Loyola Chicago came to Gainesville facing a Florida team that had dropped back-to-back games.
Bad recipe for the Ramblers, right?
Wrong. Loyola kept the No. 5 Gators down, stretching out that losing streak with an 65-59 win. It was the Ramblers first victory over a ranked team since 2009, and added a resounding punch to a 9-1 record that until Tuesday had been light on quality wins.
Final: #Loyola pulls off its first win over a top 5 team since 1984 with a 65-59 victory over No. 5 @GatorsMBK! @YouTheBOSS_Dre leads the way with 23 points as LU improves to 9-1! ##LUCMBB100 #OnwardLU #MVCHoops— Loyola Basketball (@RamblersMBB) December 7, 2017
The Ramblers defended the three-point line well, holding the Gators to just two-for-19 from distance. This throttled a sagging Florida offense, which for the second-straight game struggled to find any rhythm.
Meanwhile, Aundre Jackson got the Ramblers going with 13 points in the game’s first nine minutes. He helped propel Loyola to a three-point halftime lead, and kept the pressure on Florida in the second half, bullying his way to game-high 23 points.
Porter Moser has stressed the importance of developing depth, and that’s just what showed up in the biggest win in his seven-year tenure. The Ramblers were without starting guard Ben Richardson due to injury, and fellow starter Clayton Custer appeared to get hurt just before halftime and did not return.
Freshman center Cameron Krutwig helped fill the scoring void (14 points, 8 rebounds) and was great passing out of the high post throughout the second half. Loyola also got quality minutes from backup guard Cameron Satterwhite (4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) and junior wing Adarius Avery (5 points, 4 rebounds), a JuCo transfer making just his second appearance of the year.
The game appeared to be tied as Kevarrius Hayes tipped in a KeVaugh Allen missed layup with 23 seconds left. But instead of the score being knotted at 61-61, the refs ruled that the ball was still in the cylinder and waived off the basket. From there Loyola would sink four-straight free throws to ice the game.
The Ramblers failed their first big test of a much-anticipated season with a 34-point loss at Boise State on Nov. 28. They more than made up for it Wednesday night in Gainesville, and very much looked like the Valley contender many believe them to be.
Loyola will look to follow up its massive win at home against Norfolk State on Saturday.