Valparaiso (3-2, 0-0 MVC)
Game #6 - Nov. 24, 2018 - 1 p.m. CT
at West Virginia (2-2, 0-0 Big 12)
WVU Coliseum (14,000) - Morgantown, W.V.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team continues its challenging slate of non-conference games away from home on Saturday afternoon, as Valpo faces off against West Virginia in a non-bracketed game of the Myrtle Beach Invitational. Valpo is in the midst of a stretch of five out of six games away from home.
Last Time Out: Heading into a holiday known for extra helpings of food, fans at the ARC got an extra helping of basketball Wednesday evening, as Valparaiso and SIUE went into overtime before Valpo out-scored the Cougars 7-2 in the extra period to earn a 75-70 victory. Bakari Evelyn led the way for Valpo with 16 points, 15 of which came after halftime, while Deion Lavender narrowly missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds
Following the Crusaders: TV – AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh [DirecTV (659); Dish (428)]– Robbie Incmikoski, Nathan Adrian and Warren Baker
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) – Todd Ickow and Aaron Leavitt
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (42-28) is in his sixth season overall at Valpo and third as head coach in 2018-19. Lottich led Valpo to 15 victories in his second season in charge in 2017-18 and guided the Crusaders through the move to the MVC, which ended the campaign ranked eighth nationally in conference RPI. In his first year as head coach, Lottich guided Valpo to its fifth Horizon League regular season championship in the last six years as he led the Crusaders to 24 wins and an at-large berth into the NIT.
Series Notes: Saturday marks just the second meeting in the all-time series between Valpo and West Virginia. In the only prior matchup, which came in the first round of the Fiesta Bowl Classic in Tucson, Ariz. on Dec. 28, 2001, Valpo out-scored the Mountaineers by 20 points in the second half to earn a 76-57 victory. Milo Stovall led five Valpo players in double figures with 20 points, while Stalin Ortiz recorded five of Valpo’s 12 team steals as the Crusaders forced 21 West Virginia turnovers.
- Valpo was selected to finish in seventh place in the MVC preseason poll with 173 points.
- Valpo has finished worse in the final standings than its preseason projection just once in the last eight years.
...looking back at last year
- Valpo went 15-17 in its first season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
- The Brown and Gold posted a 6-12 record in MVC play in a conference which ended the season ranked eighth in the nation in conference RPI.
- The 2017-18 campaign marked the first time in the last eight years that Valpo has not earned a bid to postseason tournament play.
- Sophomore Bakari Evelyn was named to the MVC’s All-Newcomer Team, while sophomore Markus Golder earned a spot on the conference’s All-Bench Team.
...in the win over SIUE
- Bakari Evelyn tied the game at 68-68 with an elbow jumper with 11 seconds to play in regulation, and Valpo forced a 3-point miss at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
- Valpo outscored SIUE 7-2 in the extra period.
- Wednesday was just the second overtime game in head coach Matt Lottich’s three years as head coach – the Crusaders had lost the previous one in double overtime to Santa Clara at the ARC on Dec. 22, 2016.
- All five Valpo starters scored in double figures on Wednesday in a balanced effort, led by a season-high 16 points from Evelyn - 15 of which came after halftime.
- Valpo out-scored SIUE from the foul line 21-8, going 21-of-33 versus the Cougars’ 8-of-15. Valpo also limited SIUE to just 4-for-21 shooting from the 3-point line.
...at the Myrtle Beach Invitational
- Valpo went 1-2 in Myrtle Beach, finishing the tournament in sixth place.
- Valpo fell 83-71 to Western Kentucky, beat Monmouth 64-53, and dropped a 69-63 decision to Wake Forest.
- Javon Freeman scored in double figures for Valpo in all three games, while Deion Lavender handed out at least five assists in all three contests.
- Derrik Smits had Valpo’s high game of the tournament with a career-best 23 points against Wake Forest - 19 of which came in the second half.
