The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team put together the program’s best defensive outing in 36 years on Wednesday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center, rolling to a 55-38 victory that snapped visiting Southern Illinois’ seven-game winning streak. On a night where Valpo limited the Salukis to just 23.6 percent shooting, Ben Krikke (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada / Jasper Place) threatened a double-double with a team-high 15 points to go along with seven rebounds. The 38 points marked the fewest allowed by Valpo against a Division-I opponent since 1984.
How It Happened
- Southern Illinois owned an 8-5 edge in the game’s early stages, but Valpo embarked on a 9-0 run to jump ahead by six following a fastbreak basket by Javon Freeman-Liberty (Chicago, Ill. / Whitney Young) at the 13:10 mark.
- The Salukis got within three at 14-11 with 11:24 left in the opening half, but the Valpo defense continued to shine in the sequence that followed. The guests were held without a point until the 3:57 mark, a stretch of seven minutes, 27 seconds without scoring. During that time, Valpo embarked on a 10-point run that made it 24-11.
- Freeman-Liberty and Ryan Fazekas (Chesterton, Ind. / Marquette [Providence]) had midrange jumpers in the final 1:16 of the half to help Valpo go into the break up 12 at 28-16. The Valpo defense held Southern Illinois to just 22.7 percent shooting in the opening half (5-of-22) while the Brown & Gold shot 52 percent (13-of-25). Valpo went 11-of-17 (64.7 percent) from 2-point range in the opening 20 minutes, doing the bulk of its damage from inside the arc.
- The Salukis cut to within nine early in the second half and the lead fluctuated between 10 and 13 from the 15:51 mark to the 9:22 mark. A 6-0 run helped Valpo open up its largest lead of the game at 47-30 after a Krikke dunk with 8:46 on the clock.
- Freeman-Liberty came away with a steal and dunk with 3:35 remaining in the game, lifting the lead back to 17 at 55-38 and placing a final exclamation mark on the victory. Neither team scored over the remaining 3:35, solidifying one of the best defensive nights in program history.
Inside the Game
- The 37 points were the fewest allowed against a Division-I opponent since Jan. 21, 1984, when Valpo edged Green Bay 35-33. Wednesday set the record for the fewest points allowed by a Valpo team since the advent of the shot clock in 1985-86.
- Valpo’s performance tied for 16th in Missouri Valley Conference history since the advent of the shot clock for the fewest points allowed in a conference game.
- The 38 points were the second-fewest scored by the Salukis (15-11, 9-4) in school history since 1950 and the fewest since 36 at Bradley in 1981.
- The 38 points were the fewest scored by any Missouri Valley Conference team this season. The previous low was Loyola’s 39 on Feb. 5 at Indiana State. Wednesday marked the lowest point total by a Valley team since Loyola had 35 on Jan. 23, 2019 vs. Missouri State.
- The 38 points also marked the fewest allowed by a Valley team in any game this year and the fewest since the aforementioned outing by Missouri State last season.
- The 13 made baskets by Southern Illinois were the fewest by any MVC team in conference play this season and the second-fewest by any MVC team in any game. The Salukis had just 10 baskets on Dec. 15 at Missouri.
- Valpo became the first MVC team to allow just 13 made field goals or fewer in a game this season. Bradley previously topped that chart with just 14 field goals allowed vs. North Carolina A&T on Dec. 7.
- The 23.6 percent shooting was the best defensive performance in terms of field-goal percentage by an MVC team this season. The last Missouri Valley Conference team to hold an opponent to that low of a single-game field goal percentage was Drake on Nov. 8, 2018 vs. Division-III Buena Vista.
- Wednesday’s Valpo performance marked the best field-goal percentage defense by any Valley team in a game against a Division-I foe since Wichita State held Cal Poly to 20.7 percent on March 21, 2014. Valpo held SIU to 23.6 percent, the lowest single-game field goal percentage by an MVC team in a conference game since March 2, 2007, when Creighton limited Indiana State to 23.3 percent.
- The 17-point margin of victory was Valpo’s largest in conference play and second-largest against a Division-I opponent this season behind a 22-point win over Central Michigan. Wednesday’s game tied with a 77-60 victory over Drake on Jan. 10, 2018 for Valpo’s most lopsided MVC win since joining the league.
- After he scored 21 points in the first half in the first meeting between the two teams, Southern Illinois star freshman Marcus Domask was limited to two points prior to halftime on Wednesday. Valpo held him to seven points on 2-of-10 shooting for the game.
- Krikke finished with a team-high 15 points and shared the team lead with Freeman-Liberty in rebounds with seven. The freshman forward has led the team in scoring in two of the last four games and three times total this season.
- Freeman-Liberty got to 14 points, his 26th straight game in double figures. He also had two steals to lift his season total to 58, tied with Keith Carter’s 2015-16 season for the fourth in program history. The single-season record is 63 set by Lubos Barton in 2001-02.
- Donovan Clay (Alton, Ill. / Alton) had a career-high five assists and did not commit a turnover.
- McMillan contributed nine points and five rebounds on an efficient 4-of-6 shooting.
- Senior John Kiser (Noblesville, Ind. / Noblesville) led Valpo in the plus-minus department with a +20.
Valpo (13-13, 6-7) will hit the road for back-to-back games, starting with a regionally-televised contest at Illinois State on Saturday night. The contest will tip off at 6 p.m. at Redbird Arena in Normal, Ill. and will air on the MVC TV Network (including NBC Sports Chicago).