Illinois State (7-14, 2-7) vs. Valparaiso (11-11, 4-5)
Athletics-Recreation Center, Valparaiso, Indiana; Saturday, 8 p.m. EST
BOTTOM LINE: Two guards will be on display as Zach Copeland and Illinois State will battle Javon Freeman-Liberty and Valparaiso. The senior Copeland has scored 23 percent of the team’s points this season and is averaging 19.4 over his last five games. Freeman-Liberty, a sophomore, is averaging 19.4 points over the last five games.
TEAM LEADERS: Valparaiso’s Freeman-Liberty has averaged 20.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals while Donovan Clay has put up 8.5 points and 4.2 rebounds. For the Redbirds, Copeland has averaged 15.5 points while Keith Fisher III has put up 8.3 points and 5.8 rebounds.
DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS: The Redbirds have given up just 68.2 points per game to Missouri Valley opponents so far. That’s an improvement from the 71.9 per game they allowed in non-conference play.
KEY CONTRIBUTIONS: Copeland has accounted for 49 percent of all Illinois State field goals over the last five games. The senior guard has 35 field goals and 22 assists in those games.
WINLESS WHEN: Valparaiso is 0-5 this year when it scores 63 points or fewer and 11-6 when it scores at least 64.
TWO STREAKS: Illinois State has dropped its last seven road games, scoring 63.9 points and allowing 77.1 points during those contests. Valparaiso has won its last three home games, scoring an average of 73 points while giving up 67.7.
DID YOU KNOW: Valparaiso is ranked second among MVC teams with an average of 73.3 points per game.
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