Valparaiso (17-4, 7-1 Horizon)
Game #22 - Sunday, Jan. 29 - 1:30 p.m.
Northern Kentucky (14-8, 5-4 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team closes out its four-game homestand on Sunday afternoon at the ARC, as the Crusaders hit the halfway mark of Horizon League play when they welcome Northern Kentucky for a 1:30 p.m. tip. Valpo is in search of its seventh straight victory, while Alec Peters enters the contest just five free throws away from breaking the program’s all-time record.
Last Time Out: Valpo maintained its spot atop the Horizon League standings Friday evening at the ARC, taking a double-figure lead over Wright State just over six minutes into the game and then holding off a late run by the Raiders to earn a 70-55 victory – the team’s sixth straight win. Alec Peters led the Crusaders with 25 points and 14 rebounds, while Tevonn Walker scored nine straight Valpo points to hold off a late surge from the Raiders.
Following the Crusaders: Video - ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app - Todd Ickow (PxP) and David Huseman (Analyst)
Radio – Valpo Sports Network [WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso); WVLP (103.1 FM, Valparaiso)]
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich is in his first season at the helm of the Valparaiso University men’s basketball program in 2016-17 after being named the 22nd head coach in program history on April 7. Lottich previously served as an assistant coach for the last three seasons, helping Valpo earn 78 victories - including a school-record 30 last season - and a pair of Horizon League regular season titles.
Series Notes: The only two meetings in the all-time series between NKU and Valpo came last season, following the Norse’s addition to the Horizon League. The Crusaders claimed victories in both matchups last year, winning 71-46 at NKU and 64-52 at the ARC. Shane Hammink averaged 13 points per game off the bench in the two wins, combining to go 10-of-14 from the field.
...and the @HorizonLeague
- Valpo was picked to win the Horizon League in preseason polling, earning 35 of the 39 first-place votes.
- The Crusaders have not finished worse than their preseason projection in the last six years.
- Senior Alec Peters was named the league’s Preseason Player of the Year, Valpo’s first league preseason player of the year since Lubos Barton (2001-02, Mid-Con).
- Senior Shane Hammink joined Peters as a preseason All-League choice, earning a spot on the Second Team.
...looking back at last year
- The 2015-16 Crusader squad won a school-record 30 games, finishing the year 30-7.
- Valpo claimed the Horizon League regular season title by going 16-2 in league play, winning the league by three games.
- The Crusaders were the first Horizon League team to win the league title by at least three games since 2009-10.
- The regular season title was Valpo’s fourth in a five-year span, a feat accomplished only by Butler and Xavier previously within the league.
- Valpo set new Horizon League records in league-only play for scoring margin, rebounds, rebounding average and rebound margin.
- The Crusaders received an automatic bid into the NIT and were awarded a 1 seed as one of the First Four Out of the NCAA Tournament.
- Valpo defeated Texas Southern, Florida State and Saint Mary’s at the ARC to advance to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
- The Crusaders beat BYU in a thriller at MSG before falling in the championship game of the NIT to George Washington.
- Vashil Fernandez led the nation in blocked shots, was named National Defensive Player of the Year and repeated as Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year.
- Alec Peters was an AP Honorable Mention All-American and earned a spot on the All-Horizon League First Team for a second straight year.
- Bryce Drew repeated as Horizon League Coach of the Year.
...notes from Wright State
- Wright State had won four of the last six games in the series before Friday’s victory. The 15-point win marked Valpo’s largest win over the Raiders since joining the Horizon League.
- With the win, the Crusaders remain one game up in the loss column on Green Bay for first place in the Horizon League. Valpo is now three losses clear of a multi-way tie for third place.
- Alec Peters finished with a game-high 25 points and leading Valpo with 14 rebounds. The senior went 10-of-11 from the foul line and also handed out four assists against just one turnover.
- Shane Hammink and Tevonn Walker joined Peters in double figures, finishing with 15 and 12 points, respectively. Hammink matched his career high with three makes from 3-point range, while Walker added six rebounds as well.
- The Crusaders continued their season-long dominance at the foul line, hitting their final 12 attempts of the game as they went 17-of-20 from the charity stripe.
- Valpo limited the Raiders to 23-of-68 (33.8%) shooting for the game. Wright State went just 3-for-28 from 3-point range, missing its first 18 attempts from downtown.
...notes from UIC
- Alec Peters’ record-breaking point came on the 457th two-point basket of his career.
- Peters finished Sunday’s win with 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field, his 10th career effort of at least 30 points. He also finished with 10 rebounds, picking up his 13th double-double of the season.
- After scoring exactly 23 points for his career high four times this season, Shane Hammink finally set a new career best with 24 points.
- Jaume Sorolla also tied his career high, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting while also pulling down six rebounds.
