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story.lead_photo.caption Jonell Burton of Lincoln dribbles past Washburn's Jalen Lewis during a game last month at Jason Gym. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

It's getting to be a pivotal part of the season for the Lincoln Blue Tigers men's basketball team.

The next two games have the potential to make or break their MIAA Tournament hopes.

Lincoln (8-14) enters tonight's game against the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers (14-8) at Jason Gym tied with Pittsburg State for eighth place in the conference with a record of 5-8. The top 10 teams will qualify for the tournament early next month in Kansas City and with three schools — Fort Hays State, Emporia State and Central Missouri — entering the week just a game back, getting wins will be critical.

Nebraska-Kearney is one of the top defensive teams in the MIAA, allowing 68.4 points per game to rank fourth in the conference. The Lopers average 73.1 points per game, tied for ninth in the conference.

Morgan Soucie (6-foot-5 sr.) of the Lopers is eighth in the MIAA in scoring at 16.5 points, while AJ Jackson (6-5 sr.) is 15th at 14.0. Soucie is tied with Cameron Potts of Lincoln for 10th in rebounding at 6.1 per game and also dishes out an average of 2.9 assists.

The Blue Tigers are 12th in the conference in scoring at 69.4 points per contest and 14th in defense at 75.6.

Jonell Burton (6-4 jr.) of the Blue Tigers is 13th in the conference in scoring at 14.7 points per game. Potts (6-1 jr.) is next at 11.9 points. Taylor L'Kielynn (6-6 sr.) of Lincoln is third in the MIAA in rebounding at 8.0 per game.

The men's game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start

The women's game between Lincoln and Nebraska-Kearney will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Lincoln (3-19, 0-13) will be looking to snap an 11-game losing streak, while 25th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney (22-2, 11-2) will bid for its 11th win in a row.

Nebraska-Kearney is first in scoring defense in the MIAA, allowing at 55.4 points per game, and second in scoring at 78.1. The Lopers' scoring margin of 22.7 is best in the conference.

Haley Semintal (5-8 sr.) leads three Lopers in double figures at 12.1 points per game. Brooke Carlson (6-1, soph.) is next at 11.4, followed by Maegan Holt (6-0 soph.) at 10.7.

Lincoln is 13th in scoring at 60.0 points per game and in defense at 71.6 points per game.

Kaloni Pryear (5-6 sr.) tops the Blue Tigers at 16.0 points per game, followed by Vivian Chigbu (5-11 jr.) at 11.0 points to go along with a team-high 8.0 rebounds.

The Lincoln men and women will close their home schedules Saturday afternoon against Fort Hays State. The women's game will start at 1 p.m., with the men to follow at 3 p.m. It will be Senior Day for both teams.

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