Valparaiso (11-7, 4-1 MVC)
Game #19 - Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 - 3 p.m.
UNI (8-10, 3-2 MVC)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks to bounce back from its first loss of the conference season on Saturday afternoon when it hosts UNI at the ARC as part of Basketball Day Indiana. Valpo enters the game tied for first place in the MVC standings, while UNI is one of three teams one game back of the first-place tie. The first 500 fans through the doors will receive a replica Valpo Victory Bell.
Last Time Out: Valpo dropped its first Missouri Valley Conference game of the year on Tuesday evening, falling at defending conference champion Loyola by a 71-54 final. The Ramblers led by 10 at halftime and opened the second half on a 15-1 run. Markus Golder paced Valpo with 16 points.
Following Valpo Basketball: TV – MVC TV Network (NBC Sports Chicago; FOX Sports Indiana Plus/Midwest/Kansas City – Jordan Bernfield and Rich Zvosec
Video – FOX Sports Go within TV coverage area; ESPN3 outside TV coverage area
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) – Todd Ickow and David Huseman
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (50-33) 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: Prior to last season, when Valpo joined the MVC, Valpo and UNI had not met for over 13 years and had faced off just once in the last quarter-century. The Crusaders and Panthers shared membership in the Mid-Continent Conference from the conference’s formation in 1982 until UNI’s departure for the MVC in 1991. UNI holds a 24-2 advantage in the all-time series over Valpo, including wins in both meetings as MVC opponents last season – 81-76 in Cedar Falls and 68-63 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.
- Valpo is looking to buck MVC history this year - in 110 years of Valley basketball, only 28 teams have gone from last place one year to an upper division finish the following year.
...looking back at last year
- Valpo went 15-17 in its first season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
- The Brown and Gold posted a 6-12 record in MVC play in a conference which ended the season ranked eighth in the nation in conference RPI.
- The 2017-18 campaign marked the first time in the last eight years that Valpo has not earned a bid to postseason tournament play.
- Sophomore Bakari Evelyn was named to the MVC’s All-Newcomer Team, while sophomore Markus Golder earned a spot on the conference’s All-Bench Team.
...in the loss at Loyola
- Valpo never led in the game, but took each shot Loyola threw at it in the early going.
- Loyola’s Cooper Kaifes hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the period – his third triple of the first half – to give the Ramblers a 33-23 lead at intermission.
- Loyola started the second half on a 15-1 run to extend its lead to 24 points, and Valpo would get no closer than the final margin the rest of the way, outscoring Loyola 15-4 over the final five and a half minutes.
- Loyola limited Valpo to a season-low 17 baskets from the floor (17-for-40) and a season-low eight assists. Meanwhile, Valpo committed 14 turnovers which the Ramblers converted into 23 points.
- Valpo did enjoy one of its top free throw shooting performances of the year, going 14-of-17 from the charity stripe.
- Markus Golder led Valpo in scoring for just the second time this season, coming up just two points shy of his career best as he went 6-of-8 from the floor for 16 points.
...in the win at Southern Illinois
- A 12-2 run late in the first half gave Valpo the lead for good in the win over the Salukis.
- The two squads traded offensive punches early in the second half, and for the first 11 minutes of the half, Valpo’s lead would fluctuate between seven and 11 points.
-Valpo extended its lead to its apex at 59-46 with 6:46 to play before SIU went on a 12-2 run over the next four minutes.
- With the score 63-61 Valpo with 40 seconds to play, SIU elected to play out the defensive possession, and Deion Lavender received a perfect pass from Derrik Smits and laid it in with under 13 seconds remaining to secure the win.
- Valpo won despite playing without leading scorer Ryan Fazekas due to injury.
- Valpo posted a season-low total of seven turnovers while forcing 13 SIU miscues. Valpo enjoyed an 18-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
- Derrik Smits led three Valpo players in double figures with 16 points - 14 of which came in the second half - and recorded a team-high eight rebounds as well.
- Valpo heads down to Terre Haute for a matchup against the Sycamores of Indiana State Wednesday, Jan. 23.
- Valpo then returns home to the ARC for consecutive home games to close out the month of January, hosting Drake (Jan. 26) and Missouri State (Jan. 29).
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 15 regular season home games scheduled at the ARC this season and is 6-2 so far this year at home following its win over Bradley.
- Valpo posted a 10-4 record at home last year, its eighth consecutive season reaching double figures in home victories.
- Valpo has recorded a 63-10 (.863) mark in home games since the start of the 2014-15 season.
- Over the last 23 years, Valpo owns a 298-66 (.819) record on its home court at the ARC.
- UNI enters Saturday’s game at 8-10 overall and 3-2 in MVC play, one game behind Valpo in the conference standings.
- The Panthers come into the game owners of back-to-back wins over Drake and Indiana State.
- UNI is just 1-4 in true road games this season, with their lone road victory coming to open MVC play at Bradley.
- Freshman AJ Green leads the Panthers, averaging 14.4 points per game.
- This year’s squad became just the third Valpo team this century to win at least four straight games to open conference play.
- 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 even 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.
- Valpo will be looking to bounce back from Tuesday night’s loss on Saturday .
- Valpo owns a 5-1 record this season in games following losses - Ball State/Texas A&M are the team’s only back-to-back losses this season.
- Last year’s squad was just 6-10 in games following losses.
- Over a five-year stretch (2012-13 through 2016-17), Valpo had four regular seasons where it did not lose consecutive games.
Defending Without Fouling
- Perhaps the biggest change defensively for Valpo this season has been its ability to play defense without committing fouls and sending opponents to the foul line.
- Last year’s team ranked 337th nationally (14th from last) in defensive free throw rate, while this year’s squad ranks 57th nationally in the same category.
- In terms of raw numbers, last year’s Valpo opponents averaged 23.2 FT/game across all games and 22.8 FT/game in conference play, while this year, opponents are averaging 16.1 FT/game overall and 14.2 FT/game in conference play.
The Balanced Attack
- On the offensive end, Valpo has proven to have multiple threats who can step up through the season’s first 18 games.
- Entering Saturday’s game, five different players are averaging 9.4 points per game or better, led by Ryan Fazekas’ 12.7 points/game.
- Six different players have led Valpo in scoring in a game this season.
- Valpo last featured five different players averaging in double figures in 2007-08, the program’s first season in the Horizon League.
- Big runs in the opening period have proven key to helping Valpo claim each of its last three victories.
- Missouri State - 30-6 run over span of 8:02 (8:44-0:42 - took tie game and made it a 24-point lead)
- Bradley - 18-2 run over span of 8:27 (12:42-4:15 - took one-point lead and extended it to 17 points)
- Southern Illinois - 22-6 run over span of 8:06 (8:44-0:38 - took seven-point deficit and turned it into nine-point lead)
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 has already faced each of the conference’s top four teams in the preseason poll within the first five games of MVC action.
- Markus 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.
- Fazekas repeated as MVC Newcomer of the Week Jan. 7 after pouring in 10 3-pointers over Valpo’s first two MVC wins over Illinois State and Missouri State.
Shooting - The Highs and the Lows
- The difference in Valpo’s 3-point shooting in wins versus losses this year is striking - in its 10 victories, Valpo is hitting 40% from the 3-point line, while in its six losses, Valpo is shooting just 25% from deep.
- Valpo has hit better than 33% from 3-point range in a loss just once this season and is averaging just 5.3 3-pointers/game in defeats.
- Meanwhile,Valpo has enjoyed a number of strong shooting performances in wins, including a 15-of-27 effort from deep in its win at George Washington and a 12-of-24 performance 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.