Valparaiso (19-5, 9-2 Horizon)
Game #25 - Thursday, Feb. 9 - 7 p.m.
Cleveland State (7-17, 3-9 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball:The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team takes aim at win number 20 as it returns home to the ARC Thursday evening to host Cleveland State. The Crusaders are looking to bounce back after having an eight-game winning streak snapped last time out.
Last Time Out: The Phoenix of Green Bay dealt the Crusaders an 86-69 defeat Saturday afternoon in Green Bay despite 20 points and eight rebounds from Alec Peters. With the loss, Valpo’s lead over Green Bay atop the Horizon League standings was cut to one-half game.
Following the Crusaders: Video - ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app - Todd Ickow (PxP), David Huseman (Analyst) and David Horak (Sidelines)
Radio – Valpo Sports Network [WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso); WVLP (103.1 FM, Valparaiso)]
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 30-19 advantage in the all-time series over Valpo - including a 13-11 mark at the ARC - but the Crusaders have a 12-9 edge against the Vikings since joining the Horizon League for the 2007-08 season. Valpo has won each of the last six meetings between the two squads and 10 of the last 12, including a 78-67 win earlier this season in Cleveland. Valpo trailed that game early, 16-4, but rallied to take a 34-28 halftime lead and led by as many as 17 points in the second half. Alec Peters paced the Crusaders in the win, scoring 30 points.
...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 Crusaders entered the game 19th in the nation in rebounding margin (+7.1) and were a league-best +10.4 on the glass within Horizon League-only play, but were dominated on the glass by the Phoenix.
- Green Bay out-rebounded Valpo, 53-32 – 20 of the Phoenix’s 53 rebounds came on the offensive boards.
- The -21 margin on the glass was the Crusaders’ worst since the 2014 squad was out-rebounded by 22 by Milwaukee in the second round of the Horizon League Championship at Green Bay.
- Meanwhile, the Crusaders surrendered 20 offensive rebounds on the road against the Phoenix for a second straight season – Green Bay converted those opportunities into 17 second-chance points on Saturday.
- Valpo also struggled to keep the Phoenix off the foul line, as Green Bay attempted 35 free throws – the most the Crusaders have surrendered this year. Valpo’s -17 differential in free throw attempts was also its worst of the season.
...notes from Milwaukee
- The victory was Valpo’s fourth of the year without trailing.
- Valpo has now won six consecutive games at Milwaukee.
- Alec Peters finished with a game-high 22 points, including his best effort of the year from the 3-point line, where he knocked down four of five attempts. The senior also was a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line.
- Micah Bradford finished Thursday’s win with a career-best 14 points, going 5-of-8 from the floor – including a 3-of-4 mark from 3-point range.
- Valpo connected on 9-of-19 3-point attempts - the 47.4% clip from deep was the team’s best mark within league play this year. Over the last five games, the Crusaders have hit 38.1% from deep after hitting just 30.4% in their first 18 games.
- The Crusaders continued their dominating effort on the boards, out-rebounding the Panthers 34-24 – their fifth double-figure advantage on the glass in the last seven games.
- Valpo closes out its brief two-game homestand on Saturday evening as the Crusaders host Youngstown State on Hall of Fame night.
- The Crusaders will then make the annual road swing through the state of Michigan next weekend.
...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 5-3 in true road action, including a perfect 4-1 mark so far on the road in league play.
- The Vikings enter Thursday’s game with a 7-17 overall record and are in last place in the Horizon League standings with a 3-9 mark.
- Despite their record in league play, CSU has only been outscored by 0.6 points per game in league action, as six of its nine league losses have come by five points or fewer.
- Rob Edwards leads the Vikings, averaging 16 points per game, while Demonte Flannigan and Bobby Word each score 11.4 points per game.
Bouncing Back Following Losses
- The Crusaders have proven adept over the last three seasons in games following a loss.
- Valpo has lost 15 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.
- Nine of those 15 wins have come by double figures, including six wins by 20 or more - the Crusaders’ average margin of victory has been 15.9 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.
- With the Crusaders’ next win, they will reach the 20-win mark on the year.
- This year’s team will be the 20th team in program history to win 20 or more games.
- 15 of Valpo’s previous 19 20-win seasons have come within the last 23 years.
- With a win Thursday, this year’s squad would be the third-earliest (based on calendar date) to reach the 20-win mark - the 2014-15 team won its 20th game on Jan. 31, while last year’s team earned win number 20 on Feb. 6.
Streak Comes To A Close
- Thursday’s win over Milwaukee extended Valpo’s winning streak to a season-long eight games - a streak which was snapped with the loss last time out at Green Bay.
