UNK MBB: Samuels Has 21 Points But Mules Hold off the Lopers

University of Nebraska Kearney Lopers logo.

Division I transfer Keith Kiner III and freshman Tim Jordan Jr. combined for 36 points to help Central Missouri hold off Nebraska Kearney, 67-58, Thursday night in Warrensburg.

With the effort, the Mules (11-12, 5-12) snap a four-game losing streak and take the season series from the Lopers.

A 6-6, 200-pound redshirt senior who was at D1 Niagara (N.Y.) last season, Kiner III came off the bench and once again haunted UNK. He tallied 15 of his team-high 19 points in the first half; he had 32 points in the first meeting between the two. Jordan Jr., another lanky wing, got going in the second half and finished with 17 points on 7 of 9 shooting.

"First half I didn't think we played very well at all. They out toughed us; they were getting all the 50/50 balls," said UNK interim head coach Antoine Young on the KRVN Radio post-game show. "We challenged them a little bit at half-time; to go out and compete. I thought they did that and the type of performance we had in the second half … I can live with."

UNK was down 34-18 before scoring the final seven points of the first half. Freshman guard D'Aundre Samuels (Denver) had five of these points and went on to have 21, one shy of his season high. The Loper momentum continued in the second half as they started on a 10-3 run to cut the deficit to two. However, the Mules never trailed on the night as they held off each Blue & Gold charge.

"You can't get yourself in a hole on the road. Honestly, to be down only nine at the half was kind of surprising," said Young.

A jumper from junior forward Sean Murphy (New Zealand) made it 56-52 with just over five minutes remaining. The Lopers preceded to get some stops but couldn't cut into that deficit as they missed their next four shots. Jordan Jr. ended a four-minute scoring drought for his team with a bucket at the 1:54 mark. That made it 58-52 and UNK didn't get closer than four the rest of the way.

"(After a timeout) we at least got a good look and executed. We were disciplined enough to at least give ourselves a chance," said Young.

Each team made five threes with UCM sinking nine more free throws and being plus four on the glass. Besides Jordan Jr. and Kiner III, starting guard Jalen Knott had 13 points and three boards.

To record his fourth 20-point effort, Samuels was 9 of 14 (1 of 2 threes) from the field and 2 of 5 at the line. He also had six boards and five assists. Next, Murphy made 6 of 9 shots to have 12 with super senior forward Winston Cook (Wahoo) at a team-best seven boards, and five points.

"D'Aundre is just learning and at the tip of what he actually is. He hasn't figured out how good he can be," said Young. "For a freshman, he's pretty special and the sky is the limit for him."

UNK heads to Lincoln on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Tigers (13-10, 8-9) fell tonight to Fort Hays State, 60-41.