Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Loyola-Chicago 79, Indiana State 44: Krutwig dominates on both ends

Photo Credit: Keith Gillett- Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

CHICAGO— Fresh from a 10-day layoff, the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (8-6, 1-0 Missouri Valley Conference) avenged their only home loss last season in a 79-44 win over the Indiana State Sycamores (8-5, 0-1 Missouri Valley Conference) to kick off MVC play on Wednesday night at Gentile Arena.

Cameron Krutwig asserted his will from the start on both sides of the ball and finished with his second double-double of the season with 16 points, on 7-of-12 from the field, to go along with 10 rebounds.

Krutwig’s defensive stop and layup on the other end halfway through the first half was something that stood out in Ramblers coach Porter Moser’s mind over any other part of the game.

“I took [Cameron] out really early because I wasn’t happy with how he started and man did he respond,” Moser said. “His defense in the first four minutes compared to the rest of the time he was out there was night and day. When he wants to, he can be a very great defender.”

Back on Nov. 14 against Niagara, Moser wanted to see Aher Uguak play more relaxed on the floor. Moser’s wish became a reality as Uguak finished with a career-high 19 points, on 8-of-8 from the field.

“What [Aher] did was grind at practice and came back from Christmas and was in the best condition of anyone,” Moser said. “He had a great week of practice and started him as a result. Our whole locker room was so happy to see everything click.”

The Ramblers’ defense held their fourth straight opponent to under 50 points as things continued to click.

“If you’re not hitting shots, then you have to rely on your defense to keep it close and the shots fell for us tonight,” Krutwig said.

Marques Townes and Clayton Custer rounded out the scoring barrage for Loyola-Chicago with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

The MVC’s leading scorer Jordan Barnes battled through an unknown illness and went scoreless as he played 14 minutes and did not return in the second half.

Despite the limited minutes, Krutwig knew of what Barnes could bring to the table.

“We didn’t think we were going to hold him scoreless. We respect his game and came out to try to do the job. Tonight, we did it,” Krutwig said.

Tyreke Key finished with a game-high 21 points in defeat for the Sycamores.

The Ramblers struggled early on offense as Krutwig missed a pair of free throws and Custer’s forced pass into the paint, which led to a turnover. The Sycamores took advantage as they jumped out to a 6-2 lead with Key converting all three baskets.

Custer got Loyola’s engines revved up with a three from the wing, which kickstarted a 21-2 run. As Custer started the onslaught, Krutwig bookended the run with timely passes on the top of the key and layups, which gave them a 15-point lead.

It took 10:59 for someone other than Key to score and it would be Kessinger’s layup to end the Ramblers’ run. The Ramblers created another run not long after as they closed the first half on a 20-0 outburst as they led 46-12.

Loyola’s lead expanded to as many as 39 points in the second half as it cruised to its largest victory of the season.

Looking Ahead:

Both teams return to action on Jan. 5 as the Ramblers look to make it 2-0 in MVC play as they travel to face the Drake Bulldogs, while the Sycamores look to bounce back at home against the Bradley Braves. Both games start at 2 p.m. CT.