Valparaiso (24-6, 14-3 Horizon)
Game #31 - Sunday, Feb. 26 - noon CT
at Northern Kentucky (20-10, 11-6 Horizon)
BB&T Arena (9,400) - Highland Heights, Ky.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Having already secured at least a share of the Horizon League regular season title, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team can clinch the outright title and the top seed at Motor City Madness as it takes on Northern Kentucky Sunday afternoon. The Crusaders would become the first team in league history with five outright titles in a six-year span with a win.
Last Time Out: Trailing by 10 early in the second half and playing without its top player, Valpo refused to throw in the towel Friday night at Wright State as the Crusaders battled back to take the lead for good with eight minutes to play and pulled away late for an 84-74 victory. Shane Hammink led the way with a career-best 25 points, while Lexus Williams knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with 19 points and five steals.
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. With his 24 wins this year, Lottich has tied W.P. Shadoan (1923-24) for most wins by a head coach in their first season at Valpo.
Series Notes: Valpo has won all three meetings with NKU, as the two squads had not met until the Norse joined the Horizon League prior to last season. Earlier this year, the Crusaders claimed a hard-fought 65-58 win at home over NKU, led by 21 points from Shane Hammink and 16 points and 12 rebounds from Alec Peters.
...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 Wright State
- The Crusaders won at Wright State despite the absence of Alec Peters due to injury.
- Valpo out-scored WSU 10-1 in the final 3:34 following the last media timeout.
- Despite the absence of Peters, the Crusaders enjoyed one of their most efficient offensive performances of the year. Valpo hit nearly 50% from the floor – its sixth straight game at 45% or better from the field – and was 11-of-24 from 3-point range to match a season high for 3-pointers made.
- Shane Hammink stepped up to lead the way in the scoring column, finishing with a career-best 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
- Lexus Williams posted the second-highest scoring output of his career as he finished with 19 points – 14 of which came in the second half – including a 4-for-5 mark from 3-point range. Williams also tallied five steals.
- Tevonn Walker added 17 points, 11 of which came after halftime. The junior also paced the Crusaders with six rebounds and tallied four steals of his own.
- The Crusaders forced 22 turnovers from Wright State, 14 of which were Valpo steals – matching its second-highest output of the season in the steals category. Valpo converted those 22 takeaways into 26 points.
...notes from Milwaukee
- Valpo improved to 24-2 in the last 26 seasons on Senior Night.
- Alec Peters led all players with 23 points, including four 3-pointers, in 33 minutes of action. He passed Dick Jones’ 1966-67 season and now sits third in a single season in Crusader history with 666 points on the year.
- The Crusaders hit at a 51% (26-for-51) clip from the field for the game and handed out 15 assists on their 26 baskets.
- Valpo converted seven offensive rebounds into 11 points, while the Panthers did not score a second-chance point on five offensive boards.
- The game featured just 58 possessions - the fewest since the shot clock move to 30 seconds prior to the start of last season. This season’s previous slowest-tempo game for the Crusaders was 62 possessions (at Oregon, home versus NKU).
- The Crusaders will open play on Motor City Madness on Saturday, March 4.
...on the road
- Valpo has secured a winning record in true road games for the fourth time in the last five years, after having not done so the previous 10 seasons.
- This year’s team had just three true road games on the slate during the non-league schedule and currently sits at 7-4 in true road action - including a 6-2 mark in league play.
- 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.
- The Norse enter Sunday’s game at 20-10 overall and 11-6 in Horizon League play, tied for third place in the league standings.
- A loss at Youngstown State is NKU’s only blemish in its last seven games, as the Norse most recently took down UIC Friday night at home, 90-82.
- Five different NKU players are averaging double figures in the scoring column in league action, led by 16.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game from Drew McDonald.
A Look at the League Race
- Valpo enters the final day of the regular season having secured at least a share of the Horizon League regular season title, as it holds a one-game lead over Oakland.
- The Golden Grizzlies own the tiebreaker over the Crusaders by virtue of the season sweep.
- Any combination of a Crusader win or Oakland loss on Sunday would give Valpo the outright title, the number one seed for Motor City Madness, and the league’s automatic berth into the NIT.
- Valpo would be the number two seed for the tournament if it lost to NKU and Oakland won at Milwaukee on Sunday.
