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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, February 7, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Detroit 7-5, Valpo 9-3. Away Record: Detroit 3-9, Valpo 4-7. Neutral Record: Detroit 0-0, Valpo 1-0. Conference Record: Detroit 3-6, Valpo 6-3. Series Record: Valparaiso leads, 13-9.
GAME NOTES: Valparaiso tries to put together another three-game win streak tonight, as the Crusaders host the Detroit Titans in Horizon League action at the ARC.
In the second half of January, the Crusaders put together their first successful three-game run of 2013-14, and now they are poised to do it again after beating Green Bay (75-60) and Illinois-Chicago (70-46) last week. Valpo has won five of its last six outings overall, and is 6-3 in league action as a result.
Sporting a mark of 3-6 in Horizon play, the Titans have been out of action for a full week now since being taken down by the Cleveland State Vikings, 86-78, at home. The defeat was the second in three tries for a Detroit squad which has a record of only 3-9 on the road heading into tonight's fray.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Crusaders are ahead by a count of 13-9 after winning the first meeting of the season back at Calihan Hall, 78-70.
Detroit shot a staggering 70.4 percent from the field in the second half against the Vikings last Friday night, but that was only after the team fell behind by double figures at the break. Unfortunately, the defense allowed CSU to make good on 59.6 percent from the floor and 9-of-14 behind the 3-point line for a full 40 minutes. Evan Bruinsma accounted for 21 points, Juwan Howard Jr. 20, and Carlton Brundidge 15 points off the bench in the loss.
Howard Jr. and Bruinsma are the two players who have started every game for the Titans this season, so it only makes sense that they are also the only players scoring in double figures this late in the campaign as well. Howard Jr. checks in with 17.8 ppg, adding a team-best 55 assists, while Bruinsma posts 12.5 ppg and is tops with 7.7 rpg. Even though he might not be much of a force on offense with a mere 4.4 ppg, there's no denying that Ugochukwu Njoku adds some toughness in the paint with 6.4 rpg.
The defense for the Crusaders was all over UIC last weekend, holding the Flames to a mere 46 points on a pitiful 26.8 percent shooting from the floor, en route to the comfortable 24-point win. LaVonte Dority almost won the game all by himself for Valpo as he poured in 33 points, hitting 10-of-15 from the floor, including an impressive 5-of-6 effort behind the 3-point line. Dority, who also knocked down half of the team's 16 free throws in the meeting, was the lone double-digit scorer for the visitors.
Thanks to the offensive outburst last weekend, Dority has boosted his scoring average to 17.3 ppg on the season overall. One of the better free-throw shooters in the Horizon League with his 85.9 percent accuracy, Dority is also a prime sniper for the Crusaders out on the perimeter where he has hit on 46.5 percent of his tries. Throw Alec Peters (11.8 ppg) into the mix, and the duo has combined for 94 of the program's 176 triples through 24 games.
The fact that Valpo won the first game of the season against the Titans on the road says a lot about how well the Crusaders are playing. Unfortunately, for Detroit to return the favor tonight almost everything has to fall perfectly into place, and that doesn't seem likely.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 73, Detroit 65
02/07 10:14:58 ET
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