Thursday brings Loyola University Maryland's final game before the Christmas holiday. The Greyhounds travel to Lexington, Ky., to face the No. 3/3 University of Kentucky. Tip-off is slated for 1 p.m. in Rupp Arena.
Kentucky's No. 3 ranking matches the highest-ranked team the Greyhounds have ever faced. They took on then-No. 3 Kansas in Phog Allen Fieldhouse on January 8, 2008, a 90-60 Jayhawks' victory.
Loyola and Kentucky will meet for the first time on Thursday.
The Greyhounds are 0-1 all-time against teams from the Southeastern Conference, 75-62 loss on January 10, 1983, at South Carolina in Loyola's second season as an NCAA Division I team.
As an assistant coach at the University of Maryland from 1991-2004, current Loyola Head Coach Jimmy Patsos and the Terrapins faced Kentucky five times, going 2-3, including a 78-68 victory over the Wildcats on March 22, 2002, in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, en route to Maryland's national title.
On The Tube
Loyola fans in the Baltimore and the Mid-Atlantic Region will be able to watch the game live on MASN, the home of several other Greyhounds' games this year.
The game will be originated by Fox Sports South with Dave Neal calling the play-by-play, and Larry Conley providing the color analysis.
In addition to Fox Sports (FS) South and MASN, the game will be available on the following affiliates: Sun Sports, FS Arizona, FS Houston, FS Southwest (in Arkansas and Louisiana), FS Wisconsin and FS Prime Ticket. FS South is available on DirectTV Channel 646 and Dish Network Channel 420.
St. Bonaventure University defeated Loyola 76-66 on Sunday, snapping the Greyhounds' eight-game winning streak. Loyola had reeled off the span of wins since falling in its season-opener at Wake Forest.
The winning streak was the longest in the school's NCAA Division I history (since 1981-82), and it is the longest since the 1964-1965 team won eight in a row during January and February.
Drummond's Career Day
Justin Drummond put together a career-high scoring effort in the Greyhounds' loss at St. Bonaventure, finishing with 26 points to eclipse the 22 he scored last February against Canisius.
Drummond, who came off the bench and played 32 minutes, made 10-of-19 shots, both of his 3-point attempts and all four of his free throws. He also led Loyola with five rebounds.
Drummond spread his 26 points evenly between the two halves, scoring 13 in each. He scored six-straight points as Loyola held the Bonnies scoreless for over two minutes in the second half, trimming St. Bonaventure's advantage from 12 to six with 4:06 to play.
Last Time Out
St. Bonaventure took a 14-2 lead and extended their advantage to 15 at halftime on Sunday in Western New York, handing the Greyhounds their first defeat in 36 days.
Demitrius Conger scored 20 points, and Andrew Nicholson had 18 for the Bonnies, while Justin Drummond tallied a career-best 26 for Loyola.
St. Bonaventure built an 18-point lead 1:31 into the second half on a Matthew Wright 3-pointer, but Loyola cut it back to single digits on a Shane Walker three with 7:19 on the clock. The Bonnies went back up by 12 just over 90 seconds later, but Drummond tallied six points in a row, making it a 6-point game, 70-64, with 4:06 left on the clock. The Greyhounds, however, scored just two points from that point forward.
First Time With One
St. Bonaventure limited Loyola's scorers on Sunday, holding all players under 10 points, save for Justin Drummond's 26. It was the first time this season that just one player was in double figures and just the third time (George Washington and Mount St. Mary's) that less than three have tallied 10 or more.
Importance Of Free-Throw Differential
Loyola's eight-game winning streak was predicated in part by its ability to get to the free-throw line while keeping its opponents away. In its two losses this season, the Greyhounds' opponents shot more free throws, while Loyola won eight games in a row when shooting more free throws than its competition.
This season, the Greyhounds are averaging 18.3 free throws made per game, and they are going to the line an average of 26.6 times.
Meanwhile, opponents are going to the line 21.5 times and making just 13.3 per game.
