MACON, Ga. -- The Kennesaw State men's basketball team's attempt to complete a season sweep of Atlantic Sun Conference and in-state rival Mercer came up short as the host Bears recorded a 66-42 victory on Friday at Hawkins Arena in Macon.
Mercer (14-9, 7-3) went on a 14-4 run midway through the first half to build a 10-point lead to establish control of the game and remain in a first-place tie atop the A-Sun standings. The Bears, who had three players finish in double figures were led by senior guard Travis Smith who scored a game-high 18 points.
For the first time this season, Kennesaw State (2-20, 1-9) did not have a player score in double figures. Freshman forward Nigel Pruitt (Potomac, Md. / Bullis School) led the Owls with nine points while senior forward Aaron Anderson (Tucson, Ariz. / Central Arizona College) totaled a game-high 11 rebounds and scored four points.
The Owls were never able to get their offense untracked, shooting 25 percent (7-for-28) in the first half, and finishing the game 15-for-54 (27.8 percent) from the field. Meanwhile, the Bears ran an effective offense and shot 47.9 percent (23-for-48). Over half of Mercer's points came inside as it outscored Kennesaw State, 36-20, in the paint.
The game was in stark contrast from when the two teams met at the KSU Convocation Center on Jan. 5 and the Owls posted an 83-75 victory. In that contest, Kennesaw State opened the game 5-for-5 from the field, including 3-for-3 from behind the three-point arc, en route to making a season-high nine treys and shooting a season-best 51.4 percent.
Mercer used a 20-8 run over the final 14 minutes of the first half to take a 29-17 halftime lead. The Bears consistently were able to get the ball inside for layups, outscoring the Owls 18-6 in the paint.
That momentum carried into the second for Mercer as the Bears opened the final 20 minutes with an 8-1 run to build a 37-18 lead with 15:55 remaining. The Owls would never get any closer than 13 points the remainder of the game.
Kennesaw State returns to action on Thursday (Feb. 7) when it hosts North Florida at the KSU Convocation Center beginning at 7 p.m.
Kennesaw State University