By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – The 1963 NCAA Tournament game between Mississippi State and Loyola is known as “The Game of Change.”
MSU defied a state-ordered injunction against playing integrated schools and snuck out of Starkville to play Loyola for its first appearance in the Big Dance.
The 2013 edition between the two schools on Sunday saw plenty of changes as well – 20 lead changes and 13 ties. It took overtime, but the Bulldogs (5-1) were able to best Loyola for the first time in a 65-64 win, their seventh straight at Humphrey Coliseum dating back to last season.
“I guess overtimes have been good for Mississippi State this week,” said MSU coach Rick Ray, a reference to the football team’s OT victory against Ole Miss on Thursday.
The basketball Bulldogs received strong outings from former high school teammates Craig Sword and Roquez Johnson. Sword scored 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting while Johnson came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points and grab 11 rebounds.
“I think you can see why we keep going down to Montgomery, Ala., and Carver High School recruiting,” Ray said. “Between those two guys, they gave us 44 points and that’s always a good thing.”
State’s leading scorer on the year, Gavin Ware, was held scoreless only taking three shots and playing 16 minutes due to foul trouble.
The game was tied at 29 at halftime and at 56 at the end of regulation. Sword scored five of the Bulldogs’ nine points in overtime.
“Coach just told us to be patient,” Sword said. “We got some stops and let our offense come to us.”
Mississippi State committed only nine turnovers in 45 minutes of action.
Milton Doyle scored 22 to lead Loyola (3-5). Christian Thomas added 12 points and Devon Turk finished with 10.
Members from both teams that participated in the 1963 “Game of Change” were honored during a halftime ceremony.
“I think a lot of people outside of Mississippi State and Loyola are not familiar with that game,” Ray said. “I think it’s a significant step in NCAA history in basketball. Mississippi usually has a lot of negative connotations when it comes to race relations and to see something like this that’s such a positive thing in regards to race relations in Mississippi and our university is something that should be promoted.”
MSUreturns to action Thursday night in Starkville against TCU.