The first time around, Mississippi State players had to sneak out of the state by boarding a plane in the dead of night. They were running from their own Governor, who was expected to issue an injunction against their intent to play Loyola of Illinois in an NCAA tournament game.
The year was 1963, and the issue at hand was race. Governor Ross Barnett was prepared to squash a basketball team’s dreams of playing for a national title and the glory of a state university because their northern opponent fielded a racially integrated team.
To get the full story, read Kyle Veazey’s Champions for Change.
The result of the 1963 tournament game was a 61-51 win for Loyola.
In tonight’s rematch, played in honor of those 1963 renegades, the result was very much the same. Loyola of the Horizon League moved to 7-3 on the strength of a convincing 59-51 victory over the SEC challenger.
Devon Turk of the Ramblers led all scorers with 21 points on 7-12 shooting. He was joined in double figures by swingman Christian Thomas, who poured in 16.
Mississippi State was outrebounded and harassed into 37.5% shooting. Fred Thomas and Roquez Johnson combined to score 27 points for the visiting team, but got little help from foul-prone teammates.
Players from the original Game of Change attended the rematch, and were on court when the starting lineups for today’s teams were announced.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.