The KU men’s basketball team has won two games in a row for the first time this season after beating Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) foes Mansfield and Bloomsburg Universities last week. Before the victories, the Golden Bears were reeling and on a nine game losing streak.
KU (5-16, 4-11) had their highest scoring total of the year, shooting over 55 percent when they took down Mansfield (5-14, 3-12) 94-87 at the Keystone Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Three days later, the Golden Bears outlasted Bloomsburg (5-14, 3-12) at home 71-64.
Against Mansfield, KU was down by seven at halftime but showed resiliency in the second half, where they were down by 14. The Golden Bears displayed their grit later in the game and took their first lead of the second half with 3:39 remaining.
They gained the lead after Micah Fraction missed a three-pointer, and Tracy Peal grabbed the offensive rebound. After the missed shot, Fraction got a lay-up to put the Golden Bears up 77-76, and they didn’t surrender the lead for the rest of the contest.
Fraction led the offense for KU, scoring 31 points on 10-21 shooting. He was 3-8 from three-point range and also added three assists, three rebounds and four steals. Fraction leads the team with just over 20 PPG and is their main facilitator with 3.4 APG.
KU’s Tyler Brooks had an all-around good game, filling up the stat sheet with 18 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals. Brooks is the Golden Bears’ second leading scorer with 12.8 PPG and leads the team in rebounds with 7.3 per game.
Mansfield’s Joe Bell had the lone double-double of the game with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
In KU’s second game last week, they had a commanding 44-29 lead at halftime against Bloomsburg.
After two successful free throws by Brooks in their first possession of the game, Fraction made a lay-up with 17:35 left in the first half to put the team up 4-3. The Golden Bears never surrendered the lead and were up by 19 in the second half.
KU had four players that scored in double digits, with Fraction leading the way with a game high 22.
Freshman Tracy Peal added 20 points with a game high nine rebounds. He is averaging 9.8 PPG and 6.1 RPG.
Also scoring in double digits for the Golden Bears was Brooks with 13 and Kenny Battle with 11. Brooks has scored more than ten points in 13 of the Golden Bears’ 18 games.
One of the reasons behind KU’s struggles this season may be their lack of depth. Bloomsburg’s bench outscored the Golden Bears 26-2.
Fraction, Battle and Brooks each played the entire 40 minute duration of the game. KU’s lone bench player that got minutes was Daniel Mack. Bloomsburg had a total of eleven players enter the game to KU’s six.
For his performance in both of the team’s victories last week, Fraction received the accolade of PSAC East Men’s Basketball Player of the Week. He is currently second in the conference in scoring, trailing only Lock Haven’s Wali Hepburn (21.8 PPG).
The Golden Bears look to continue their winning streak when they face PSAC opponent East Stroudsburg University on the road at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9.
By Bill Felo