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Loyola-Chicago vs. #19 Auburn Game Preview and Open Thread

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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Auburn Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday November 25th, 2021

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers vs Auburn Tigers

Battle 4 Atlantis

Imperial Arena - Nassau, Bahamas

Time: 1:30PM CT

Network: ESPN2, Auburn Radio Network

Auburn Basketball vs Sister Jean’s Team on Thanksgiving.

Who needs the NFL on Thanksgiving?

In what is becoming a Thanksgiving Day Tradition, the Tigers will look to bounce back from a tough 115-109 2OT loss to Connecticut yesterday with a Thanksgiving afternoon matchup with the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, who fell 63-61 to Michigan State yesterday afternoon. Last season, Auburn played Saint Joseph’s on Thanksgiving and won that game 96-91 in OT in Fort Myers, Florida.

Auburn will play either Syracuse or Arizona State in the 3rd and final game tomorrow in the Bahamas.

KD Johnson moved into the starting lineup for Auburn and had 27 points including the tying basket at both the end of regulation and the first overtime. The kid is absolutely fearless and Auburn fans are going to love his intensity and for how hard he plays the game.

Jabari Smith was held scoreless for almost the entire first half but came on strong down the stretch of the second half and finished with 22 points including going 12-12 from the free throw line.

Wendell Green came off the bench and scored 19 points including a stretch early in the game where he made 3 consecutive 3-pointers as Auburn got off to a great start yesterday.

Walker Kessler posted his first double-double as an Auburn Tiger with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jaylin Williams played some great minutes in the second half finishing with 12 points and 5 rebounds as he and Smith held down the frontcourt for most of the second half as Auburn came back from a 15-point deficit to force overtime.

Get to Know Loyola-Chicago

We will get to see a first time matchup tomorrow afternoon as these teams have never met before.

The Ramblers are coming off a Sweet 16 run last season including knocking off top-seeded Illinois in the Round of 32. But things have changed in the Windy City as Porter Moser has moved on to Oklahoma, who Auburn will see later this year, and named Drew Valentine their new coach. Valentine, a former Michigan State Spartan, takes over the Ramblers program at 29 years of age, believed to be the youngest head coach in Division 1 Basketball.

Also gone is Cameron Krutwig, the defending Missouri Valley Conference player of the year who averaged 15 PPG and 7 RPG last season and was a part of the Ramblers Final Four team back in 2018.

Despite these two losses, this is a veteran group that will be one of the teams to beat in the Missouri Valley Conference again this season. The Ramblers announced last week they will be moving to the Atlantic 10 beginning next season. This year’s Ramblers team is averaging 43.5% so far from 3-point range this season (54-124).

The Ramblers go about 9 deep and are led in scoring by senior forward Ryan Schwieger (#13) who is averaging 12.8 PPG this season coming off the bench. Schwieger began his career at Princeton but due to COVID, the Ivy League cancelled their season and he then transferred to Loyola-Chicago to finish his college career.

Next in scoring is grad student forward Aher Uguak (#30) who is averaging 12.2 PPG and 4.4 RPG. Uguak is an efficent shooter as he is shooting 66.7% from the field (24-36) and 7-9 from 3-point range.

Lucas Williamson, another graduate student (#1), is averaging 11.8 PPG and 6 RPG this season. Williamson, known for his defense and was last year’s Missouri Valley Defensive Player of the Year.

Point Guard Braden Norris (#4) is another veteran player who is known for his defense as well. Norris began his career at Oakland and in his second year playing for the Ramblers is averaging 9.6 PPG and 4.4 APG.

Prediction

Unlike yesterday, I think this game will likely be in the 60s or low 70s. The Ramblers are an excellent defensive team and have frustrated good shooting teams over the past several years. The biggest question is obviously fatigue, especially after losing a game that had a lot of emotion in it as did yesterday’s matchup. Regardless, Auburn has already benefitted from playing in this tournament and will continue to do so in today’s game.

After watching yesterday, I’m excited to see what KD Johnson does for an encore and for Auburn’s sake, hope he brings the same energy and scoring he had yesterday to today’s game. I think this will be another close game but will give the Tigers the slight edge in this one.

Auburn 69 Loyola-Chicago 64