LOYOLA (4-2) vs. TENNESSEE TECH (3-1)
November 28, 2012 - 7 p.m. CST
Chicago, Ill. - Gentile Arena
Radio: www.loyolaramblers.com - John Fitzgerald (play-by-play), Stephond Robinson (analyst)
Live Video: www.horizonleague.com
THE OPENING TIP
After four straight games away from home, Loyola returns to Gentile Arena where it is 2-0 this season and has won five of its last six games versus non-conference foes.
Through games of November 25, Loyola ranked No. 22 in the nation in scoring defense (55.3).
Over the last three seasons, Loyola has gone 16-7 (.696) in November.
In their last 11 games versus non-Horizon League opponents, the Ramblers have notched a 9-2 record and allowed only 51.9 ppg.
Loyola's 53 points in Saturday's 53-46 victory at Northern Illinois are the fewest in a victory since a 53-52 triumph over Wright State on December 31, 2009.
Loyola has scored 70 or more points just four times in 36 games under second-year head coach Porter Moser and just four times in the last 41 outings overall.
This year Loyola will have a season-long celebration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its 1963 NCAA Championship. To this day, Loyola remains the only school in the state of Illinois to have won the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
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 for 2012-13.
Dating back to the start of the 2009-10 campaign, the Ramblers have compiled a 17-2 (.895) record at home versus non-conference foes.
Loyola's 111-42 opening-round win against Tennessee Tech in 1963 still stands as the largest margin of victory in NCAA Tournament history.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN EAGLES
Led by senior guard Jud Dillard, who is averaging 23.2 ppg, Tennessee Tech, which went 19-13 a year ago, is off to a 3-1 start, but dropped a 62-50 decision to Evansville in its most recent outing on November 20. As a team, the Golden Eagles are putting up 73.2 ppg and converting 51 percent (109 for 214) of their field goal attempts, but are also getting it done on the defensive end, limiting opponents to 56.2 ppg. Dillard was unstoppable in a 71-69 victory over Coastal Carolina two weeks ago as he exploded for 34 points and 12 rebounds.
Loyola and Tennessee Tech are meeting for the fifth time overall and first since 2001 in a series that dates back to 1963. The Ramblers captured the first three matchups between the clubs before the Golden Eagles picked up an 87-76 victory in Cookeville, Tenn., on November 27, 2001. Loyola earned a 76-73 victory in the only meeting between the teams in Chicago on November 27, 2000, as David Bailey scored 26 points. These two schools met for the first time in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Evanston, Ill., on March 11, 1963, and Loyola rolled to a 111-42 victory behind 21 points from Ron Miller. That 69-point win remains to this day, the largest margin of victory in NCAA Tournament history.
WHY SO DEFENSIVE?
An old adage says that defense wins championships. If that proves true, the Ramblers should find themselves in the thick of things in the Horizon League race this winter. Through games of November 25, second-year Loyola coach Porter Moser's squad ranked No. 22 in the nation and second in the Horizon League in scoring defense (55.3 ppg). In two games at Gentile Arena this season, the Ramblers have smothered opponents to the tune of 45.5 ppg, 33 percent (37 for 112) shooting from the field and 22 percent (6 for 27) from three-point territory. This year's team is off to one of the best defensive starts in recent Rambler history and its 332 points allowed through a half dozen games is the fewest since 1949-50 (309 points).
With a pair of free throws at the 19:18 mark of the second half the season opener against Toledo, senior forward Ben Averkamp became the 39th player in Loyola history to score 1,000 points. Now 30th on the school's career scoring chart with 1,095 points, the 6-foot-8 Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League pick needs 11 points to tie Clarence Red for 29th all-time with 1,106 points.
In the Ramblers' November 18 victory versus Maryland-Eastern Shore, 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.
Averkamp is one of 15 players in NCAA Division I who entered the season with a legitimate chance of topping 1,000 points, 750 rebounds, 100 assists and 100 blocks for his career. Heading into the Tennessee Tech game, he has recorded 1,1095 points, 515 rebounds, 147 assists and 128 blocks. Two other Horizon League players are closing in on those figures - Valparaiso's Ryan Broekhoff and Green Bay's Alec Brown.
