Nov. 10, 2013
LOYOLA (1-0) AT TENNESSEE TECH (0-1)
NOVEMBER 12, 2013 - COOKEVILLE, TENN.
7:30 P.M. - EBLEN CENTER
THE OPENING TIP
Loyola hits the road for the first time in 2013-14 when it visits Tennessee Tech on Tuesday evening. The Ramblers are coming off of a 76-72 victory over former conference mate Milwaukee in the season opener Friday night and have won five of their last six regular-season non-conference games played away from home (including neutral sites).
Sophomore guard Jeff White has been a huge part of Loyola's success recently and in the team's last two wins dating back to last season, is collecting 18.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals.
The 2013-14 season marks Loyola's first as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. The Ramblers had previously known just one league, serving as members of the Horizon League (also known as both the Midwestern City and Midwestern Collegiate Conference) since 1979-80.
Dating back to 2012-13, in its last five victories, Loyola is lighting up the scoreboard for 75.0 ppg and is knocking down shots at a sizzling 52 percent (131-for-250) clip.
After tying for the sixth-youngest team in NCAA Division I play in 2012-13, Loyola will field another youthful roster in 2013-14. Moser's 16-player squad has combined for just 17 years of NCAA Division I experience and the Ramblers' roster features just three scholarship upperclassmen - graduate student Tony Nixon and juniors Joe Crisman and Christian Thomas.
A vastly improved three-point-shooting team a year ago, Loyola is connecting on an impressive 49 percent (29-for-59) of its triple tries in the last four games. Three times during that stretch the Ramblers have shot 50 percent or better from triple territory.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN EAGLES
Tennessee Tech was tripped up by South Florida, 72-62, in the season opener for both teams, on November 9. Chicago native and Rich South High School graduate Ty Allen pumped in a game-high 25 points to pace the Golden Eagles, who shot only 37 percent (22-for-60) from the field. A year ago, Tech posted a 12-17 overall record but finished the year on a high note, winning three of its final four contests. In the 2013-14 Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Poll, the Golden Eagles were picked to finish sixth in the East Division.
Tuesday's game will be the sixth meeting between Loyola and Tennessee Tech and only the second time the teams are squaring off in Cookeville, Tenn. The Ramblers hold a 4-1 lead in the all-time series and held off a late Golden Eagles charge last season for an 81-78 victory in Chicago thanks to 18 points from Cully Payne. Loyola dropped an 87-76 decision at Eblen Center on November 27, 2001, in its only visit to the Tech campus. In fact, this is Loyola's first trip to the state of Tennessee since 2002 when it paid a visit to Belmont. Loyola and Tennessee Tech first met on March 11, 1963 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament as the Ramblers were beginning their run to the NCAA Championship. That day, behind 21 points from Ron Miller, Loyola rolled to a 111-42 victory a mark (69 points) that still today stands as the largest margin of victory in NCAA Tournament history.
Two of the greatest players in Loyola history are Tennessee natives - Nashville products Les Hunter and Vic Rouse, who both started on the 1963 team that won the NCAA title by defeating Cincinnati, 60-58, in overtime on Rouse's tip-in at the buzzer. Both Hunter and Rouse attended Pearl High School in Nashville and Hunter still stands as one of only two players in Loyola history to total over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in his career. Meanwhile, Rouse sits sixth on the school's all-time rebounding chart with 982 boards. Both players (Rouse - 40 ; Hunter - 41) have had their jersey number retired by Loyola.
FIXIN' FOR A FAST START
Getting off to a quick start to the season has been a common occurrence for the Ramblers. Last season, Loyola raced out of the starting blocks to a 10-3 record and two other times in the last four seasons, the team has gotten off to a fast start. The 2010-11 Ramblers won seven straight games to open the season and in 2009-10, Loyola posted an 11-2 record to open the year. However, despite those strong openings, only the 2010-11 squad posted a winning record (16-15). A win at Tennessee Tech would give the Ramblers back-to-back seasons with 2-0 starts for the first time since 1976-77 and 1977-78.
Loyola opens the 2013-14 campaign in whirlwind fashion as it plays eight games in 24 days to kick off its first season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. Making that opening stretch even more challenging is the fact that the Ramblers will play six of their first eight contests away from the friendly confines of Gentile Arena. Last season, Loyola opened in similar fashion, playing eight games over the first 23 days.
THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS
Christian Thomas was one of the most improved players in the Midwest last season and looks to build off of a sensational sophomore season. The 6-foot-5 junior forward has scored in double digits in each of the last 17 contests, the longest streak by a Rambler since Blake Schilb reeled off 21 consecutive double-digit-scoring efforts in 2005-06, and over his last seven appearances is producing 18.6 ppg and 8.6 rpg, while shooting 54 percent (46-for-86). A starter in 32 consecutive contests, the St. Louis, Mo., native turned his 2012-13 season around with a 16-point, six-rebound performance in a victory over Mississippi State on December 15. Prior to that game, he had managed 4.6 ppg and 4.0 rpg through the first nine outings of the year, but from that point forward, accounted for 15.2 ppg and 7.5 rpg. He hiked his per-game averages from 5.0 ppg and 4.1 rpg as a rookie in 2011-12 to 12.1 ppg and 6.5 rpg a year ago. In his last eight road games, Thomas is producing 15.4 ppg and 8.1 rpg, while draining 58 percent (46-for-80) of his field goal attempts. Thomas, who opened the 2013-14 campaign by putting up 11 points and 10 rebounds in a win versus Milwaukee, has recorded a double-double in each of his last four regular-season non-conference games, going for 16.5 ppg and 11.0 rpg in those contests.
