Loyola Chicago (9-20, 4-13 MVC) wraps up its regular season at home Saturday against Evansville (12-18, 5-12). The Ramblers can finish as high as a tie for 8th place in the Missouri Valley Conference, but they are locked into the No. 10 seed for the conference tournament next week.
In their first meeting, the Aces defeated the Ramblers in January, 53-48.
Evansville also has nothing to play for in terms of conference tournament placement. The Aces will face Drake in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game Thursday. The only question is who will be sporting their home white jerseys. The Aces need to beat Loyola and have Drake lose to Bradley on Saturday to earn the No. 8 slot.
As part of the tradition festivities for the regular season’s final home game, Loyola will honor its three graduating members: senior walk-ons Bill Clark and Derrick Boone, and graduate student Tony Nixon.
None of the three honorees have had much on-court success as Ramblers.
Clark transferred to Loyola his sophomore year and played five minutes per game. The last two years, his playing time has dwindled, but he has seen the court each of the last three games.
However, Clark has experienced plenty of fun living life on the bench.
Boone has played in only one game this season and has scored only one point in his Loyola career.
Nixon, who transferred to Loyola from Northern Illinois this season, has been the most prolific with 2.3 points per game and 38.5% 3-point shooting. Nixon is coming off a season-high 15 points at Missouri State.
The Ramblers will have to work hard Saturday to shut down sophomore guard D.J. Balentine and sophomore center Egidijus Mockevicius.
Balentine is one of the MVC’s top performers this season, averaging 22.2 points and 4.3 assists. He is also deadly from the outside at better than 40% from deep. Balentine posted 18 points and four dimes against Loyola in January.
Mockevicius has been a dominant post player, averaging 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. He also shoots 63.4% from the field.
Saturday’s tip is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT.