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College Basketball

Russell Westbrook meets Loyola-Chicago, tells team to ‘win it’

The Oklahoma City Thunder are in San Antonio for Thursday night’s showdown with the Spurs. By happenstance, the Thunder are staying in the same hotel as the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, the darlings of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament who reached the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

Ramblers players not surprisingly were pretty pumped to meet the NBA superstar, who rolled up to the hotel in a black Escalade Wednesday night and agreed to take photos with some players.

“When we saw Russell Westbrook, a few of us took pictures with him,” said [Aundre] Jackson, who has made 37 percent of his 3-pointers this season, via ESPN. “He just said, ‘What’s up?’ He was like, ‘Good luck, go ahead and win it.'”

Added Aher Uguak, a New Mexico transfer sitting out this season due to transfer rules: “Everyone’s jaws dropped. It’s crazy to see one of your idols in front of you and just to see he’s a really cool dude and just a regular guy also.”

Best of all? Westbrook told the Loyola-Chicago players to “win it.” Not that the Ramblers do not have countless bandwagon-jumpers at this stage of their magical Cinderella ride to the Final Four.

“It’s been crazy, but I think we deserve all this attention, so we work hard for it,” Jackson said. “And now that we got it, we just gotta continue to block it out whenever it’s time to lock in.”

The blessed Ramblers — perhaps literally — face the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines on Saturday at the Alamodome with a chance to punch their ticket to the national championship game on Monday.