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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Lincoln Blue Tigers got out to an early lead and held on to defeat the University of Nebraska at Kearney men, 64-61, Thursday night at Jefferson City.

This was the only meeting between the Lopers (14-9, 8-6 MIAA) and Lincoln this season. UNK sees a two-game win streak end while the Tigers improve to 6-3 at home.

“They made enough plays and we didn’t. They beat us like .... a drum on the boards in the first half,” UNK coach Kevin Lofton said in his post-game radio show. “We had our chances but we missed layups, free throws and wide-open shots.”

UNK got another big effort — 19 points and six rebounds — from senior forward AJ Jackson but couldn’t catch Lincoln after falling behind 13-7 eight minutes into the game. The Lopers missed 10 of their first 13 shots but were only down 28-25 at the break thanks to five 3-pointers.

Scoring 36 points in the paint, Lincoln (9-14, 8-6) led 52-41 midway through the second half. UNK got a layup from senior forward Morgan Soucie to make it 54-51 with just more than seven minutes left to play. However, a missed free throw and turnover followed with Lincoln sinking a 3. The Blue Tigers led by at least three the rest of the way.

“We couldn’t stop them. We went to a zone to keep them in front of us. Their guys were hard to guard and elusive down near the basket,” Lofton said. “Sometimes from an athletic standout you are challenged.”

The Lopers trailed 61-58 after senior Chase Winchester made two free throws. With the shot clock winding down the Lopers were called for a foul and Lincoln went 1 of 2 at the line to make it a two-possession game. UNK missed its next shot before Winchester nailed a 3 with a second left.

Winchester and Soucie finished with 10 points each.

A balanced Lincoln attack was led by senior guard Jonell Burton who had 17 points, three rebounds and two assists. Six others scored, including 14 points and three rebounds from 6-foot-8 junior reserve Jordan Notch.

UNK is at Central Missouri on Saturday afternoon. The Mules (9-14, 4-10) fell to Fort Hays State on Thursday , 65-50.