Valparaiso (11-9) at Youngstown State (12-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 23, 7:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beeghly Center (6,300) -- Youngstown, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: Valpo 8-3, YSU 8-1. Away Record: Valpo 2-6, YSU 2-7. Neutral Record: Valpo 1-0, YSU 2-0. Conference Record: Valpo 3-2, YSU 3-2. Series Record: Valparaiso leads, 27-9.
GAME NOTES: Both the Valparaiso Crusaders and the Youngstown State Penguins will try to extend their respective winning streaks on Thursday night when they meet up at the Beeghly Center for a Horizon League tilt.
Valpo won back-to-back games last week, taking down Detroit on the road on Jan. 15 (78-70) before besting Milwaukee at home on Saturday, 75-62. The surge has allowed the Crusaders to improve to 11-9 on the season and 3-2 in the league, although they are still just 2-6 away from home.
YSU opened up its league schedule with two straight losses only to rip off three consecutive wins, most recently taking care of business against Detroit, 77-63. The Penguins, who are 11-9 overall, are in the midst of a season-long four-game homestand and have won eight of nine at the Beeghly Center this season.
In regards to the all-time series, Valpo holds a convincing 27-9 advantage over YSU, but the Penguins have won the last two bouts on their home floor.
The Crusaders opened up a 10-point halftime lead over Milwaukee in their most recent contest and never relinquished that advantage in the second stanza, as they shot 23-of-53 from the field (.434), 21-of-25 from the free-throw line (.840) and earned a 47-30 advantage in the rebounding battle. LaVonte Dority paced all scorers with 27 points, doing so on 9-of-16 from the field, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range. Lexus Williams chipped in 12 points, Keith Carter scored 10 points off the bench and Moussa Gueye hauled in 12 rebounds.
On the season, Valpo has impressed on both ends of the floor, as it outshoots its opponents from the field, 48 percent to 39.3 percent, for a +7.9 scoring margin. It also sits firmly in the green in terms of rebounding (+7.1), but its -4.8 turnover margin has come back to haunt it on occasion. Dority (16.0 ppg) and Alec Peters (12.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) have combined to drain 77 3-pointers at greater than a 40-percent clip, while Jordan Coleman brings 10.6 ppg to the table.
The Penguins held just a two-point lead at intermission over Detroit their last time out but pulled away down the stretch to post the 14-point decision. They shot a lofty 54.5 percent from the field in the victory, including 9- of-20 from beyond the arc, and were paced by the efforts of DJ Cole, who made 4-of-5 from long distance on his way to 22 points while still finding time to hand out nine assists. Bobby Hain registered 18 points on 6-of-7 from the field, while Ryan Weber and Kendrick Perry put up 13 points apiece.
YSU's offensive attack has shined all season long, as it shoots 46.5 percent from the field and 73.4 percent from the foul line en route to 79.7 ppg, which is able to adequately support its disappointing scoring defense (72.6 ppg). Perry is not only the Horizon League's top scorer with 21.2 ppg (on 52.3 percent field goal shooting), but he chips in across the board with 4.4 apg, 3.7 apg and 2.7 spg. Kamren Belin (12.0 ppg), Hain (11.0 ppg), Weber (10.5 ppg) and Cole (8.5 ppg, 4.2 apg) round out the impressive starting five.
This should be an exciting matchup between two strong scoring clubs that should go down to the wire, but expect YSU to come out on top with its home crowd giving it a boost down the stretch.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Youngstown State 80, Valparaiso 77
01/23 10:19:52 ET