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Loyola-Chicago (13-10) at Youngstown State (13-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 7, 7:45 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beeghly Center (6,300) -- Youngstown, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: Loyola 6-4, YSU 7-2. Away Record: Loyola 6-5, YSU 6-6. Neutral Record: Loyola 1-1, YSU 0-2. Conference Record: Loyola 3-7, YSU 5-5. Series Record: Series tied, 14-14.
GAME NOTES: The Youngstown State Penguins return to the Beeghly Center on Thursday on a two-game slide to face the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in Horizon League action.
This will be the 29th meeting between Loyola and Youngstown State and the teams have split their first 28 matchups. The Ramblers carry a three-game losing streak against the Penguins into Thursday's game and Loyola is just 4-9 all-time against YSU in Youngstown.
Loyola suffered a heartbreaking 62-59 setback at Wright State on Monday to register its third loss in four games. The setback dropped the Ramblers to a 3-7 Horizon League standing, which puts them in second to last place and five games out of first. Coach Porter Moser's team is still very improved, already exceeding its win total from a season ago by six games. Loyola has relied on senior forward Ben Averkamp for leadership along the way this year. The 6- foot-8 forward is pacing the Ramblers with 15.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest while Christian Thomas sits in second on the squad in both categories with 9.9 points and 5.9 boards per tilt.
The Ramblers held a 51-38 lead with 7:54 left in their bout at Wright State earlier this week, but the Raiders rallied to take the lead and Loyola missed four shots in the final minute to suffer its second loss in a row. Thomas posted 13 points and eight rebounds while Devon Turk and Cully Payne scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench in the losing effort. Averkamp finished with eight points and five of the team's 24 turnovers. Loyola's problems this season were apparent in the setback, as its defense was not helped out by its sporadic offense.
The Penguins are also on a two-game skein after their 66-60 loss at Cleveland State on Wednesday. YSU still owns a 13-10 overall record that includes a 5-5 mark in league action. Coach Jerry Slocum's squad does still have a three-game winning streak intact at the Beeghly Center, where it is 7-2 on the season. Kedrick Perry was held to 2-of-7 shooting and five points in the loss to the Vikings. The junior guard had tallied 50 total points during his previous two outings on 14-of-24 field goal accuracy. Perry still leads the team with 16.0 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.9 steals per game.
YSU also surrendered a second-half lead its last time out. It managed to overcome a seven-point deficit to take a one-point lead on a D.J. Cole jumper, but CSU responded with a 9-0 run to go back on top for good. The Vikings shot 47.1 percent from the field and held YSU to 42.3 percent shooting. CSU also won the rebounding battle by a commanding 38-25 margin. Bobby Hain came off the bench to net 15 points, while Blake Allen and Kamren Belin put up 14 and 11 points, respectively. Damian Eargle, who is the Penguins' second-leading scorer with 12.4 ppg, was held to nine points after netting 14.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game over his previous four.
Eargle poured in 20 points and rejected six shots in YSU's win over Loyola in early January. Averkamp tallied 18 points and eight rebounds for the Ramblers in the contest, but they went 4-of-17 from 3-point range and allowed the Penguins to connect on 48.1 percent of their field goal tries. Now at home, YSU should be able to win by a more comfortable margin against a digressing Loyola unit. Averkamp will need to submit a sensational performance for the Ramblers to win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Youngstown State 73, Loyola-Chicago 66
02/07 10:34:00 ET