Missouri State (14-15, 8-8 MVC)
at Valparaiso (15-14, 8-8 MVC)
Game No. 30 – Tuesday, Feb. 25 – 7 p.m. CT
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) – Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: It’s Senior Night at the Athletics-Recreation Center as Ryan Fazekas and John Kiser will be recognized prior to the game before taking the court for the final home contest of their collegiate careers. The game holds plenty of meaning, as Valpo can secure a first-round bye in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament by winning each of its final two regular season dates. It’s another even matchup on paper as Valpo and Missouri State – two squads that hold .500 MVC records – will square off on Tuesday night.
Last Time Out: Valpo drained its most 3-pointers in a game since 1989 and set the conference record for the most in a Missouri Valley Conference contest, hitting 18 treys on the way to a 90-78 victory over Bradley on Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Valpo trailed by 13 in the first half before roaring back for the victory. Four Valpo players finished in double figures, led by Javon Freeman-Liberty’s 18 points. Ryan Fazekas (17), Mileek McMillan (16) and Eron Gordon (13) all had big scoring nights. Valpo shot 55.6 percent from the field and 64.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. The win allowed Valpo to secure its highest Missouri Valley Conference win total since joining the league with two regular season games to spare.
Following Valpo Basketball: Video – ESPN+ – Todd Ickow (play-by-play), Dave Huseman (analyst), Lauren Wilson (sideline) and Zach Collins (sideline)
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) – Garrett Willis (play-by-play) and Danny Dalenberg (analyst)
Twitter updates - @ValpoBasketball
Links for the audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (69-58) is in his seventh season overall at Valpo and fourth as head coach in 2019-20. Lottich led the team to 15 victories in his third season in charge in 2018-19, the program’s second campaign in the Missouri Valley Conference. In his first year as head coach (2016-17), Lottich guided Valpo to its fifth Horizon League regular season championship in a six-year span as he led the team to 24 wins and an at-large berth into the NIT. Lottich, hired as the 22nd head coach of the Valpo men’s basketball program in April 2016, graduated from Stanford University in 2004 and New Trier High School (Illinois) in 2000.
Series Notes: Valpo is 1-5 against Missouri State since joining the Missouri Valley Conference including a season-ending 83-79 setback on March 1, 2018 at the MVC Tournament in St. Louis. The Brown & Gold hold an 8-19 record in an all-time set with Missouri State (previously known as Southwest Missouri State) that dates all the way back to the 1966-67 campaign.
Missouri State 67, Valpo 60 (Jan. 23): An improved second half was not enough in a 67-60 defeat to MVC preseason favorite Missouri State at JQH Arena earlier this season. Valpo attempted 39 3-point tries – the program’s most since at least the start of the 1989-90 campaign – but hit just 20.5 percent and went 2-of-20 from distance in the first half. Valpo held Missouri State to 6-of-25 (24 percent) shooting after halftime while hitting at a 44.1 percent clip from the field. The guests outscored the Bears 44-31 in the second half, but the 20-point hole through 20 minutes was too much to overcome. Mileek McMillan scored 12 points to lead the team in scoring for the first time in his career, while Javon Freeman-Liberty and Daniel Sackey joined him in double figures with 11 points apiece.
Valpo Versus Preseason Favorites: Valpo enters Tuesday seeking its first win over the Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite since joining the league. Including conference tournament games, Valpo is 0-7 against the team projected to win The Valley, based on the annual preseason survey of the league’s head coaches, media members and sports information directors. The last time Valpo knocked off the preseason favorite in its own conference was March 10, 2015, a 54-44 win over Green Bay in the Horizon League Championship to clinch an NCAA Tournament berth. However, Valpo didn’t have an opportunity to upstage the preseason favorite during the program’s final two seasons in the Horizon League because the Brown & Gold were picked to win the league in each of those years.
Date Opponent Result
Jan. 23, 2020 at Missouri State L 67-60
March 8, 2019 vs. Loyola* L 67-54
Feb. 10, 2019 vs. Loyola L 56-51
Jan. 15, 2019 at Loyola L 71-54
March 1, 2018 vs. Missouri State* L 83-79
Jan. 17, 2018 at Missouri State L 64-57
Dec. 31, 2017 vs. Missouri State L 67-50
*MVC Tournament in St. Louis
Home Cooking: Valpo is 310-73 (.809) at the ARC over the last two and a half decades. Valpo hasn’t finished with a losing mark at the ARC since 1991-92, extending the streak to 28 seasons this year. The Brown & Gold have already secured a double-figure home win total for the ninth time in the last 10 years.
It’s Raining 3s
- Valpo converted 18 3-pointers in a 90-78 win over Bradley on Feb. 22 at the Athletics-Recreation Center, coming one shy of establishing a school record for 3s in a single game while shattering the mark for the most in a Missouri Valley Conference contest.
- The record for 3s by a Valley team in any game is 20, but the previous record in conference play was 17, reached on five occasions.
- It was the most triples Valpo has knocked down in a game since the record-setting night against Butler on Feb. 6, 1989 at the ARC.
- Valpo’s 64.3 percent clip from 3-point range came against a Bradley team that entered the evening allowing opponents to shoot just 29.7 percent from 3 for the season. The Braves were in position to shatter the school mark for 3-point field goal percentage defense and entered the evening with a single-season 3-point field goal percentage defense that ranked fourth in Missouri Valley Conference history.
- The 18 3s tied for the 24th-most nationally in a single game this season.
- Seven of the eight Valpo players who logged at least one minute hit at least one 3-pointer in the game.
- The 18 3s were the most Bradley has permitted in program history.
- Valpo had just set its previous season high for made 3s in a game with 14 on Feb. 19 at Drake.
- Valpo’s previous season high for 3-point field goal percentage was 47.1 percent on Nov. 9 at Saint Louis. The 64.3 percent vs. Bradley marked Valpo’s first game above 50 percent from distance since Dec. 8, 2018 at George Washington. Valpo’s last time above 60 percent was 10-of-16 (62.5 percent) on Jan. 20, 2015 at Youngstown State.
- The performance against the Braves was Valpo’s best 3-point shooting percentage since going 12-of-18 (66.6) on Nov. 10, 2013 vs. North Park. It was the best against a Division-I team since Jan. 18, 2007 at Western Illinois, when Valpo went 12-of-16 for 75 percent from 3.
Putting Up Points
- Valpo’s 90-point output on Feb. 22 vs. Bradley marked the team’s highest point total against a Division-I opponent this season, surpassing 89 on Nov. 12 at SIUE.
- In fact, it was Valpo’s highest single-game point total against a D1 team since scoring 94 on Nov. 15, 2017, also at SIUE.
- It was Valpo’s highest point total in an MVC game since joining the conference and highest in any league game since Jan. 22, 2017, 96 in a Horizon League matchup with UIC.
- The 90 points came against a Bradley team that entered the evening ranked 65th nationally in scoring defense at 65.0 points per game and 19th in field-goal percentage defense at 38.8.
- Valpo improved to 7-0 this season and 29-2 under Lottich when scoring 80 points or more.
Making History Like I Do
Valpo sophomore Javon Freeman-Liberty…
- Has a 65 steals this season, shattering the previous single-season program record set by Lubos Barton (63, 2001-02) that had stood for nearly two decades.