THE "D" IS THE KEY
One needs to look no further than the opponent's offensive figures to see how the Ramblers have fared this year. In its four victories, Loyola has permitted 45.8 ppg and held opponents to 33 percent (70 for 212) from the field and 25 percent (14 for 57) from long range. However, in its two setbacks, the Ramblers have allowed 74.5 ppg as opponents have connected on 51 percent (49 for 96) from both the field and three-point territory (18 for 35). Under Moser, Loyola has surrendered a meager 49.2 ppg in its 11 wins.
Freshman guard Jeff White provided a lift in Loyola's 53-46 win at Northern Illinois last weekend as he pitched in eight points and a pair of boards in 20 minutes. The Peoria, Ill., native has been a key contributor in the Ramblers' wins this month, accounting for 6.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, and 1.8 apg, while draining 50 percent (10 for 20) of his field goal tries, compared to 1.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, and 14 percent (1 for 7) shooting in Loyola's losses. In a pair of games at Gentile Arena, White, whose father Charles, scored over 1,000 points at Bradley University (1989-93), is registering 7.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, and shooting 58 percent (7 for 12).
Touted as a three-point specialist, Devon Turk has lived up to that billing so far this season. The only Rambler to hit at least one three-point field goal in each of the first six contests this season, Turk is the first Loyola true freshman to hit a triple in his first six outings since Mike Hare in 1997-98. The 6-foot-4, Houston, Texas native owns a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (only three turnovers in 111 minutes) this year and is pitching in 4.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, and 1.5 apg at home.
Sophomore Joe Crisman has taken a liking to playing at Gentile Arena in his brief Loyola career as the 6-foot-4 guard is averaging 9.5 ppg and shooting 48 percent (48 for 99) from the field and 46 percent (17 for 37) from three-point range in 13 games. Away from home, the Munster, Ind., native has put up 6.6 ppg, but drained only 30 percent (45 for 149) of his field goal attempts and 20 percent (13 for 66) from long distance. In two home games this season, Crisman has collected 7.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.5 spg, and hit 60 percent of his shots from both the field (6 for 10) and triple territory (3 for 5). In four career appearances against non-conference opponents at Gentile Arena, Crisman, who has scored in double digits three times, is producing 10.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 2.0 spg, and is knocking down 52 percent (17 for 33) of his shots, including 54 percent (7 for 13) from beyond the arc.
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 22-1 (.957) when leading at the half since the start of the 2010-11 season. Since the outset of the 2008-09 campaign, the Ramblers are 43-6 (.878) when leading at the break.
Solid efforts in the second half have been a staple in Loyola's four wins this season. After putting up an average of only 23.2 points and connecting on 35 percent (35 for 99) of their field goal attempts in the first half, the Ramblers have rebounded to tally 37.0 points and shoot a sizzling 53 percent (51 for 96) from the field in the second period in their four victories. In Saturday's win at Northern Illinois, Loyola notched 37 second-half points and converted 56 percent (9 for 16) of its field goal tries.
SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS
Arguably the most improved player on the Rambler roster, sophomore Christian Thomas has come on in the last pair of contests, averaging 8.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, and 1.0 spg, while shooting 57 percent (4 for 7) from the field. The 6-foot-5 guard/forward has drained 18 straight attempts from the foul line and Loyola is 3-0 this season when he tallies at least six points. Thomas has also valued the basketball, turning it over just one time in the last five games, and in last weekend's win at Northern Illinois, he put up eight points and four boards.
After failing to corral a rebound in three straight games (Nov. 12-17), Joe Crisman has been a monster on the glass, ripping down 8.0 rpg in Loyola's last two contests. At Northern Illinois Saturday, he gathered a career-best 10 boards, all on the defensive glass, the most by a Rambler guard since Aric Van Weelden (11) versus Valparaiso on January 17, 2009.
WILLIAMS OUT FOR YEAR
Junior guard Kody Williams will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury in warm-ups prior to the Ramblers' game versus Western Michigan on November 16.
