Dec. 15, 2012
CHICAGO - Devon Turk scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the first half to help Loyola University Chicago (7-3) overcome a shaky start and earn a 59-51 victory over Mississippi State (3-6) tonight at Gentile Arena. The win is the Ramblers' fifth in as many home games this season and is their fifth in the last six games overall.
The two schools were meeting for the first time since the historic "Game of Change," on March 15, 1963, when Loyola's team, which featured four African-American starters, prevailed over Mississippi State's all-white team, 61-51, in East Lansing, Mich., in a NCAA regional semifinal match-up. The Bulldogs (then known as the Maroons), were forced to escape Starkville, Miss., under the cover of darkness before an injunction could be served by the governor, preventing MSU from playing an integrated team.
"I am proud to have been a part of this kind of game," Loyola head coach Porter Moser said. "I can't begin to say how classy Mississippi State is and with all that both teams went through in 1963, I'm glad that this story is finally getting told."
Both teams got off to a bit of a slow start and Loyola misfired on its first seven attempts from the field as Mississippi State took an early 6-0 lead. With Loyola trailing by three points almost 12 minutes into the game, Turk drained the second of his four first-half threes to spur a 20-0 Loyola run as the host Ramblers opened up a 34-17 lead with Turk scoring eight of the final 10 points of that stretch.
Loyola's defense tightened up during that run, holding the Bulldogs scoreless for nearly eight minutes, and for the half, limited MSU to 7 of 24 (29 percent) shooting.
Mississippi State was unable to get closer than 11 points in the second half until Tyson Cunningham's final basket of the game, a three-pointer, provided the final margin. Turk's final triple of the night at the 6:36 mark, extended the Ramblers' advantage to 56-38, their largest of the game.
Loyola, which matched its win total from a season ago, owned a 40-28 edge on the glass and held the Mississippi State offense in check, while forcing 15 turnovers.
Turk finished with a career-best 21 points and added three assists, three blocks and a pair of steals. The freshman guard knocked down 5 of 7 shots from beyond the arc, marking the second time in the last three games he has connected for five three-pointers.
"In our recruiting last year, we identified shooting as one of our needs and our newcomers combined for all eight of our threes tonight," Moser said.
Sophomore Christian Thomas had arguably the best game of his career, finishing with a career-high 16 points, hitting 6 of 8 shots from the field, and grabbing six boards.
Fred Thomas totaled 14 points to lead Mississippi State.
Loyola is back in action December 22 when it visits Saint Peter's.