Valparaiso (15-4, 5-1 Horizon)
Game #20 - Sunday, Jan. 22 - 2 p.m.
UIC (10-8, 3-2 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Coming off of its biggest victory of the season, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team takes aim at its longest winning streak of the year as it hosts UIC in a Sunday afternoon matinee at the ARC. Alec Peters enters the game just seven points shy of breaking Bryce Drew’s Valpo career scoring record.
Last Time Out: An impressive all-around performance by the Crusaders received an exclamation point with 4:45 to play, as senior Alec Peters corralled his career-best 16th rebound of the game to break Valpo’s career rebounding record as the Crusaders closed out an 80-56 victory over the Phoenix at the ARC Monday evening. Peters finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds to set a new program record with 911 career rebounds.
Following the Crusaders: TV - American Sports Network (available locally on Comcast SportsNet Chicago) - Dave Armstrong (PxP) and Rich Zvosec (Analyst) - Also available online on the ASN website and ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app
Radio – Valpo Sports Network [WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso); WVLP (103.1 FM, Valparaiso)] - Todd Ickow (PxP) and David Huseman (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: UIC holds a 29-26 edge in the all-time series over the Crusaders, but it’s been all Valpo since joining the Horizon League, as the Crusaders enjoy a 17-3 advantage since the start of the 2007-08 season. In fact, Valpo has won 16 games in a row against the Flames, including the last eight in a row at the ARC. Earlier this season, the Crusaders continued their winning streak over UIC in Chicago with a 70-59 victory. Tevonn Walker scored 17 of his season-high 23 points in the second half of the win, while Alec Peters posted 18 points and 11 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 Green Bay
- The 24-point victory was the largest within Horizon League play by any league team so far this season.
- Alec Peters grabbed seven rebounds in the first half before coming away with nine boards in the second half to set the career record with 911 career rebounds before being lifted from the game.
- Peters’ 16 rebounds set a new single-game high for the senior, as he had previously grabbed 15 rebounds on four separate occasions.
- Valpo pulled away in the second half with a 17-0 run which pushed a seven-point lead to 24 points with about 13 minutes remaining.
- Tevonn Walker hit 6-of-10 from the floor for 13 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds, picking up his second double-double in the last four games.
- Shane Hammink tallied 12 points and five rebounds, while Micah Bradford came up just one point shy of his career high as he finished with 11 points.
- Valpo hit 40.9% from the 3-point line, its third-best percentage of the year from beyond the arc. Four different Crusaders connected on multiple triples.
- Valpo also held a decided advantage inside, out-scoring the Phoenix in the paint, 40-24.
- Facing a Green Bay team which touts its RP40 system of relentless pressure, the Crusaders committed a season-low eight turnovers and limited the Phoenix to just two fast-break points.
...notes from Cleveland State
- The Crusaders went just 1-of-11 from the floor to open the game and turned the ball over four times in the opening eight minutes as they trailed CSU 16-4 at the second media timeout.
- Valpo out-scored CSU 30-12 over the remainder of the first half and then started the second half on a 13-2 run.
- Alec Peters reached the 30-point mark for the third time this season and ninth time in his career. 19 of his 30 points came after halftime.
- For the first time since Dec. 7, Peters came up just shy of a double-double, as he grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
- Valpo’s top three scorers all finished in double figures Saturday, as Peters was joined by Walker and Hammink. Walker knocked down a perfect 10-for-10 from the line and finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
- Walker is now 33-for-35 from the charity stripe through five Horizon League games.
- Despite dealing with foul trouble, Hammink played 25 minutes and went 4-for-5 from the field and 3-for-4 from the foul line for 11 points.
- The Crusaders continued their season-long dominance at the foul line, hitting 32-of-37 (86.5%) as they made seven more free throws than the Vikings attempted.
- Valpo out-rebounded the Vikings, 43-25, and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds which led to 19 second-chance points.
- Valpo closes its current four-game homestand next weekend with home games against Wright State (Friday) and Northern Kentucky (Sunday).
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 17 regular season home games scheduled at the ARC during the 2016-17 season and is 9-2 to date at home this season.
- The Crusaders set a program record last year with 17 home victories, posting a 17-1 mark.
- Valpo has recorded a 41-4 record in home games since the start of the 2014-15 season.
- Over the last 21-plus years, the Crusaders own a 276-60 (.821) record on their home court at the ARC.
- The Flames enter Sunday’s game at 11-8 overall and 4-2 in Horizon League play, with a one-point loss to Oakland their only misstep since Valpo’s win at the Pavilion to start league play.