- Max Joseph scored in double figures for the third time this year, chipping in 10 points and not missing a shot.
- 11 Crusaders saw the floor in all on Sunday, with 10 of those players playing at least 10 minutes. 10 different Crusaders scored as well.
- The Crusaders shot a season-best 54.2% (32-of-59) from the field and also continued their strong season at the foul line, going 26-of-30 (86.7%) at the charity stripe.
- Valpo committed just nine turnovers while forcing 16 UIC miscues. The Crusaders enjoyed a significant 26-10 advantage in points off of turnovers.
- The Crusaders hit the road for the first time in three weeks next weekend, making the annual Horizon League swing through the state of Wisconsin.
- Valpo will face off with Milwaukee Thursday night before taking on Green Bay Saturday afternoon.
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 17 regular season home games scheduled at the ARC during the 2016-17 season and is 11-2 to date at home this season.
- The Crusaders set a program record last year with 17 home victories, posting a 17-1 mark.
- Valpo has recorded a 43-4 record in home games since the start of the 2014-15 season.
- Over the last 21-plus years, the Crusaders own a 278-60 (.822) record on their home court at the ARC.
- Northern Kentucky enters Sunday’s game at 14-8 overall and 5-4 within Horizon League play.
- The Norse have won back-to-back games (home versus Detroit Mercy, at UIC) after dropping their previous three contests.
- Four NKU players average in double figures, led by 16.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game from sophomore Drew McDonald.
- Valpo has continued its recent run of success this year, as the win over Wright State improved the Crusaders’ record this year to 17-4.
- The Crusaders have now won at least 17 of their first 21 games in each of the last three seasons (2015-16: 17-4; 2014-15: 18-3).
- Prior to the 2014-15 campaign, Valpo had not started a season 17-4 or better through 21 games since the 1944-45 season.
Big Wins In League Play
- Friday’s 15-point win over Wright State marked the Crusaders’ fifth consecutive win by at least 10 points, all of which have come in Horizon League play.
- This is the third time in the last two seasons that Valpo has won five or more league games in a row by double figures, as the Crusaders had separate such streaks of six and five games last year.
- Prior to last season, Valpo had never won five straight league games by 10+ points.
- Peters needed just 4:31 to score his seventh point against UIC last Sunday and surpass Bryce Drew’s Valpo career scoring record of 2,142 career points.
- While Peters needed 125 games to break Drew’s record, which was set in 121 games, Peters played over 300 fewer minutes than Drew to surpass the mark.
- Peters is just the fourth different player to hold Valpo’s career scoring record in the last 48 years (Bruce Lindner-1970; Tracy Gipson-1993; Bryce Drew-1998).
- Peters’ career-high 16th rebound of the Green Bay home game moved him past Chris Ensminger atop the Valpo record book with his 911th career rebound.
- Peters broke his first Valpo career record in the win at YSU, as his first basket of that game surpassed Drew’s record of 696 made field goals.
Atop Both Lists
- By breaking the career scoring record, Peters joined an illustrious group of players who hold both scoring and rebounding records at their alma maters.
- Thr group numbers about 50 players, and includes such all-time greats as Oscar Robertson, Danny Manning, Jerry West, Bill Bradley, Larry Bird and David Robinson.
- Meanwhile, Peters is going to go down as one of the top players in Indiana college basketball history as well.
- There are currently only two players from Indiana D-I schools who finished their careers with more points and rebounds than Peters has amassed to date.
- Bird posted 2,850 points and 1,247 rebounds at Indiana State, while Luke Harangody tallied 2,476 points and 1,222 rebounds at Notre Dame.
Next Up: Free Throw Marks
- Peters enters Sunday’s game against Northern Kentucky on the verge of another career milestone.
- The senior is just four free throws from tying and five from breaking Ed Eckart’s (1953-57) record of 452 career free throws made.
- If he were to accomplish the feat against NKU, Peters will have set his four Valpo career records in a span of just six games.
- Meanwhile, Peters’ 10 made free throws in the win over WSU give him 141 makes from the line this year - seventh-most in a single season in Valpo history and just four shy of third place.
- Peters is just 36 free throws away from Bruce Lindner’s single-season record of 177, set during the 1969-70 season.
- Peters is already approaching single-season top-10 lists in the scoring and rebounding categories as well.
- The senior is just 57 points and 32 rebounds away from cracking the top-10 charts in the respective categories.
- At his current rates (24.2 ppg/11.0 rpg), Peters would need nine more games to break Bruce Lindner’s single-season scoring record (725 points; 1969-70) and 14 more games to break Joel Oberman’s rebounding record (375 boards; 1973-74).
Taking Advantage of Charity
- As of the end of play Friday, Valpo ranked second nationally as a team in free throw pct., hitting at a 80.9% clip from the foul line this season.