- Has 125 career steals, 20 away from entering the career Top 10.
- Has a chance to finish among The Valley’s all-time leaders for steals in a single season as the threshold to crack the Top 20 is 76.
- Is in position to become the first player to lead the MVC in steals in consecutive seasons since Hersey Hawkins of Bradley did so in 1986, 1987 and 1988.
- Is up to 561 points for the season, putting him on the brink of breaking Alec Peters’ sophomore scoring record of 570 points in 2014-15. That is also the threshold for entrance into Valpo’s all-time Top 10 for points in a single season.
- Has 926 career points, putting him 74 points away from becoming the second player in program history to reach 1,000 points by the end of his sophomore season. If Valpo wins at least one game at Arch Madness, Freeman-Liberty can get to 1,000 by hitting his season scoring average for the remainder of the year.
- Is also approaching the Top 10 in program history for made field goals in a single season. He is currently at 203, with Vern Curtis (1966-67) 10th in program history at 214.
- Needs to get to 609 points to move into a tie with John S. Williams (Indiana State, 1983-84) for the 10th-most points by a sophomore in Missouri Valley Conference history.
- Ranks 16th nationally in steals per game (2.24), 40th in points per game (19.3), ninth in total steals (65), 21st in total points (561), ninth in field goal attempts (460) and 20th in in field goals made (203). Among sophomores, he’s third in steals per game and eighth in points per game.
- Has scored in double figures in all 29 games and is looking to become the first Valpo player in recent memory to hit double figures in the first 30 games of a season. Alec Peters scored in double figures in the first 29 games of his senior year (2016-17) before having it cut short by an injury.
Valpo Single-Season Scoring List
- Bruce Lindner 1969-70 725
- Alec Peters 2015-16 679
- Alec Peters 2016-17 666
- Dick Jones 1966-67 662
- Bryce Drew 1996-97 617
- Bryce Drew 1997-98 613
- Tracy Gipson 1992-93 595
- Dan Oppland 2004-05 577
- Dan Oppland 2005-06 573
- Alec Peters 2014-15 570
Javon Freeman-Liberty 2019-20 561
Sharp Shooter: Ryan Fazekas owns a career 3-point percentage of 45.1, which is the best of any active player in the Missouri Valley Conference (minimum 30 attempts). He has now reached the minimum for career attempts to qualify for the Valpo program record book (150) and is poised to threaten the school record. Samuel Haanpaa (2006-08) owns that mark after finishing his career at 44.5 percent. Fazekas’ current percentage would set the program record for career 3-point percentage if the season ended today. Bryce Drew (1994-98) and Shawn Huff (2004-08) are currently tied for second at 43.5.
Turnaround Talk: Valpo turned a 13-point loss from the Jan. 7 date at Southern Illinois into a 17-point win over the Salukis on Feb. 12. That marked the first time Valpo turned a double-figure defeat from the first meeting into a double-figure win in the second meeting since joining The Valley. The program didn’t have to wait long for the second such instance, as Valpo turned an 80-69 defeat from Jan. 29 at Bradley to a 90-78 victory over the Braves on Feb. 22 at the ARC. Before this season, Valpo hadn’t lost the first game of a conference double-round robin by double figures and turned it around to win the second matchup by double figures since 2008-09 in Horizon League play against Loyola.
Year Opponent First Mtg Second Mtg
2019-20 Bradley -11 +12
2019-20 SIU -13 +17
2018-19 Bradley +11 -25
2016-17 Green Bay +24 -17
2013-14 Green Bay +15 -14
2011-12 Youngstown +14 -18
2010-11 Loyola +10 -20
2008-09 Loyola -15 +24
- Valpo has come from double figures down to either win or force overtime in three consecutive games.
- This a season-long trend of the team erasing deficits. Five times this year including three in conference play, Valpo has come from double figures down to win.
- Valpo has come back to tie or take the lead after trailing by double figures 10 times this year.
- During Matt Lottich’s head coaching tenure (only his fourth season), Valpo has trailed by double figures and won on 14 occasions. Valpo has led by double figures and lost just once in that span, this season at UNI.
- The 90-78 victory over Bradley on Feb. 22 marked the sixth time under Lottich and second time this season Valpo has trailed by double figures and gone on to win by double figures. This was the second time in the last three years that Bradley has led by double figures at the ARC and lost the game by double figures. In 2017-18, the Braves led by as many as 10 in an eventual 77-64 Valpo win.
Erasing Double-Figure Deficits Under Lottich
Year Opponent Largest Deficit Outcome
2019-20 Bradley 13 W 90-78
2019-20 Illinois State* 17 W 65-62
2019-20 Indiana State 11 W 86-77
2019-20 SIUE 10 W 89-76
2019-20 Toledo 14 W 79-77
2018-19 Illinois State 12 W 58-56
2018-19 George Washington 10 W 82-79
2018-19 UNLV 11 W 72-64
2017-18 Bradley 10 W 77-64
2017-18 UNCW 10 W 79-70
2016-17 Wright State 10 W 84-74
2016-17 Cleveland State 12 W 78-67
2016-17 BYU 12 W 92-89
2016-17 Trinity Christian 16 W 89-75
*largest comeback since Jan. 17, 2012 vs. Detroit Mercy
Other Notes Wrapping Up Bradley (Feb. 22)
- Valpo handed out 24 assists, tying with the Dec. 8 game vs. Central Michigan for the team’s highest total against a Division-I opponent this season. Valpo racked up 29 helpers against Trinity Christian on Nov. 27.
- The 24 assists tied with Loyola on Feb. 19 vs. Illinois State for the most in a Missouri Valley Conference game this season. It was Valpo’s second-highest assist total in a conference game since joining The Valley behind 25 vs. Drake on Jan. 10, 2018.
- Donovan Clay set a career high with six assists to lead the team. He broke his previous mark of five set on Feb. 12 vs. Southern Illinois.
- Javon Freeman-Liberty pulled down a team-high seven rebounds, his eighth time in the last nine games with seven rebounds or more. Freeman-Liberty led the team in scoring for the 18th time this season, doing so with an 18-point performance.
- Home teams improved to 9-0 in the all-time series between Valpo and Bradley.
- Ryan Fazekas scored 17 points, his highest scoring output since his career high of 23 on Nov. 5 vs. Toledo, the first game of the season.
- Donovan Clay reached double figures for the fifth time in the last eight games.
- Mileek McMillan scored 16 points to lift his total to 36 points over the last two games. He has been in double figures in seven of the last 12 games.
- Eron Gordon went 4-for-4 from 3 in the first half and finished with 13 points.
- Bradley turned it over only three times, the program’s second-best turnover total since the shot clock was implemented.
- After entering the night with a league-best 8.3 steals per game, Valpo had just one steal, a season low. It was Valpo’s first game with fewer than two steals since Nov. 25, 2011, when the team had one steal in a game at No. 3 Ohio State.
Scouting the Bears
- Coming off a 74-62 home victory over Loyola on Saturday. Keandre Cook led the way with 21 points.
- Under the direction of second-year head coach Dana Ford, who led his team to a third-place finish in his first year in Springfield.
- Tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference, collecting 29 first-place votes.
- Tulio Da Silva was named to the MVC Preseason First Team, Cook to the second team and Gaige Penn and Lamont West to the third team.
- Led in scoring by Cook at 14.8 points per game, while Da Silva leads the team at 7.0 rebounds per contest.
Senior Night Special
- Ryan Fazekas and John Kiser will play in their final collegiate home game on Tuesday. The duo will be recognized during a pregame ceremony and both will speak to the audience following the contest.
- Senior managers Morgan Fifield and Ryan Lane will also be honored, as well as seniors from the pep band, cheerleaders and Crusaderettes.
- Kiser is the only four-year member of the program and the first four-year player of Matt Lottich’s head coaching career.
- Valpo holds a 24-4 record in its final home game of the season over the last 28 years. However, the home slate has ended on a sour note each of the last two seasons as Evansville (2019) and UNI (2018) have spoiled senior day with road victories.
McMillan From Distance: Valpo junior Mileek McMillan scored a career-high 20 points on Feb. 19 at Drake, shattering his previous mark of 16 set on Nov. 17 of this season against North Dakota. He tied Eron Gordon (Dec. 18 at High Point) for the most 3-pointers made by a Valpo player in a game this season by draining six in the overtime defeat to the Bulldogs. McMillan became the first Valpo player to convert a half a dozen 3s in a conference game since Ryan Fazekas on Jan. 5, 2019 at Missouri State. McMillan became just the fourth Missouri Valley Conference player to hit six or more 3s in a league game this season, joining UNI’s A.J. Green (three times), Illinois State’s Zach Copeland and Bradley’s Nate Kennell. McMillan had previously made no more than four 3s in any of his first 88 career games. McMillan entered the season with 32 career made 3s over 101 contests, and now has made 25 3s in 15 games in MVC play.
Tight Battles: Valpo dropped to 6-5 in games decided by five points or fewer with the two-point loss at Drake on Feb. 19. It was Valpo’s seventh game of the season decided by three points or fewer, with the team 4-3 in such contests and five decided by two points or fewer. This season marks Valpo’s largest number of games decided by three points or fewer since also having seven such contests in 2014-15.
Working Overtime: Valpo played its third overtime game of the season with the 77-75 loss at Drake on Feb. 19 and the team’s first extra session since an 81-79 win at Evansville on Jan. 4. Valpo also played OT on Nov. 25 vs. Cincinnati in the U.S. Virgin Islands, losing 81-77.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Drake (Feb. 19)
- Ryan Fazekas knocked down four 3s and finished with 14 points, tying his high since returning from injury on Jan. 23 at Missouri State. It was the third time this season he’s drained a quartet of treys in a game. He’s been in double figures in four of his last seven.
- Mileek McMillan led the team in scoring for the fourth time in the last nine games. Before leading the way on Jan. 23 at Missouri State, he hadn’t been the team’s leading scorer in any of his 79 career games.
- McMillan became the first Valpo player other than Javon Freeman-Liberty with a 20-point game since Donovan Clay finished with 21 on Dec. 30 vs. Loyola.
- Clay scored 15 points to finish in double figures for the fourth time in the last seven games.
- Javon Freeman-Liberty’s 19 points allowed him to finish in double figures for the 28th straight game. Alec Peters scored in double figures in the first 29 games of the season during his senior year (2016-17) before having it cut short by an injury, the largest number of consecutive games in double figures by a Valpo player in recent memory.
- Freeman-Liberty led Valpo in assists with six and pulled down seven rebounds, his seventh time in the last eight games with seven boards or more. He also had two steals and tied a career high with two blocked shots, his first multi-block game of the season.
- Drake had 34 free-throw attempts, the most by a Valpo opponent all season, surpassing 31 by Arkansas on Dec. 21. The 34 attempts by the Bulldogs were the second-most in a Valley game this season behind Drake’s 42 on Feb. 16 vs. Evansville. It was the most free-throw attempts by a Valpo opponent since UNI had 38 on Jan. 13, 2018.
- Drake outscored Valpo 16-0 on second-chance points.
- Valpo went just 1-of-6 from the field in overtime, shooting 16.7 percent.
- Eron Gordon had five rebounds, tying a season high.
Another Valley Honor: For his efforts in the Valpo victories over Southern Illinois and Illinois State, Freeman-Liberty was awarded the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week on Feb. 17. He averaged 19.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game over the two contests leading up to the honor. That marked the third time this season Freeman-Liberty has received MVC Player of the Week honors.
JFL Doing JFL Things: Javon Freeman-Liberty worked his magic on Feb. 15 at Illinois State, propelling the team to the 65-62 victory from 17 points down. He scored 19 of his game-high 25 points after halftime, going 8-of-9 from the field after the break. He finished with a career-high five steals including two in the final 15 seconds while also totaling seven rebounds and three assists. It was Freeman-Liberty’s seventh game this season with 25 points or more, his 13th game with 20+ points and at the time his 27th straight game with 10 points or more.
Increased Thievery: Valpo swiped 11 steals in the Feb. 15 game at Illinois State, already the team’s ninth game this season with 10 steals or more and 16th with nine steals or more. By comparison, Valpo had just four games a year ago with nine steals or more and two with double-figure steal totals. As a team, Valpo has 8.0 steals per game, up from 6.1 last season. Valpo currently leads the Missouri Valley Conference in steals.
Defense Dominates: The accomplishments of the Valpo defense were numerous in the 55-38 victory over Southern Illinois on Feb. 12 at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
- 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 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.
Cruising to Victory: Blowout victories in league play have been hard to come by since Valpo joined the Missouri Valley Conference given the quality of the competition. But the Feb. 12 triumph over Southern Illinois was a rare exception with Valpo rolling to the 55-38 win. The 17-point margin of victory equaled Valpo’s largest since joining the conference. The team previously topped Drake 77-60 on Jan. 10, 2018. It was also Valpo’s second-largest margin of victory against a Division-I team this year behind a 22-point win over Central Michigan.
Enough to Win: Valpo didn’t put on a scoring clinic in the Feb. 12 game against Southern Illinois, but the 55 points were more than enough to emerge victorious. Valpo improved to 1-4 this season and 3-25 under Matt Lottich when scoring fewer than 60 points. Two of the three victories under Lottich when scoring under 60 have come against Southern Illinois at the Athletics-Recreation Center as Valpo beat the Salukis 55-52 last season. The other such win was 58-56 over Illinois State to start conference play last year. Over the last five seasons, Valpo has just two victories when scoring 55 points or fewer, both against Southern Illinois. The last time Valpo prevailed with a lower point total was 54-44 over Green Bay in the 2015 Horizon League Championship to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Setting the Tone: Valpo set the tone for the memorable defensive evening in the first half on Feb. 12 vs. Southern Illinois, holding the Salukis to 16 points. Previously, Valpo’s best defensive half in conference play this season was allowing 23 points against Evansville and the season low was 22 permitted against Central Michigan. The 16 points were the low for a Valpo opponent in a half since the team held Milwaukee to 16 in the 2017 Horizon League Tournament. (We’ll whisper this part: The Panthers led 16-12 at halftime of that game.) The 16 points tied for the fewest allowed by Valpo in a half since March 22, 2016, when the team limited St. Mary’s to 13 points after halftime in an NIT game at the ARC.
