Freshman guard Devon Turk came off the bench to spark a 20-point first-half run that proved to be key for Loyola-Chicago in its 59-51 victory over Mississippi State Saturday night in the first meeting of the two teams since their historic game 50 years ago in the NCAA basketball tournament.
With a roster of only white players, Mississippi State in 1963 defied a state injunction that would have kept it from playing an integrated Loyola squad in an NCAA regional game.
Loyola won the regional semifinal and went on to capture the '63 NCAA championship.
Several players and family members from both of the '63 teams were in attendance for ceremonies marking what was billed as "A Game of Change." They saw the current Ramblers (7-3) overcome a sluggish start to post the fifth win in their last six outings.
Loyola trailed the short-handed Bulldogs (3-6) 17-14 with 8:37 remaining in the first half when Turk took over. Over the next seven minutes, he scored 13 points and handed out two assists as the Ramblers doubled up the visitors on the scoreboard 34-17.
Loyola led 34-20 at the half and never let the Bulldogs, who had only six scholarship players and two walk-ons available because of injuries, closer than 11 points until fewer than 16 seconds remained in the game.
Turk ended up with a season-high 21 points as the Ramblers improved to 5-0 at home. Leading scorer Ben Averkamp (17.4 points per game) managed only five points for Loyola.
Freshman Fred Thomas led Mississippi State with 14 points and sophomore Roquez Johnson added 13.