Youngstown State (12-10) at Loyola-Chicago (5-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, February 5th, 2:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentile Center (5,200) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: Horizon League Network. Home Record: YSU 7-2, Loyola 3-6. Away Record: YSU 5-8, Loyola 2-11. Neutral Record: YSU 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Conference Record: YSU 7-5, Loyola 0-12. Series Record: Loyola-Chicago leads, 14-12.
GAME NOTES: The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers try for the 13th time to register their first Horizon League win of the season, as they welcome the Youngstown State Penguins to the Gentile Center this afternoon.
After getting off to a 5-1 start, Youngstown State has lost more games than it has won. The Penguins have dropped two of their last three, including a 72-68 decision at the hands of Illinois-Chicago on Thursday.
Loyola-Chicago lost its first two Horizon League bouts, but found some success in mid-December, winning four in a row against non-conference opponents. The Ramblers have since lost 10 straight, including a 65-47 setback to Cleveland State on Friday, and they are in sole possession of last place in the HL standings.
Loyola leads the all-time series with YSU, 14-12, and the Ramblers had won three consecutive games in the series before losing in the first matchup this season, 68-64 in overtime back on January 5.
As its record suggests, Youngstown State has been relatively mediocre this season in terms of statistical rankings, falling in the middle of the pack in the conference in both scoring offense (66.5 ppg) and scoring defense (65.4 ppg). Neither aspect of the game was terribly impressive in the recent loss to Illinois-Chicago, though all five starters for the Penguins managed to register double figures in the scoring column, with Kendrick Perry leading the way with 19 points. The starting five for YSU has remained unchanged for all 22 games, and coach Jerry Slocum tends to stick with the first unit as all five average at least 30 minutes per outing. Perry leads the team and is fourth in the Horizon League in scoring (15.1 ppg), though the Penguins get consistent contributions from the other starters; Blake Allen (13 ppg, 3.1 threes), Ashen Ward (10.6 ppg), Damian Eargle (10.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and DuShawn Brooks (9.9 ppg). Eargle also swats away 4.3 shots per game, ranking him only behind Kentucky's Anthony Davis (4.7 bpg) on the national stage.
Loyola has been able to remain competitive in most of its games thanks to a reliable defense which ranks third in the Horizon League in allowing just 60.6 ppg. Unfortunately for the Ramblers, their offense hasn't been able to capitalize on a consistent basis, as they rank as one of the nation's worst offensive team in netting a mere 54.1 ppg. The shooting struggles continued against Cleveland State, as the Ramblers connected on just 40.4 percent of their field goal attempts and scored fewer than 50 points for the eighth time this season. Joe Crisman was the only Loyola player to finish in double figures with 14, marking the third time in four games the freshman has scored at least that many points. The Ramblers' strength lies in its frontcourt play, as Ben Averkamp (13.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Walt Gibler (12.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg) have been their most reliable players. Loyola turns the ball over 14.4 time per game, second-most in the conference.
Though Loyola's defenses has the potential to stifle Youngstown State's modest offense, the Penguins still have enough fire-power in their starting five to outscore the lackluster Ramblers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Youngstown State 60, Loyola-Chicago 55
02/05 10:38:18 ET