Latham Continues Contributions
Jordan Latham has seen increased playing time in the last two Loyola games, seeing 18 minutes of action at Mount St. Mary's and 17 at St. Bonaventure, the top two totals of his career.
He scored just two points at The Mount and four at St. Bonaventure, but his size, effort and solid defense were noted by the coaches, leading to increased time on the floor.
Latham is a new addition to the Loyola side this season after transferring during the offseason from Xavier. He was granted an NCAA waiver and will be immediately eligible to play for the Greyhounds in 2011-2012 rather than having to sit out the typical year-in-residency.
Latham returned to his home city when joining the Greyhounds. The 6-foot-8 forward played high school basketball a mere 2.5 miles from Loyola's campus at the storied Baltimore City College, a high school that has produced two sitting U.S. Congressmen (Elijah Cummings, D-Md.; Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md.) and a U.S. Senator (Ben Cardin D-Md.).
Honors Abound For Cormier
Loyola sophomore guard Dylon Cormier picked up a couple of awards for his recent play, earning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Week and Jesuit Basketball Spotlight National Player of the Week honors on December 12, both for the first time in his career.
Cormier averaged 20.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in a pair of wins over George Washington University and Mount St. Mary's University.
This season, Cormier leads Loyola in scoring (16.8), 3-point percentage (.424) and steals (1.8) and is third in rebounding (5.0).
Walker Off And Running At Mount
Shane Walker scored his first five points of the game last Saturday at Mount St. Mary's from the free-throw line, but he made a 3-pointer from the top left of the arc with less than five seconds to go in the first half, pushing the Greyhounds' lead to seven at the break.
In the second half, he continued his scoring effort, tallying 12 of his team-high 20 points in the second 20 minute stretch. He made another three and finished the game 10-of-13 from the charity stripe, setting career-highs in free throws made and attempted.
Walker's 20 points were a season-high, and the game marked the eighth time in nine games this year he has scored 10 or more.
His only sub 10-point outing came one game earlier when he scored just four points at George Washington. Both of his field goals against the Colonials were big ones, however. The first came after George Washington cut Loyola's one-time 20-point advantage to just eight with 5:18 to play, and the momentum appeared to have shifted to the Colonials. On the ensuing possession, R.J. Williams misfired on a jumper, but Walker came from the weak side to grab the rebound and lay it off the glass for his first points.
Minutes later, Walker took advantage of a mismatch at the top of the perimeter and drove down the right side of the lane, laying another basket off the backboard to put Loyola up 15 in the final 90 seconds.
He also had a season-best nine rebounds against George Washington.
Big Shots From Bobby
Robert Olson was just a point behind Shane Walker for team-high honors at Mount St. Mary's, finishing with a season-high 19. He was 6-of-11 from the field and 3-of-7 from behind the arc.
He scored 16 of his points after halftime, making a three 43 ticks in after the Mountaineers had cut Loyola's lead to four. He then had a traditional 3-point play and one from behind the arc in consecutive possessions with less than five minutes left to push the Greyhounds lead to 12 on two occasions.
Doing It On Defense
Mount St. Mary's pulled within five points, 46-41, with 9:01 left in the second half last Saturday, but the Greyhounds defense keyed their next run.
Loyola went on a modest 7-0 run that covered four minutes, 20 seconds, but the forced a Mount turnover and did not allow an offensive rebound during the stretch. On the offensive end, the Greyhounds scored on three of five possessions, using a good chunk of the shot clock each time.
Timing Was Right
Justin Drummond scored all nine of his points in the first half at Mount St. Mary's, although he did not make his first two field goals until less than 90 seconds were left in the stanza.
Aggressive play by Drummond, on the offensive glass and driving to the basket, put Drummond at the free throw line for six attempts, of which he made five, in the game's first 17 minutes.
With under a 90 seconds in the first half, Drummond twice took the ball on the low block, backed his defender down and scored off the glass. His four points were in the middle of a 9-0 run Loyola used to close the half and go from two down to seven up at the break.
