The Loyola men’s basketball team (8-6, 1-0) dominated Indiana State University 79-44 in its first Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) game of the season at Gentile Arena Wednesday night. The offensive outburst comes after Loyola scored just 42 points in a loss to St. Joseph’s University Dec. 22.
Loyola scored 46 first-half points while holding Indiana State to only 12 before the break. The Ramblers shot 65.5 percent overall and 54.5 percent from beyond the three-point line in the first 20 minutes. On defense, they forced nine turnovers and held the Sycamores scoreless for the final 7:47 before halftime.
Head coach Porter Moser has said his goal for each game is to have 15 or more assists and 10 or less turnovers. The Ramblers achieved both for the first time this season against Indiana State, dishing 20 assists and committing eight turnovers.
“We didn’t start off scorching the nets,” Moser said after the game. “We didn’t let that dictate our defense. That is such a good sign because when you struggle shooting like we have, you tend to hang your [head].”
Redshirt sophomore forward Aher Uguak led Loyola in scoring with a season-high 19 points on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting. Coming into the game, Uguak was shooting 37 percent and had only scored in double figures once.
“I’ve had a very up-and-down year,” Uguak said. “[Moser] just talked to me all the time and told to me to do what I can control and play defense and rebound. That’s what has helped me stay focused and have confidence.”
Sophomore center Cameron Krutwig recorded his second double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He also dished out five assists while adding two blocks and two steals in only 20 minutes of action.
Moser praised Krutwig for his impact on both sides of the ball and how he improved throughout the game
“I took [Krutwig] out really early [because] I wasn’t happy with the way he started,” Moser said. “His defense in the first four minutes compared to the rest of the time he was out there was a night-and-day difference.”
Redshirt senior guards Clayton Custer and Marques Townes also scored in double figures for the Ramblers. Custer had 12 points while Townes had 13 points with seven rebounds and five assists.
Loyola was voted as the top team in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) preseason poll, which was determined by coaches, sports information directors and members of the media — including The Phoenix. Indiana State was picked to finish sixth in the poll, and fell to 8-5 on the season with the loss.
The NCAA created a new metric, the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), which uses predictive statistics to rank every NCAA team to help determine at-large bids to March Madness. Coming into the game, Indiana State ranked 106th out of 353 Division I teams in the NET, while Loyola ranked 125th.
Indiana State junior guard Jordan Barnes went into the game as the MVC’s leading scorer with 20.8 points per game. Loyola held him scoreless in 14 minutes as Barnes didn’t play in the second half due to an illness, according to Indiana State Athletics.
Official word from ISU sports information is that Barnes is sick.— Todd Aaron Golden (@TribStarTodd) January 3, 2019
The Ramblers are next scheduled to travel to Drake University Jan. 5. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.