With the nonconference portion of the scheduling nearing its conclusion, the Northern Kentucky men’s basketball team hosts Illinois State in a 2 p.m. showing on Sunday, Dec. 15, at BB&T Arena.
Northern Kentucky University Norse (7-3 Overall, 0-0 Horizon League)
Illinois State University Redbirds (4-5 Overall, 0-0 MVC)
Sunday, Dec. 15 – 2:00 p.m. (ET)
TV: Fox Sports Ohio with Brady Laber (PxP) and Brad Redford (Color)
Also available on ESPN+, but blacked out in Fox Sports Ohio market.
Radio: FOXSports1360 with Jim Kelch (PxP) and Rick Broering (Color)
Stats: Live Stats
Promotions and Tickets
The first 250 kids will receive a Victor E. Viking Cape. Additionally, $9 children’s tickets purchased at the door include a kids meal at the concession stand. Kid’s Club Members will have access to a suite.
At halftime, Northern Kentucky will hold its annual Teddy Bear Toss benefitting St. Elizabeth Health Care. Bring a teddy bear to donate and have a chance to win a 55” LG Smart TV, PS4, Apple Watch, Powerbeats and ticket vouchers.
Braxton Happy Hour with $5 craft beers will be held from 1-2 p.m. in the Braxton Beer Garden on the concourse.
Fast Break Points
• NKU pulled away in a 76-57 triumph against in-state foe Eastern Kentucky thanks to 58 percent shooting and 38 percent shooting defense.
• NKU squares off against Missouri Valley’s Illinois State on Sunday afternoon. The Norse will meet the Redbirds for the first time ever, but are 2-3 all-time against teams in the MVC. However, NKU has never faced an opponent that was a member of the MVC at the time of the game.
• NKU has been stingy on the defensive end, holding teams to 65.2 points per game. But, in the last four games, opponents are scoring just 58.3 ppg against the Norse.
• NKU makes its hay with the nation’s seventh-best 3-point field-goal shooting defense, limiting foes to just 25.4 percent.
• The Norse have ripped off 95 steals so far, a total that ranks 15th in the nation. The team’s 9.5 steals per game also rank 25th.
• Offensively, the Norse are letting it rain from long range this year. The team ranks 14th in the country in 3-point field-goal attempts (283) and 25th in made threes (92).
• Since the start of the 2016-17 campaign, NKU is 45-6 (.882) at BB&T Arena. The Norse also sold a program-record 1,409 season tickets this year.
• NKU is in the first year of the Darrin Horn era, as the Kentucky native is just the sixth head coach in the 49th season of the program. In his 10th year as a head coach, Horn has a career record of 178-114.
• NKU is coming off of its second trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last three years, where it fell 72-57 to No. 3 Texas Tech, which finished as the national runner-up.
• NKU has been the most-dominant team in the Horizon League over the last three seasons, amassing a 46-15 mark against league foes while winning four of the combined six league championships (regular season and tournament).
• With a DI-era record 26 wins last year, NKU secured a third-straight 20-win season for the first time in the DI era and just the third time in program history.
• Since the start of the 2016-17 season, NKU is a combined 79-33 (.705), has won the Horizon League regular season twice (2018, 2019) and league tourney twice (2017, 2019), and has played in both the NCAA Tournament (2017, 2019) and NIT (2018). No other team in DI history has registered this level of accomplishments in its first three years with active status.
• F Dantez Walton picked up his third-straight Horizon League Player of the Week honor this week, becoming the first player in 30 years to win three in a row. Dayton’s Negele Knight did so in the 1989-90 season.
• NKU has played five games against DI competition in the last three weeks and Walton has averaged 26.2 ppg and 8.6 rpg while shooting 57 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three over the span.
• Walton has 852 career points to rank No. 43 all-time at NKU.
• G Tyler Sharpe, a Preseason All-Horizon League Second-Team honoree, is averaging 12.8 ppg.
• Though only in his third season as a Norse, Sharpe moved into the top-50 all-time scorers at NKU with his 18-point showing at Missouri. He now ranks 44th with 841 points as a Norse.
• G Trevon Faulkner is one of four returning starters for NKU this year. The sophomore guard is averaging 12.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
• G Bryson Langdon has started the last seven games for Northern Kentucky and averaged 4.1 assists in the outings.
• F Adrian Nelson followed his career-high 12-rebound showing at Miami by matching his career high in scoring with 10 points against Eastern Kentucky.
Last Time Out
Five Norse notched double-figure scoring outputs and Northern Kentucky pulled away in the second half with 14 unanswered points in a 76-57 win against Eastern Kentucky. NKU shot a white-hot 71 percent (17-of-24) in the second half and 58 percent (28-of-48) for the game, while also dominating the glass, 39-22. The Norse’s defense was stout, holding the Colonels to 38 percent shooting (23-of-60). Walton and Faulkner paced NKU with 18 points apiece, with Walton contributing nine boards and Faulkner distributing a career-best seven assists. Langdon converted 5-of-6 shots and scored 14 points. Nelson and Sharpe each posted 10 points.
Scouting Eastern Kentucky
While Illinois State enters at 4-5 overall, four of the team’s five defeats have come to teams ranked in the top-103 of KenPom’s rankings and three of them were two-possession games. The Redbirds average 69.1 points per game and allow a nearly identical 68.2 ppg. Zach Copeland paces the offense with his 15.4 ppg scoring average. Nearly half of Copeland’s makes are from long range due to the senior guard’s 41.1 percent shooting from 3-point range, which ranks 65th in the country. As a team, ISU converts 38.9 percent of its threes, 29th-best in the nation. Dedric Boyd is second on the team in scoring, contributing 9.8 ppg.
Illinois State is one of eight first-time opponents for the Norse this season, joining Arkansas, Ball State, Coppin State, Midway, Mizzou, Texas Southern and UNC Greensboro. NKU dropped its decisions against Missouri (71-56), Texas Southern (98-96 in double overtime) and Arkansas (66-60), but defeated Coppin State (82-70) Ball State (59-57) and Midway (86-56) to sit at 3-3 against first-time opponents.
NKU is 2-3 all-time versus teams currently in the MVC, but none of those teams were members of the MVC during previous meetings. NKU went 1-3 against Valparaiso during the two seasons the teams shared the Horizon League. While NKU was an NAIA program in Nov. 1983, the Norse defeated Evansville. Evansville’s conference at the time was the Midwestern City Conference, which later changed names to Midwestern Collegiate Conference and then to Horizon League.
Assistant Athletic Director
Communications and Media Services
Northern Kentucky University