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NKU (8-1) squares off against Cincinnati (7-1) at Fifth Third Arena on Tuesday night

By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

How much has the world changed since the last time Northern Kentucky University and the University of Cincinnati met in a regular-season men’s basketball game? Consider that the last time the two programs squared off in 1988:

•Ronald Reagan was in his final two months as President of the United States.

•Bon Jovi was atop the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with “Bad Medicine.”

•UC was in the Metro Conference and using the Cincinnati Gardens for home games.

•NKU was in the Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference and playing its home games in Regents Hall.

NKU junior forward Dantez Walton is averaging 12.8 points and 5.9 rebounds. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

All of that is ancient history, though, as NKU and UC prepare to meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Clifton. The Norse will invade the newly renovated Fifth Third Arena with an 8-1 record — their best start as a Division I program — while the Bearcats are 7-1.

NKU and UC last met in a regular-season game on Nov. 27, 1988, with the Bearcats posting a 75-63 win over the Norse in the Cincinnati Gardens. Derek Fields scored 19 points to lead NKU, while Chris Wall added 17 points to keep NKU within reach of a possible upset, UC’s Cedric Glover dominated the inside and finished with 23 points. Andre Tate scored 17 points — including a trio of key 3-pointers against the Norse’s 2-3 zone — as UC pulled away from NKU late in the second half, closing the door on a series that would remain shut for the next 30 years.

UC owns a 7-0 lead in the all-time series with NKU, with all seven games having been played during the 1980s.

NKU is led by senior forward Drew McDonald, who averages 19.0 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. His four double-doubles rank 14th nationally, and he is one of just 10 players to register a triple-double this season.

The 6-foot-8 McDonald is also nearing NKU’s all-time rebound record. He is second with 850 boards and needs 10 caroms on Tuesday night to break LaRon Moore’s NKU record of 859.

The Newport Central Catholic graduate also earned his second Horizon League Player of the Week award on Monday after averaging 16.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game last week, which included a triple-double at Morehead State.

Junior forward Dantez Walton is averaging 12.8 points and 5.9 rebounds. He is shooting 55.1 percent from the floor and 45.8 percent (22-of-48) from 3-point range. Sophomore guard Jalen Tate averages 11.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game this year. Junior guard Tyler Sharpe is scoring 13.4 points per game and is 11th nationally with 21 steals.

NKU is averaging 17.8 assists per game, which ranks 17th nationally. The Norse have dished out at least 20 assists in four games this season.

After suffering a season-opening loss to Ohio State, UC has won seven straight games. The Bearcats are led by Jarron Cumberland’s 15.3 points per game. Cane Broome (11.4 ppg) and Keith Williams (10.1 ppg) also average double figures, while point guard Justin Jennifer leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 6.75.

UC features one of the nation’s stingiest defenses, allowing just 56.5 points per game to rank No. 7 in that category. 

Tuesday, Dec. 4
Fifth Third Arena (12,012), Cincinnati, Ohio

NKU (8-1) at Cincinnati (7-1), 7 p.m.
NKU Radio: FOXSports 1360 (1360 AM)
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Series Record: Cincinnati leads, 7-0
Last Meeting: Cincinnati 75, NKU 63 (Nov. 27, 1988)

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