What went down: The Loyola men’s basketball team (21-5, 11-3) traveled to Indiana State University Saturday afternoon. The Ramblers defeated the Sycamores 75-71 to improve to 21-5 overall and 11-3 in Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play.
Loyola now has a 2.5 game lead over Southern Illinois University and Illinois State University in the MVC standings. Southern Illinois and Illinois State are scheduled to play Bradley University and Valparaiso University, respectively, Feb. 11.
How it happened: Loyola committed 10 turnovers in the first half and trailed Indiana State 36-31 at halftime. The Ramblers came back to shoot 14-for-22 from the field while outscoring the Sycamores 44-35 after the break. Five Ramblers scored in double figures for Loyola in the victory.
Analysis: Senior forward Donte Ingram led Loyola with 17 points and six rebounds. The Chicago native shot 6-for-12 from the field and 3-for-7 from three point land in the effort. Ingram is tied for second on the team in scoring with 11.3 ppg and his 6.5 rpg is second on the team.
Senior forward Aundre Jackson added 15 points against Indiana State. Jackson is tied with Ingram in averaging 11.3 ppg and is shooting an average of 59.1 percent this season. The reigning MVC Sixth Man of the Year is making a case to win the award again and his versatility continues to impress down low.
Redshirt junior guards Clayton Custer and Marques Townes each played better in the second half en route to 13 points and 11 points, respectively. Both players scored eight points in the second half. Custer leads the Ramblers with an average of 14.3 ppg while Townes is tied with Ingram and Jackson with 11.3 ppg. The balance of those numbers is critical to Loyola’s success as the team doesn’t need to rely on one player to win the game.
First-year center Cameron Krutwig continues his quest for MVC Freshman of the Year honors, scoring 10 points and snagging six rebounds against Indiana State. With four games left, Krutwig is 27 rebounds away from 200 rebounds on the season, which is an achievement only 13 other MVC first-years have reached.
With the victory, Loyola will avoid a season sweep by any MVC team for the first time since joining the MVC in 2013. It’s also the first time the team’s avoided a season sweep in conference play since it was a member of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference in 1984-85 — when it last made the NCAA tournament.
The Ramblers’ magic number to clinch the MVC regular-season title is three. The number drops every time Loyola wins and drops again every time Southern Illinois and Illinois State lose. The race for the crown has potential to run until Loyola’s final home game against Illinois State Feb. 24, but there’s a chance the Ramblers could clinch the title Feb. 14 against Valparaiso if Southern Illinois and Illinois State both lose Feb. 11.
What’s next? The Ramblers are scheduled to take on Valparaiso at Gentile Arena Feb. 14.