Loyola-Chicago falls short against No. 19 Spartans

Ben Averkamp did all he could for Loyola of Chicago, then

challenged his teammates to turn a respectable loss into a

meaningful lesson.

Averkamp scored 25 points, including four 3-pointers, as the

Ramblers couldn’t hang on in the second half of a 73-61 loss to No.

19 Michigan State, snapping a four-game winning streak.

”Our guys have to learn that we’re right there,” Averkamp

said. ”Moving forward, if we learn from this, it was a good game

for us. If not, we really have to look at ourselves.”

Freshman Gary Harris shed the protective sleeve on his sprained

left shoulder, then scored 14 of his career-high 20 points in the

second half for the Spartans. He finished 7 for 11 from the field,

including 5 for 7 from 3-point range.

”He’s a very unselfish kid,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo

said. ”He took the brace off today, and I’m not sure like that. I

might be fist-fighting the doctors today. But he has a chance to be

a great player.”

Adreian Payne added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Michigan State

(8-2), his second double-double in the last three games. Travis

Trice had 11 points, while Keith Appling, the Spartans’ top scorer

this season, had eight points and seven assists, mostly on feeds to


”If I’m open, I’m going to shoot the ball,” Harris said. ”I

need to come out like that at the beginning instead of having

someone get into me.”

Part of the reason for that was the play of Averkamp, who burned

the defense off high ball screens and was effective down low,

grabbing eight rebounds for the Ramblers (6-3). Devon Turk added 10


”We have to learn we can’t just be close,” Loyola coach Porter

Moser said. ”Michigan State has a culture. And we were a step slow

getting to Harris and a little uneasy in the second half. We have

to compete for 40 minutes.”

Michigan State used a 22-9 run, including three 3’s from Harris,

to start the second half and build a 52-41 lead. Loyola clawed back

within three but saw their last push end with a jumper by Appling

and a putback dunk by Payne.

”It was a tough game,” Izzo said. ”We didn’t play great. We

didn’t play bad. We had a couple of rough stretches with really

foolish turnovers. But we took a little step in the right


The Spartans shot 49 percent from the field and the Ramblers

just 36. But Loyola-Chicago, winners of four straight coming in,

held its own on the boards against one of the nation’s top

rebounding programs, trailing just 33-31.

The Ramblers overcame a 10-point deficit and took a 28-25 lead

on a 3 from Cully Payne, a transfer from Iowa who had played in

Breslin Center in 2010. Loyola-Chicago’s advantage reached five and

was 32-30 at halftime, after it was 5-for-9 from long range and

shot six free throws after fouls on other 3s.

Averkamp and Turk each had eight first-half points for the

Ramblers, who were outrebounded and outshot from the field and the

line in the first half. Payne had nine points and five rebounds for

the Spartans before the break, but starting guards Appling and

Denzel Valentine were scoreless.

Michigan State had allowed just 39 and 44 points in the previous

two games. It was a different story against an improved opponent

that didn’t win its sixth game last season until Feb. 11. But the

Spartans regrouped and left with their 70th straight win at home

over an unranked non-league opponent.

Next Saturday, both teams will pay tribute to the ”Game of

Change,” a matchup 50 seasons ago that helped to integrate college

athletics. The Ramblers will face Mississippi State, the all-white

team they beat en route to the 1963 national title. Michigan State

will host Tuskegee in Jenison Field House, the scene of one of the

sport’s most important games.

”It’s all about tradition,” Moser said. ”There are a lot of

little things that have gone into this 50th anniversary season. One

was playing here in East Lansing.”