Ramblers prepare for rowdy Roundhouse

The Loyola men’s basketball team was 10-2 on the season, but once they entered conference play, the Ramblers went into remission — losing five of their next eight games.

Tonight, the Ramblers (13-7, 3-5 MVC) will face their biggest test of the season in No. 12 Wichita State (18-2, 8-0) at 7 p.m. at Charles Koch Arena.

Loyola lost to WSU earlier this year in Chicago. With a five-point lead at half after Earl Peterson’s jumper with time expiring, the Shockers took control in the second half and had the lead within the next two and a half minutes.

WSU didn’t look back, finishing off the Ramblers 67-53.

In the process, Loyola’s sophomore guard and last year’s only bright spot, Milton Doyle, went down with an ankle injury.

Doyle’s ankle injury will keep him out of tonight’s game — leaving the Ramblers with only one other player averaging double digits, Christian Thomas (12.4 points per game).

With Doyle out, Loyola head coach Porter Moser said in the Missouri Valley Conference Coaches’ Teleconference Monday that Jeff White will need to step up and play more like he played last year.

White averages 3.6 points per game this season. Last year, he averaged 9.8.

Moser also said “communication between players will be important with noise level” because of Koch’s rowdy atmosphere.

“[WSU] is able to suffocate teams early,” Moser said. “How we start is important.”

Moser’s right. In WSU’s four Valley games at home, the Shockers are scoring 8.5 points in the first minutes of the first half while they’ve been holding their opponents to less than five.

Loyola will have to keep pace with WSU in the first five minutes of the game in order to have a chance.

WSU is solely in first place of the Missouri Valley Conference, but the Shockers are also first in the MVC in field goal percentage, defensive rebounding, assists and blocked shots, and have the least amount of turnovers.

WSU has 27 consecutive home wins and 26 consecutive wins over MVC opponents.