- The eight-game winning streak was the longest by a Crusader squad since the 2007-08 team won eight straight games Nov. 23-Dec. 15, 2007.
- Valpo came up one step shy of its first nine-game winning streak since Jan. 12-Feb. 14, 2002.
- Alec Peters needed just 4:31 to score his seventh point at home against UIC and surpass Bryce Drew’s Valpo career scoring record of 2,142 career points.
- While Peters needed 125 games to break Drew’s record, which was set in 121 games, Peters played over 300 fewer minutes than Drew to surpass the mark.
- Peters is just the fourth different player to hold Valpo’s career scoring record in the last 48 years (Bruce Lindner-1970; Tracy Gipson-1993; Bryce Drew-1998).
- Peters’ career-high 16th rebound of the Green Bay home game moved him past Chris Ensminger atop the Valpo record book with his 911th career rebound.
- Peters broke his first Valpo career record in the win at YSU, as his first basket of that game surpassed Drew’s record of 696 made field goals.
- Most recently, Peters connected on a free throw with 15 seconds to play versus NKU to break Ed Eckart’s Valpo career record of 452 free throws made.
Atop Both Lists
- By breaking the career scoring record, Peters joined an illustrious group of players who hold both scoring and rebounding records at their alma maters.
- Thr group numbers about 50 players, and includes such all-time greats as Oscar Robertson, Danny Manning, Jerry West, Bill Bradley, Larry Bird and David Robinson.
- Meanwhile, Peters is going to go down as one of the top players in Indiana college basketball history as well.
- There are currently only two players from Indiana D-I schools who finished their careers with more points and rebounds than Peters has amassed to date.
- Bird posted 2,850 points and 1,247 rebounds at Indiana State, while Luke Harangody tallied 2,476 points and 1,222 rebounds at Notre Dame.
- With three made free throws at Green Bay, Peters now has made 158 free throws this season, third-most in a single campaign in program history.
- Peters is just 19 free throws away from Bruce Lindner’s single-season record of 177, set during the 1969-70 season.
- Peters cracked the top-10 scoring list at Green Bay last time out as well, as he has now scored 567 points on the year.
- Peters is just 10 points away from seventh position on the single-season scoring chart (Dan Oppland, 2004-05).
- The senior is also just five rebounds away from moving past Urule Igbavboa’s 2007-08 season into the rebounding single-season top-10 chart.
- At his current rates (23.6 ppg/10.8 rpg), Peters would need seven more games to break Bruce Lindner’s single-season scoring record (725 points; 1969-70) and 11 more games to break Joel Oberman’s rebounding record (375 boards; 1973-74).
Taking Advantage of Charity
- As of the end of play Tuesday, Valpo ranked second in the nation as a team in free throw pct., hitting at a 80.1% clip from the foul line this season.
- Valpo’s top three in free throw attempts this season are all hitting at 81% or better for the year.
- Through 24 games, Valpo has made more free throws (451) than its opponents have attempted (450).
- The Crusaders have connected on at least 80% of their free throw attempts in 13 games this year, and have been under 70% just four times - suffering their worst performance of the year last time out at Green Bay (61.1%).
Continued Success Within the League
- Valpo has been strong within Horizon League play since joining the league prior to the 2007-08 season.
- Currently in their 10th season as a Horizon League member, the Crusaders own a league record of 110-57 (.659).
- Thursday’s win over Milwaukee secured a ninth season at .500 or above through the Crusaders’ first 10 seasons in the league.
- 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, the midseason top-19 list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy (both national Player of the Year awards) and the top-10 finalists for the Karl Malone Award (national Power Forward of the Year).
- Peters is currently averaging 23.6 points/game - good for third nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 10.8 rebounds/game and has recorded 15 double-doubles.
- Peters has recorded at least eight rebounds in 22 of Valpo’s 24 games.
- Peters leads all D-I players in Ken Pomeroy’s Game MVP stat, garnering 12 game MVPs this season, and ranks 10th nationally in offensive rating (>28% possessions used).
- As of the end of play Tuesday, Peters was fourth nationally in free throws made, 10th in field goals made, seventh in double-doubles, 12th in rebounding and 16th in free throw percentage.
- Peters has been named Horizon League Player of the Week four times this season, giving him nine career weekly honors from the league.
- Peters has moved into first place in program history and is now fifth in Horizon League history in career scoring with 2,249 career points.
- Peters currently ranks as the nation’s active leader in both career points scored and consecutive games started (129).
- 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).
- Prior to this season, 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 posted his 19th 20-point game of the year last time out at Green Bay to break Oppland’s mark.
- 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 was its third over a power conference opponent in the last two years - 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.
- Peters has now played 129 career games, tied for sixth-most by a Crusader all time.