Loyola at Wright State Game Notes
LISTEN LIVE on Rambler Network here
WATCH LIVE on Horizon League Network here
Feb. 3, 2013
LOYOLA (13-9, 3-6) at WRIGHT STATE (14-8, 5-4)
February 4, 2013 - 7 p.m. EST
Dayton, Ohio - Nutter Center
Radio: www.loyolaramblers.com - John Fitzgerald (play-by-play)
Live Video: www.horizonleague.com
THE OPENING TIP
Loyola will try to get back on the winning track when it pays a visit to Wright State Monday night. That contest will be the second of three games in three cities over a six-day span.
Loyola's offense is starting to round into shape and over the last four Horizon League contests, the Ramblers are putting up 67.8 ppg thanks in large part to a 50 percent (101 for 201) shooting rate. Through the first five League outings, Loyola managed just 58.8 ppg and connected on only 40 percent (104 for 259) of its field goal attempts.
Head coach Porter Moser has steered Loyola to a six-game improvement from a year ago to match the school record for greatest jump by a head coach from his first year to his second. Jim Whitesell's 2005-06 squad also made a six-game jump from 13 to 19 wins.
With a 13-9 record and at least nine games left on the schedule, the Ramblers have an opportunity to record just their sixth winning season in the last 28 years. Four of those winning seasons have come in the last 11 years.
With victories over Mississippi State and DePaul to its credit this year, Loyola has recorded at least two wins over BCS conference teams for the first time since the 1991-92 season when the Maroon and Gold prevailed over Northwestern and Purdue.
Loyola's 16-player roster has accumulated only 16 combined years of post-high school basketball experience tying it with Horizon League rival Wright State as the sixth-youngest team in NCAA Division I.
Freshman guard Jeff White starred at Manual High School in Peoria, Ill., where he was a teammate of Wright State freshman Jacoby Roddy.
ABOUT THE RAIDERS
The Last Meeting
January 11, 2013
Loyola Falls To Wright State In Crushing Fashion, 62-61
Reggie Arceneaux hit a three-pointer with 1:35 remaining to cap an 11-point, second-half rally and Wright State (13-4, 4-0 Horizon) held on down the stretch for a 62-61 victory over Loyola University Chicago (10-6, 1-3 Horizon) tonight at Gentile Arena. The loss is the Ramblers' second in a row at home and those defeats have come by a combined three points.
After opening the season with a 13-4 record and winning its first four Horizon League contests, Wright State has fallen on hard times, and has stumbled in four of the last five games, all in League play, including each of the last three. The Raiders have dropped their last two games at the Nutter Center by a combined 13 points, and are 8-2 there this season. The top defensive team in the Horizon League, Wright State is limiting opponents to 58.5 points per game and to 41 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent from the foul line. Junior forward Cole Darling (11.1 ppg) and sophomore guard Reggie Arceneaux (10.5 ppg) lead a young WSU team that features no seniors.
Monday's game will be the 38th meeting between the teams with Wright State in possession of a 23-15 lead in the all-time series. Loyola has lost 12 of the last 13 games against Wright State, including each of the last six. The Nutter Center has not been kind to the Ramblers in this series as they have not won there since a 74-57 decision on February 5, 2005, dropping seven straight to the Raiders. When the teams met in Chicago last month in a thrilling contest, Loyola let an 11-point lead slip away as Reggie Arceneaux scored 29 points and hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 1:35 left to give Wright State a 62-61 victory. Ben Averkamp totaled 15 points and Devon Turk added 14 for Loyola.
With a pair of free throws at the 19:18 mark of the second half in the season opener against Toledo, senior forward Ben Averkamp became the 39th player in Loyola history to score 1,000 points. Now 17th on the school's career scoring chart with 1,332 points, the 6-foot-8 Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League pick needs 41 points to tie Wayne Sappleton for 16th all-time with 1,373 points. In the Ramblers' victory versus Maryland-Eastern Shore on November 18, Averkamp collected his 500th career rebound making him just the 19th player in Loyola history, and the second in as many seasons, to top the 1,000-point and 500-rebound marks for his career. Last season, Walt Gibler joined that exclusive club.