Lofting Up Treys: Valpo had 39 3-point attempts in the Jan. 23 game at Missouri State, tying for the fifth most in a single game in the history of the Missouri Valley Conference. It was the most 3-point attempts by a Valpo team since at least the 1989-90 season and the most by any Valley team since Drake tossed up 42 3-point attempts against Western Kentucky on March 21, 2008. Before that, no Valley squad had jacked up 39 or more treys since Jan. 27, 1999 when Drake did so against Missouri State. In addition, the 39 attempts tied for the most by a Valley team in a league-only game.
The JQH Arena Arc: The last two times Valpo teams have played in JQH Arena, there has been no shortage of attempts from 3-point distance. The Valpo women set the arena record for 3-point tries with 40 on Jan. 27 of last season before the Valpo men set a men’s arena record with 39 attempts on Jan. 23 of this season in Springfield.
Ryan Returns: Valpo senior Ryan Fazekas returned from his wrist injury on Jan. 23 at Missouri State, coming back after being sidelined for 17 games. In his first game back, he scored six points by knocking down a pair of 3s before fouling out. Prior to the return against the Bears, Fazekas had played in just 22 of 52 games over the last two seasons while battling various ailments.
#SCTop10 Again: Javon Freeman-Liberty slammed home a poster dunk in the first half of this season’s game at Southern Illinois, gaining national attention as the play appeared on ESPN throughout the evening. The play checked in at No. 5 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, marking the second time this season that the program has been featured on the daily countdown, as Daniel Sackey had the No. 9 play for an August buzzer-beater to top Carleton as part of the program’s foreign tour. Since Valpo joined the Missouri Valley Conference, the University has been featured on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays on seven occasions spanning five sports – men’s basketball (three times), women’s basketball, softball, men’s soccer and volleyball.
Stopping the Streak: With Valpo’s 81-79 overtime victory over Evansville on Jan. 4, the team stopped a five-game head-to-head losing streak against the Aces and garnered its first win against Evansville since joining the Missouri Valley Conference (previously 0-4). But most noteworthy of all was the 22-game losing skid in games played at Evansville that came to an end. Matt Lottich became the first Valpo coach to win at Evansville since the legendary Gene Bartow led his team to a 101-95 victory on Feb. 1, 1969. During the years (or more accurately, decades) between those victories, five Valpo coaches went winless in the River City: Bill Purden (0-6), Ken Rochlitz (0-3), Tom Smith (0-5), Homer Drew (0-4) and Bryce Drew (0-1). No member of the Valpo team or coaching staff was alive the last time the program won in Evansville before Saturday.
Leading the League
- This marked the second time in the last three years Valpo entered Valley play as the conference leader in steals per game (8.7) after also doing so in 2017-18 (7.8 spg).
- Javon Freeman-Liberty became the first Valpo player to enter conference action as the league’s leading scorer since 2016-17, when Alec Peters started Horizon League play at 25.5 points per game.
- Freeman-Liberty was also the first Valpo player to enter conference play leading the way in steals since 2016-17, when Lexus Williams topped the Horizon League at 1.8 per game.
- This was the first time Valpo started conference action atop the statistical leaderboard in assists (16.7 apg) since 2011-12, when Valpo started Horizon League action averaging 14.7 assists per game.
- Freeman-Liberty is trying to become the first player to lead The Valley in both scoring and steals since Drake’s Curt Smith in 1993. In addition, he is attempting to become the first play to lead the MVC in steals in consecutive seasons since Hersey Hawkins of Bradley did so in 1986, 1987 and 1988.
- Valpo is trying to become the first Valley team to lead the league in both assists and steals since Bradley in 2008.
Points Upon Points: Valpo finished the nonconference schedule with a scoring average of 76.3, the team’s highest nonconference scoring average since entering the 2013-14 league slate at 77.1. The team currently sits at 75.4 points per game, up from 66.8 a year ago.
Winning Ways: Thanks to the Dec. 18 win at High Point, Valpo locked up a winning record during the nonconference portion of the schedule for the 10th consecutive season. The last time Valpo entered the conference slate with a sub-.500 mark was 2009-10, when Valpo went 5-7 prior to the start of Horizon League action.
A Flair for the Dramatic: Valpo added a new name to its long list of late-game heroes in the program’s storied history during the Nov. 5 season opener vs. Toledo as Javon Freeman-Liberty knocked down an off-balance 15-footer from the left elbow with 3.7 seconds left in a 79-77 victory at the Athletics-Recreation Center. That marked the 24th time since the start of the 1992-93 season Valpo has prevailed on a game-winner in the final five seconds. Although it was the first game of the regular season, it was already the second time Valpo has won in dramatic fashion this year as Daniel Sackey’s overtime buzzer-beater lifted the team past Canadian powerhouse Carleton 83-80 in overtime on its foreign tour in August.
Nonconference Highlights: Valpo’s nonconference schedule was highlighted by seven opponents that qualified for the postseason last year. Here are a few of the opponents that highlighted the 13-game docket that led into the start of Missouri Valley Conference action.
- Toledo (Nov. 5) went 25-8 last season including a 13-5 conference mark. The Rockets went to the NIT a year ago and have won back-to-back MAC West Division titles.
- Saint Louis (Nov. 9) has made four NCAA Tournament appearances in the last decade and went 23-13 in 2018-19 on its way to the Atlantic 10 Tournament title.
- Grand Canyon (Nov. 22) went 20-14 overall and 10-6 in the WAC last season, qualifying for the postseason with a CBI berth. The Lopes have reached the WAC title game and qualified for the postseason in each of their first two years as a Division-I postseason eligible team.
- Nevada (Nov. 24) went 29-5 and 15-3 in the Mountain West last season on the way to an NCAA Tournament appearance.
- Cincinnati (Nov. 25) posted a 28-7 (14-4 American) record last season, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.
- Central Michigan (Dec. 8) enjoyed a 23-12 overall record and 10-8 MAC mark last season, winning two games in the MAC Tournament and qualifying for the CBI. The 23 victories tied the program’s highest total in 16 years.
- Arkansas (Dec. 21) closed out Valpo’s nonleague schedule in North Little Rock. The Razorbacks, members of the SEC, reached the second round of the NIT last season and finished 18-16 overall. Against one of the top teams nationally in the NET rankings, Valpo led by eight with under eight minutes remaining, but fell 72-68.
Wrapping Up Canada
- Valpo finished its four-game Canadian Foreign Tour from Aug. 10-14 with an unblemished mark after notching wins over McGill (84-78), Concordia (94-90), Carleton (83-80, OT) and the University of Quebec (81-68).
- Valpo battled from 90-80 down with 4:56 to play to top Concordia 94-90 in Montreal on Aug. 11 thanks to a game-closing 14-0 run.
- The highlight of the tour came on Aug. 13, when Winnipeg native Daniel Sackey drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to top Carleton 83-80 in overtime.
- Valpo stopped Canadian powerhouse Carleton’s 15-game winning streak against NCAA Division-I teams that included triumphs over USF, Ole Miss, Providence, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt and Alabama.
