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Valparaiso (18-6) at Cleveland State (12-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 9, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wolstein Center (8,500) -- Cleveland, Ohio. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Valpo 12-1, CSU 8-2. Away Record: Valpo 6-5, CSU 2-10. Neutral Record: Valpo 0-0, CSU 2-0. Conference Record: Valpo 8-2, CSU 4-6. Series Record: Cleveland State leads, 28-12.
GAME NOTES: The Valparaiso Crusaders are clinging to first place in the Horizon League standings as they invade the Wolstein Center for a league bout against the Cleveland State Vikings.
This will be the 41st meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. The Vikings own a sizeable, 28-12 all-time series lead.
Valpo is coming off of an 86-61 victory over Illinois-Chicago which served as its eighth win in nine games. The Crusaders are just a half-game ahead of Detroit for first place in the Horizon League race entering a two-game road swing. Coach Bryce Drew has a pair of elite forwards in Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk powering his squad. Broekhoff is netting 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds to pace the unit while Van Wijk provides an additional 12.6 points and 4.9 boards per tilt.
In their rout of UIC, the Crusaders connected on a season-best 15 3-pointers. They also hit a season-best .577 from behind the arc, hitting their 15 triples in the first 23 attempts. It was the fifth time during the 2012-13 campaign that Valpo has hit at least half of its 3-point attempts, and the second occasion it has done so in back-to-back contests. Ryan Broekhoff drilled five of his seven attempts from beyond the arc en route to 19 first-half points. LaVonte Dority chimed in with 13 points off the bench as the team assisted 24 of its 30 makes from the floor. Valpo has the third best scoring offense (70.7) and defense (60.8) in the league after its impressive win.
Gary Waters and his Vikings are a formidable foe for the incoming Crusaders. Cleveland State earned its second win in a row on Tuesday as it clipped Youngstown State, 66-60, at home to rise back to the .500 mark for the season. The Vikings own an 8-2 mark at the Wolstein Center also. Brynn Forbes is pacing the team in scoring with 11.7 ppg, while Charlie Lee submits 10.7 points, 5.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per tilt.
Devon Long set a season-high by any CSU player in the win over YSU by pumping in 23 points to help the Vikings avenge a loss from 11 days prior. Long finished 9-of-11 from the field, setting career-highs in field goals made and attempted. He also added five rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Sebastian Douglas chipped in 10 points, while holding YSU's Kendrick Perry, the third leading scorer in the conference, to just seven points. Lee finished with 10 points after going scoreless through the first 20 minutes of action. Against a team as talented as Valpo, CSU's league worst average of 14.8 turnovers will be a tough obstacle to overcome.
The homecourt advantage may make a world of difference in this one for CSU. The Vikings have lacked consistency this season, but they definitely have both the talent and confidence to knock off the Crusaders. However, nobody is going to down Valpo if it continues to scorch the nets from long distance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 79, Cleveland State 74
02/09 11:25:43 ET