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Valparaiso (9-7) at Oakland (5-11)

The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 6 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Athletics Center O'rena (3,000) -- Rochester, Michigan. Television: HLN. Home Record: Valpo 7-2, Oakland 5-2. Away Record: Valpo 1-5, Oakland 0-7. Neutral Record: Valpo 1-0, Oakland 0-2. Conference Record: Valpo 1-0, Oakland 0-1. Series Record: Valparaiso leads, 17-5.

GAME NOTES: The Oakland Golden Grizzlies return home to the Athletics Center O'rena to host the Valparaiso Crusaders in a Horizon League matchup.

Valparaiso overcame an eight-point halftime deficit on Thursday to down Illinois-Chicago, 87-72, in its conference opener. The Crusaders have been better after the break all season long, outscoring their opposition by over 10 ppg in the second half. The victory improved Bryce Drew's squad to a 9-7 overall record, but it will head to Michigan with a 1-5 mark in true road tests. Valpo is pacing all Horizon League schools with a positive 7.1 rebounding margin this season.

The Golden Grizzlies made their HL debut on Thursday at Wright State, but did not receive a warm welcome and suffered a 76-64 setback to the Raiders. All five of Oakland's wins have come on its own floor and only two of its 11 losses occurred at the O'rena. Despite the unappealing overall record, coach Greg Kampe's team should not be overlooked since it has played the toughest non-conference schedule in the HL. The Grizzlies have gone 12-2 in their last 14 league home openers.

Although Oakland is new to the conference, this will be the fourth consecutive season these teams are meeting. The Crusaders own a 17-5 all-time series lead despite losing to the Grizzlies by two points in each of the last two matchups.

The Crusaders used a balanced attack to dispatch the Flames. Keith Carter provided a huge spark off the bench with 19 points on 7-of-8 efficiency from the field. LaVonte Dority tallied 14 points and six assists while Jordan Coleman posted 13 points and six boards. Carter, who transferred to Valpo from Saint Louis last season, has played only four games this season since becoming eligible and averaged 9.5 ppg. Dority is pacing the team with 15.4 ppg, while Alec Peters adds 14 ppg and a team-best 5.3 rpg. Dority has scored in double figures nine times and led Valpo in scoring on three occasions.

The Grizzlies have a pair of national leaders in their backcourt in seniors Travis Bader and Duke Mondy. Bader is averaging 4.8 makes from beyond the arc per game to pace all Division I players, while Mondy is registering four steals per outing. Bader, who is leading the HL with 21.6 ppg, needs just 25 more made 3-pointers to pass former Duke guard J.J. Redick's career record of 457. Corey Petros has also been a key player for Oakland with contributions of 14.1 ppg and 8.3 rpg. Bader was limited to 15 points by Wright State. Petros finished the contest with 16 points and eight boards. Freshman point guard Kahlil Felder has handed out 25 assists over the last three games.

The Crusaders have struggled away from home in 2013-14, but they have been excellent in league play under Drew. Oakland's sporadic play on the offensive end combined with its consistently poor defensive performance makes it ripe for the picking for Valpo, which is only going to get better as Carter gels with his teammates.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 77, Oakland 73

01/04 10:39:39 ET

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