Best Start In Division I History
Loyola's victory against Siena on December 3 moved the Greyhounds' record to 6-1 and gave the 2011-2012 team the best start in school Division I history, improving on the 5-1 start the Greyhounds achieved in 2005-2006.
The Greyhounds also are 2-0 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for the first time in the 23 years in the league.
Back-To-Back Career Nights
Dylon Cormier tied his previous career-high of 20 points against both Coppin State and UMBC earlier this season, matching the amount he scored last season as a freshman, also against UMBC.
He recorded his third 20-point effort of the season on December 3 at Siena, scoring 22, and he set another career-high one game later with a game-best 26 in the win over George Washington.
This season, Cormier has averaged 18.3 points per game through eight games, scoring 15 or more five times. Last season, Cormier scored 10 or more in 12 games, something he has already done eight times this year.
His points have come in a variety of ways. At Siena, he knocked down 5-of-6 threes, while against the Colonials, he posted 10-of-13 from the free-throw line. Earlier in the year, he scored 20 at UMBC behind a 15-of-17 effort from the charity stripe.
Cormier also registered a career-best nine rebounds against George Washington.
Erik Etherly posted his second double-double in three games, scoring 12 points to go with a career-high tying 15 rebounds at George Washington. This season, Etherly has double-doubles in half of the Greyhounds' eight games, and all four have come in victories. Wednesday night's effort was the ninth of his career.
Up to and including that game, Etherly scored in double-figures for 19-straight games, starting January 28, 2011, against Siena. In those 19 games, Etherly averaged 14.3 points per game.
Threes Starting To Fall
After starting the season cold from behind the 3-point arc - the Greyhounds made just 11-of-56 (.196) in their first four games - Loyola has seemingly reversed the trend, making 39-of-92 (.420) in its last six contests. The numbers were buoyed by 8-of-15 (.533) and 6-of-11 (.545) performances against Florida Gulf Coast and George Washington, respectively.
Loyola has outrebounded opponents by 51 this season, 375-324, through nine games, an average of 5.1 per contest.
The Greyhounds' advantage has been even more dramatic on the offensive glass where they have outrebounded opponents, 153-108. They have pulled down offensive boards on nearly 50-percent of missed shots this season.
Last Sunday's 23 rebounds at St. Bonaventure were the fewest by the Greyhounds this season, and the -12 is the biggest deficit they have seen in the rebounding battle this year.
The Greyhounds' scouting report heading into the George Washington game focused on stopping the Colonials' leading scorer, Tony Taylor. Mission accomplished.
The Greyhounds yielded just six points to Taylor, who averaged more than 15 per game entering the contest. Taylor, who was also honored before the game for recently scoring his 1,000th career point, made just 3-of-8 shot attempts and was held with a 3-point make.
Solid MAAC Start
Loyola did something earlier this month it had never accomplished in 22 previous seasons in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Greyhounds went 2-0 in their first two league games, defeating Marist at home and Siena on the road.
The Greyhounds also won their conference opener for the first time since 2005-2006, marking just the fourth time in 23 seasons they were 1-0 in the MAAC.
The 19 steals are the second-most in school history, one more than the Greyhounds posted in a November 29, 1997, game at Kent State. It is also the most Loyola has recorded against a Division I opponent. The school single-game record of 20 came on February 28, 1996, when the team closed the regular-season against St. Mary's (Md.).
Consistency Is The Key
Up until the George Washington win, three Loyola players - Dylon Cormier (13, 20, 20, 16, 14, 15, 22), Shane Walker (12, 15, 12, 15, 10, 11, 10) and Erik Etherly (11, 15, 27, 11, 15, 14, 11) have scored in double figures in each of the Greyhounds' first seven games, something never accomplished by the same three players in the program's Division I history.
Walker was held to just four against the Colonials, but Cormier finished with 26, and Etherly had 12.
The last time three Loyola players scored 10 or more over a six-game stretch was the 1997-1998 season when Mike Powell, Jason Rowe and Roderick Platt accomplished the task in consecutive games from January 25-February 15, 1998. Loyola was 5-1 in those games.
