Loyola Chicago (8-2) will play its final nonconference game this season against a power-conference team when the Ramblers visit Vanderbilt (5-3) on Friday evening.
The Commodores will be trying to break a two-game slide that includes a 12-point loss at SMU in which they squandered a 12-point halftime lead, and a 72-68 overtime loss to visiting Temple on Tuesday in which they shot a woeful 4-for-26 (15.4 percent) from 3-point range.
Vandy is shooting 30.4 percent from beyond the arc this season.
“We’ve gotten the looks that we wanted,” said Jordan Wright, who is averaging 14.9 points and shooting 45.1 percent from the floor. “We’ve gotten the shots that we wanted. They just haven’t gone in.
“We’ve got to get into a rhythm in our offense, and the shots are going to fall.”
Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse said the difference against Temple was that “late in the game and in overtime, we made some careless mistakes, just really (not) understanding time and score.”
Junior guard Scotty Pippen Jr., who had 16 points against the Owls despite battling a non-COVID illness, needs 25 to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
Loyola Chicago rolled to an 88-49 win over NAIA program Roosevelt (Ill.) on Tuesday. Starters Braden Norris (8.2 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Aher Uguak (10 ppg) sat out with undisclosed injuries but are expected to return to face the Commodores.
“We had two really good practices coming into” the Roosevelt game, first-year Loyola coach Drew Valentine said, “And I don’t know if it was the lineup changes that shook us up a bit or what, but we were just off to start the game. I thought we ramped it up in the second half, especially on the defensive end, and it was good to see so many guys get some playing time and experience.”
Lucas Williamson (11.7) and Ryan Schwieger (11.2) also average double-figures in points for the Ramblers, who are 2-2 against power-conference teams, including wins over DePaul and Arizona State.
They are playing at a slightly faster pace under Valentine, formerly an assistant to predecessor Porter Moser, now the Oklahoma coach. Loyola averages 69.9 possessions this season, as opposed to 64.8 last year, per teamrankings.com.
–Field Level Media