Valparaiso (9-6, 2-0 MVC)
Game #16 - Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019 - 7 p.m.
Bradley (8-7, 0-2 MVC)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: Coming off a dominant win in its MVC road opener, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks to make it a 3-0 start to Missouri Valley Conference play on Tuesday night as Valpo hosts Bradley at the ARC.
Last Time Out: Valpo outscored Missouri State 30-8 over the final nine minutes of the first half, taking a tie game and turning it into a 22-point halftime lead en route to an 82-66 victory on the road Saturday afternoon in Springfield, Mo. Seven Valpo players scored at least seven points in the win, led by Ryan Fazekas pacing four in double figures with 18 points as he connected on six 3-pointers.
Following Valpo Basketball: Video – ESPN+ – Todd Ickow and David Huseman
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) – Garrett Willis and Danny Dalenberg
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (48-32) 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 the program through the transition 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 team to 24 wins and an at-large berth into the NIT.
Series Notes: Despite being located just three hours apart, there is very little history between Valpo and Bradley. The two programs have met just five times, three of which came in a four-season stretch in the early 1980’s before the last two meetings came in Valpo’s first season as an MVC member last year. Bradley owns a 3-2 advantage in the series, but the two squads split the two meetings in conference play last season - Bradley winning 80-71 in Peoria, and Valpo winning 77-64 at the ARC.
- 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 at Missouri State
- The game was tied at 16-16 with less than nine minutes remaining in the first half before Valpo out-scored MSU 30-8 to close the period.
- Valpo scored on 14 of its final 18 possessions of the first half.
- The Bears got no closer than 13 points in the second half - MSU had a shot with 11:09 to play which would have cut Valpo’s lead to 10, but missed, and Valpo followed with 3-pointers from Ryan Fazekas and Bakari Evelyn on its next two possessions.
- Valpo won its first MVC road game of the season after not winning a conference road contest until the regular season finale at Drake last season.
- Four players scored in double figures, while two others finished with nine points as well. Ryan Fazekas led the way with 18 points on a season-best tying six 3-pointers.
- Bakari Evelyn scored 13 off the bench, while Markus Golder finished with 11 points and Derrik Smits 10 points - both coming in just 18 minutes of action.
...in the win over Illinois State
- Valpo was down 10 with 2:07 to play when ISU’s Matt Chastain tipped in a miss - Valpo had just a 1.3% win probability at that point.
- Valpo had three offensive rebounds in the final 80 seconds, leading to second-chance baskets from Markus Golder and Derrik Smits. Golder also drew a pair of offensive fouls in the backcourt in the final 40 seconds.
- Golder hit the first two of three free throws with 5.1 seconds to play to cut ISU’s lead to 56-55, but missed the third and the Redbirds’ Zach Copeland grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 2.9 seconds to play.
- Copeland missed the front end of the one-and-one, Golder grabbed the rebound and took three dribbles before unleashing his buzzer-beater.
- The late comeback was necessary thanks to a prolonged drought from the field spanning both halves. Derrik Smits made an inside basket with 4:58 to play in the first half which gave Valpo a 25-21 lead, but the next field goal for Valpo would not come until Fazekas connected on a 3-pointer with 11:08 to play in the game – a span of 13:50 – to snap an 18-2 Illinois State run as the Redbirds had pushed their lead to 12 points.
- Valpo’s 58 points matched its fewest in a win since beating Green Bay 54-44 in the 2015 Horizon League championship game.
- Back-to-back road games are on the horizon for Valpo following Tuesday’s home affair, as the squad travels to Southern Illinois for a regionally-televised game on Saturday.
- Valpo then makes the short trip to Rogers Park to face defending MVC champion Loyola next Tuesday night, Jan. 15.
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 15 regular season home games scheduled at the ARC this season and is 5-2 so far this year at home following its win over Illinois State.
- Valpo posted a 10-4 record at home last year, its eighth consecutive season reaching double figures in home victories.
- Valpo has recorded a 62-10 (.861) mark in home games since the start of the 2014-15 season.
- Over the last 23 years, Valpo owns a 297-66 (.818) record on its home court at the ARC.
