Valparaiso (12-11, 5-5 MVC)
Game #24 - Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 - 7 p.m.
at Illinois State (14-9, 7-3 MVC)
Redbird Arena (10,200) - Normal, Ill.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks to snap a four-game losing streak on Tuesday evening as it concludes a brief two-game road trip at Illinois State. Valpo would earn a season sweep of the Redbirds with a victory.
Last Time Out: Valpo was unable to turn a halftime lead into a road victory Saturday afternoon at Evansville, as the Purple Aces outscored Valpo by 14 in the second half to defeat the Crusaders by a 64-53 final. Four Valpo players scored in double figures in the losing effort, led by 12 points apiece from Javon Freeman and the returning Markus Golder.
Following Valpo Basketball: Video – ESPN+
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) – Todd Ickow and Aaron Leavitt
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (51-37) is in his sixth season overall at Valpo and third as head coach in 2018-19. Lottich led Valpo to 15 victories in his second season in charge in 2017-18 and guided the the program through the transition to the MVC, which ended the campaign ranked eighth nationally in conference RPI. In his first year as head coach, Lottich guided Valpo to its fifth Horizon League regular season championship in the last six years as he led the team to 24 wins and an at-large berth into the NIT.
Series Notes: Despite being a pair of mid-major programs located just 2 1/2 hours apart, Valpo and Illinois State have met just 14 times over the years, with the Redbirds enjoying an 8-6 edge in the series. The series had been dormant since 1981 until Valpo joined the MVC prior to last season. The home team has won each of the first three meetings in the series as MVC rivals, most recently a thrilling 58-56 win at the ARC for Valpo on January 2, as Markus Golder banked home a 50-footer at the buzzer for the victory.
- 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 Evansville
- Valpo led 11-3 eight minutes into the game and surrendered just eight points to the Purple Aces over the first 13 minutes.
- Evansville went on a 16-8 run over a six-minute stretch late in the first half to tie the game at 24-24 before a 3-pointer right before the buzzer by Javon Freeman gave Valpo a 27-24 halftime lead.
- A 15-3 run for the Purple Aces gave them a 39-34 lead with under 12 minutes to play, but Valpo responded with eight straight to make it 42-39 Valpo with 9:39 to play.
- After the teams traded baskets, Evansville went on an 11-0 run over a three-minute span to take control.
-The loss was just Valpo’s second of the year when leading at halftime (8-2).
- Valpo has dropped 22 straight road games at Evansville dating back to 1969.
- Both Valpo and Evansville shot at the exact same 21-of-49 clip from the field Saturday, but the Crusaders were just 2-of-10 from the 3-point line and 9-of-17 from the foul line, compared to 7-of-20 and 15-of-21 marks, respectively, by the Purple Aces.
...in the loss to Missouri State
- The game was a one-possession game either way for the final 15 minutes of regulation and the entirety of overtime.
- The extra session was Valpo’s second of the year, as it is now 1-1 in overtime games this season (SIUE).
- Tuesday was Valpo’s lowest combined scoring overtime game and the lowest points Valpo has allowed in an overtime game since a 56-52 win at UMKC on Jan. 25, 2007.
- That game also was the last time Valpo had entered overtime with a lower score than Tuesday’s 49-49 end of regulation, as the game against the Kangaroos was knotted 48-48.
- Valpo’s 54 points are its fewest in an overtime game since a 58-54 double-overtime loss at UNI on Feb. 7, 1981.
- Valpo limited Missouri State to just 10-of-38 shooting inside the arc, but the Bears were 7-of-17 (41.2%) from 3-point range and 14-of-16 (87.5%) from the foul line.
- Meanwhile, Valpo shot just 38.8% from the field, was just 4-of-12 from downtown and 12-of-20 from the foul line.
- Valpo was led Tuesday by the play of Freeman, who finished with 12 points and a team season-best 15 rebounds for his first career double-double.
- Valpo returns to the ARC on Sunday, Feb. 10 to host Loyola on ESPNU.
- Valpo then remains at home to face Indiana State on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
...on the road
- Tuesday is the 10th of 13 true road games for Valpo in the 2018-19 regular season, as it is currently 4-5 in true road games this year and 2-3 in MVC road games.
- Valpo has surpassed its overall and MVC-only road win totals from last year, as it went just 3-12 in true road games last season and just 1-8 on the road in MVC play.
