With the nonconference season squarely in the rearview mirror, the Northern Kentucky men’s basketball team turns its sites on Horizon League play with league-newcomer IUPUI coming to Highland Heights, Kentucky, to kick off the conference portion of the season with a Thursday, Dec. 28, tilt. The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. tip at BB&T Arena and will follow the Norse women’s team, which hosts Milwaukee at 5 p.m.
Northern Kentucky University Norse (7-5 Overall, 0-0 Horizon League)
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis “IUPUI” Jaguars (3-8 Overall, 0-0 Horizon League)
Thursday, Dec. 28 – 7:30 p.m. (ET)
BB&T Arena (9,400) in Highland Heights, Ky.
Radio: ESPN1530 (1530 AM) with Jim Kelch (Play-by-Play) and Steve Moeller (Color)
Stats: Live Stats
Fast Break Points
• NKU dropped to 7-5 on the season after falling in the final minute at No. 8 Texas A&M, 58-64.
• NKU had the game at one possession with 21 seconds left, but the Aggies went 3-of-4 at the line to seal the game.
• Northern Kentucky opens Horizon League play against league-newcomer IUPUI on Thursday, Dec. 28. The Norse are 4-1 all-time versus the Jaguars.
• NKU was picked to finish second in the Horizon League Preseason Poll.
• Northern Kentucky is 6th in the nation in 2-point field goal percent (61.3).
• NKU is averaging 17.9 assists per game, a mark that ranks 22nd in the nation. It also only commits 12.3 turnovers an outing, which ranks 77th nationally. Combining those two marks results in an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.45, the 25th best in the country.
• NKU forces the 33rd-most turnovers per game in the nation (16.8) and allows teams to distribute just 10.6 assists per game.
• NKU’s 3-point field goal defense ranks 12th in the nation at 28.4 percent.
• Through games played Dec. 26, NKU sits at 79th on KenPom.com, which is tops in the Horizon League. In a recent column on TheAthletic.com, Ken Pomeroy marked NKU’s odds at 72 percent to win the Horizon League. Oakland was second with a 35 percent chance.
• The Norse are ranked No. 20 in the CollegeInsider.Com Mid-Major Top-25 Poll.
• NKU is one of 16 teams in the country to return at least 70 percent of its production in points (77), rebounds (84) and assists (84).
• F Carson Williams is converting 68.9 percent of his field-goal attempts (73-of-106), a mark that ranks 7th in the country. He is also 4-of-7 from three this year and averaging 14.9 ppg.
• F Drew McDonald leads NKU in scoring (16.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg) this year. The Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year also has four double-doubles, including one in each of NKU’s last two games (at No. 8/9 Texas A&M, at UMBC)
• G Lavone Holland II is the consummate point guard – scores when needed (13.8 ppg), sets the table for his teammates (5.2 apg) and takes care of the ball (2.2 turnovers per game). His 2.38 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 74th in the country.
• F Jordan Garnett has set his career-high in scoring (15) three times this season – vs. James Madison, at Memphis and at No. 8/9 Texas A&M – and is averaging a career-best 8.3 ppg.
Last Time Out
Northern Kentucky took the eighth ranked team in the nation to the closing seconds in a 64-58 setback at Texas A&M on Tuesday, Dec. 19. Three-point buckets from Garnett and Holland II were sandwiched around a basket from TAMU’s Tyler Davis, putting NKU’s deficit at three with 21 seconds left on the clock. However, an untimely Norse turnover and 3-of-4 showing at the free-throw line from the Aggies sealed NKU’s defeat.
The defensive affair saw neither team hit 40 percent from the floor, as NKU made 36.5 percent and TAMU made 37.1. The Norse were particularly stingy from the arc, where they held the Aggies to 10 percent (2-of-20). NKU made 25 percent (7-of-28). The difference came at the charity stripe, where TAMU was 16-for-23 and NKU was just 5-for-12.
McDonald notched his second-straight double-double with a game-high tying 16 points and game-high 11 rebounds. Holland II was equally impressive, putting up 12 points, seven assists and six boards, while Garnett matched his season-high for the third time this year with 15 points.
Horizon League newcomer IUPUI has struggled to start the season and is just 3-8. The Jaguars are 293 in the RPI and 275 on KenPom.com. IUPUI averages 70.4 points per game, but surrenders 76.5. Opponents shoot 50.1 percent against the Jaguars, including 40.3 percent from three. Aaron Brennan leads three players in double-figures, averaging 11.8 points. He is joined by Ron Patterson (11.6) and T.J. Henderson (11.4).
The Norse are 4-1 all-time versus IUPUI and have won the last three meetings, although the two teams have not met on the hardwood since the 1984-85 season – a span of 33 years and nine days (12,062 days). NKU defeated IUPUI, 82-62, on Dec. 19, 1984.
Assistant Athletic Director
Communications and Media Services
Northern Kentucky University