Mar 01, 2024

🏀🎧 LISTEN - Tiger men host UNK to close out regular season

Posted Mar 01, 2024 8:30 PM

FHSU Athletics

Fort Hays State (21-6, 16-5 MIAA)
vs. Nebraska-Kearney (5-21, 2-19 MIAA)

Friday, March 1, 2024 • 5:30 p.m.
Hays, Kan. • Gross Memorial Coliseum

Video: The MIAA Network CLICK HERE TO WATCH ($)

Game Sponsor: Tim Cossaart - RE/MAX Pro
National Anthem: O'Loughlin Elementary
Promotions: Senior Night

Fort Hays State plays host to Nebraska-Kearney on Friday night at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays. It will be Senior Night for the Tigers with three seniors being recognized right after the conclusion of the women's contest. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. The No. 19 ranked Tigers enter at 21-6 overall, 16-5 in the MIAA, while the Lopers are 5-21 overall and 2-19 in the MIAA.

Fort Hays State won the first meeting with UNK this season by a score of 57-49. Kaleb Hammeke led the Tigers with 15 points in that contest. The Tigers now have a six-game win streak against the Lopers. UNK's last win in the series was in 2020-21 by four points in Kearney. FHSU has won the last six meetings between the teams in Hays with UNK's last win at Gross Memorial Coliseum occurring back in 2016-17.

Fort Hays State is coming off a 67-65 overtime win over Missouri Southern in Hays last Saturday. The Tigers battled to get the game tied in regulation, then outlasted the Lions in a physical game in overtime.

Nebraska-Kearney enters this game on a 16-game losing streak. UNK's last win was back on December 19 over Bethany College, but the Lopers have dropped 18-straight MIAA games since defeating Missouri Western back on December 7. UNK started conference play 2-1 before dropping 18 straight conference games since. UNK's closest loss since last playing the Tigers on January 20 was a 90-85 loss to Newman in Kearney back on February 10.

Fort Hays State is No. 5 in the latest NCAA Central Region rankings, released on Wednesday (Feb. 28). The Tigers rank fifth in win percentage both in-region and overall against Division II competition this year, and also rank fifth in RPI and performance indicator formulas used in the region rankings. Minnesota State is the frontrunner in the region rankings, followed by Northwest Missouri State, MSU Moorhead, Minnesota Duluth, and Fort Hays State. Minnesota State has just two losses on the season, while NWMSU and MSU Moorhead each have four, and Minnesota Duluth has five. The top four teams in the region rankings all have at least 20 wins against Division II competition this season. FHSU is 18-6 against Division II competition so far this season.

Hammeke continues to lead the Tigers in scoring and assists. He is averaging 13.8 points and 4.1 assists per contest. In the win over Missouri Southern last week, he became just the third player in program history to have at least 1,500 points and 400 assists in their career, joining Raymond Lee and Mark Wilson. Elijah Nnanabu is the team-leader in rebounding at 5.2 per game, followed closely by Hammeke at 5.1 per game.

Nnanabu, Bjarni Jonsson and Jahiem Holden are the three senior that will be recognized immediately following the conclusion of the women's game. Nnanabu and Jonsson were both All-MIAA selections last year and Jonsson is a two-time MIAA All-Defensive Team selection.

Fort Hays State is already a lock for the No. 2 seed in the MIAA Tournament next week. The Tigers will potentially match up against either the No. 7 or No. 10 seed in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The teams in those seeds are still to be determined here in the last week of conference play.