- Tai Odiase continues to lead the healthy UIC players, averaging 11.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game with a total of 60 blocks this season.
- Tarkus Ferguson has paced the Flames within Horizon League play, averaging 13 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Cleaning the Boards
- Peters’ career-high 16th rebound of the Green Bay game moved him past Chris Ensminger atop the Valpo record book with his 911th career rebound.
- Peters’ effort versus Green Bay was the 38th time in his career he pulled down at least 10 rebounds in a game.
- While Peters needed just eight more games than Ensminger to break his career record, Peters has played over 1100 minutes more than Ensminger did over his four-year career.
- At his current rate of 10.9 rebounds/game this season, Peters would need to play in 15 more games to claim the single-season rebounding record from Ensminger - a mark the latter set at 368 as a senior in the 1995-96 season.
Up Next: Scoring
- Peters is six points shy of tying and seven points away from breaking Bryce Drew’s Valpo career scoring record of 2,142 career points.
- Peters has scored at least seven points in every game since being held to six at UIC as a freshman on Feb. 1, 2014.
- Peters’ current total of 2,136 career points have come on 433 free throws, 454 two-point baskets, and 265 makes from 3-point range.
- While Peters will need 125 games to break Drew’s record, which was set in 121 games, Peters has played over 300 fewer minutes than Drew over his four-year career.
- When Peters breaks the scoring mark, he will join an illustrious group of players who hold both scoring and rebounding records at their alma maters - a group which includes players such as Oscar Robertson, Danny Manning, Jerry West, Bill Bradley, Larry Bird and David Robinson - to name just a few.
Caution - Falling Records
- Peters broke his first Valpo career record at YSU, surpassing Bryce Drew’s career field goals made record of 696 with his first basket against the Penguins.
- Peters has now pushed that mark up to 719 field goals made for his career.
- The senior is also poised to break Ed Eckart’s 60-year-old record for career free throws made, as he is 19 shy of Eckart’s mark of 452 makes from the stripe.
- Peters has appeared in 124 career games (all of which have been starts), with Sunday’s contest moving him into the top-10 in Valpo history in games played - he is chasing Erik Buggs’ record of 138 games played.
Taking Advantage of Charity
- As of the end of play Thursday, Valpo ranked second nationally as a team in free throw pct., hitting at a 80.4% clip from the foul line this season.
- Valpo’s top three in free throw attempts this season are all hitting at 82% or better for the year.
- Through 19 games, Valpo has made 15 more free throws (369) than its opponents have attempted (354).
- The Crusaders have connected on at least 80% of their free throw attempts in 10 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 the win at YSU, owning a 46-24 advantage on the glass.
- Valpo then backed that up with another large edge on the boards at CSU, out-rebounding the Vikings, 43-25, and followed with a 51-39 advantage over Green Bay on the boards.
- Valpo has been at least a plus-10 on the glass seven times this year, while the Crusaders have been out-rebounded just three times.
- Over the last three games, the Crusaders have grabbed 40 offensive rebounds and converted them into 46 second-chance points.
- In league-only play, Valpo paces the league with an average of +12.1 on the glass, while overall this year, the Crusaders rank second in the league (+7.0).
Stepping Up In League Play
- Junior Tevonn Walker has stepped up his game within Horizon League play so far.
- Walker has averaged 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in league action, up from 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds overall.
- He also has been virtually flawless from the foul line, hitting 34-of-36 from the charity stripe in league action.
- Walker has been in double figures five of the six league games, including two efforts of 20+ points, and has a pair of double-doubles.
- The freshman duo of Derrik Smits and Jaume Sorolla have been strong for the Crusaders in the middle in Horizon League action.
- Sorolla is fourth in scoring and second in rebounding among Crusaders in league play, while Smits is fifth in scoring and fourth in rebounding.
- Combined, Smits and Sorolla are averaging 14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest in Valpo’s six Horizon League games to date.
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 106-56 (.654) 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.
Peters’ Impressive Season
- 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 23.9 points/game - good for second nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 10.9 rebounds/game and has recorded 12 double-doubles.
- Peters has recorded at least nine rebounds in 18 of Valpo’s 19 games.
- As of the end of play Thursday, Peters was second nationally in free throws made, seventh in field goals made, sixth in double-doubles, eighth in rebounding and 17th in free throw percentage.
- 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 fifth in Horizon League history in career scoring with 2,136 career points, passing former league greats Keifer Sykes and Cedrick Banks at Cleveland State.
- Peters currently ranks second among all active players in career scoring, while his 124 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 15 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.