- The Sackey buzzer-beater was No. 9 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays that evening.
- Javon Freeman-Liberty scored a team-high 18.8 points per game during the Canada journey, while Donovan Clay and Mileek McMillan shared the team lead by averaging 5.3 boards apiece. Sackey averaged 15.0 points per game during the trip.
- Javon Freeman-Liberty and Ryan Fazekas both earned All-MVC Second Team honors.
- They joined Tevonn Walker (2017) as the only Valpo players to be tabbed preseason all-MVC since joining the conference.
- The last time Valpo had multiple players on the preseason all-league first or second teams in the same season was 2016, when Alec Peters and Shane Hammink were first and second team Horizon League preseason picks, respectively.
- Valpo was picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll, based on a survey of the conference’s head coaches, sports information directors and media. Missouri State was named the preseason favorite.
Wrapping Up 2018-2019
- Valpo moved up two spots in the standings from Year 1 to Year 2 in the Missouri Valley Conference while also earning its first Arch Madness victory by beating Indiana State 77-55 in the opening round of the MVC Tournament.
- Valpo allowed 66.3 points per game, ranking 48th of 351 nationally in scoring defense.
- The team finished with 15 victories for the second straight season including nonconference triumphs over UNLV and George Washington. Valpo started 4-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play, but finished the year 15-18 overall and 7-11 in league action.
New Year, New Look
- Valpo has five returning letter winners after seven letter winners departed following the 2018-19 campaign.
- Valpo has 40.1 percent of its scoring and 35.7 percent of its rebounding back from last season.
- The five returning letter winners are Valpo’s fewest since the 2013-14 campaign, when Jordan Coleman, LaVonte Dority, Bobby Capobianco and Vashil Fernandez were the only players back from the previous season.
- Associate head coach Luke Gore is in his 18th year on staff and has served under four different head coaches. The Valpo veteran has helped the team to seven postseason berths in the last nine years and was on staff for the three winningest seasons in program history. He oversees the team’s post players.
- Assistant coach Rob Holloway is back for his second season after spending the previous two years on staff at Eastern Illinois, his alma mater.
- Assistant coach Matt Bowen returned to Valpo’s staff in 2018-19 after previously spending four seasons with the Brown & Gold from 2002-2006. He was the head coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth from 2012-2018.
- Director of Basketball Operations Jason Karys is in his first season in that capacity, but has been around the program in a variety of roles, spending two years as a graduate assistant, one as a walk-on player and three as a manager.
- Strength & Conditioning Coach Derek Bol is in his eighth season. He is a 2010 graduate of Iowa State.
- Graduate Assistant Peter Funk has taken that role after three years as an undergraduate manager.
- Athletic trainer Ken DeAngelis is in his first season full-time at Valpo after previously earning his master’s degree from the University in 2012 while spending two years as a graduate assistant athletic trainer.
Tradition of Excellence
- Valpo has 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and four NIT berths in the program’s proud history, with the team’s postseason success highlighted by a Sweet Sixteen run in 1998.
- The program has produced nine All-Americans, won 18 regular season conference championships and 10 conference tournament crowns.
- Valpo also boasts eight NBA players, 10 conference players of the year and 20 20-win seasons.
- Nine of the team’s NCAA appearances have come since 1996.
- Valpo has qualified for the postseason seven times in the last nine years, but enters 2019-20 seeking its first postseason tournament berth since playing in the NIT to conclude the 2016-17 season.
- Valpo has developed a myriad of professional basketball players over the last quarter century, most notably a pair of NBA players in the last three years.
- Ryan Broekhoff (class of 2013) signed a contract with the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2018 after spending five seasons playing internationally in Russia and Turkey.
- Broekhoff tallied a season-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor (3-5 3PT) in 22 minutes of action Jan. 5 in a 106-100 loss against Philadelphia. Broekhoff played in 42 games during the 2018-19 season.
- Alec Peters (class of 2017) was the 54th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns.
- Peters appeared in 20 games for the Suns in 2017-18, highlighted by a 36-point performance in the season finale against Dallas - a new single-game high by a Valpo alum in the NBA.
- Peters won a championship with CSKA Moscow in Russia in 2018-19. He signed a one-year contract with Anadolu Efes in Turkish BSL on July 9, 2019.
- 2018 Valpo graduate Tevonn Walker plays for Hamburg in German BBL. Walker’s classmate Max Joseph signed a contract with Nassjo Basket in Sweden following his time at Valpo.
- 2017 product Jubril Adekoya plays for Carramimbre CBC Valladolid in Spanish LEB Gold.
- Cory Johnson (2011) signed with Penarol in Argentina.
- Keith Carter, who rounded out his Valpo career in 2016, played in the 2019 NBA Summer League with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
- Valpo has now produced 50 pro basketball players over the last 25 years.
#0 Javon Freeman-Liberty, So. (Chicago, Ill.)
- Shattered the Valpo record for steals in a single season on Feb. 19 at Drake, grabbing his 64th of the year to shatter the mark set by Lubos Barton in 2001-02. Finished the game with 19 points, a team-high six assists, seven rebounds, two steals and a season-high two blocks before fouling out late in regulation of an overtime defeat.
- Was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season on Feb. 17.
- Scored 19 points in the second half alone as part of a game-high 25 points in a Feb. 15 victory at Illinois State to help Valpo come from 17 down to win 65-62. He also had seven rebounds, three assists and tied a career high with five steals.
- Made a career-high eight free throws in a victory over Evansville on Jan. 26.
- Had the highest home scoring output of his career with a 25-point, eight-rebound night in a Jan. 18 victory over Indiana State. In the process, he became the 11th player in the nation to surpass the 400-point mark this season. He made a career-high seven free throws in that game.
- Already surpassed his season point total from his freshman campaign on Jan. 15 at UNI, turning in a 28-point, eight-rebound, four-steal outing to lead the team in all three categories.
- Named to the Lou Henson Award (mid-major player of the year) Watch List on Jan. 9.
- Made an appearance on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays on Jan. 7, checking in at No. 5 thanks to a poster dunk in a game at Southern Illinois.
- Enjoyed his fourth game this season with 25 points or more in an overtime win at Evansville on Jan. 5.
- Had his 14th straight game in double figures with 10 points and a career-high seven assists on Dec. 30 vs. Loyola.
- Led Valpo in scoring for the 10th consecutive game against D-I opponents with 21 to go along with seven rebounds, six assists and four steals on Dec. 21 at Arkansas in Little Rock. Tied a career high in assists in that contest.
- Led the team with 22 points despite being limited to 27 minutes due to early foul trouble in a Dec. 18 win at High Point. Put an exclamation point on the victory with a highlight-reel dunk late in the game.
- Poured in a team-high 28 points while equaling a career high with five steals on Dec. 3 at Eastern Michigan.
- Was named the MVC Player of the Week for the second time in a three-week span on Dec. 2.
- Started the season with seven straight games of 19 points or more, joining Alec Peters (2016-17) as the only Valpo players to accomplish that feat in that last 30 years. Saw that streak snapped when he scored 12 points in just 18 minutes on Nov. 27 vs. NAIA Trinity Christian.
