Valparaiso (6-5, 0-0 MVC)
Game #12 - Dec. 19, 2018 - 7:30 p.m.
at Texas A&M (4-4, 0-0 SEC)
Reed Arena (12,989) - College Station, Texas
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team faces a quick turnaround in its final road non-conference test, flying south to take on Texas A&M Wednesday night.
Last Time Out: Spans of just under four minutes on either side of halftime proved to be the difference Monday evening as Valpo dropped a 77-61 decision to in-state rival Ball State at the ARC. The Cardinals out-scored Valpo 10-0 over the final 3:40 of the first half, and then got off to a 10-3 start over the opening 3:41 of the second half. Ryan Fazekas paced Valpo with 19 points
Following the Crusaders: Video – SEC Network+ – Will Johnson and Tap Bentz
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 (45-31) 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: Wednesday will mark the third meeting all-time between Texas A&M and Valpo, but the first in College Station. The two programs met twice in the mid-1980’s on neutral courts as part of tournaments, both of which were Aggie victories. Valpo is 4-12 all-time against current SEC teams and went 1-1 against SEC programs two years ago, beating Alabama in Las Vegas and falling at Kentucky. Valpo’s most notable win over an SEC program came in the 1998 NCAA Tournament, as Valpo defeated Ole Miss in the first round on Bryce Drew’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
- 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 loss to Ball State
- The game was tied at 25 with 3:40 to go in the first half before Ball State went on a 10-0 run to close the period.
- The Cardinals then extended their lead to 17 with a 10-3 spurt to start the second half.
- Valpo cut the deficit to single digits just once in the second half, on a Ryan Fazekas 3-pointer with 2:45 to play which made it a 67-59 game, but Ball State out-scored Valpo 10-2 over the final couple minutes.
- The loss was Valpo’s second straight at home in non-conference play, the first time Valpo has dropped consecutive non-conference home games since 2006.
- Ball State held a 27-13 advantage in points off turnovers, forcing 17 Valpo miscues, and out-scored Valpo in the paint, 48-26.
- Fazekas led Valpo with 19 points, overcoming an off night from the perimeter by going 4-of-5 inside the arc and 8-of-9 from the foul line.
...in the win at George Washington
- Valpo took the lead two minutes into the second half on a Bakari Evelyn 3-pointer.
- Valpo led by as many as 13 in the second half, and after GW briefly tied the game with 3:31 to play, Ryan Fazekas connected on 3-pointers on each of the next two possessions to put Valpo back in front.
- Valpo enjoyed a strong shooting performance, hitting at a 53.6% clip (30-of-56) from the field.
- The majority of the damage from deep was done by Evelyn and Fazekas, who connected on six triples apiece. Evelyn went 6-of-9 from 3-point range and 10-of-15 overall, setting new career bests for both field goals made and 3-pointers made, as he finished with a game-high 27 points. Meanwhile, Fazekas went 6-of-11 from downtown and finished with a season-best 22 points.
- Valpo won despite George Washington shooting at a 58.5% clip from the floor. The last time a Valpo opponent shot better from the floor in a Valpo win came back on Dec. 31, 2011 in a win over Green Bay, a night when the Phoenix shot 59.2%.
- Following Wednesday’s game, Valpo is off until after Christmas, returning to action at home on Saturday, Dec. 29 against Purdue Northwest in its non-conference finale.
- MVC play opens for Valpo at the ARC on Wednesday, Jan. 2 as it hosts Illinois State.
...on the road
- Saturday is the fourth of 13 true road games for Valpo in the 2018-19 regular season, as it is currently 2-1 in true road games following a win at George Washington in its last road outing.
- 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.
- Texas A&M enters Wednesday’s game at 4-4 on the season, most recently defeating Oregon State in a neutral-site matchup in Portland, 67-64.
- The Aggies have won three in a row after losing four consecutive games.
- TJ Starks leads Texas A&M, averaging 13.9 points per game, while Savion Flagg adds 13.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Shooting - The Highs and the Lows
- Valpo struggled from behind the 3-point line last time out against Ball State, going just 3-of-16 from deep.
- This came just one game after an especially strong performance from deep in the win over George Washington, when Valpo knocked down 15-of-27 3-point attempts.
- The 15 triples were the program’s highest total against a Division I opponent since going 15-of-26 from deep in a Feb. 5, 2013 win over UIC.
- Bakari Evelyn and Ryan Fazekas each connected on a career-high six 3-pointers.
- The difference in Valpo’s 3-point shooting in wins versus losses this year is striking - in its five wins over D-I teams, Valpo is hitting 41.2% from the 3-point line, while in its five losses, Valpo is shooting just 25.9% from deep.
Frequent Flyer Miles
- Valpo’s final non-conference game of the season closes a slate outside of the MVC which had the team traversing the country.
- Each of Valpo’s four road trips in non-conference games - Myrtle Beach, West Virginia/UNLV, George Washington, and Texas A&M - involved round-trip flights out of Chicago.
- At the end of the Texas A&M trip, Valpo will have spent 8,388 miles in the air in just over a month’s time.
- Graduate transfer Deion Lavender has been a steadying influence in Valpo’s backcourt and makes his presence felt in all aspects of the game.
- Twice this year already, Lavender has handed out 10 assists in a game - doing so first in Valpo’s game at West Virginia, and most recently in the win at George Washington.
- Lavender is the first Valpo player with multiple 10+ assist games in the same season since Ron Howard in 2004-05.
- Lavender currently ranks second in the MVC with 5.5 assists/game and is also averaging 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
- Four times this year, Lavender has tallied at least five points, five rebounds and five assists in the same game - Matt Kenney in 2011-12 was the last Valpo player before Lavender to record four such games in the same season.