Loyola preview

Craig Sword and the Bulldogs will play Loyola for the first time in Starkville. (AP Photo/ Paul Beaty)

Craig Sword and the Bulldogs will play Loyola for the first time in Starkville. (AP Photo/ Paul Beaty)

For the second straight season, Mississippi State and Loyola will reunite on the hardwood to celebrate its historic 1963 NCAA Tournament meeting commonly known as “The Game of Change”.

MSU was known as the Maroons then and coached by Babe McCarthy. They defied a state injunction that forbid them from participating in the Big Dance against integrated teams and snuck out of Starkville to play the game in East Lansing, Mich.

Today’s game is slated for a noon tipoff and several members of the 1963 teams will be honored at halftime.

Loyola leads the all-time series 2-0 winning the 1963 contest 61-51 as well at the 50th anniversary game 59-51 in Chicago last year. Devon Turk (6-4, 193) led the Ramblers with 21 points in 24 minutes off the bench while Fred Thomas scored 14 to lead State. The Bulldogs are 7-9 against teams from the Missouri Valley Conference.

Mississippi State has won six straight games played in Humphrey Coliseum dating back to last year.

Mississippi State enters the game at 4-1 coming off a tight 58-56 home decision over Jackson State on Wednesday. Sophomore center Gavin Ware led the Bulldogs with 19 points. It was the first game MSU has won under Rick Ray when trailing at halftime.

The Bulldogs enter today’s game shooting 46.3-percent from the floor and averaging 73.8 points per game. State has shot 33.3-percent from the outside and 65.1-percent from the charity stripe. They have outrebounded their opponents by 4.2 allowing 65.2 points on 44.1-percent shooting.

Ware leads the Bulldogs with 14 points per game and his 10.6 rebounds an outing is good enough for second in the Southeastern Conference.

Senior forward Colin Borchert is putting up 11.4 points and pulling down 3.6 boards.

Sophomore shooting guard Craig Sword leads the back court averaging 10.4 points while Thomas, a wing, is adding 9.5. Junior point guard Trivante Bloodman is contributing 6.8 points and has dished out 14 assists over the last three outings.

Loyola is 3-4 on the year snapping a two-game losing skid last Sunday 73-72 over SIU Edwardsville. The Ramblers other two wins have come over Milwaukee and Rockhurst.

Today will mark Loyola’s first ever trip to the state of Mississippi.

Porter Moser’s squad is shooting 47.9-percent from the field and scoring 69.1 points per game. Loyola is knocking down 34.5-percent of its shots from 3-point range as well as 65.4-percent from the free throw line. Their opposition is scoring 68.4 points on 46.1-percent shooting.

Junior forward Christian Thomas (6-5, 220) paces the Ramblers with 14 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Thomas has scored in double figures for 23 straight games. He is joined in the post by sophomore Nick Osborne (6-8, 220) putting up 6.4 points and grabbing four boards.

Sophomore guard Jeff White (6-1, 183) is averaging 13.7 points while freshman guard Milton Doyle (6-4, 180) is adding 13.3 points. Junior guard Joe Crisman (6-4, 195) is chipping in 4.3 points to round out the back court.

Today’s game will not be televised but can be seen on HailStateTV and heard on the MSU Basketball Radio Network.

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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