THE GAME: The Greyhounds will play their second game in three days this afternoon while Duke has not played since defeating Xavier at the Izod Center on December 20. Loyola had its modest two-game winning streak snapped Monday night at North Carolina State while the Blue Devils bring a two-game winning streak into this afternoon's contest.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos enters his fifth season and has registered a 62-70 (.470) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate has never coached against the Blue Devils. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is in his 29th season with the Blue Devils and sports a 740-209 (.780) record. In his 33rd season overall, his career record is 813-268 (.752). The 1969 Army graduate is 1-0 against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: There are three common opponents on the schedules of both teams, all of whom the Greyhounds have played while Duke has yet to play any of the three. Loyola played at all three, losing games at Boston College and at Davidson as part of its commitment to the NIT Season Tip-Off and losing at North Carolina State Monday night. The Blue Devils will host Davidson (Jan. 07) and the Wolfpack (Jan. 20) and will visit Boston College (Feb. 15).
THE SERIES: Duke leads the series, 1-0, the only game being a 92-68 Blue Devils home win on January 4, 1984. The Blue Devils went 24-10 in Mike Krzyzewski's fourth season and began a stretch of 11 straight 20-win seasons for Duke that included five Final Fours and two National Championships (1991, 1992). The Greyhounds became four straight winning campaigns under Mark Amatucci, a mark this year's Loyola team is looking to match with a winning record this season.
THE PROGRAM: Loyola is playing its 99th recorded season of basketball this season. The first season was 1908-1909 and this year the College is celebrating the 100th anniversary of that first season. The Greyhounds have posted a 1118-1152 (.493) all-time record during that time.
LAST TIME OUT: Loyola came back from a 14-point deficit in the first half and then a 16-point second-half deficit with 8:32 remaining, but ended up on the short end of a 62-60 decision Monday night at North Carolina State. Sophomore guard Jamal Barney took the last shot with two seconds remaining that would have given the Greyhounds the win. He finished with 20 points. Senior guard Marquis Sullivan shot Loyola back in the game with four straight second-half three-pointers and finished with a season-high 21 points. Sophomore guard Brian Rudolph scored nine points with six assists and freshman forward Anthony Winbush grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
THE END OF 2008: This afternoon marks the last day of 2008 and the last game of the calendar year for the Greyhounds. Loyola already has 19 wins in the year, one more than 2007. The 18 wins in 2007 were the most for the Greyhounds since Loyola won 18 games in 1994 - the year that included the first and only NCAA appearance for the Greyhounds. The last time Loyola won 19 games in a calendar year was 1985, winning 13 to conclude the 1984-1985 season and six to open the 1985-1986 campaign. The last time the Greyhounds won 20 or more games in a calendar year was 1971 when it won 17 games and the Mason-Dixon Conference tournament to cap a 19-7 season in 1970-1971 and opened the following year with four victories for 21 triumphs during the year.
GREYHOUNDS AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS: Despite a history spanning 99 seasons of basketball, Loyola has only 18 recorded games against teams ranked by the Associated Press since the weekly rankings begin in 1948-49. The highest ranked teams have been the 1952-1953 La Salle team that was ranked No. 3 one year prior to winning its 1954 National Championship and last year's visit to third-ranked Kansas, last year's National Champion. Besides last year's Jayhawks, the Greyhounds faced two ranked teams in seasons that would include Final Fours - the 1969-70 St. Bonaventure Bonnies and the 1993-94 Arizona Wildcats. The matchup with Arizona was in the NCAA Championship West Regional First Round following Loyola's only MAAC Championship, the Greyhounds' last postseason appearance.
BARNEY POURING IN THE POINTS: After not having played in almost two years following his departure from Providence and sitting out his NCAA-mandated transfer season, sophomore guard Jamal Barney has been on a scoring tear of late. After scoring just 66 points in his first six games, he has poured in 112 points in the six since, including four efforts of 20 or more. Not forgotten has been his rebounding in his last five outings, grabbing 37 boards for an average of 7.4 per game. Three times in the last six games he has made better than 50 percent from the floor and he has made six or more field goals in each of those games. Since he moved into the starting lineup eight games ago, he has reached double figures in seven of the eight while leading the team in scoring four of those times. Over that eight-game stretch, he is averaging 17.4 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 44.8 percent (56-125) from the field and 80.8 percent (21-26) from the free-throw line.