An overtime victory at Chicago State on January 20 gave the Ramblers 10 regular-season wins versus non-conference opponents for just the fifth time in school history and the first since 2006-07. In 1979-80, the Ramblers recorded 13 regular-season victories against non-conference foes.
HALL OF AN HONOR
On March 16, Loyola assistant coach and former University of Arizona star Jason Gardner will be inducted into the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Hall of Honor at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. Gardner was the Naismith Player of the Year in 2003 and helped the Wildcats to a NCAA Runner-Up finish in 2001. He totaled 1,984 career points in his illustrious career.
Oddly enough, Loyola has played better away from home this season and heads into Monday's game at Wright State having won five of its last seven road contests. With six true road wins, the Ramblers have their most wins on enemy hardwood since posting seven road victories (7-7) during the 2010-11 season. Loyola has not won more than seven true road games since capturing 11 road wins during the 1984-85 campaign.
GETTING IT DONE WITH DEFENSE
Defense has been the foundation of the Rambler program since Porter Moser took over the reins for the 2011-12 campaign. In two seasons under Moser's leadership, Loyola has allowed only 53.3 ppg in its 20 victories, while also limiting opponents to 37 percent (400 for 1,079) shooting from the field and 28 percent (91 for 327) from beyond the arc. The Ramblers have held the opposition under 50 points on nine occasions under Moser. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Loyola's defense has surrendered 55 points or less on 16 occasions after doing so just 15 times in the previous three seasons combined. Through games of January 30, Loyola ranked 44th in the nation in scoring defense at 59.8 ppg, and in 10 of its 13 wins this season has held the opposition to less than 40 percent field goal accuracy.
Freshman Devon Turk has given the Ramblers a bona fide three-point shooting threat, something that was sorely missing last season. The first true freshman to connect for at least one three-pointer in each of his first 10 games as a Rambler, the 6-foot-4 guard came off the bench to produce 14 points versus Wright State last month. Turk has provided instant offense off the bench and ranks second among Horizon League freshmen, behind only Cleveland State's Bryn Forbes (12.0 ppg), with 8.0 ppg. Over his last three games versus competition from the state of Ohio, he is posting 12.3 ppg and shooting 48 percent (12 for 25) from the field and 50 percent (9 for 18) from beyond the arc. Turk ranks third in the League in three-point field goal percentage (.424) and he torched Mississippi State for a career-best 21 points, 18 of which came in the first half, for the highest-scoring output by a Loyola true freshman since Jordan Hicks tallied 23 points at Butler on February 15, 2009. A sure sign of his ability to score in bunches can be found in Turk's point production versus his minutes played. His 21-point effort against Mississippi State came in only 24 minutes of action and he also had 19 points in 24 minutes versus Furman, and 10 points in 11 minutes at DePaul.
PAYNE IS LOYOLA'S GAIN
After having not played in a college game in nearly two years, Cully Payne needed some time to shake off the rust, but he has proven to be a major addition to the roster. A transfer from the University of Iowa who was a Sporting News Freshman All-Big Ten pick in 2009-10, the junior point guard has averaged 9.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 4.5 apg, and 1.1 spg, while shooting 36 percent (48 for 132) from the field, and 38 percent (29 for 76) from long distance over the last 17 games. In his first five contests this season, Payne managed 4.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.2 apg, and 0.6 spg, and connected on only 20 percent (5 for 25) of his field goal attempts, including just 8 percent (1 for 12) from beyond the arc. In a 69-61 victory over DePaul, the team's first win against the Blue Demons since 1989, Payne contributed 24 points, one shy of his career high set while playing for the Hawkeyes. His 24 points against DePaul are the most by a Rambler guard since Geoff McCammon lit up Youngstown State for 27 points on January 27, 2011. A starter in all 59 of his career appearances, the Ramblers are 11-5 this season when he scores six or more points and 4-3 when he scores in double digits. Payne has knocked down at least one three-pointer in 10 of Loyola's last 11 outings and is coming off a 10-point, eight-assist performance against Green Bay two days ago. Payne, who ranks third in the Horizon League with 4.5 apg, has also converted 20 of his last 24 (.833) attempts from the foul line, and in his last four contests is managing 10.0 ppg on 50 percent (13 for 26) shooting from the field and 57 percent (8 for 14) from long distance after netting 4.3 ppg and hitting 17 percent (5 for 29) of his shots from the field and 21 percent (4 for 19) from triple territory in the previous four outings.
