It took one minute and 18 seconds to recognize the difference between Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Loyola-Chicago.
That’s how long it took Loyola-Chicago to make a basket, nearly nine minutes fewer than it took Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Spartans’ last opponent, to score a single point.
It was clear from the opening tip that the Ramblers (6-2) came to play, leading the No. 19 MSU men’s basketball team (7-2) 32-30 at halftime.
MSU dealt with early adversity when junior guard Keith Appling, the Spartans leading scorer, picked up two fouls in the game’s opening four and a half minutes and was forced to sit on the bench.
With the leader of their offense off the court, the Spartans struggled to build a lead in a back-and-forth game, trailing by as many as three points and never leading by more than three.
Recognizing the offensive inefficiency, MSU head coach Tom Izzo gambled by putting Appling back in the game midway through the first half and it paid off, helping MSU to its first double-digit lead, 22-12, thanks to a 14-2 run.
But when Izzo attempted to give Appling a respite, the Ramblers capitalized with a 14-0 run to take a 30-25 lead with 2:24 remaining in the first half.
Matters were made worse when backup point guard Travis Trice picked up his third foul with 47 seconds remaining in the first half, forcing sophomore guard Brandan Kearney to run the point.
Junior center Adreian Payne led MSU with nine points and five rebounds off the bench, while Appling was held scoreless and senior center Derrick Nix was held to one point.