After a strong regular season, Loyola has a strong start to ‘Arch Madness’

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Loyola of Chicago’s Aher Uguak (30) heads to the basket as Southern Illinois’ Anthony D’Avanzo (33) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinal round of the Missouri Valley Conference men’s tournament Friday, March 5, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS – There is business for them to take care of for the team, even if they don’t really have to.

For one of the few times over the last half-century, Loyola doesn’t need to win their conference tournament in order to make it to the NCAA Tournament. Thanks to a regular season Missouri Valley Conference title and a No. 20 ranking in the AP poll, the Ramblers are in “March Madness” no matter what transpires in St. Louis.

But for a group that’s enjoying their greatest success since the 1960s and featuring one of the most decorated senior classes in school history, not wanting to win “Arch Madness” would be quite out of character.

Their opening contest of the MVC Tournament showed that on Friday.

The Ramblers made quick work of Southern Illinois in the second round of the MVC Tournament early Friday afternoon with a 73-49 victory at the Enterprise Center.

In a balanced effort led by freshman Jacob Hudson’s 13 points off the bench, the Ramblers shot 47 percent from the field and hit ten three-pointers. Playing without injured guard and Evanston native Lance Jones, who had 30 against the Ramblers last Saturday, the Salukis couldn’t keep up.

Loyola led by 13 at the break and expanded their lead quickly thanks to an 18-2 run to start the second half and put the game away.

While he had just a modest eight points on the night, senior Cameron Krutwig did make some history on Friday, becoming the school’s fifth-highest point scorer. His 1,752 points put him ahead of Ramblers legend Jerry Harkness, who had 1,749 points in his career that included a national championship in 1963.

Loyola will face the winner of the Evansville-Indiana State game in the tournament semifinals on Saturday at 12 PM.

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