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Loyola sees quick adversity in Atlanta with stressful bus trip to arena

Marques Townes and Ben Richardson celebrate in the second half against Tennessee. | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Loyola will have to hope that reaching the Elite Eight is slightly easier than reaching the arena in Atlanta was Wednesday. The team needed nearly an hour to drive from its hotel to Phillips Arena for practice after its police escort never showed up and the bus driver didn’t know the directions, according to ESPN.

“Our guys handled it a lot better than me,” coach Porter Moser said. “I guess my immaturity came out.”

The No. 11 Ramblers are getting ready to play No. 7 Nevada in the Sweet Sixteen on Thursday night. They’re considered underdogs for the game yet again, but proved comfortable in that role with upsets over No. 6 Miami (Fla.) and No. 3 Tennessee in the first two rounds.

The Wolfpack should provide another big challenge for Loyola, but first the Ramblers just needed to get to the arena Wednesday to practice. It turns out that was far more difficult than anticipated after the team’s police escort never arrived, then the bus driver didn’t know where to go. The team ended up being late for its court time.

“I think some of us were starting to be like, what is going on right now?” junior guard Clayton Custer said. “So I knew Porter was not happy about what was happening. We were driving around, driving around, and then when we finally made it, I knew that he wasn’t — I knew he was going to say something to somebody.”

This is Loyola’s first trip to the Sweet 16 since its last March Madness appearance in 1985. If the team can pull off another win over Nevada, it’ll be the Ramblers’ deepest NCAA Tournament run since winning the national title in 1963.