo with 33 points over the two victories, while the Crusaders outrebounded CSU 82-53 in the pair of wins.
...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 Youngstown State
- Alec Peters made a mid-range jumper 4:27 into the game to break a tie with Bryce Drew atop Valpo’s career field goals made chart. The senior now has made 702 baskets in a Crusader uniform.
- Playing a season-low 31 minutes, Peters paced Valpo with 17 points and a career-high tying 15 rebounds in the win.
- Shane Hammink needed just 20 minutes to score 15 points, while Tevonn Walker tallied 12 points – nine of which came in the first half.
- Meanwhile, Jaume Sorolla set a new scoring high for the second time in the last three games, recording 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting while also grabbing six rebounds.
- Peters was the only Valpo player to play more than 23 minutes in the victory, as head coach Matt Lottich made judicious use of a bench which contributed 29 points.
- Micah Bradford made his first career start and played 21 minutes, while John Kiser and Nick Davidson played 15 and 14 minutes, respectively, as the Crusaders ran out a 10-man rotation.
- 11 of the 12 Crusaders who saw action scored on Thursday. Kiser tallied four points to go with five rebounds and two assists, while junior Chandler Levingston Simon scored his first basket of the season in the final minute.
- The Crusaders dominated the Penguins on the glass, out-rebounding YSU by a 46-24 margin.
- The key lineup of Peters, Davidson, Kiser, Bradford and Derrik Smits - who had never played in a game together - played the final 3:01 of the first half and went on a 7-0 run to give Valpo an 11-point lead at halftime.
...notes from Detroit Mercy
- The Crusaders took full advantage of 31 fouls called against the Titans, going 33-for-42 (78.6%) from the foul line for the game. The number of makes from the foul line tied a season high.
- Both Shane Hammink (14-of-15) and Tevonn Walker (12-of-14) set new career highs for free throws made.
- Valpo only had 42 field goal attempts, easily its fewest as a team this season, but went 22-of-42 (52.4%) from the floor – including a sterling 18-for-27 (66.7%) mark from inside the 3-point line.
- Hammink matched his career high with 23 points for the fourth time this year, while Walker joined him above the 20-point threshold with 21 points – his third 20-point effort of the season.
- Walker also set a season best with 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the year and tallied a new career high with five steals.
- Despite taking just nine shots from the floor, Alec Peters totaled 17 points (7-9 FG) and 11 rebounds for his seventh consecutive double-double. The senior also added four assists for the third time in the last four games.
- The Crusaders return home to the ARC on Monday to host Green Bay, closing out a stretch of three games in five days.
- The matchup with the Phoenix starts a stretch of four consecutive home games which runs through the end of the month.
...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 had just three true road games on the slate during the non-league schedule and currently sits at 3-2 in true road action.
- The Vikings enter Saturday’s game at 5-12 overall this year and 1-4 in Horizon League play following a 59-54 loss to UIC Thursday night.
- Rob Edwards paces the Vikings, averaging 14.5 points per game.
- Demonte Flannigan adds 11.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while Bobby Word chips in 10.8 ppg.
Taking Advantage of Charity
- As of Thursday night, Valpo ranked third nationally as a team in free throw pct., hitting at a 80.1% clip from the foul line this season.
- Four of the Crusaders’ top five players in free throw attempts are connecting at 75% or better from the foul line, led by Alec Peters’ 92.0% clip.
- Through 17 games, Valpo has made 10 more free throws (330) than its opponents have attempted (320).
- The Crusaders have connected on at least 80% of their free throw attempts in nine games this year, and have been under 70% just three times.
Hitting the Glass
- The Crusaders enjoyed their highest rebound margin of the year in Thursday’s win at YSU, owning a 46-24 advantage on the glass.
- Valpo has been at least a plus-10 on the glass five times this year, while the Crusaders have been out-rebounded just three times.
- In league-only play, Valpo paces the league with an average of +10.8 on the glass, while overall this year, the Crusaders rank second in the league (+6.1).
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 104-56 (.650) in their first nine -plus years as a Horizon League member and have had just one sub-.500 season in league play.
- Valpo has captured four of the last five Horizon League regular season titles.
Caution - Falling Records
- Senior Alec Peters broke his first Valpo career record last time out, and is on the verge of setting a number of others over the next few weeks.
- Peters broke Bryce Drew’s career field goals made record (696) with his first basket of the game Thursday at YSU.
- Peters is also just 56 points shy of Drew’s career scoring record (2,142) and 24 rebounds shy of Chris Ensminger’s career rebounding record (910).
- The senior is also poised to break Ed Eckart’s 60-year-old record for career free throws made, as he is 30 shy of Eckart’s mark of 452 makes from the stripe.
Peters’ Hot Start
- Peters was recently named to the midseason top-25 list for the Wooden Award, presented to the nation’s most outstanding college basketball player.
- Peters is currently averaging 23.8 points/game - good for third nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 10.7 rebounds/game and has recorded 11 double-doubles - including an active streak of eight straight double-doubles.
- Peters has recorded at least nine rebounds in 16 of Valpo’s 17 games.
- Following Thursday night, Peters was fourth nationally in free throws made, seventh in field goals made, sixth in double-doubles, ninth in free throw percentage and 12th in rebounding.
- Peters has been named Horizon League Player of the Week three times this season, giving him eight career weekly honors from the league.
- Peters has moved into second place in program history and is now seventh in Horizon League history in career scoring with 2,086 career points.
- Peters currently ranks second among all active players in career scoring, while his 122 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.
20 Or More Points
- Alec Peters scored 20 or more points in each of Valpo’s first 12 games this season, easily the longest streak of 20+ point games in recent Crusader history.
- Dating back to the 1994-95 season, Peters owns the two longest streaks of 20+ point games - he scored 20 or more in seven straight outings late last year.
- The longest streak of 20+ point games by somebody other than Peters in that span is five consecutive games - Bryce Drew (1996-97) and Dan Oppland (2004-05).
- The most games with 20 or more points in a single season in that span came in 2004-05, as Oppland scored at least 20 points on 18 occasions - Peters currently has 13 such efforts this year.
- Drew and Peters are the only Crusaders in that span with three separate seasons scoring 20+ points in at least 10 games.
- The Crusaders entered league play with at least 10 victories under their belt for the fourth time in the last five years following the Chicago State win.
- Valpo owns a 51-19 (.729) record in pre-league action since the Horizon League eliminated the early December league weekend prior to the 2012-13 season.
- This is the second straight year that Valpo entered league play with a 10-3 record in the pre-league campaign.
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 was 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.
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.
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. Peters then tossed up 28 shots against Santa Clara.
- 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.