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IUPUI (4-9) at Valparaiso (7-4)

The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, December 20, 8:05 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: IUPUI 3-2, Valparaiso 5-0. Away Record: IUPUI 0-5, Valparaiso 2-4. Neutral Record: IUPUI 1-2, Valparaiso 0-0. Conference Record: IUPUI 0-2, Valparaiso 0-0. Series Record: Valparaiso leads, 15-8.

GAMES NOTES: In the first of a pair of home games, the Valparaiso Crusaders will face the IUPUI Jaguars in a non-conference battle at the Athletics- Recreation Center on Thursday night.

In a two-game home stint last week, IUPUI split decisions with a 65-69 victory over IU Northwest and a 75-61 loss to Indiana State. After the loss to the Sycamores the Jaguars are now 4-9 this season. That record has been hurt especially by the Jaguars' play on the road as they are winless in all five games this season. IUPUI will play a second road game against Ball State on Sunday before opening Summit League play against IUPU-Fort Wayne next Wednesday.

Valparaiso also took a loss in its last game as the Crusaders were knocked off by Oakland by a slim 70-68 margin. That loss wrapped up a three-game road trip for the Crusaders. Overall Valparaiso is a solid 7-4 this season and a return home should help the Crusaders add some more wins as they are a perfect 5-0 at the ARC this year. Valparaiso's next opponent will be Purdue Calumet out of the NAIA.

IUPUI has won consecutive games in the all-time series and five of the last six overall. That has helped the Jaguars inch closer to Valparaiso which leads the all-time series 15-8.

The Jaguars shot at a 39.3 percent clip from the floor against Indiana State and allowed the Sycamores to net an even 50.0 percent of their field goal attempts. The Jaguars were really beat up on the inside as they were outscored by a 36-18 margin on points in the paint, while being outrebounded 40-25. Jordan Shanklin came off the bench to score a team-high 19 points in the losing effort.

Slowing opposing teams down has not come easily for IUPUI. The Jaguars are being lit up for 75.0 points per game on 47.5 percent shooting which are both among the worst marks in the Summit League. On the offensive end the Jaguars are scoring at 67.6 points per game and connecting on 42.8 percent of their field goal attempts. An improvement in shooting could really help the Jaguars who have the second most field goal attempts (764) in the country. IUPUI can be too reliant on 3-point shooting as they have attempted the 12 most shots from distance (259) in the nation but hit only 34.7 percent of those. John Hart (14.5 ppg) and Mitchell Patton (14.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) are the top scoring options.

In a back and forth game, Valparaiso managed to earn a 68-60 lead with 4:27 remaining against Oakland. That lead quickly dissipated as Oakland ripped off a 10-0 run over the final minutes to come away with the win. The Crusaders turned the ball over twice and missed on all four of their field goal attempts down the stretch. LaVonte Dority led the way with 14 points but needed 14 shots to do so.

Efficiency has really keyed the success of Valparaiso's offense this year. The Crusaders are the leading shooting team in the Horizon League as they hit on 45.7 percent of their shots from the floor. That has led to a not remarkable but otherwise healthy 66.2 points per game scoring average. Valparaiso has really locked down on defense by limiting opposition to just 58.7 points per game on 40.0 percent shooting. The frontcourt duo of Ryan Broekhoff (16.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Kevin Van Wijk (13.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg) has been the driving force for the Crusader offense. Van Wijk is a more traditional front line player, while Broekhoff can spread the floor with his ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc. Dority missed the first 11 games of the season but has provided a real spark off the bench since coming back. His offense is particularly needed since no other player on the roster is scoring more than 6.6 points per game.

The frontcourt tandem of Broekhoff and Van Wijk will create a lot of matchup problems for IUPUI which doesn't have all that much in terms of an inside presence. The Jaguars' reliance on shooting from 3-point range can lead to boom or bust results and on the road its likely to be the latter.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 71, IUPUI 62

12/20 10:38:28 ET