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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: ESPN3, CSN-CHI, STO. Home Record: Milwaukee 4-3, Valpo 7-3. Away Record: Milwaukee 6-2, Valpo 2-6. Neutral Record: Milwaukee 3-1, Valpo 1-0. Conference Record: Milwaukee 3-2, Valpo 2-2. Series Record: Valparaiso leads, 14-11.
GAME NOTES: Seeking to win back-to-back games for the first time in nearly a month, the Crusaders of Valparaiso take on the Milwaukee Panthers in Horizon League action at the ARC.
Back in December the Crusaders defeated Loyola Marymount and Southeastern in consecutive games, albeit a fell week about, but that's the last time the program registered two straight victories. On Wednesday night, Valpo managed to snap a two-game slide with a 78-70 win over Detroit on the road, moving the squad to an even 2-2 in conference play.
Meanwhile, the Panthers are in the midst of a three-game road trip that saw them win the first game of the stretch on Thursday night against Illinois- Chicago, 67-63. The victory was the second in the last three outings for a Panthers squad that is 3-2 in league action.
The Crusaders lead the all-time series by a 14-11 margin, sweeping the two meetings last season by 20 points each time.
Milwaukee trailed by 13 points at the break against the Flames at UIC Pavilion, but the visitors rebounded nicely to capture the four-point win nonetheless. It was the defense that allowed the comeback to happen as the Panthers limited the hosts to just 6-of-22 (.272) shooting from the floor over the final 20 minutes. Jordan Aaron scored 18 points, Matt Tiby 13, Cody Wichmann 11 points and Steve McWhorter 10 points and eight assists in the triumph.
One of only two players to have started every game for the Panthers, Tiby leads the offense with 14.2 ppg and is also first on the glass with 6.6 rpg. Aaron produces another 13.4 ppg, thanks to a team-high 41 3-pointers, but he is shooting only 37.4 percent from the field. Kyle Kelm (12.5 ppg) and Austin Arians (11.6 ppg) complete the list of double-digit scorers, but McWhorter (8.8 ppg) should never be overlooked as the prime distributor with his 74 assists.
In a game that featured eight ties and five lead changes, Valpo trailed by as many as seven points in the first half but then turned the corner in the second frame with 57.9 percent shooting from the floor and 23-of-31 at the free-throw line. Overall, the Crusaders outscored the hosts at the charity stripe by a 36-15 margin, thanks to Lexus Williams (22 points) and LaVonte Dority (20) who combined to make 23-of-28 all by themselves. Jubril Adekoya and Bobby Capobianco chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
One of the better defenses in the Horizon League, the Crusaders are limiting opponents to just 39.7 percent shooting from the floor, while the unit has come away with close to 140 more defensive rebounds in order to produce a rebounding advantage of 6.6 per game. Dority (15.4 ppg) leads the team in scoring and is also first in assists (52), his accuracy from three-point range (36-of-88) identical to Alec Peters (12.9 ppg) who is one of the better rebounders for the program with 4.9 rpg.
Unless you followed the Panthers during their highly-successful non-conference schedule, you might be surprised to find out that Milwaukee is one of the better teams on the road and that sort of effort should breed enough confidence for the visitors again today.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Milwaukee 72, Valparaiso 64
01/18 10:23:40 ET
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