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NKU plays host to Detroit Mercy, freshman scoring sensation Davis (27.1 ppg) on Thursday night

By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

When Northern Kentucky University plays host to Detroit Mercy at 7 p.m. Thursday at BB&T Arena, take note of how many shots Titans scoring machine Antoine Davis launches.

It’s likely going to be a bunch.

NKU head coach John Brannen (right) and junior guard Tyler Sharpe (15) will attempt to contain Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis on Thursday night. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

Davis, the freshman sensation, leads Detroit Mercy in scoring at 27.1 points per game. The 6-foot-1 guard is the nation’s leader in 3-pointers made (102) and is considered an NBA prospect. Davis also averages 22 shot attempts per game.

NKU head coach John Brannen is impressed by the Detroit Mercy freshman.

“It’s a unique challenge in that you have one of the leading scorers in the country and a sure-fire NBA player, and he’s really a dynamic scorer,” Brannen said of Davis. “I say this will be a unique challenge because they are a well-coached team that plays a style that nobody else in this league brings.”

The style of play Brannen referred to is a 2-3 zone defense, which Detroit Mercy employs virtually every game. The Titans allow 76.5 points per game and opponents are shooting 45.5 percent from the field against their zone.

Much of NKU’s focus defensively will be on Davis, who earlier this season scorched Wright State for a career-high 48 points. “He’s one of those players who can rise up and get his shot off against anyone,” Brannen said. “You’re not going to stop him. You just want to make it hard on him to get his points. He’s a special player and you will definitely see him in the NBA one day.”

NKU enters Thursday with an 18-6 overall record, and the Norse are 8-3 in the Horizon League. NKU owns a one-game lead over Wright State for first place in the league standings.

The Norse have also won 17 consecutive games at BB&T Arena. NKU has not lost at home since suffering an 83-70 setback against Oakland on Jan. 26, 2018.

Detroit Mercy is 9-14 overall, 6-5 in the Horizon League. The Titans are 3-9 on the road this season.

NKU is 6-1 all-time against Detroit Mercy, winning five straight games in the series. The Norse posted a 95-73 win over the Titans at Calihan Hall earlier this season. In that game, Drew McDonald led NKU with 23 points and Tyler Sharpe added 20 points as six Norse reached double figures in scoring. Davis poured in a game-high 33 points to lead Detroit Mercy against NKU.

McDonald needs just one rebound Thursday night for his 1,000th career board. Only five other players in the history of the Horizon League have secured 1,000 boards in their career. McDonald averages 18.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, and his 11 double-doubles rank 16th nationally.

Sharpe is second on the team in scoring at 14.6 points per game. In his last six games, Sharpe has made 20-for-39 from 3-point range. His 65 3-pointers this season rank 53rd in the country.

NKU’s Jalen Tate averages 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. The Norse’s Dantez Walton is averaging 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He has 16 double-digit scoring outputs in 24 games this season, including a career-best 20 points at IUPUI last Friday night.

Contact Don Owen at don@nkytrib.com and follow him on Twitter at @dontribunesport

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One Comment

  1. Roger Auge II says:

    Go NKU. You can do it. A crowd will be there on Thursday and another on Saturday, to celebrate Drew McDonald’s fabulous work at NKU. Go Norse.

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