By Kevin Sweeney
The MVC has a clear top dog. Loyola dominated the preseason favorite Missouri State from the opening tip in a 97-75 victory Saturday afternoon at Gentile Arena. The Ramblers move to 19-5 on the season and 9-3 in MVC, with a 1 game lead in conference play. Here are 3 big things from this one:
Loyola is an elite offensive club:
The Ramblers shot a blistering 61% from the field in the game, putting 6 different players in double figures and had 24 assists on 39 made field goals. Porter Moser talked in his press conference about how he has emphasized “pace and space” in his recruiting and offensive style, and that has continued to come to fruition. Clayton Custer is the perfect man to cue up such an offense, as he posted his 3rd consecutive 20+ point game while adding 6 assists. “We really got out in transition and that got us rolling,” Marques Townes said postgame.
Home Court at Gentile Arena Continues to Improve:
“Why not us?” asked Porter Moser postgame in reference to bringing out huge crowds to Gentile Arena. “We want a major ticket problem”. The crowd was loud, with nearly 3,600 fans packing the arena for a “White-Out”. And those crowds seem to be helping the Ramblers as they come down the stretch of MVC play, as the Ramblers now lead the country in field goal percentage at home. With just 3 home games remaining for the Ramblers, Moser implored the fans and the City of Chicago to continue to come out and support the team as they try to win a MVC title.
Missouri State’s Struggles Continue:
It’s been a nightmare campaign for the preseason MVC favorites, and that continued this afternoon. The Bears have now lost 5 in a row and sit 5-7 in MVC play, a massive disappointment with this being the senior year for NBA prospect Alize Johnson (there were 13 NBA scouts in attendance for today’s game). Time is running out for MSU to turn things around, and if they don’t, Paul Lusk’s job could be in serious jeopardy. On a more positive note, Mustafa Lawrence had a breakout game for the Bears, posting 19 points and 3 steals on 5-9 from 3 despite coming into the game playing just 5 minutes a game. If he can build on that performance, it would be a major boost for Missouri State’s chances at Arch Madness next month.