- Averaged 25.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game during three contests at the Paradise Jam event (Nov. 22-25), earning all-tournament team honors. His success came against three quality teams in Grand Canyon, Nevada and Cincinnati, including a career-high 32 points in an overtime defeat to the Bearcats on Nov. 25.
- Stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, nine rebounds, four steals and a career-high five assists on Nov. 17 vs. North Dakota.
- Had a career-high 30 points while also pulling down 13 rebounds in a Nov. 12 win at SIUE. He became the second Valpo player in the last 20 seasons with a 30&10 game, joining Alec Peters (six times).
- Scored 14 points in a span of 4 minutes, 23 seconds on Nov. 9 at SLU and finished the game with 19, marking the first sequence of back-to-back games with 19 points or more in his career.
- Started the year with a 19-point, five-rebound effort in a 79-77 victory over Toledo on Nov. 5. That culminated with an off-balance 15 footer with 3.7 seconds left that gave Valpo the lead and the win.
- Member of the 2018-19 MVC All-Freshman Team, 2018-19 MVC All-Defensive Team and 2019-20 MVC Preseason Second Team.
- Finished the 2018-19 season with 60 steals, the third most in single-season program history behind only Lubos Barton in 2001-02 and Scott Anselm in 1988-89.
- Accumulated 364 points in 2018-19, surpassing Bryce Drew’s freshman campaign for the fourth-most by a freshman in program history.
- Pulled down 142 rebounds in 2018-19, the fifth-most by a freshman in the history of the program.
- Joined Lubos Barton as one of just two rookies in program history with top five freshman marks in scoring, rebounding and steals.
- Became the first Valpo freshman to lead a conference in one of the five major statistical categories and the first Valpo player since at least 1982 to pace a conference in steals.
- Collects shoes and has over 150 pairs.
#1 Sigurd Lorange, Fr. (Trondheim, Norway)
- Is out for the season with a hip flexor injury.
- Set career highs in points (11) and assists (four) while knocking down four of his six shots and canning three 3s on Nov. 27 vs. Trinity Christian.
- Made his collegiate debut on Nov. 9 at Saint Louis, then scored his first collegiate basket on Nov. 12 at SIUE, a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half.
- Before coming to Valpo, played for Gimle Basketball in the BLNO, Norway’s top professional basketball league.
- Helped lead Gimle to a league runner-up finish, averaging nearly 20 points and better than four assists.
- Averaged 17.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game for Norway at the U18s in 2018.
#2 Zion Morgan, R-Jr. (Chicago, Ill.)
- Scored seven points and pulled down five rebounds in 12 minutes of action in a Feb. 1 win over Illinois State. The point total was his D1 best and matched his overall career high set against Trinity Christian.
- Made his first career start on Jan. 18 vs. Indiana State, pulling down six rebounds in just 18 minutes.
- After a healthy DNP in the previous game, responded with five points, two steals and a team-high five assists on Jan. 15 at UNI. That equaled his season high in helpers.
- Pulled down six rebounds on Jan. 7 at Southern Illinois, his second-highest total of the season.
- Grabbed a career-high nine rebounds in only 13 minutes on Dec. 21 at Arkansas, also tossing in four points.
- Pulled down a season-high four rebounds in just 10 minutes in a Dec. 8 victory over Central Michigan.
- Had season highs in points (seven), assists (five) and steals (four) on Nov. 27 vs. Trinity Christian.
- Previously played at UNLV (2016-17) and Wabash Valley College (2017-18 & 2018-19), leading the Warriors to a 25-8 record last season.
- Was teammates with Valpo’s Nick Robinson at Kenwood Academy in Chicago.
- Uncle Mardy Gilyard was a wide receiver at Cincinnati and was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
#3 Brock Pappas, So. (Valparaiso, Ind.)
- Grabbed his first career rebound in a Dec. 8 win over Central Michigan.
- Made his collegiate debut on Nov. 27 vs. Trinity Christian, playing the final four minutes of a win over the Trolls.
- Nursing major who joined the program as a walk-on in 2018-19.
- Is a Valparaiso, Ind. native and a graduate of nearby Washington Township.
- Mother (Lisa) has worked on Valpo’s campus for 32 years, currently serving as an administrative assistant in the Department of Education. Brother (Bryce) and father (Steve) are both Valpo graduates, and his brother was named after Bryce Drew.
#4 Daniel Sackey, So. (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
- Came off the bench for the first time this season on Feb. 9 at Loyola.
- Had his third straight double-figure scoring game on Jan. 26 vs. Evansville, posting a dozen points for his highest scoring output since late November in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Despite battling an illness leading into the game and missing morning shootaround, had 10 points on Jan. 15 at UNI, his first double-figure output since Dec. 18 at High Point and his fourth of the season.
- Became the second player in the Missouri Valley Conference with three or more eight-assist games and the first with a nine-assist, no-turnover performance this season on Dec. 18 at High Point. He set a career high in the assist area while also scoring 11 points, going 6-of-8 at the foul line and drawing six fouls.
- Tied career highs in assists (8) and steals (4) on Dec. 3 at Eastern Michigan.
- Had his second straight six-rebound effort on Nov. 25 vs. Nevada, equaling a personal best.
- Made four critical free throws down the stretch and pulled down a significant rebound to put Valpo over the top in a 78-74 victory over Grand Canyon on Nov. 22 in the Paradise Jam opener. He finished the game with 12 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals including a 6-of-7 showing at the foul line. The six boards marked a career watermark.
- Led the team in assists for the fourth straight game on Nov. 17 vs. North Dakota, enjoying his third game with six assists or more.
- Dished out a career-high eight assists in the regular-season opener on Nov. 5 vs. Toledo.
- Had usurped his career scoring watermark by halftime and finished the Nov. 9 game at Saint Louis with personal bests in points (22), made field goals (7), made 3-pointers (3) and made free throws (5), becoming the first player to go perfect from beyond the arc with three or more attempts since Max Joseph on Jan. 20, 2018, the only other player to do so in the last four seasons.
- Made a buzzer-beater to upstage Canadian powerhouse Carleton in overtime in August, making an appearance on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays at No. 9 that evening.
- Has been a drummer since elementary school. The basement of his family’s home in Canada includes a small recording studio. He has a deep passion for music.
- Became just the sixth Manitoban to earn a scholarship in Division-I men’s basketball since the NCAA reorganized into its current competitive format in 1973.
#5 Donovan Clay, Fr. (Alton, Ill.)
- Set a career high with six assists on Feb. 22 vs. Bradley.
- Reached double figures for the fourth time in seven games by posting 15 points on Feb. 19 at Drake.
- Notched a career-high three blocked shots while contributing eight points in a win on Feb. 15 at Illinois State.
- Had a career-high five assists and did not commit a turnover, pacing the team in assists in the Feb. 12 win over Southern Illinois.
- Scored 13 second-half points to finish with 15 on his birthday on Jan. 29 at Bradley. It was the highest scoring output in a road game in his collegiate career.
- Finished with a team-high eight rebounds while notching his fifth multi-block game of the season on Jan. 23 at Missouri State.
