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UVU basketball: WAC-leading Wolverines host Kansas City on Thursday

By Clint Burgi

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 22 2014 4:52 p.m. MST

Entering the week alone atop the WAC standings, Utah Valley University is home for two games beginning Thursday at 7:05 p.m. MT against Kansas City. The Wolverines (10-7, 4-0) are coming off road wins at Idaho and at Seattle last week.

In a 52-51 win at Seattle on Sunday, Mitch Bruneel hit two free throws with two seconds left to secure the win against the Redhawks. Bruneel finished with 20 points in the win, following up an 18-point performance in the 71-66 win at Idaho two days earlier.

The Kangaroos (6-11, 3-2) are unbeaten in two road conference games so far, sweeping the same trip in the Pacific Northwest that UVU did on its recent road trip. UMKC defeated league favorite New Mexico State on Saturday, getting two free throws from Martez Harrison with four seconds left. Harrison is averaging 16.2 points per game to lead the team.

“UMKC is playing great basketball,” UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said. “Coach (Kareem) Richardson has them playing with great energy and confidence in his system.”

Nelson Kirksey is averaging 14.3 per game and has upped that to 18.4 in five league games. Richardson is in his first season at Kansas City after spending last season as an assistant for Rick Pitino at Louisville. His team has played a tough non-conference schedule that includes games against Iowa State and Louisville.

For Utah Valley, five players average in double figures with Holton Hunsaker’s 12.0 points per game leading the way. Hunsaker leads the WAC with an average of 4.3 assists per game.

Utah Valley and Kansas City have met seven times, with the Wolverines holding a 5-2 advantage all-time. UVU won the most recent meeting last season in Kansas City, 78-66.

UVU hosts Chicago State (8-10, 3-1) on Saturday night. The Cougars are currently sitting in second place in the WAC and play at Bakersfield on Thursday.

Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.

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