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Kearney, Neb. – Junior reserve forward Austin Luger had his first career double double and Nebraska-Kearney held Nebraska Christina to 24 percent shooting to post a 73-39 win Wednesday afternoon in the Health & Sports Center. Playing for the first time since December 18, UNK improves to 7-4 while the Sentinels remain at 9-4 as this was an exhibition game per National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Earlier this season NCC fell in similar games at Wayne State, Augustana, Newman and Missouri Western State. A school of 150 from Papillion, Nebraska Christian shot out to an 8-1 lead three minutes in as it went 6 of 6 at the line and hit a bucket. However UNK woke up on “New Year’s Day”, leading 17-12 by the 7:39 mark and then 36-16 at the half. “It was a game we needed. We had nine consecutive days off so we had to face some outside competition to get ourselves going,” UNK head coach Kevin Lofton said. “I thought we got off to a really slow start but as the game wore on we started to sharpen up.”
The Lopers ended game with nine steals, a season-high six blocks and tallied 32 points off 23 NCC turnovers. Nebraska Christian finished 14 of 45 from the field including a 0 of 11 effort from behind the arc. Finally a taller UNK team fed the post all day to tally 30 points in the paint. “Defensively we did a good job throughout the game. What I really like about this team is the way we share the basketball. We had some really good possessions today where we had guys turn down open shots for an even better one,” Lofton said. Luger (Alliance) had team-highs in both points (14) and rebounds (11) as he made 4 of 7 shots and went 6 of 6 at the line in 24 minutes of work. Eight of his boards came at the defensive end and he also was one of eight Lopers to have an assist. Shooting 60 percent (12 of 20) in the first half, UNK also got double digit efforts by Iowa senior forward Kyle Juhl (11) and Kansas senior forward Morgan Soucie (10). Juhl had nine of his points in the second half with Soucie tallying all of his points in the opening 20 minutes. Finally Bellevue redshirt freshman reserve wing Cedric Johnson had seven points, two boards, two steals and an assist. “We definitely have to continue to improve defensively, we have to find a way to hold our own on the defensive boards, get some offensive rebounds, cut down on our turnovers and continue to improve our free throw shooting. I think all those are key things heading into MIAA play,” Lofton said. UNK returns to MIAA play this weekend when it hosts Pittsburg State Saturday afternoon and Missouri Southern State Monday night.