- Scored 18 points on Jan. 18 vs. Indiana State, making it three straight conference home games with 18 points or more.
- Enjoyed an 18-point, seven-rebound performance on Jan. 11 vs. Drake, leading the team in both areas. He went 7-for-7 at the free-throw line after entering that game just 4-of-13 at the stripe all season.
- Established a career best with nine rebounds, including six offensive boards, on Jan. 7 at Southern Illinois.
- Reached double figures for the seventh time in eight games on Jan. 4 at Evansville, contributing 10 points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds, his highest total on the boards in a game against a Division-I opponent.
- Became the first Valpo player since 1998 to go perfect from the field with eight or more field goal attempts while scoring a career-high 21 points on Dec. 30 vs. Loyola.
- Scored in double figures for the fifth straight game by posting 10 on 4-of-7 shooting in a Dec. 18 win at High Point.
- Had his fourth consecutive double-figure scoring output on Dec. 16 at Charlotte, posting 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. He knocked down three 3-pointers and blocked a pair of shots. It was his first career multi-block effort and the first time in his young career he hit multiple 3-pointers in a game. His assist total tied his personal best.
- Had his third straight double-figure scouting output with 10 points, all in the first half, on Dec. 8 vs. Central Michigan.
- Had his second straight double-figure output by adding 11 points on Dec. 3 at Eastern Michigan.
- Filled the stat sheet with career highs in points (16), rebounds (8) and assists (4) on Nov. 27 vs. Trinity Christian.
- Had the first double-figure scoring output of his collegiate career in a win over Grand Canyon, also matching a season best with his second-straight four-rebound game.
- Made his first home start and had career highs in assists and rebounds with four of each on Nov. 17 vs. North Dakota.
- Made his first career start in a game near his hometown of Alton, Ill. on Nov. 12 at SIUE, scoring five points and grabbing three boards.
- Knocked down a 3-pointer and collected three rebounds on Nov. 9 at Saint Louis, a game played near his hometown of Alton, Ill.
- Made his collegiate debut and scored his first collegiate basket on Nov. 5 vs. Toledo
- After senior year of high school: 4A First Team All-State, member of All-Metro First Team, honorable mention Associate Press All-State, Riverbend Boys Basketball Player of the Year, the Telegraph Large Schools Boys Basketball Player of the Year, named the “biggest sleeper” in the state of Illinois by the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Had a late growth spurt in high school, going from 6-foot-3 as a junior to 6-7 as a senior.
- Father Dexter, who is his role model, played college basketball at Rend Lake Junior College.
#10 Eron Gordon, R-Jr. (Indianapolis, Ind.)
- Went 4-for-4 from 3, all in the first half, to contribute to Valpo MVC record-setting 18 made 3s on Feb. 22 vs. Bradley. He finished with 13 points.
- Had his second four-steal game of the season on Jan. 23 at Missouri State.
- Scored 12 points and handed out a career-high three assists despite playing much of the game with a bandage after suffering a cut to the head in the first half of the Jan. 18 game vs. Indiana State.
- Led the team with a personal-best four steals on Jan. 7 at Southern Illinois.
- Went 4-of-5 from the field and drained three 3s in an 11-point, five-rebound performance on Jan. 4 at Evansville. That allowed him to reach double figures for the fifth time in the last eight games.
- Knocked down six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 20 points on Dec. 18 at High Point. He became just the sixth Missouri Valley Conference player to net six treys in a single game this season and the first Valpo player with more than four in a contest in 2019-20.
- Had his first five-rebound game in a Valpo uniform on Dec. 16 at Charlotte.
- Had a season-high 14 points while going perfect from both the floor (4-for-4) and the foul line (4-for-4) while playing 20 quality minutes off the bench in a Dec. 8 victory over Central Michigan.
- Reached double figures for the first time in his Valpo career on Nov. 27 vs. Trinity Christian, scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting while draining a pair of 3s.
- Knocked down all three of his shot attempts and totaled nine points and three steals on Nov. 25 in an overtime loss vs. Cincinnati.
- Made his Valpo debut on Nov. 5 vs. Toledo, seeing six minutes of action.
- Joined the program in 2018-19 but sat out due to transfer rules. Appeared in 48 games over his two years at Seton Hall.
- Oldest brother Eric was the seventh pick of the 2008 NBA Draft and has played 11 seasons in the NBA. Father Eric is one of the Top 20 all-time scorers at Liberty. Brother Evan is playing in the CBA after scoring over 1,300 points at the Division-I level at Liberty, Arizona State and Indiana.
- Adds to Valpo’s recent history of NBA connections after Derrik Smits, Shane Hammink and Chandler Levingston Simon all had fathers who played in the NBA. Javon Freeman-Liberty’s uncle played in the NBA, while Valpo women’s basketball player Ella Ellenson is the brother of Henry.
#11 Emil Freese-Vilien, Fr. (Copenhagen, Denmark)
- Had a season-best five points on Nov. 27 vs. Trinity Christian.
- Made his collegiate debut on his birthday in the Nov. 5 game vs. Toledo by contributing four points, three rebounds and two assists.
- Started playing basketball in November 2014 after playing badminton during his younger years.
- Played for Denmark at both the U16 and U18 FIBA Euro Championships in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
- Shortly before coming to Valpo, played for Vaerlose in the Danish Basketligaen, the highest professional league in Denmark.
#15 Luke Morrill, Fr. (Lombard, Ill.)
- Made his collegiate debut by playing the final four minutes of a Nov. 27 victory over Trinity Christian, scoring four points and pulling down two rebounds.
- Joined the program as a walk-on for the 2019-20 season.
- Graduate of Montini Catholic – also the alma mater of a pair of Valpo women’s basketball players, Ilysse Pitts and Zoe MacKay Zacker.
- Played his prep basketball under the late Daryl Thomas.
#22 Mileek McMillan, Jr. (Merrillville, Ind.)
- Had his second straight game with 15+ points by scoring 16 in a Feb. 22 victory vs. Bradley. That marked his seventh time in a 12-game span scoring in double figures.
- Posted a career-high 20 points in an overtime defeat on Feb. 19 at Drake. That performance included six 3s, allowing him to tie for the most made triples by a Valpo player this season and become just the fourth Missouri Valley Conference player with six 3s or more in a league game this year. He became the first Valpo player other than Javon Freeman-Liberty with a 20-point output since Donovan Clay in the Dec. 30 MVC opener vs. Loyola. He led the team in scoring for the fourth time in a nine-game span.
- Contributed nine points and five rebounds in a Feb. 12 win over Southern Illinois, his second straight game with nine points or more after scoring nine points total over the previous three games.
- Tied a career high with four made 3s and finished with a team-high 14 points in just 16 minutes on Feb. 9 at Loyola. Led the team in scoring for the third time in six games after not doing so at all in his first 70 career games.
- Tied career highs in points (16) and blocks (three) on Jan. 26 vs. Evansville to lead Valpo in scoring for the second straight game after previously not doing so in any of his first 70 career games. This marked his fourth straight game in double figures. Recorded a game-saving blocked shot in the final minute of a two-point win over the Aces.
- Led his team in scoring for the first time in his collegiate career, posting 12 points on Jan. 23 at Missouri State while draining three 3s.
