By Chad Waller, Director of Communications and Sports Information
NAIA Game of the Week – No. 3
No. 15 Benedictine (Kan.) (14-4, 7-1 HAAC) at No. 5 Evangel (Mo.) (16-3, 7-0 HAAC)
Saturday, Jan. 25 | 4 p.m. CST | Ashcroft Center | Springfield, Mo.
Live Stats | Live Audio – Provided by Benedictine
• First place in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) will be on the line Saturday, when No. 5 Evangel (Mo.) hosts No. 15 Benedictine (Kan.) at 4 p.m. CST in Springfield, Mo. The teams currently sit atop the conference with seven wins each, though Benedictine (7-1) trails Evangel (7-0) due to a 95-86 loss on Jan. 11 at MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.).
• Saturday’s contest is the first of two regular-season meetings between the Top 25 teams and HAAC rivals, with the second coming on March 1 on Benedictine’s home floor. As the final regular-season game for both squads, the second matchup could have significant HAAC title implications.
• This is the 47th meeting between the two programs since Benedictine joined the HAAC in 1992. During that period, Evangel holds a 32-14 edge over the Ravens.
• Evangel has not lost to the Ravens on its home floor since Dec. 2, 2006, and has dropped just one game to Benedictine since the HAAC moved to NAIA Division I during the 2008-2009 season.
• With 79 points and seven-of-ten first place votes, Evangel was picked to repeat as HAAC champion in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll on Oct. 15. Benedictine, which finished fifth last season, received one first-place nod and was picked to finish fourth.
• Evangel has qualified for four-straight NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championships, dating back to 2010. The Crusaders also qualified for seven NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championships before the HAAC moved to Division I. Benedictine has yet to qualify for a Men’s Basketball National Championship in either Division I or Division II.
• Benedictine is led by senior forward Charlie Wallrapp, who leads the team in scoring (14.39 points per game) and rebounds (7.67 per game), and John Harris Jr., who is second on the team in scoring (11.78 points per game) and leads the team in assists (3.22 per game). Wallrapp’s best performance came against Graceland (Iowa) on Jan. 16, when he grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds and added 18 points in the Ravens' 70-55 win. Harris’ best game came in a 73-58 win over Hastings (Neb.), when he scored a career-high 23 points on seven-of-nine shooting and went nine-for-nine from the charity stripe.
• As a team, the Ravens lead the NAIA in 3-point field goal percentage (.441), while also ranking among the top 15 nationally in 3-point field goals made per game (11th, 8.44), total 3-point field goals made (11th, 152), field goal percentage (12th, .489), blocks per game (14th, 3.56) and total blocks (15th, 64).
• Evangel features a balanced offense, with four players averaging at least 10 points per game. Paramount among those scorers is senior forward Zach Kleine, who leads the team in scoring (22.26 points per game). Junior forward Korry Tillery leads the team in rebounds (9.26 per game), while senior guard Jonathan Williams paces the team in assists (4.00 per game). Both Tillery and Williams have set career-highs in points, assists and rebounds this season, while Kleine has set new career marks in points and assists.
• Kleine had the best performance of the trio, when he exploded for 38 points on 15-of-22 shooting in the Crusaders' 80-77 win over Dakota State (S.D.) on Nov. 29. Williams scored a career-high 34 against Peru State (Neb.) on Dec. 7, while Tillery went for a career-high 24 against Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) in the first game of the 2013-14 season on Nov. 1.
• As a team, the Crusaders rank second nationally in 3-point field goal defense (.280), while also ranking among the top 15 nationally in free throw percentage (4th, .746), defensive rebounds per game (8th, 30.16) and field goal percentage defense (12th, .405).
Additional Notes from Around NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball
(Through games played on Jan. 23, 2014)
• From Jan. 24 - 26, the 11th Annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers weekend will occur to raise awareness about the fight against cancer. Both divisions of NAIA Men's Basketball Coaches will conduct a national effort of fund raising for the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and American Cancer Society. Follow CoachesvsCancer on Facebook and @CoachesvsCancer on Twitter and leverage your social media channels using the hashtag #SuitsAndSneakers to share your school and coach’s participation in Suits And Sneakers. For more information, click here.
• Just one team remains unbeaten in Division I men's basketball, Freed Hardeman (Tenn.) at 15-0. The newest member of the American Midwest Conference has smashed its school-record for its best start, which was eight-games.
• Freed-Hardeman leads Division I with its current 15-game win streak. Cal State San Marcos is second in line with an 11-game streak.
• Cal State San Marcos (20-1) and Dalton State (Ga.) (20-2) own the most victories with 20 each.
• On Jan. 9, Evangel (Mo.) head coach Steve Jenkins reached the 600-win plateau after a 85-78 victory over MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.). He became the seventh active Division I head coach to hit 600 wins.
• Starting their program in 1902 – 03, the Tigers of Georgetown (Ky.) are the all-time leader in NAIA men’s basketball with 1,739 wins (through games on Jan. 23, 2014). Georgetown is 14-5 on the season.
• SAGU (Texas) was voted the No. 1 team in the Division I Men's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll, its first-ever No. 1 ranking. For the complete release, click here.
• Cameron Lewis of Fisk (Tenn.) was named this week’s NAIA National Division I Men’s Basketball Player of the Week. For the complete release, click here.
• Other Top 25 matchups this week:
o Monday – No. 6 Talladega (Ala.) def. No. 16 Xavier (La.), 93-90
o Wednesday – No. 13 Arizona Christian def. No. 19 Hope International (Calif.), 65-64
o Thursday – No. 4 Pikeville (Ky.) def. No. 20 Rio Grande (Ohio), 96-78
o Thursday – No. 15 Benedictine (Kan.) def. No. 11 Culver-Stockton (Mo.), 79-72
o Saturday – No. 6 Talladega (Ala.) at No. 21 Philander Smith (Ark.)
o Saturday – No. 23 Vanguard (Calif.) at No. 13 Arizona Christian
o Saturday – No. 18 Montana Western at No. 24 Great Falls (Mont.)
o Saturday – No. 17 St. Gregory's (Okla.) at No. 22 Mid-America Christian (Okla.)
2013-14 NAIA DI Menís Basketball Game of the Week
No. 5 Evangel (Mo.) hosts No. 15 Benedictine (Kan.) at 4 p.m. Saturday
By Chad Waller, Director of Communications and Sports Information