BEN AT WORK
Last season, Ben Averkamp blossomed into one of the top players in the Horizon League and this season has a chance to vie for player of the year accolades. A 2011-12 Second Team All-Horizon League honoree, the 6-foot-8 captain was named to the USF Invitational All-Tournament Team earlier this month after tallying 20.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, and 2.0 bpg in three games. The Germantown, Wis., native, who is one of only two players to rank among the top six in the Horizon League in both scoring (17.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg) this season, is going for 21.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.0 bpg, and 2.0 spg, while shooting a ridiculous 64 percent (16 for 25) from the field, 50 percent (4 for 8) from long distance and 100 percent (6 for 6) from the foul line in the last pair of outings. An inside-outside threat, Averkamp has hit a three-pointer in a career-best, four straight games, during which he is shooting 56 percent (5 for 9) from beyond the arc. In his last 11 games versus non-Horizon League opponents, he is notching 20.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.7 apg, and 1.2 bpg. He recorded his first double-double of the year at Northern Illinois November 24.
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." Last month, 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.
HOUSE OF PAYNE
Junior point guard Cully Payne appears to be settling in after becoming eligible this season following his transfer from the University of Iowa where he was a Freshman All-Big Ten Team performer in 2009-10 after averaging 8.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, and 3.8 apg. The 6-foot-1 Payne has knocked down 30 of his last 32 (.938) attempts from the charity stripe, and in a win at Northern Illinois Saturday, he tallied 10 points for his first double-digit performance since tossing in a career-best 25 points versus Michigan on March 11, 2010 at the Big Ten Tournament. So far this season, the Ramblers are 3-0 when he scores 6 or more points and in a November 16 outing against Western Michigan, Payne doled out a career-best nine assists. He is pitching in 8.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, and 3.0 apg in the last two contests.
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. A season-long celebration is planned to commemorate the remarkable accomplishments of that team. Earlier this week, Loyola unveiled a website dedicated to the 1963 team, www.Loyola63.com. The site features articles, statistics, biographies, photos and video interviews with players from that historic squad.
On December 15, Loyola and Mississippi State will play at Gentile Arena in the first meeting between the schools in 50 years. When the teams last met, on March 15, 1963, in East Lansing, Mich., in the NCAA Tournament, it proved to be a landmark moment in the civil rights movement. Mississippi State was able to sneak out of Starkville, Miss., under the cover of darkness before an injunction could be served by Gov. Ross Barnett that would prevent the team from competing against an integrated Loyola squad that featured four African-American starters (Jerry Harkness, Les Hunter, Ron Miller and Vic Rouse). A documentary appropriately titled "Game of Change" about the 1963 game between Loyola and Mississippi State was produced by Jerald Harkness, son of former Loyola All-American Jerry Harkness, a few years ago.
In August, Loyola took a 13-day trip to Italy, where it played four games and visited a handful of cities (Rome, Florence, Venice, Como and Pisa). During that trip, the team soaked up the Italian culture, did plenty of sightseeing, and used the time to bond as a team both on and off the court. The Ramblers posted a 3-1 ledger on their four-game trip to Italy and three newcomers - Jeff White (11.7 ppg), Matt O'Leary (11.3 ppg) and Devon Turk (11.3 ppg) - averaged double figures in scoring, while Cully Payne handed out 9.7 apg, three times hitting double digits in helpers.
PAYNE, PICKETT SIGN FOR 2013-14 SEASON
Earlier this month, 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.
SUB SIXTY SPELLS SUCCESS
Since the start of the 2004-05 campaign, Loyola has posted a 52-13 (.800) record when it holds its opponent to fewer than 60 points.
NOT WITHOUT A HITCH
Head athletic trainer Dr. Tom Hitcho has worked 1,023 consecutive Loyola men's basketball games heading into Wednesday night's contest versus Tennessee Tech. Hired prior to the 1977-78 season, Hitch has not missed a Rambler game in 36 years, witnessing 472 victories.
RAMBLERS ON THE RADIO
All Loyola men's basketball games can be heard this season on the Rambler Network, which is available at www.loyolaramblers.com by clicking on the Rambler Network tab on the home page.