- Bradley enters Tuesday’s game at 8-7 overall and 0-2 in MVC play, most recently falling at Indiana State on Saturday, 65-60.
- A three-point home win over SE Louisiana is the Braves’ lone win in their last five games.
- Darrell Brown leads Bradley, averaging 15.3 points per game and shooting 42.1% from 3-point range. Brown led the Braves last time out with a season-high 32 points.
Looking For 3-0
- Valpo is looking to get to 3-0 in MVC play on Saturday - a mark it has reached in conference play just twice this century.
- Despite winning five regular season titles in its last six seasons in the Horizon League, the 2015-16 season was the only time in that stretch Valpo won each of its first two league games, starting 6-0 en route to a 16-2 league record.
- The 2002-03 Valpo squad also started 6-0 on its way to a 12-2 record and a Mid-Continent Conference regular season championship, the only other time this century Valpo has won at least three straight games to open conference play.
- Last season, it took Valpo until its 11th MVC game to earn its third conference win.
Challenging Start to Conference Play
- Valpo’s schedule in the first quarter-plus of MVC play shaped up to be a tough slate entering the season.
- Valpo will face each of the conference’s top four teams in the preseason poll within the first five games of MVC action.
- Valpo has already defeated Illinois State (#2) and takes on Bradley (#4) on Tuesday, and then faces Southern Illinois (#3) and Loyola (#1) on the road in its next two games.
- Graduate transfer Deion Lavender has shown the ability to fill up the stat sheet in his first 15 games in a Valpo uniform.
- Last time out in the win over Missouri State, Lavender set a career best with 10 rebounds and added seven points and five assists without committing a turnover.
- Five times already in his Valpo career, Lavender has tallied at least five points, five rebounds and five assists in the same game.
- That matches the most such games by a Valpo player in a single season since Lubos Barton reached the marks six times as a junior during the 2000-01 season.
Centers of Attention
- The combined play of Valpo centers Derrik Smits and Jaume Sorolla has proven crucial to winning since joining The Valley.
- Since joining the MVC, in Valpo’s eight conference wins, Smits and Sorolla have combined to average 16.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
- Meanwhile, in last season’s 12 conference losses, the post duo averaged just 10 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
- The top four scoring performances from the duo have all come in MVC wins, including a combined 19 points last time out at MSU (Smits 10, Sorolla 9).
- Smits and Sorolla have combined to reach double figures in rebounds in five MVC games to date - all of which have been Valpo wins, including last time out at MSU (Smits 7, Sorolla 6).
- Golder’s buzzer-beater against Illinois State added to the lore of last-second shots in Valpo history.
- It was Valpo’s first game-winner with the clock at zero since Ryan Broekhoff connected on a 3-pointer to give Valpo the 70-69 win in the 2013 Horizon League semifinal at the ARC over Green Bay.
- It was Valpo’s first game-winner from beyond halfcourt since Greg Tonagel drilled a heave from the opposite 3-point line for a 71-68 win over Belmont at the ARC on Jan. 11, 1999.
- Of course, the most famous buzzer-beater in program history came courtesy of Bryce Drew in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament versus Ole Miss.
- Golder’s shot came in at the top spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 on Wednesday night’s countdown. He became the third different Valpo athlete over three different sports to earn a SportsCenter Top 10 spot since Valpo joined The Valley.
- Junior Ryan Fazekas became the first Valpo player since the program joined the MVC to earn a weekly award from the conference office, as he was named the MVC Newcomer of the Week on Jan. 2.
- Fazekas earned the honor after leading all players in scoring with 19 points - including five 3-pointers - in Valpo’s win over Purdue Northwest.
Shooting - The Highs and the Lows
- The difference in Valpo’s 3-point shooting in wins versus losses this year is striking - in its nine victories, Valpo is hitting 41.5% from the 3-point line, while in its six losses, Valpo is shooting just 23.8% from deep.
- Valpo has hit more than four 3-pointers just twice in its six losses and has shot better than 29% from deep in a loss just once.
- Meanwhile, in four of its last five wins, Valpo has shot at least 44% from downtown, including a 15-of-27 effort from deep in its win at George Washington and a 12-of-24 performance last time out in the win at Missouri State.
- 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.