One of three freshmen to start a game for Loyola last season, guard Jeff White displayed no signs of a sophomore jinx in the 2013-14 season opener on November 8. The 6-foot-1 Peoria, Ill., native erupted for a career-best 23 points and added four rebounds, four assists and a career-high four steals to lead the Ramblers to victory and his impressive showing was the best output by a Loyola player in a season opener since J.R. Blount pumped in a Gentile-Arena-record 42 points against Rockhurst on November 14, 2008. The point guard has been a huge factor in the team's last two wins as he has produced 18.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.0 apg and 2.0 spg, while shooting 58 percent (11-for-19) from the field. Dating back to last season, White has handed out 44 assists and committed only 16 turnovers (2.6 ratio) in his last nine appearances and he enters Tuesday's game at Tennessee Tech having converted 16 straight free throw attempts and 20 of his last 21 (.956). In 10 career starts, he is tallying 8.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.6 apg and 1.1 spg and in his last four games overall is notching 13.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 5.5 apg and 2.0 spg.
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 the first two seasons under Moser's leadership, Loyola allowed only 53.9 ppg in its 22 victories, while also limiting opponents to 37 percent (447-for-1197) shooting from the field and 27 percent (101-for-370) 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. In their 10 non-conference victories last season, the Ramblers yielded just 53.5 ppg, and held opponents to 37 percent (204-for-546) accuracy from the field and 28 percent (42-for-148) from three-point range.
TRIPLE THREAT TURK
Sophomore Devon Turk burst onto the scene last season and made his mark as one of the top three-point shooters in Loyola annals. 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 hit at least one trey in 30 of 32 career appearances including in each of the last 14 contests. Turk, who established a Loyola single-season record for triples by a freshman (65) in 2012-13, ranked second among Horizon League freshmen, behind only Cleveland State's Bryn Forbes (12.7 ppg), with 8.7 ppg. He led the Horizon League with a .433 (65-for-150) three-point field goal percentage last winter and posted the highest scoring average by a Loyola true freshman since Leon Young tallied 10.4 ppg in 2005-06. A starter in each of the final six contests last season, Turk is going for 11.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg and is shooting a whopping 56 percent (18-for-32) from beyond the arc in Loyola's last six road games. With an ability to score points in bunches, Turk totaled 21 points in only 24 minutes in a victory over Mississippi State and 19 points in 24 minutes in a win against Furman last December. He registered seven points against Tennessee Tech at Gentile Arena last November.
HALL OF AN HONOR
On November 24, the 1963 Loyola men's basketball team, which to this day remains the only squad from the state of Illinois to have won the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, will become the first-ever team inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City. That squad, which featured four African-American starters, played a huge role in the civil rights movement, most notably for its participation in the famous "Game of Change" versus an all-white Mississippi State team in an NCAA Regional game in East Lansing, Mich., on March 15, 1963.
WIZARD OF OSBORNE
According to head coach Porter Moser, sophomore forward Nick Osborne is the most improved player on the Ramblers' roster. The 6-foot-8 forward started the final nine contests of the 2012-13 season and over that stretch contributed 4.8 ppg and 3.0 rpg. In the team's Maroon & Gold intrasquad scrimmage on October 22, Osborne exploded for 25 points, on 12-of-17 shooting from the field, and corralled six rebounds. The best performance of his freshman campaign came at Milwaukee when he totaled 11 points, four rebounds and three steals. He tossed in 12 points and grabbed three boards in Loyola's exhibition game versus Lewis on November 2, but missed the season opener versus Milwaukee due to injury.
Chicago native and University of Kansas transfer Milton Doyle is Loyola's first player from the Chicago Public League since Cortney Horton in 2008. The 6-foot-4 guard provided plenty of reason for optimism about the next four years with his sparkling performance in last Friday's season opener versus Milwaukee when he poured in 18 points, all of which came in the second half, including six straight down the stretch as the Ramblers grabbed a nine-point lead. Doyle's 18-point performance is the best effort by a Loyola freshman in a season opener since Majak Kou tossed in 18 points at DePaul on November 21, 2003. Furthermore, Doyle's 18 points were the most by a Rambler newcomer in his Loyola debut since Ross Forman hung 19 points on LeMoyne on November 10, 2007.
MAKING THE GRADE
In addition to producing the program's first-ever Capital One Academic All-American a year ago in forward Ben Averkamp (second team), current senior Bill Clark joined Averkamp on the 2012-13 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honors Court for having a cumulative grade-point average of 3.50 or higher and being a junior or senior in academic standing. Furthermore, last month, Loyola's men's basketball program achieved a perfect Graduate Success Rate (GSR) score of 100 percent according to the latest data released by the NCAA.
RAMBLERS ON THE RADIO
Live audio for all Loyola men's basketball games this season can be heard at www.loyolaramblers.com. Tune in 30 minutes prior to tip-off of each game as John Fitzgerald hosts a pre-game show that includes an interview with head coach Porter Moser.