Custer: We're Enjoying The Moment; Anybody Can Win Any Of These Games

Loyola is back in the Elite Eight for the first time since 1963

March 23, 2018 - 9:19 am

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For the first time since 1963, No. 11 Loyola-Chicago is back in the Elite Eight, this after knocking off No. 7 Nevada, 69-68, in Atlanta on Thursday. The Ramblers (31-5) have now won three tournament games by a combined four points.

“It’s exciting,” Loyola guard Clayton Custer said on Ferrall on the Bench. “We’re happy. We’re enjoying the moment for sure. Can’t wait to play on Saturday.”

Loyola will face No. 9 Kansas State (25-11) on Saturday at 6:09 p.m. ET for the right to go to the Final Four.

“We’re so happy that we’re bringing that excitement back to Loyola basketball,” Custer said. “There’s actually a lot of history around Loyal basketball (with) the 1963 national championship team. Everybody in Chicago is pulling for us, so it’s an awesome experience for us.”

Loyola’s win over Nevada, just like their first two tournament games, came down to the final seconds. With his team clinging to a one-point lead, Marques Townes drilled a three to ice the game. The junior guard finished with a team-high 18 points.

“Marques has been making big shots for us all year,” said Custer, who shot 7-of-9 and scored 15 points. “I’m just so happy for him that he made that shot. He’s just an unbelievable player. He dominated the game tonight. He was the best player on the court tonight, and he did a great job for us. I’m happy he got to live that moment.”

Loyola struggled in the opening minutes, but freshman center Cameron Krutwig kept the Ramblers in the game thanks to a dazzling display of post moves. He finished with 10 points, five rebounds and an assist.

“By the time he’s done here at Loyola, he’s going to be one of the best players ever to play here,” Custer said. “He has such good touch for a big man, he catches everything that we throw to him – he’s amazing. The best aspect of his game that you don’t always get to see is his passing. He’s an unbelievable passer, and he has such a good feel for the game. He’s really fun to play with. He makes the game easier for us guards, so he’s definitely a stud.”

Krutwig reportedly arrived at campus weighing 300 pounds but is down to 260.

“He started eating really healthy and he’s worked real hard in the weight room,” Custer said. “The crazy thing is he moves his feet real well for a big boy, too. He’s going to be a really good player for a long time.”

The Ramblers are allowing just 64.0 points per game in the tournament and haven’t allowed anyone to break 70. Expect a defensive game in the Elite Eight, as Kansas State is averaging 60.0 points per game in the tournament.

“All year we’ve been really good defensively, the way we pack it in and make it hard for guys to score against us,” Custer said. “We have a ton of unselfish guys on our team. We don’t care who gets the glory or who scores. I think that makes for a successful team when guys don’t care if they score; they just care that the team scores.

“We know it’s going to be a tough challenge,” Custer continued, “but at this point, anybody can win in any of these games. We definitely feel good about our chances.”