By RICK PETERSON
Washburn University men's basketball has a tough stretch of four straight road games on the horizon, but it is a confident group of Ichabods that hits the road, starting with a 7:30 p.m. MIAA contest at Fort Hays State on Thursday night.
Washburn (12-5 overall, 8-3 MIAA) has won three games in a row and seven of its last eight after an 81-74 win over Pittsburg State last Saturday in Lee Arena, rallying from a 10-point deficit midway through the first half.
"I feel really good about this team,'' Washburn junior Michael Keegan said. "We're really starting to click and playing well together.''
Washburn coach Brett Ballard agreed.
"We're playing well and a young team coming together,'' Ballard said. "I think it's encouraging on both ends. We're leading the conference in scoring but also leading the conference in rebound margin and second in field goal percentage defense, so I think there's balance there.''
Fort Hays State (13-4, 8-3) sits in a tie for third with the Ichabods in the MIAA standings after defeating Nebraska-Kearney 57-49 last Saturday in Kearney.
The Ichabods received votes in the latest NABC Top 25 Coaches Poll.
The Ichabods are first in the MIAA in scoring, averaging 79.9 points, while Fort Hays State has the No. 1 scoring defense in the conference, allowing just 58.2 points and not allowing anyone to score over 77 points this season (77-75 loss to Newman in overtime).
Sophomore Sam Ungashick leads the Ichabods with a 14.4 scoring average while also averaging 3.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Junior Andrew Orr averages 13.3 points this season while going 48 of 54 from the free throw line (88.9%). Orr is shooting 56% from the field, which ranks seventh in the MIAA in field goal percentage.
Washburn Rural product Jack Bacehlor is averaging 12.6 points as a freshman and leads the team with 58 assists. Bachelor has hit at least one 3-pointer in all but three games.
Sophomore Brady Christiansen is averaging 8.2 points and a team-high 6.6 rpg.
Keegan is scoring 7.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game and averaging 8.0 and 6.3 rebounds in MIAA play. He is shooting 50% from the field, hitting 48 of 96 shots.
The Ichabods are 10th in the nation and first in the MIAA in 3-point attempts, shooting 37.9% (138 of 348).
Washburn is +7.1 in rebounding margin this season, which leads the MIAA and ranks 16th nationally. The Ichabods are also leading the MIAA in total rebounds at 38.8 per game.
Kaleb Hammeke leads Fort Hays State in scoring at 15.2 points per game with a team-high 68 assists and averages 5.1 rebounds.
Elijah Nnanabu is scoring 11.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Washburn will continue its four-game road trip at Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday.