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Tied atop Horizon League standings, NKU meets Wright State in showdown at BB&T Arena Thursday

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By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

A battle for first place in the Horizon League is set for BB&T Arena on Thursday night, when Northern Kentucky University plays host to Wright State at 7 p.m.

NKU enters the showdown with an 11-5 overall record, and the Norse are 4-0 in the Horizon League. Wright State is 12-5 overall, and the Raiders are tied with NKU atop the Horizon League standings with a 4-0 record.

NKU’s Carson Williams makes a move against IUPUI. Williams leads the Horizon League in shooting from the field at .664 and averages 14.4 points per game. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

In addition, Wright State owns a five-game winning streak. NKU, meanwhile, has won four in a row. The Norse are also unbeaten at home (7-0) this season.

Junior forward Drew McDonald continues to lead NKU in both scoring (16.4 points per game) and rebounding (8.4 rpg). The Newport Central Catholic graduate has also made 85 percent of his free throws and is second on the team in 3-pointers made with 26.

McDonald has six double-doubles this season and a total of 22 in his career. The 6-foot-7 rebounding machine has also scored in double figures 15 times this season, with a high of 27 against IUPUI.

Senior guard Lavone Holland II joined NKU’s 1,000-point club last week with a second-half basket during an 87-83 win at Oakland. Holland, whose jumper with 3.3 seconds remaining gave NKU a 56-54 win at Detroit Mercy on Sunday, is scoring 13.2 points per game and is No. 2 in the Horizon League in assists (5.0 apg).

Sophomore forward Carson Williams continues to lead the Horizon League in field-goal percentage (.664) and is scoring 14.4 points per contest. He scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead NKU to a key road victory at Oakland last Friday night. The Owen County High School product also averages 5.6 rebounds per game.

As a team, NKU is No. 1 in scoring defense (64.8 ppg) in the Horizon League and No. 2 in assists (17.1 apg). The Norse also lead the Horizon League in shooting percentage (.485) and are No. 2 in field-goal percentage defense (.411).

WSU’s Grant Benzinger

Wright State features a lineup with four players scoring in double figures, led by senior guard Grant Benzinger at 14.6 ppg. Benzinger has also made 47 shots from 3-point range. Freshman center Loudon Love averages 11.3 ppg and a Horizon League-leading 9.4 rebounds per contest.

Senior guard Justin Mitchell is scoring 10.6 ppg, and while junior guard Mark Hughes averages 10.2 points and has is No. 2 on the team in 3-pointers made with 32.

Wright State is coming off an 86-81 overtime win at Oakland on Sunday. Love poured in a career-high 25 points and hauled in 17 rebounds for Wright State. Benzinger added 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Hughes scored 19 points and collected five steals.

A year ago, NKU defeated Wright State three times. The Raiders still own a 21-10 lead in the all-time series with the Norse.

WHAT: Wright State (12-5, 4-0 HL) at Northern Kentucky (11-5, 4-0 HL)
WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Highland Heights, Ky.
ARENA: BB&T Arena (9,400 capacity)
TV: ESPN3
RADIO: ESPN 1530
SERIES: WSU leads, 21-10

HORIZON LEAGUE STANDINGS

Contact Don Owen at don@nkytrib.com

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