SULLIVAN REACHES 1,000: Senior guard Marquis Sullivan was honored prior to the December 10 game for scoring the 1,000th point of his career. The 29th player to do so, he tallied the historic basket on a three-pointer with 4:33 remaining in the first half at Davidson, one of four three-pointers he scored in the game while leading the team with 16 points. After being held scoreless in the win over Coppin State, he bounced back with a season-high 20 points in just 22 minutes at UC Davis and then scored 21 points in 20 minutes Monday at North Carolina State. He made four or more three-pointers for the fourth time in nine games this season, shooting 50 percent or better from long range in each of those outings. His appearance at UC Davis made him the 37th player in Greyhounds basketball history to play in more than 100 games in a career.
RUDOLPH LENDS HELPING HAND: Out of the starting lineup for the first time since early January of last year, sophomore guard Brian Rudolph responded with his best performance of the season against Coppin State, handing out nine assists without a turnover and adding two steals. The assist total was just one off his career high of 10. He had his two front teeth knocked out while diving for a loose ball in the game and has committed just one turnover since, handing out five helpers with no turnovers at UC Davis and six assists with just one turnover Monday at North Carolina State. Mired in a shooting slump since scoring 11 points twice in the first three games, he is averaging 5.3 assists through the 12 games this season.
LEWIS MAKES HIS RETURN: Sophomore guard Tony Lewis made his return to the lineup at UC Davis and scored eight points with a steal in 18 minutes played. He had played sparingly in a pair of games immediately following and then did not dress for four games after exploding for a career-high 23 points and eight rebounds against Cornell.
HARVEY GIVING TEAM WHAT IT NEEDS: After not making a field goal in two games, junior guard Brett Harvey has scored in double figures in four of five games since, including 27 points against Niagara. While others have taken the scoring burden of late, he has contributed other ways, including a season-best seven assists at UC Davis. Whatever the team has needed, his free-throw shooting has remained consistent, ranking ninth nationally in the latest NCAA numbers through December 22. Four times this season he has made nine or more foul shots in a game and his 13-for-13 performance against Niagara equaled the second-best performance in school history. He has made 35 consecutive free throws entering tonight.
WINBUSH LENDS SUPPORT: Keen observers have noticed the impact that freshman forward Anthony Winbush has made since moving into the starting lineup seven games ago. After playing just 34 minutes in the season's first four games, he hasn't played less than 22 in any of the seven that followed, including a career-high 36 Monday night at North Carolina State. His impact was never felt more than in the deciding moments of the Coppin State game. His steal off the press and hand off to junior guard Brett Harvey in three-point range for a successful basket game Loyola its first lead of the second half with 4:21 to go, his alley-oop dunk 3:09 left pushed the lead to five, another alley-oop dunk with 84 seconds remaining snapped a 67-all tie, he found sophomore guard Jamal Barney open under the basket for what resulted in the game-winning free throws with 46 ticks left and finally he rebounded a missed Eagles shot with 22 seconds left and got the ball to Harvey who was fouled and sank the game-clinching free throws. He scored seven points before fouling out at UC Davis while contributing stellar defense against the taller Aggies and followed that with a team-high seven rebounds and more defense against the Wolfpack.
WIEGAND EARNS STARTS: A freshman walk-on, center Josh Wiegand earned a start in the second half of the Niagara game and has been in the starting lineup for the three games since. Against the Purple Eagles, he made all three of his shots from the field for six points and added five rebounds, including four off the offensive glass. His next outing resulted in two points, four rebounds, a steal and a block.
HALL TALLIES DOUBLE DIGITS AGAIN: Freshman guard J'hared Hall matched his career-high against Coppin State, scoring 11 points in a career-best 17 minutes. Seven of his points came in the second half and his only three-pointer of the game cut what was a 20-point Greyhounds deficit to nine with 14:32 remaining. He first tallied 11 at Vermont, scoring the three-point basket that brought Loyola all the way back from a 13-point first-half deficit to tie the game with 12:35 left. He has made 40.9 percent (9-22) of his three-point attempts thus far this season.
WRIGHT PUTS UP THE BLOCKS: Junior forward Jawaan Wright has already collected 17 blocked shots through his 10 games, including five at Vermont. He leads the team in field-goal percentage (.609) and is fourth in rebounding (3.5 rpg). He has cracked the Top 15 in Loyola's career blocked shots list, recording 37 in two-plus seasons thus far to rank 14th.
NEXT TIME OUT: The Greyhounds return to conference play this weekend with their annual trip to Western New York, taking on Canisius Saturday and Niagara Monday. Loyola will play in Reitz Arena for the first time in a month on January 9 when it hosts Fairfield in a MAAC game.