Loyola big man can't help but get attention


Greg Lansing emphasized at Indiana State men's basketball practice earlier this week that Loyola, today's visitor to Hulman Center in a nationally televised Missouri Valley Conference showcase game, is a lot more than a one-man team.

Still, however, it appeared only one of the Ramblers was mentioned by name during that practice.

Cameron Krutwig.

Krutwig, a 6-foot-9 junior who started as a freshman on the Ramblers' Final Four team two years ago, is a unique player. Watching him, there's a temptation to think that he's not very athletic, but he is strong, smart, extremely skilled and devastatingly effective.

Which presents a different set of circumstances for 6-8 Indiana State senior Bronson Kessinger, whose usual role is to come off the bench early in the game and settle any defensive problems his team might be having.

"Usually I'm talking everybody through everything when we might be trying to stop a high-scoring guard," Kessinger said this week, "but [Loyola's] offense runs through the center."

Krutwig leads Loyola in scoring and rebounding, but also dominates his team's assist totals. Kessinger and freshmen Tre Williams and Jake LaRavia will need to be fully invested against him.

"It's a fun challenge though," Kessinger noted, "being able to battle against a great player."

"[Krutwig] gets a lot of attention because he has the ball a lot," Lansing said. "But it's not just him."

Today's 6 p.m. tipoff — ISU fans are asked to note the early start to accommodate that national television broadcast — matches a team that hasn't departed from that MVC elite status since that magical run in 2018 against a Sycamore team that's showing signs of wanting to join the same group.

"We've been protecting our home court," noted Lansing, whose team has an 11-game winning streak in Hulman Center, "and Saturday [at Missouri State] we were finally able to go on the road to do what we need to do.

"The competitiveness is where you want it," the coach continued, "and the leadership has been great, especially from [Jordan Barnes]. But there are still a lot of areas that need improvement."

Asked if he was enjoying his senior year more than his other three, Kessinger said, "Well, Saturday was the first time I've won in Springfield [Mo.], so that was nice, a really good road win.

"It's a lot better when you're winning," the senior continued, "especially winning games that we wouldn't have won in the past. The fight that this team has makes it more fun. . . . We're happy where we are, but we know we have a lot of work to do."

ISU lost 75-55 at Loyola last month but hasn't lost since. Today is not a matter of revenge, however. There will be enough to deal with without bringing extra emotion.

"[The Ramblers are] a good basketball team that's tremendously well coached," Lansing said. "They're going to do what they do."

"Loyola's a tough team," Kessinger agreed. "They're really defensively solid. We just want to play how we know we can play; we know [the Ramblers] didn't see the best version of us [in the earlier meeting]."

Lansing expects some help from the ISU fans today.

"The crowds have been outstanding," he said, "and we're hoping for a huge student section."

ISU vs. Loyola

Tipoff: 6 p.m. today in Hulman Center

Broadcasts: TV: CBS Sports Network. Radio: WIBQ-FM 97.9. Twitter: @TribStarTodd.

Series: ISU leads 15-14. Loyola won 75-55 in Chicago on Jan. 22.

Last time out: ISU won 78-68 at Missouri State and Loyola beat Bradley 62-51 on Saturday.

The players

Indiana State Sycamores (13-8, 6-4) — G Jordan Barnes (5-11 Sr., 12.5), G Tyreke Key (6-2 Jr., 17.0, 5.2 rpg), G-F Christian Williams (6-5 Sr., 4.9), F Tre Williams (6-7 Fr., 8.0) and F Jake LaRavia (6-8 Fr., 8.6) are possible starters. G-F Cooper Neese (6-4 So., 8.9), F-C Bronson Kessinger (6-8 Sr., 3.6), G-F Cobie Barnes (6-5 Fr., 2.1), G Cam Bacote (6-3 So., 3.1), G De'Avion Washington (6-3 So., 1.4) and G Keon Sellers (6-4 Fr., 0.3) are key reserves.

Coach — Greg Lansing (161-150 at ISU, 10th year).

Loyola Ramblers (15-8, 7-3) — C Cameron Krutwig (6-9 Jr., 15.2, 8.3 rpg, 4.5 apg), G Tate Hall (6-6 Jr., 13.5), G Lucas Williamson (6-4 Jr., 8.7), F Aher Uguak (6-7 Jr., 5.4) and G Marquise Kennedy (6-1 Fr., 9.4) are possible starters. Jalon Pipkins (6-4 Jr., 4.3) and Paxson Wojcik (6-4 Fr., 2.6) are key reserves.

Coach — Porter Moser (167-139 overall, 8th year at Loyola).

Next games: Indiana State plays Saturday night at Illinois State. Loyola hosts Valparaiso on Sunday.

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