Northern Kentucky men’s basketball hits the highway for its first Horizon League road trip of the season, heading to Oakland on Thursday night in a matchup of early season 2-0 league teams. Tip is slated for 7 p.m. (ET).
Northern Kentucky University Norse (12-3 Overall, 2-0 Horizon League)
Oakland University Golden Grizzlies (6-9 Overall, 2-0 Horizon League)
Thursday, Jan. 3 – 7 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN+ with Neal Ruhl (PxP) and Dan Waterstadt (Color)
Radio: FOXSports1360 with Jim Kelch (PxP) and Steve Moeller (Color)
Stats: Live Stats
Fast Break Points
• NKU moved to 12-3, its best 15-game start to a season in the DI era, with a 73-58 win over UIC.
• On Thursday, the Norse head to Oakland, which was picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League Preseason Poll and has started league play 2-0 with road wins at YSU and CSU.
• The Norse were picked to finish second in the Horizon League preseason poll, receiving 356 points and 10 first-place votes. Wright State was picked first with 377 points.
• NKU is coming off a 22-10 campaign in which it won the Horizon League regular-season title with a 15-3 mark and played in the NIT.
• Since the start of the 2016-17 season, NKU is a combined 32-10 against Horizon League competition, the best of any league school against the rest of the conference. Wright State is next at 29-13.
• NKU is averaging 16.1 assists per game, No. 50 in the nation. The Norse also rank 12th in the country in total assists with 242.
• NKU is letting it fly from 3-point range, ranking 21st in attempts (385) and 25th in made treys (136). The Norse are making 9.1 threes per game, which are the 67th-most nationally.
• Foes are converting just 38.8 percent of their shots versus NKU, 30th-best nationally. The Norse are also 55th in scoring defense, allowing teams to post just 65.5 points per game.
• Since the start of the 2016-17 season, NKU is a combined 58-24, has won the Horizon League regular season (2018) and league tourney (2017), and has played in both the NCAA Tournament (2017) and NIT (2018). No other team in DI history has accomplished this feat.
• F Drew McDonald leads four Norse averaging double digits on the year at 18.7 points. He also leads NKU at 10.4 rebounds per game (13th in nation). His eight double-doubles rank fifth nationally and he is one of just 16 players to register a triple-double so far this year.
• McDonald registered 19 points and career-high 20 boards against UIC, marking the first time since Dec. 18, 1972, that a Norse posted a 20-rebound outing (16,813 days).
• McDonald has registered a double-double in four-straight games and, in his last 22 games against Horizon League opponents, dating back to March 17, 2017, he has posted a double-double 16 times.
• McDonald is one of five active players in Division I basketball with at least 1,700 career points (1,712) and 900 career boards (918).
• G Jalen Tate is averaging 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game this year. He is making 54.7 percent (47-of-86) of his shots and 38.9 percent (7-of-18) of his threes.
• Tate is coming off of a career night against UIC, where he scored a career-high 25 points, including 22 in the first half, and dished out six assists. He went 8-of-11 from the floor and 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
• G Tyler Sharpe is second on the team in scoring, pouring in 13.5 points per game.
• F Dantez Walton is averaging 11.9 points and 6.0 rebounds. In his first two seasons as a Norse (61 games), he posted nine combined double-figure scoring games. He already has 12 double-digit scoring outputs this year.
• G Zaynah Robinson is running the show for the Norse and is second on the team at 3.3 assists per game. He is averaging 8.9 points per game.
• G Trevon Faulkner has started the last seven games for the Norse, playing nearly 22 minutes per outing and has dished out 17 assists while committing just seven miscues. He handed out a career-best six assists against IUPUI.
Last Time Out
Career nights from Tate and McDonald coupled with Northern Kentucky’s typically stingy defense helped the Norse to a 73-58 win over UIC on Sunday evening. Tate poured in a career-high 25 points, including 22 in the first half, and added six assists. McDonald added 19 points and career-high 20 rebounds, becoming the first Norse in over 46 years to have a 20-rebound performance. NKU’s defense limited UIC to 36.5 percent (19-of-52) shooting, including a paltry 20 percent (5-of-25) from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Walton found his range, going 5-for-9 from deep en route to 15 points. The Norse also outrebounded the Flames, 46-27, leading to a 12-0 advantage in second-chance points.
Oakland, along with NKU, is among four Horizon League teams still unscathed in the loss column, sporting a 2-0 league mark after defeating Cleveland State (89-77) and Youngstown State (76-74) on the road last weekend. Xavier Hill-Mais leads the Golden Grizzlies, scoring at a clip of 21.8 points per game. Oakland, which averages 77.9 ppg as a team, also gets a double-digit scoring contribution from Jaevin Cumberlin, who checks in at 16.5 ppg. Opponents average 79.9 points against Oakland. The 6-9 Golden Grizzlies are 3-3 at home this season, but haven’t seen their home court since a 92-72 loss to Northern Illinois on Nov. 25.
Northern Kentucky is 9-10 all-time against Oakland, with the Golden Grizzlies owning a 4-2 mark in the DI era. However, both of NKU’s wins have come on the Blacktop at the O’Rena, including a surprising 90-73 win on Jan. 19, 2016 and last season’s thrilling 87-83 victory on ESPN2. In the two games last season, McDonald averaged 13.5 points and 11.0 rebounds.
Assistant Athletic Director
Communications and Media Services
Northern Kentucky University