After suffering through a month-long offensive slump, fifth-year senior Jordan Hicks has broken out of the funk with a vengeance in the last two contests, averaging 18.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.0 spg, and shooting a staggering 68 percent (15 for 22) from the field and 44 percent (4 for 9) from three-point land. The Ramblers would love to see the Rochester, Minn., native finish his final season the way he did his freshman year when he tallied 13.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 1.4 spg, and shot 54 percent (34 for 63) from the field and 55 percent (12 for 22) from long distance over the final seven games of 2008-09. Over the last five games, the 6-foot-6 swingman has accounted for 12.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 3.0 apg, and converted 61 percent (25 for 41) of his field goal tries after mustering 3.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, and connecting on only 33 percent (14 for 42) of his shots. Hicks' 21 points against Milwaukee on January 30 are his most since a 21-point outburst at Western Michigan on November 20, 2010.
When Ben Averkamp (22 points) and Jordan Hicks (21 points) each topped the 20-point plateau against Milwaukee on January 30, it marked the first time Rambler teammates had scored 20 or more points in the same game since January 5, 2012 at Youngstown State when Walt Gibler (26) and Averkamp (23) accomplished the feat.
BEN AT WORK
A year ago, Ben Averkamp emerged as one of the top players in the conference and this season his name should be in the discussion for Horizon League Player of the Year. The senior captain has embraced the role of leader for a young team that has nearly doubled its win total from last season. Earlier this year, the 6-foot-8 forward was named to the USF Invitational All-Tournament Team after putting up 20.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, and 2.0 bpg in three games. One of only two players - Valpo's Ryan Broekhoff is the other - to rank among the top five in the Horizon League in both scoring (15.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg), the Germantown, Wis., native has been a staple in the Loyola lineup, earning a starting nod in 89 of his last 90 appearances. An inside-outside threat, Averkamp connected for four three-point field goals en route to 25 points at No. 19 Michigan State on December 8, but after opening the year 10 for 24 (.417) from beyond the arc, has drained just 2 of his last 17 (.118) triple tries. Averkamp, who is converting 56 percent (25 for 45) of his field goal attempts in the last four games, is contributing 16.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg, and 1.7 apg over Loyola's last seven outings. He has scored in double digits in seven straight games, his longest stretch of the season. Despite failing to score 20 or more points in his first 69 appearances as a Rambler, Averkamp has topped the 20-point plateau 14 times in his last 42 outings, including four times this season.
MAKING THE GRADE
In addition to his exploits on the hardwood, Averkamp also is an exceptional student and campus leader who defines the term "student-athlete." In November, the senior forward was named one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to the NCAA Division I senior with notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, character, classroom and competition. Among the select group of individuals on that list are Isaiah Canaan (Murray State), Drew Crawford (Northwestern), C.J. McCollum (Lehigh), Brandon Paul (Illinois) and Miles Plumlee (Duke), among others. In addition to being a Capital One Academic All-District V selection last year, Averkamp also was named to the Horizon League Men's Basketball All-Academic Team, National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honors Court, I-AAA Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete Team, National Jesuit Men's Basketball All-Academic Team, and Horizon League Academic Honor Roll. He was named Horizon League Male Scholar-Athlete of the Month in both November and December this season.
MORE ON AVERKAMP'S ACADEMICS
Last week, Ben Averkamp was named to the Capital One Academic All-District V Team for the second consecutive season and he will now appear on the national Academic All-America ballot. The biology major was joined on the academic all-district squad by Aaron Craft (Ohio State), Cody Zeller (Indiana), Jordan Hulls (Indiana), and Andrew Smith (Butler).
THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS
Arguably the most improved player on the roster, Christian Thomas has gotten back into his comfort zone now that he is no longer being asked to play on the perimeter. The sophomore has emerged as a scoring threat at the offensive end of the floor, while also becoming one of the top board men in the conference, particularly over the last 13 games. After putting up only 4.6 ppg and 4.0 rpg, while connecting on 52 percent (12 for 23) of his field goal tries in the first nine games of the year, the St. Louis, Mo., native has cranked up his production to 13.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, and 62 percent (67 for 109) shooting from the field in the last 13 contests. His numbers have jumped to 16.0 ppg and 7.6 rpg over the last seven games since a scoreless-with-one-rebound effort at Green Bay on January 9. Thomas has scored in double digits in 11 of the last 13 games, and has posted four double doubles during that stretch, including an 18-point, 11-rebound effort against Detroit on January 26. Should he maintain his current accuracy rate from the field (.598), the 6-foot-5 forward, who has already surpassed his point total from his rookie season (149), would post the best single-season field percentage (minimum 100 attempts) by a Rambler since JaJa Richards in 1996-97 (63 for 105 - .600). Thomas has scored in double figures in a career-best seven straight contests and he has increased his output in Horizon League action from 4.5 ppg and 3.7 rpg a year ago to 13.9 ppg and 6.0 rpg in 2012-13. He is pitching in 16.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, and is shooting 72 percent (18 for 25) from the field, in the last three road games.
TURK'S A TRIPLE THREAT
With a three-pointer late in Saturday's loss to Green Bay, Devon Turk equaled Brian Wolf's Loyola rookie record of 42 set in 1989-90. Turk's 42 treys are close to doubling the mark of last season's team leaders, Ben Averkamp (26) and Joe Crisman (26). Turk has struggled with his stroke of late however, and after putting up 8.9 ppg and shooting 47 percent (35 for 74) from long range through the first 16 games, has managed only 5.5 ppg on 28 percent (7 for 25) shooting from three-point territory.
MAYBE IT IS HOW YOU START
Getting off to a strong start has paved the way to success for Loyola in recent history as it has gone 27-5 (.844) when leading at the half since the start of the 2010-11 season. Since the outset of the 2008-09 campaign, the Ramblers are 48-10 (.828) when leading at the break. Loyola has led at the intermission in all eight of its home games this winter.
Loyola has put together an impressive run of 14 or more unanswered points to help the team to a victory six times in its 13 wins this season. Wednesday night marked the second time this year that the Ramblers have strung together 20 consecutive points to turn a deficit into a comfortable lead. On December 1, Loyola hung 20 unanswered points on Furman en route to a 77-50 victory and the Ramblers also have put together runs of 17-0 (vs. Mississippi State) and 16-0 (vs. Rockhurst, vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore, and at Cleveland State) on their way to victories. Loyola tallied 14 straight points to take a 30-25 lead at No. 19 Michigan State, but eventually fell to the Spartans, 73-61.
GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY OF GREATNESS
The 2012-13 season marks the 50th anniversary of Loyola's 1963 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. To this day, Loyola remains the only school in the state of Illinois to have won a NCAA Division I men's basketball title and a season-long celebration is planned to commemorate the remarkable accomplishments of that team. Earlier this season, Loyola unveiled a website dedicated to the 1963 team, www.Loyola63.com, which features articles, statistics, biographies, photos and video interviews with players from that historic squad.
PAYNE, PICKETT SIGN FOR 2013-14 SEASON
In November, Loyola announced that Quinten Payne and Jordan Pickett had signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University and play basketball starting next fall. Payne, the younger brother of Loyola junior guard Cully Payne, is a 6-foot-4 guard who averaged 16.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, and 3.1 apg at St. Charles North High School in St. Charles, Ill., last season. A 6-foot-1 guard, Pickett put up gaudy numbers last year at University High School, going for 26.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, and 3.0 spg. Both players are ranked among the top 15 in their respective state by ESPN.
NOT WITHOUT A HITCH
Head athletic trainer Dr. Tom Hitcho has worked 1,039 consecutive Loyola men's basketball games heading into Monday's contest at Wright State. Hired prior to the 1977-78 season, Hitcho has not missed a Rambler game in 36 years, and has been witness to 481 victories.
Ben Averkamp closed out the 2011-12 season in fine fashion, averaging 20.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, and shooting 53 percent (53 for 100) from the field and 41 percent (7 for 17) from triple territory last February ... In the Ramblers' four home losses, they have had defensive break downs that have led to opponents shooting a staggering 65 percent (60 for 92) from the field, and 60 percent (15 for 25) from beyond the arc, in the second halves of those games.