The Loyola Ramblers defeated Milwaukee on Saturday night, 69-64. While the Panthers are struggling right now, the victory is important for Loyola because it is a road victory during Horizon League play. Winning on the road is always difficult to do in sports. It's especially difficult in college basketball. (Check on this Wall Street Journal article for evidence.)
A split on the weekend was important for the Ramblers. How hard is it to win on the road in the Horizon League? Loyola was the only school to win a game in the opponent's gym during the entire opening weekend in the league. Getting a split in Wisconsin is a excellent for Loyola to continue the momentum it built during a confidence-raising stretch of games early in the season.
Loyola won on the road by getting strong performances from a different cast of characters. It appears teams are onto the Ramblers second-unit stars Walt Gibler and Marcus Thomas. The two of them combined for just two points against MIlwaukee. They both did other things - Thomas had 4 assist, Gibler had 3 rebounds, and other players picked up the slack. The five starters each scored at least 8 points as Geoff McCammon led the way with 18.
Andy Polka had his typical stabilizing game, 8 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. As one of two senior presences on the team that are currently able to play, along with Thomas, Polka needed to keep his teammates calm and ready to go.
Now Loyola stands in an advantageous position. The Ramblers are ahead of the curve. They've got a win on the road in the league. At the end of the season when the records are being tabulated this one will mean a lot.
Any road win in any conference is a good win. Remember that as the season progresses.