- Valpo’s top three in free throw attempts this season are all hitting at 82% or better for the year.
- Through 21 games, Valpo has made 18 more free throws (412) than its opponents have attempted (394).
- The Crusaders have connected on at least 80% of their free throw attempts in 12 games this year, and have been under 70% just three times.
Continued Success Within the League
- Valpo has been strong within Horizon League play since joining the league prior to the 2007-08 season.
- The Crusaders own a league record of 108-56 (.659) in their first nine -plus years as a Horizon League member and have had just one sub-.500 season in league play.
- Valpo has captured four of the last five Horizon League regular season titles.
Peters’ Impressive Season
- Peters was recently named to the midseason top-25 list for the Wooden Award, presented to the nation’s most outstanding college basketball player, and the midseason top-19 list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy.
- Peters is currently averaging 24.2 points/game - good for second nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 11.0 rebounds/game and has recorded 14 double-doubles.
- Peters has recorded at least nine rebounds in 20 of Valpo’s 21 games.
- Peters leads all D-I players in Ken Pomeroy’s Game MVP stat, garnering 11 game MVPs this season, and ranks sixth nationally in offensive rating (>28% possessions used).
- As of the end of play Friday, Peters was second nationally in free throws made, seventh in field goals made, fifth in double-doubles, seventh in rebounding and 14th in free throw percentage.
- Peters has been named Horizon League Player of the Week four times this season, including this past Monday, giving him nine career weekly honors from the league.
- Peters has moved into first place in program history and is now fifth in Horizon League history in career scoring with 2,191 career points.
- Peters currently leads all active players in career scoring, while his 126 consecutive games started are also best among all D-I players.
- For a full list of where Peters currently ranks in Horizon League and Valpo history, see the box on page four of the notes.
20 Or More Points
- Alec Peters scored 20 or more points in each of Valpo’s first 12 games this season, easily the longest streak of 20+ point games in recent Crusader history.
- Dating back to the 1994-95 season, Peters owns the two longest streaks of 20+ point games - he scored 20 or more in seven straight outings late last year.
- The longest streak of 20+ point games by somebody other than Peters in that span is five consecutive games - Bryce Drew (1996-97) and Dan Oppland (2004-05).
- The most games with 20 or more points in a single season in that span came in 2004-05, as Oppland scored at least 20 points on 18 occasions - Peters currently has 17 such efforts this year.
- Drew and Peters are the only Crusaders in that span with three separate seasons scoring 20+ points in at least 10 games.
- The Crusaders entered league play with at least 10 victories under their belt for the fourth time in the last five years following the Chicago State win.
- Valpo owns a 51-19 (.729) record in pre-league action since the Horizon League eliminated the early December league weekend prior to the 2012-13 season.
- This is the second straight year that Valpo entered league play with a 10-3 record in the pre-league campaign.
Beating Ranked Teams
- Valpo snapped a 40-game winless streak against nationally-ranked opposition on Nov. 29 with the win over Rhode Island.
- The Crusaders had not taken down a top-25 opponent since their win over Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
- Prior to the win over the Rams, Valpo had not earned a home win over a top-25 team since beating Notre Dame in December of 1988.
Starting on a Winning Note
- Head coach Matt Lottich became the first Crusader coach in 36 years to open his head coaching tenure at Valpo with a win with the victory over SUU.
- Tom Smith was the last Valpo head coach to start his Crusader career with a win, winning three straight in six days at home to open the 1980-81 campaign.
- The Drews all faced tough competition in their head coaching debuts at Valpo: Homer at Butler, Scott at eventual national champion Syracuse, and Bryce at Arizona.
- Lottich was the first coach to start his Valpo career with a 7-1 record since Wilbur Allen started off the 1949-50 season by winning seven of the season’s first eight games.
Addition to the Trophy Case
- Valpo’s wins over Alabama and BYU gave the Crusaders the Heavyweight championship belt at the Men Who Speak Up Main Event.
- The title is the program’s fourth in-season championship in the last seven years.
- Valpo most recently earned the championship trophy in November 2014 at the Challenge in Music City.
- The Crusaders took home top honors in November 2010 at the Las Vegas Invitational and in December 2010 at the Lou Henson Award Tournament.
Wins Over Power Conference Foes
- Valpo’s win over Alabama marked its third over a power conference opponent in the last two seasons.
- The Crusaders went on the road to beat Oregon State last season and then took down Florida State at the ARC in the second round of the NIT.
- Prior to last season’s win over Oregon State, Valpo had not defeated a team from the power-5 conferences since winning at Washington in the 2008 CBI.
- Nine out of Valpo’s last 12 victories over opponents out of the power-5 conferences have come on neutral courts.