Ball State Basketball Takes Down Final Four Darling Loyola

In a match up taking place exactly one year to the day after one of the biggest upsets in school history, the Ball State basketball team had an encore performance that should not be taken lightly. The Cards brought home a huge victory on Wednesday night, taking down Loyola-Chicago by a score of 75-69.

While Loyola isn’t ranked #8 in the country like Notre Dame was during this time last season, the Ramblers are no joke and they are coming off a historic journey to the 2018 Final Four in a run that seemed too good to be true. They have lost a couple key pieces from last year’s 32-win squad, but they were still picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference this season behind a very impressive Illinois State squad in an equally impressive conference.

While the final score ended up favoring the Cardinals by 7 points, that was not even truly indicative of the way the boys from Muncie played in this one. Both by watching the flow of the game and looking at the box score after the final whistle, it was very clear that BSU dominated this one.

KJ Walton had another impressive outing, putting up 22 points on an insane 11-14 from the field while hauling in 5 rebounds. He will be the most athletic player on the floor in every single game from here on out and it is not even close. His 45-inch vertical leap is an annoying fact that has to be stated during every television broadcast, but it is also one of the most impressive things I’ve seen on a basketball court. If Walton can continue to hit the midrange jumper like he proved he could do on Wednesday, then he will be locked in as the clear-cut number two option on this team.

I was getting ready to write a little section about it not being a great performance by Tahjai Teague until I checked the box score. In a game where Teague did not even look close to his best, he still put up 14 points on only 6 shots to go along with 9 boards. On days where the big three of Tayler Persons, Walton, and Teague all play at their highest level, this team could beat just about anyone.

As a team, the Cards shot the ball exceptionally well. They shot 57.1% from the field and 47.1% from deep while holding the Ramblers to just 42.6% from the field and 27.3% from three-point range.

Beyond impressive showings from big man Cameron Krutwig (19 points, 8 rebounds) and Marques Townes (14 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists), Ball State was able to lock down the rest of the Loyola-Chicago offense, and that includes reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Clayton Custer who only shot 25% from the field on the night.

So what does this win truly mean for Ball State? It is the best win of the Cardinals young season and a win against a media darling in Loyola. This victory should put the team on the map as a squad that can give the currently undefeated Buffalo Bullsa run for their money come conference season. While it is never easy for teams from the MAC to get love from the national media, a win against one of the country’s favorite teams sure doesn’t hurt the birds from Ball State.