- Had 11 points on Jan. 15 at UNI, hitting double figures for the fifth time this year.
- Swiped three steals on Jan. 11 vs. Drake, establishing a season high and matching a career best that also came in a home game against Drake back in 2018.
- Connected on multiple triples for a second straight game with two in his eight-point effort at Southern Illinois on Jan. 7.
- Made three key 3-pointers in the second half on Jan. 4 at Evansville, his first game this season with multiple made triples.
- Topped his previous rebounding career high with nine, coming just shy of a double-double in a 14-point effort on Dec. 21 at Arkansas. Equaled a personal best with six made field goals in a near upset of the Razorbacks.
- Contributed nine points on 4-of-7 shooting on Dec. 16 at Charlotte.
- Set a career high for the second straight game with 16 points vs. North Dakota on Nov. 17, his third double-figure output of the season and the fourth of his career.
- Posted a career-high 13 points on Nov. 12 at SIUE.
- Saw action in 30 games as a sophomore after appearing in all 32 games as a freshman.
- Local to Northwest Indiana after playing his prep basketball for nearby Merrillville High School.
- Helped his Merrillville Pirates finish with a 22-2 record his junior year of high school.
#23 Ben Krikke, Fr. (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
- Had a team-high 15 points and tied for the team lead with seven rebounds on Feb. 12 vs. Southern Illinois, his third time this season and second in a four-game span leading the team in scoring.
- Became the first Valpo freshman since at least the start of the 1989-90 season to lead the team outright in points, rebounds and assists in a single game on Feb. 1 vs. Illinois State. He set Division-I career highs in all three areas and surpassed his overall career high in rebounds with his line of 17 points, eight boards and four assists.
- Drained three 3s on Jan. 15 at UNI to finish with 13 points, his highest total against a Division-I opponent. That equaled his previous season total for made 3s, as he entered the evening 3-of-14 for the season.
- Reached double figures for the first time since Nov. 27 vs. Trinity Christian, scoring 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting in a Jan. 4 win at Evansville.
- Had a personal-best six rebounds on Dec. 30 vs. Loyola.
- Collected five rebounds on Dec. 18 at High Point, tying a season high. It marked his second five-rebound effort in a three-game span.
- Scored a team-high 18 points to establish a career watermark in the Nov. 27 win over Trinity Christian. Also had four boards and four assists while snatching two steals against the Trolls.
- Didn’t make a field goal over the first three games of his career, but he knocked down five on 11 attempts against North Dakota on Nov. 17. He finished with 11 points, one of four Valpo players in double figures.
- Made his collegiate debut in the Nov. 5 season opener vs. Toledo.
- Competed for Team Canada at the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup in Argentina, averaging 9.9 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game while helping Canada to a fourth-place finish.
- Credits his father’s Michael Jordan DVD set for helping him hone his skills. DVDs included Jordan’s greatest games, plays and Top 10 dunks.
- Was the MVP of the Alberta Basketball All-Star Showcase, scoring 37 points.
#25 Nick Robinson, R-Jr. (Chicago, Ill)
- Made his first start since Jan. 15 at UNI on Feb. 9 at Loyola and dished out nine assists, matching the most by any Valpo player this season and establishing a career best.
- Dished out seven assists for the second consecutive game on Jan. 4 at Evansville, equaling his career high.
- Had 15 points while setting season highs in made field goals (six), made 3-pointers (three) and assists (seven) on Dec. 30 vs. Loyola.
- Boasted season highs in rebounds (nine) and assists (six) while scoring 13 points to help Valpo top Central Michigan on Dec. 8.
- Topped the team with seven rebounds, four of which occurred on the offensive glass, on Dec. 3 at Eastern Michigan.
- Had a personal-best 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and went 8-for-8 at the free-throw line on Nov. 12 at SIUE.
- Had nine points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in his Valpo debut, a victory over Toledo in the Nov. 5 season opener.
- Joined the program as a transfer in 2018-19 and sat out due to transfer rules after playing two seasons at Saint Joseph’s and appearing in 62 games, starting 30 times.
- High school teammate of Valpo’s Zion Morgan at Kenwood.
- Enjoys taking photos of nature in his spare time.
#33 John Kiser, Sr. (Noblesville, Ind.)
- Led the team with a plus/minus of +20 on Feb. 12 vs. Southern Illinois.
- Had a career-high four steals on Jan. 29 at Bradley.
- After previously scoring exactly nine points on six occasions, he cracked double figures with a career-high 12 points while sharing the team lead with eight rebounds in a Jan. 18 win over Indiana State.
- Made a huge 3-pointer with 3:01 remaining on Jan. 11 vs. Drake, giving Valpo its first lead of the second half in a 66-61 victory. He grabbed three steals, equaling his career high and marking his second straight three-steal outing.
- Had a career day on Jan. 7 at Southern Illinois, equaling personal bests in points (nine), rebounds (nine), steals (three) and made field goals (four).
- Led Valpo in rebounds for the fifth time this season by matching his season high with eight boards on Dec. 18 at High Point.
- Had his fifth career nine-point effort and fourth of the season, matching a career high in scoring while leading the team in rebounds for the third time in 2019-20 with seven boards on Dec. 16 at Charlotte.
- Matched a career high with nine points on Nov. 24 vs. Nevada, his fourth career nine-point effort and third this season.
- Equaled a career high with nine points for the second time this season on Nov. 17 vs. North Dakota. He has three nine-point efforts in his Valpo career.
- Had eight points, seven rebounds and a career-high five assists on Nov. 12 in a win at SIUE. That marked his third straight game with seven or more rebounds.
- Was a non-scholarship walk-on in 2016-17 as a freshman, but earned a scholarship following that season.
- Is the program’s longest-tenured player as the only member of the 2016-17 team still active at Valpo.
- The mechanical engineering major earned 2017-18 MVC Scholar-Athlete honorable mention.
#35 Ryan Fazekas, R-Sr. (Chesterton, Ind.)
- Made a season-high five 3s and scored 17 points on Feb. 22 vs. Bradley, his highest scoring output since his career high of 23 on Nov. 5 vs. Toledo, the first game of the season.
- Knocked down four 3s and finished with 14 points on Feb. 19 at Drake, tying his highest scoring output since returning from injury on Jan. 23 at Missouri State. It was the third time this season he’s drained a quartet of treys in a game. That marked his fourth time in double figures in a nine-game span.
- Tied a season high by knocking down four 3s on his way to 14 points on Jan. 29 at Bradley, his first double-figure scoring effort since returning from his injury.
- Was injured on Nov. 9 at Saint Louis and missed 17 games with a wrist injury before returning on Jan. 23 at Missouri State.
- Started the season by leading the team with a career-high 23 points on Nov. 5 vs. Toledo.
- Graduated from nearby Marquette Catholic High School (Michigan City, Ind.) before beginning his collegiate career with two seasons at Providence.
- Sat out the 2017-18 season at Valpo and is now in his second season playing for the team. Member of this year’s Second Team Preseason All-MVC squad.
- Enters the season ranked second among active Valley players in career 3-point field goal percentage (minimum 30 attempts) at .432, behind only Loyola’s Cooper Kaifes.