Men’s basketball faces Valparaiso in home MVC opener

Aces and Crusaders meet on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Men’s basketball faces Valparaiso in home MVC opener

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) -The first Missouri Valley Conference home game of the season will take place on Saturday when the University of Evansville men’s basketball team plays host to Valparaiso at the Ford Center for a 6 p.m. tip. ESPN+ along with the Purple Aces Radio Network will have the coverage.

Setting the Scene

- Looking to build on its 5-1 home record, the Purple Aces take on a Crusader team that it has enjoyed great home success against

- Evansville is 41-5 in home games against Valpo and has not lost to the Crusaders in Evansville since Feb. 1, 1969

- Last year, the Aces swept the season series including a 64-53 win at the Ford Center

- Over its last five home conference openers, the Aces have picked up four wins including an exciting 82-77 double overtime triumph against Drake last season

Last Time Out

- In its first conference game on Dec. 31, the Aces fell at Missouri State by a final of 65-52

- Evansville led by as many as 13 points in the first half and went to the break holding a 31-23 lead

- The Bears rallied back from the deficit and took the lead for good in the early moments of the second half

- Sam Cunliffe led the team with 13 points while connecting on six field goals

- DeAndre Williams chipped in his fifth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds

- Taking on one of the top offensive rebounding squads in the nation, Evansville was able to haul in 10 offensive caroms

Up-Tempo Sophomore

- Sophomore Shamar Givance continues to lead the Missouri Valley Conference in assist-to-turnover ratio with a tally of 3.8

- He has 30 assists against just 8 turnovers in his 277 minutes on the floor

- Givance is on an exceptional stretch - over the last seven games, Givance has played 134 minutes while posting 17 assists and just three turnovers

- In the triple overtime thriller against Morgan State, he set his career scoring mark with 15 points while going a perfect 2-2 from outside and 4-7 from the field

Leader of the Pack

- Redshirt Junior Sam Cunliffe has been the Aces top scorer in two of the last three games, including a 13-point contest at Missouri State

- He has eight double figure efforts in 14 contests

- Cunliffe’s season mark of 21 points came in that span as he accomplished the feat in the win over Miami Ohio

- He drained six field goals, three triples and six free throws on the way to his top scoring game at UE

Scouting the Opponent

- Valparaiso stands at an even 7-7 after dropping the first conference game against Loyola

- In Monday’s conference opener, the Crusaders were edged by the Ramblers, 66-63 inside the ARC

- Javon Freeman-Liberty is the leading scorer in the Valley, posting 20.9 points per game

- He leads the team in rebounding (5.6/game), minutes, field goals, 3-pointers, free throws and steals while sitting second on the squad with 50 assists

- Ryan Fazekas has been limited to two games due to injury and averaged 13 PPG in his time on the floor

- Mileek McMillan and Nick Robinson check in with 8.8 and 8.5 points, respectively

Courtesy: UE Athletics

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