The Greyhounds had not had the same three players score 10 or more in four-straight games since Gerald Brown, Marquis Sullivan and Michael Tuck did it against Rider, UC-Davis, Canisius and Marist from February 18-March 2, 2008. Loyola was 3-1 during that stretch.
Spreading The Wealth
Five Loyola players scored in double figures in the Marist contest, the second time this season (Coppin State) the Greyhounds have had five score 10 or more.
In the first seven games of the season, at least three Loyola players have scored 10 or more in every game, and in all but one, four or more have topped the 10-point mark.
In the Greyhounds' January 30 victory last year over Iona, six players scored in double-figures, and the team's top two scorers at the time did not even dress for the contest. It was the first time that a Loyola team had six players score in double figures since December 6, 1991, when the Greyhounds matched the feat in a 98-84 overtime home victory against Mount St. Mary's.
Triple Digit Blocks
Shane Walker's block of a Kevin Cantinol layup 1:25 into the second half against Florida Gulf Coast was the 100th rejection of his Loyola career. He is now one of three Greyhounds all-time to log 100 or more blocked shots, joining Brian Carroll (217, 1997-2001) George Sereikas (117, 1989-1993).
Head Coach Jimmy Patsos became the third coach in Loyola history to win 100 games when the Greyhounds defeated UMBC, 73-63, on the road. Patsos, who is in his eighth season, took over a team that finished 1-27 during the 2002-2003 season. He won his 100th game in his 215th career game.
Last season, Patsos moved into third-place all time at Loyola in victories, trailing only Lefty Reitz (349 wins, 1937-44, 1945-61) and Nap Doherty (165, 1961-74).
Two Of A Kind
Although unofficial, research shows that Jimmy Patsos is one of only two coaches in the last 20 years to take over a team that won just one game the year prior to his arrival.
Brigham Young finished the 1996-1997 season with a 1-25 record. Steve Cleveland took over the following season and tallied 138 wins until his departure for Fresno State after the 2004-2005 season.
Men's & Women's Coaches With 100
Loyola University Maryland is one of just 26 mid-major schools that has men's and women's basketball coaches with 100 or more victories at their current school after Greyhound women's coach Joe Logan got his 100th on December 18 in a win at George Washington.
Loyola is the only school in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to have accomplished the feat, and it is one of only five institutions at which the coaches have both won 100 or more games in 10 or fewer seasons.
Two Over Twenty
Erik Etherly and Dylon Cormier both hit, or exceeded, the 20-point plateau at UMBC with Etherly scoring 27 and Cormier chipping in 20.
It marked the first time since January 3, 2009, a stretch of 80 games, that a pair of Greyhounds scored 20 in the same game. On that date, Jamal Barney poured in 41 at Canisius, while Brett Harvey had 22.
Getting To The Line
As a team, Loyola went to the free-throw line 46 times at UMBC, making 31. The 46 attempts are the sixth-most all-time and most since the 2004-2005 squad attempted 53 on December 5, 2004, against Niagara.
Loyola's 31 free throws made rank 11th on the school single-game chart and were the most since making 32 on January 14, 2009, versus NJIT.
Although his shot was not falling at UMBC, Dylon Cormier still found ways to be productive on the offensive end of the floor. The sophomore guard was just 2-of-9 from the field, but he went to the free-throw line 17 times, making 15, and finished with 20 points.
Cormier's 15 free throws made are tied for sixth in Loyola single-game history, matching the total made by Mike Powell at Saint Peter's on December 6, 1997, and Donovan Thomas against Marist on February 23, 2003. The 15 makes were the most by a Loyola player since Jamal Barney set the school record with 18 on January 14, 2009, against NJIT. His 17 attempts rank tied for sixth all-time.
Baltimore Bred And More From Nearby
Since taking over as head coach in 2004, Jimmy Patsos has put an emphasis on recruiting locally, and it has never shown as much as on this year's roster. Three players - sophomore guard Dylon Cormier (Cardinal Gibbons), sophomore forward Jordan Latham (City) and freshman guard R.J. Williams (St. Frances) are products of schools within the city limits.