Searching For An Outright Crown
- Valpo enters Sunday in the driver’s seat to earn its fifth outright Horizon League regular season championship in the last six seasons.
- The Crusaders enter Sunday with a 14-3 record in league play.
- Valpo captured the 2014-15 and 2012-13 league titles with a 13-3 record.
- Last year’s team posted the program’s best record within Horizon League play at 16-2, while the 2011-12 squad captured the championship with a 14-4 record.
- Only Xavier (1989-95) and Butler (2006-11) have claimed five Horizon League regular season crowns in a six-year span, Butler doing so five straight years - but both teams shared at least one of their titles.
- This year’s Horizon League regular season title is the program’s 17th regular season championship all-time - 14 of the 17 have come since 1995.
Joining the Winningest Teams
- Valpo has already earned 24 victories this season, tied for the fifth-most wins in a single season in program history.
- Only eight seasons have seen the Crusaders win 24 or more games.
- Valpo also won 24 games in 1923-24, 1996-97 and 2000-01, while winning 25 games in the 2001-02 season.
- The three winningest seasons in program history have come in the last five years: 26 wins (2012-13), 28 wins (2014-15) and 30 wins (2015-16).
Players Stepping Up
- With Alec Peters’ absence at Wright State, the Crusaders had a number of players step up with big performances.
- Shane Hammink set a new career best with his 25 points against the Raiders and also came up with three steals.
- Lexus Williams tallied 19 points - the second-best effort of his career - while Tevonn Walker had his fourth-highest output of the year with 17 points.
Rallying From Behind
- The Crusaders overcame a double-figure deficit against WSU - their fourth win this season when facing at least a 10-point deficit at any time.
- Valpo trailed by 10 in the second half to the Raiders, however - the first time this year it has rallied from down double figures in the second half to win.
- In fact, the last time Valpo came back from down 10 or more in the second half to win came on Dec. 14, 2013 versus Loyola Marymount, when the Crusaders turned a 10-point second-half deficit into an 80-73 victory.
- Valpo’s win at Detroit Mercy last Sunday came by 20 points, the team’s fourth win by at least 20 points within Horizon League play this year.
- The Crusaders are responsible for four of the seven 20+ point decisions in Horizon League action this season.
- 11 of Valpo’s 14 Horizon League wins have come by double figures.
- The 2014-15 championship team won just five league games by 10 or more points, including just two by 20+ points.
- Last year’s team dominated in setting a league record for scoring margin within league-only play, winning six games by at least 20 points and seven more by 10-19 points.
- With the home win over Cleveland State, the Crusaders became the 20th team in program history to reach the 20-win mark.
- 15 of Valpo’s previous 19 20-win seasons have come within the last 23 years.
- The win over the Vikings made this year’s squad the third-earliest (based on calendar date) in program history 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.
- 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.
- The 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 versus Milwaukee, Peters now has made 172 free throws this season, second-most in a single season in program history.
- Peters is just five 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, and moved up to third place against Milwaukee. With 666 points this year, he is just 13 points shy of his output from last season, which ranks second on Valpo’s single-season chart.
- The senior also ranks seventh in a single season in program history in rebounding with 293 rebounds - six boards out of sixth position.
- At his current rates (23.0 ppg/10.1 rpg), Peters would need three more games to break Bruce Lindner’s single-season scoring record (725 points; 1969-70) and nine more games to break Joel Oberman’s rebounding record (375 boards; 1973-74).
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 115-58 (.665).
- Valpo has 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-30 list for the Naismith Trophy, 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 23.0 points/game - good for eighth nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 10.1 rebounds/game and has recorded 16 double-doubles.
- Peters has recorded at least eight rebounds in 23 of Valpo’s 29 games.
- Peters ranks ninth nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive rating (>28% possessions used) and is second nationally with 13 Game MVPs.
- As of the end of play Wednesday, Peters was sixth nationally in free throws made, seventh in field goals made, ninth in double-doubles, and 17th in rebounding.
- 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 third in Horizon League history in career scoring with 2,348 career points.
- Peters leads all active players with 2,348 career points and 134 consecutive games started.
- 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 at Green Bay to break Oppland’s mark and now owns 23 games with 20 or more points this season.
- 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 134 career games, tied for second-most by a Crusader all time.