What went down: The Loyola men’s basketball team (13-4, 3-2) traveled to Normal to take on Illinois State University (ISU) Jan. 10. The Ramblers defeated the Redbirds 68-61 for their first victory at Redbird Arena since 1991.
How it happened: Five Ramblers scored in double figures, led by senior forward Aundre Jackson’s 15 points. Redshirt juniors Clayton Custer and Marques Townes added 14 points and 12 points, respectively. Sophomore guard Bruno Skokna added 11 points off the bench.
Analysis: After starting 13 games, Jackson has been coming off the bench the last four games and found his shot against ISU after going 2-for-7 against the University of Northern Iowa Jan. 7. He went 6-for-7 from the field and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line. Jackson is embracing his role as sixth man off the bench, a role which earned him Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Sixth Man of the Year honors last season. Despite not being in the starting lineup, Jackson is still able to make a difference during MVC play –– playing similar minutes to the starters.
The Ramblers are now 11-1 with Custer in the lineup this season and 2-3 without him. The Overland Park, Kansas, native has scored double-digit points in both games since his return from an ankle injury he suffered Dec. 6. His return is crucial for the Ramblers as MVC play heats up, as they have a 1.29 turnover-assist ratio (201/155) when he’s active.
The Loyola defense gave ISU first-year Milik Yarbrough trouble throughout the contest. Yarbrough, a three-time MVC Newcomer of the Week, committed four fouls and eight turnovers as a result of the double-team defense Loyola countered with. Yarbrough has the ability to be a difference-maker for ISU and his neutralization was crucial to Loyola holding on to win.
Senior guard Donte Ingram earned his thousandth career point against Illinois State. Ingram, who had five points and five rebounds on the night, is the 42nd player in program history to achieve the milestone.
Moser’s thoughts: Head coach Porter Moser, who coached at ISU from 2001-04, said in the postgame press conference that he’s proud of how his team played given ISU’s home conference winning streak.
“We beat a very good team,” Moser said. “It’s been a long time since they’ve lost a conference game in this [arena], so … I’m really happy for our guys and how hard they played.”
What’s next? Loyola is scheduled to return home to take on Bradley University, who is also 3-2 in MVC play, Jan. 13.