Valparaiso (9-4) at Murray State (9-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 29, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: CFSB Center (8,600) -- Murray, Kentucky. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Valpo 7-0, MSU 4-0. Away Record: Valpo 2-4, MSU 3-1. Neutral Record: Valpo 0-0, MSU 2-1. Conference Record: Valpo 0-0, MSU 0-0. Series Record: Murray State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams vying for their 10th win of the season get together in Kentucky on Saturday afternoon, as the Murray State Racers go up against the Crusaders of Valparaiso in non-conference action at the CFSB Center.
In the case of the Racers, they are coming off just their second loss of the campaign, a 77-68 defeat at the hands of Dayton last weekend on the road. The loss snapped the team's six-game win streak, as well as its school-record 16- game road win streak as well, with the Ohio Valley Conference schedule set to begin this coming week at UT-Martin.
As for the Crusaders, this game represents the only road date during a five- game stretch over the course of a couple weeks for the group. The team is riding a modest two-game win streak at the moment thanks to a 79-51 romp over Purdue Calumet at home a week ago. Next week Valpo is back at home against both Loyola-Chicago and Cleveland State as it too begins conference play against Horizon League foes.
In terms of the all-time series, this is just the second meeting between the programs after a 78-58 win for the Racers back in 1999 during the semifinal round of the Hoop and Quill Classic.
Despite not having Ryan Broekhoff, the Crusaders had little trouble taking care of Purdue Calumet the last time out, as the team shot 54.9 percent from the floor in order to overcome 18 turnovers. LaVonte Dority made good on 10- of-12 at the free-throw line as he finished with a game-high 19 points, followed by Will Bogan with 14, Ben Boggs with 12 and Kevin Van Wijk with 10 and seven boards in the victory. Broekhoff, a starter in all 12 games in which he has appeared, leads the team in scoring with 16.6 ppg and is also tops on the team with 7.8 rpg which makes it somewhat unusual that he is also the most productive 3-point threat at the moment with 30-of-71 (.423) accuracy. Dority (15.0 ppg) has appeared in only four games, but a more reliable producer for the group is Van Wijk (13.1 ppg), even though he's responsible for a huge chunk of the unit's 207 turnovers through 13 games.
Murray State led by a point with just over 4:30 remaining in regulation, but from there the Racers watched Dayton go on a 12-2 run which eventually carried the hosts to the nine-point victory. Isaiah Canaan finished with 20 points and five assists for the squad, but he shot only 4-of-14 from the floor, while Ed Daniel put together a healthy double-double with 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for the visitors as well. Daniel is currently averaging a double- double for MSU with averages of 16.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per contest, his 21 blocked shots accounting for more than half the unit's 40 rejections through 11 games. Canaan continues to do it all for the Racers, from his 20.9 ppg and 3.7 rpg, to his team-best 43 assists and 42.4 percent shooting beyond the arc, making him a tough matchup for almost every defender again this season.
Unless something drastic happens, Canaan isn't about to let the Racers take a loss at home against an opponent that should be dismissed.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 71, Valparaiso 66
12/29 10:46:12 ET