Love, along with Markeith Cummings — the only other Owl in double figures with 21 points — helped Kennesaw State (2-13, 1-2) end its 12-game losing streak.
Mercer (9-7, 2-1) owned major-conference wins at Florida State and Alabama this season. The Bears were picked by some publications to win the A-Sun championship and an NCAA tournament berth.
Second-year Kennesaw State coach Lewis Preston picked up his first A-Sun win in 21 games. He is now 5-41 in trying to build his own team since taking over for the fired Tony Ingle.
“I’m very happy with the effort, the energy and the enthusiasm. I think we came together as a team (Saturday),” Preston said. “I’m going to make sure that they understand that this is the byproduct of coming together and everybody understanding what they need to do for us to be successful.”
The win, which snapped a 25-game A-Sun losing streak, was Kennesaw State’s largest against another NCAA team since Feb. 7, 2011, when it beat Campbell by 14 in Ingle’s final season.
The Owls hit their first five shots, all 3-pointers: three by Love, two by Cummings. They posted season highs in points and field goal percentage (51 percent on 18-of-35), and equaled their season best with nine 3s. Kennesaw State was 9-for-14 on 3s (64.3 percent), including Love’s four.
Love also made 14 of 15 free throws, and the Owls were 38-for-55 overall — setting new team records for free throws made and attempted since the program’s rise into Division I.
“Coach always talks about for 40 minutes come out and play a complete game,” Love said. “Like he said, it wasn’t perfect but we played hard, gave it our all and came out on top.”
Mercer was 5-for-23 from long range and 20-for-24 at the line.
Kennesaw State, which never trailed, was outscored 34-16 in the paint. But the Owls had a 20-9 advantage in points off turnovers.
Travis Smith led Mercer with 18 points.