- Prior to last year, Valpo had finished above .500 in true road games in four of the last five seasons.
- Illinois State enters Tuesday night’s game at 14-9 overall and tied atop the MVC standings at 7-3 in conference play.
- The Redbirds have won five of their last six games, including a 65-57 victory over MVC co-leader Loyola Saturday night in Normal.
- Milik Yarbrough leads three ISU players averaging in double figures with 17.2 points per game and also is averaging a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game.
The Conference Race
- Just past the halfway mark of the MVC schedule, the standings are as jumbled as ever, and Valpo finds itself right in the heart of the jumble.
- Through 10 games, Valpo sits at 5-5, in a four-way tie for fourth place. The Crusaders are just one game out of third and two games out of first.
- But on the flip side, Valpo is also just one game out of eighth and two games out of last place.
Snap the Streak
- Valpo currently finds itself on the wrong end of a four-game losing streak entering Tuesday’s game.
- This comes after Valpo won its first four games of the MVC slate.
- The last time Valpo owned both a four-game winning streak and a four-game losing streak in the same season in conference play came back in 2005-06, in its next-to-last year in the Mid-Continent Conference.
- That team won four out of five following the four-game losing streak.
- Valpo entered its home game against Drake (Jan. 26) without the services of its two leading scorers, Ryan Fazekas and Derrik Smits.
- Valpo then lost third-leading scorer Markus Golder to injury less than five minutes into the game, leaving it with just seven available scholarship players for the duration.
- Going back 30 years, there hasn’t been a single instance of Valpo’s two leading scorers at the end of the year both missing the same game within that season.
- Valpo played against Missouri State without both Fazekas and Golder.
- Last time out at Evansville, Golder returned to action and tied for team-high honors with 12 points.
- Valpo has just three players - Deion Lavender, Javon Freeman and Daniel Sackey - who have played in all 23 games this season.
- Freshman Daniel Sackey has taken advantage of additional playing time recently to help take on part of the scoring load.
- Sackey matched his season high with 13 points against Drake, and has followed with back-to-back 10-point outings against Missouri State and at Evansville.
- Fellow rookie Javon Freeman scored in double figures in five straight games to open his Valpo career.
- It marks the first time a pair of Valpo freshmen have both had three-game double-digit scoring streaks in the same season since Lexus Williams and Alec Peters in 2013-14.
Freeman Grabs All the Boards
- Freshman Javon Freeman entered last Tuesday’s game against Missouri State with a season best of seven rebounds, but obliterated that mark against the Bears.
- Freeman finished the game with a Valpo season-high 15 rebounds, grabbing nine rebounds in the second half alone.
- Freeman’s 15 rebounds were the most by a Valpo player since Alec Peters pulled down 16 rebounds against Green Bay on Jan. 16, 2017.
- Outside of Peters, the last Valpo player to secure 15 or more boards was Ryan Broekhoff, who recorded 16 rebounds against Butler on Mar. 3, 2012.
- Freeman is the shortest Valpo player in the last 30 years to have a 15-rebound game.
Shooting - The Highs and the Lows
- The difference in Valpo’s 3-point shooting in wins versus losses this year is striking - in its 12 victories, Valpo is hitting 40.3% from the 3-point line, while in its 10 losses, Valpo is shooting just 24.0% from deep.
- Valpo has hit better than 33% from 3-point range in a loss just once this season and is averaging just 4.3 3-pointers/game in defeats.
- Valpo hit just two 3-pointers in its losses against Indiana State and Drake last week, the first time the Crusaders have been limited to that few triples in consecutive games since hitting two 3-pointers apiece against Loyola and UIC in February of 2011.
- Since Ryan Fazekas went down with his ankle injury, Valpo is shootin gjust 29.1% from the 3-point line and averaging just 4.3 triples/game.
- 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.
Centers of Attention
- The combined play of Valpo centers Derrik Smits and Jaume Sorolla has proven crucial to winning since joining The Valley.
- Since joining the MVC, in Valpo’s 11 conference wins, Smits and Sorolla have combined to average 17.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
- Meanwhile, in 17 conference losses, the post duo has averaged just 10.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
- The top six scoring performances from the duo have all come in MVC wins, as have the top six rebounding games from the pair.
- 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.