Reserve Marquise Kennedy scored 16 points Friday night and Braden Norris added 13 as No. 21 Loyola Chicago maintained its first-place tie with Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference, stopping Southern Illinois 60-52 in Chicago.
In improving to 20-4 overall and 15-2 in the MVC, Loyola limited the Salukis to 41.7 percent shooting from the field and forced 18 turnovers that led to 17 points. That made up for the Ramblers' third straight below-average game offensively.
They made only 39.6 percent from the field, including a miserable 5 of 27 on 3-pointers.
Steven Verplancken made all six of his shots from the field -- including five from long range -- and scored a game-high 17 for Southern Illinois (11-12, 5-12). Lance Jones chipped in 14 -- all in the first half. The Salukis converted 12 of 20 3-pointers, but managed only 14 points in the paint and missed the only two foul shots they took.
Despite the result, Loyola will need help to earn the top seed for next week's conference tournament. Even if they win a rematch with Southern Illinois on Saturday, the Ramblers will be the No. 2 seed unless Drake loses at Bradley.
The Bulldogs own the tiebreaker because they swept Indiana State. Loyola only split its series with Indiana State.
Jones almost single-handedly got Southern Illinois off to a fast start. He canned four 3-pointers in the game's first 4:53, giving the Salukis a surprising 14-5 lead.
Then Loyola started clamping down and playing the brand of defense it has exhibited most of the year, permitting opponents just 55.6 ppg in its first 23 games. Southern Illinois didn't score its next bucket for 9:02, courtesy of a Jones layup, and never led again.
Cameron Krutwig's layup gave the Ramblers the advantage for good at 15-14. They spent the half's remainder grinding out possessions and just enough points in a classic 5-on-5 battle.
Kennedy converted a layup with 31 seconds left to send Loyola to its locker room with a 29-20 cushion.
The Salukis made just three field goals over the half's final 15 minutes and also mixed in 10 turnovers.
--Field Level Media