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Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska-Kearney men’s basketball team shot 56 percent from the field and got a double double from freshman Kanon Koster to hold off Colorado-Colorado Springs, 83-73, Saturday noon at the Health & Sports Center.
The Lopers improve to 2-2 and beat the Mountain Lions (1-2) for a third straight season.
UNK led from start to finish and by as many as 19 points. UCCS, shooting just 22 percent (8 of 36) in the first half, hung around thanks to 23 of 32 free throw shooting and 21 Loper turnovers.
Ahead 40-26 at the break, Kearney went on an 11-3 run midway through the second half to open up a 66-51 lead. The spurt featured dunks by Koster (Kearney H.S.) and sophomore Sam Morris (Lincoln SE) and a triple by senior forward Carter Burns (Ankeny, Ia.).
Springs, making 45 percent of its field goals (15 of 33) in the second half, still don’t away as they got it down to seven again, 77-70, with 1:29 left and after a thunderous fast break dunk by Padiet Wang. However, UNK went 4 of 6 at the line in the next minute to win its home opener.
“I felt like our team came out mentally engaged, played with urgency and competed hard on the defensive end of the floor. I thought we did a good job of sharing the ball for the most part, getting it reversed and having multiple guys touch the basketball to work for the best shot,” said Loper head coach Kevin Lofton. “We’re overall pleased with the effort.”
UNK went 32 of 57 (8 of 17 trees) from the field and 11 of 18 at the line. Junior forward Kyle Juhl (Harlan, Ia.) had the hottest hand, scoring a game-high 19 thanks to 5 of 10 three point shooting. The effort ties his career-high, set last December at Emporia State.
“Guys shot the ball with a lot of confidence. Kyle hadn’t shown that the past three games … today he came out believing in himself and shot the ball with confidence,” said Lofton.
Next, Koster went for 15 points, 10 rebounds (nine defensive) and a game-high eight assists. He was 6 of 7 from the floor in going a team-high 36 minutes. Fellow starter AJ Jackson (Bellevue West) almost registered a double double, having 10 points and eight rebounds, with freshman reserve Henry Penner (Aurora) at 13 points and four caroms in 26 minutes.
UCCS, making just 4 of 26 three point shots, had three starters and two reserves in double figures. UNK hosts Colorado School of Mines (1-1) Sunday at 2 p.m. The Orediggers are at Fort Hays State (0-2) later today.