James Madison (2-3) at Valparaiso (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The ARC (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: James Madison 0-1, Valparaiso 2-0. Away Record: James Madison 1-1, Valparaiso 0-3. Neutral Record: James Madison 1-1, Valparaiso 0-0. Conference Record: James Madison 0-0, Valparaiso 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAMES NOTES: Looking to put a stop to a losing streak, the Valparaiso Crusaders are set to take on the James Madison Dukes in non-conference play at the ARC on Saturday.
In their last four outings the Dukes haven't been able to get a streak going in either direction, trading wins and losses during the four-game span. Most recently James Madison was set down, 71-67, by Detroit in its home opener after posting a 2-1 mark during the NIU Invitational last weekend. This contest begins a three-game road trip for the Dukes that continues on Wednesday against Winthrop.
A promising 2-0 start for the Crusaders has been wiped out due to three straight losses. The most recent came in a shootout, as a second half rally fell short for Valparaiso in a 100-92 loss to Evansville. The three setbacks have all come on the road for the Crusaders, who will be hosting six of their next seven games.
This is the first time the Dukes have made the trip to the ARC and the first time they have ever faced the Crusaders.
After taking a 34-33 lead early in the second half the Dukes were never able to take a lead again in the loss to Detroit. Although the deficit never grew to double digits in the second half, the Dukes weren't able to overcome a shoddy shooting display (8-of-22) in the second frame.
Scoring in bunches is not a strength for the Dukes this year. They are posting only 62.6 points per game and connecting on 41.8 percent of their shots from the field. However the Dukes have been solid on defense with foes averaging just 66.2 points a contest on 38.9 percent shooting. Charles Cooke (12.8 ppg) has scored in double figures in three straight games and currently leads the team in scoring. He had a team-high 17 points in the loss to Detroit. James Madison also ha double figure scorers in Ron Curry (10.4 ppg) and Andrew Semenov (11.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Semenov's more important contributions are felt on the glass, an area the Dukes struggle, bringing in only 36.2 rebounds per game.
Despite scoring 62 points in the second half against Evansville, the Crusaders just didn't have enough to overcome a 25-point halftime deficit. The Crusaders did knock down 12-of-25 3-point attempts in the contest ,led by a 7-of-11 showing from beyond the arc from Alec Peters, who scored a season-best 30 points.
As a team Valparaiso is scoring 81.2 points per game and shooting just under 50 percent from the field. However, that production is heavily colored by its efforts against Evansville and the 113-point outing it had against Division III North Park. Peters (14.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is one of three double figure scores for the Crusaders as well as the team's most consistent rebounder. Before playing Evansville, Peters had knocked down just 3-of-10 shots from beyond the arc all year. Jordan Coleman (13.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg) teams with Peters in the frontcourt as another solid scoring option as well as a decent rebounder. The leading scoring option for the Crusaders is LaVonte Dority (15.8 ppg), who scored 17 points against Evansville for his fourth straight game in double figures.
Peter's versatility in the frontcourt could be a real advantage for the Crusaders against a James Madison squad that doesn't have much in terms of frontcourt defense. If the Crusaders can replicate even some of their offensive output against Evansville they should be in line for a victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 70, James Madison 63
11/23 10:36:10 ET