- Smits and Ryan Fazekas shared high scoring honors for the tournament, both averaging 11.3 ppg, while Smits also grabbed a team-high 5.3 rebounds per game.
- Valpo flies out west on Sunday, heading to Las Vegas for its MWC/MVC Challenge game against UNLV next Wednesday, Nov. 28.
- The Crusaders then have back-to-back home games to kick off the month of December, starting with a 1 p.m. matchup against UC Riverside on Sunday, Dec. 2.
...on the road
- Saturday marks the first of 13 true road games for Valpo in the 2018-19 regular season.
- Valpo went just 3-12 in true road games last season.
- Prior to last year, Valpo had finished above .500 in true road games in four of the last five seasons.
- The Mountaineers enter Saturday’s game at 2-2 on the season.
- WVU has not played since its Sunday finale in Myrtle Beach.
- West Virginia and Valpo both faced off against Monmouth and Western Kentucky in Myrtle Beach, both defeating the former and falling to the latter.
- The Mountaineers, who were picked to finish third in the Big 12 preseason poll, have four players averaging in double figures so far this season, led by 14.0 ppg from Lamont West.
Tough Slate Away From Home Continues
- Valpo continues its challenging slate of games away from home in the non-conference portion of the schedule on Saturday afternoon as it faces West Virginia.
- The three-game Myrtle Beach Invitational included games against Conference USA preseason favorite Western Kentucky, as well as Wake Forest out of the ACC.
- Valpo will play four true road games in the non-conference slate - two against Sweet 16 teams from a season ago in West Virginia and Texas A&M, as well as games at UNLV and George Washington.
Taking Extra Time
- Valpo needed five extra minutes to beat SIUE last time out on Wednesday, downing the Cougars 75-70 in overtime.
- Valpo has not gone to overtime in its previous 57 games.
- The overtime win was the first for Valpo since an 80-76 win on Feb. 26, 2016 at Milwaukee.
- Valpo’s last overtime win at home prior to Wednesday was a 66-62 victory over Loyola on Feb. 21, 2012.
- A trio of Crusaders were named to the Honorable Mention All-Tournament Team at the Myrtle Beach Invitational at the tournament’s conclusion.
- Ryan Fazekas averaged 11.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
- Deion Lavender posted 9.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game, leading the tournament in assists.
- Derrik Smits averaged 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and had Valpo’s top tournament game with a 23-point outing against Wake Forest.
No Freshman Jitters
- Freshman Javon Freeman has enjoyed a strong start to his Valpo career through five games.
- Freeman is the first Valpo freshman to score in double figures in each of the first five games of his career in at least three decades.
- In that time span, only Bryce Drew and Erik Buggs had even started their Valpo career with three consecutive games in double figures.
- Freeman’s first game against Concordia University Chicago was the highest-scoring debut by a Valpo freshman in two decades.
- Freeman scored 22 vs. Concordia, the most points by a Valpo freshman in his debut since Lubos Barton scored 27 in a win over South Carolina in November of 1998 - also the last time a Valpo freshman led the team in scoring in his debut.
Distributing the Ball
- Graduate transfer Deion Lavender has been productive early on in his Valpo career getting others involved offensively.
- Lavender is averaging 5.0 assists/game through five games.
- Lavender handed out at least five assists in each of the first four games, including a season-best seven against Western Kentucky.
- Lavender is the first Valpo player in at least three decades to open a season with four consecutive games of five or more assists.
- Fans at the ARC for the season opener saw a number on Valpo’s side of the scoreboard which hasn’t been seen in over a generation.
- Valpo’s 121 points scored were tied for the fourth-most in a single game in program history, matching a Feb. 26, 1974 win over Wabash and a March 1, 1969 victory over Wheaton.
- The last time Valpo scored more than 121 points was in its program-record 138-point outing against Muhlenberg on Dec. 6, 1968.
- The 56-point margin of victory was the seventh-highest in program history.
- Six players finished in double figures in the win, the first time a sextet of Valpo players has scored 10 or more since an 86-84 win over Oakland on Feb. 19, 2016.