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NKU begins season Tuesday night, plays host to UC-Clermont in Horn’s official sideline debut

By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

Everyone who’s healthy is likely to see lots of action Tuesday night when Northern Kentucky begins the regular season against Cincinnati-Clermont at BB&T Arena.

Given the fact UC-Clermont lost by 45 points on Saturday at Thomas More, there’s no reason to think NKU will have any trouble with the visiting Cougars (0-1) in head coach Darrin Horn’s official debut on the Norse sideline. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

NKU is 10-0 all-time against UC-Clermont, which competes in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. While absorbing a 107-62 shellacking from NAIA foe Thomas More on Saturday, UC-Clermont lost the rebounding battle by a whopping 47-24 margin.

NKU head coach Darrin Horn will make his official sideline debut with the Norse on Tuesday night at BB&T Arena. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

The Cougars also made just 35.2 percent of their shots from the field against Thomas More. Greg Marsh — a 5-foot-7 guard from Western Hills High School in Cincinnati — scored 16 points to lead UC-Clermont, which was 6-for-25 from 3-point range.

In its only exhibition game of the preseason, NKU coasted to a 71-45 win over Transylvania on Oct. 30. Jalen Tate scored 22 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead the Norse. He poured in 16 points during the first half against the Pioneers.

Tate, a junior guard who averaged 13.7 points and 4.2 assists per game last season, is a two-time All-Horizon League Defensive Team honoree. He enters this season with 645 career points.

NKU led by as many as 28 points in the second half against Transylvania and won easily despite shooting 41.7 percent from the field — including 10-for-34 from 3-point range. Junior center Silas Adheke grabbed a game-high seven rebounds for the Norse. Senior guard Tyler Sharpe collected five steals as NKU finished with a total of 15 thefts.

Horn, whose resume includes head-coaching experience at both Western Kentucky and South Carolina, wants a fast-paced offensive attack at NKU. The tempo against Transylvania didn’t satisfy the first-year Norse mentor, who said his team didn’t hit the accelerator.

“No, we didn’t, and part of that is because our defense wasn’t consistent enough for us to get out in transition,” Horn said. “They (Transylvania) were a team that sagged a lot, so we wanted to work on in an exhibition game some execution and get some movement. At the same time, we didn’t shoot the ball very well. We’re capable of shooting the ball much better.”

Horn, who served as the associate head coach at Texas last season, owns a career record of 171-111 in nine years as a head coach. The Lexington Tates Creek graduate played at Western Kentucky, scoring 1,115 career points for the Hilltoppers.

NKU, the defending Horizon League champion, finished 26-9 last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Norse are picked second in the Horizon League’s preseason poll behind Wright State.

Following Tuesday’s opener, the competition ramps up several levels on Friday night as NKU plays a road contest against Southeastern Conference member Missouri. That game is scheduled to tip at 8 p.m. (Eastern time) in Columbia, Mo.

NEAR-UPSET 10 YEARS AGO: On Dec. 23, 2009, UC-Clermont nearly pulled off a mammoth upset inside The Bank of Kentucky Center (now BB&T Arena) against NKU. David Palmer, however, scored a career-high 39 points as NKU outlasted UC-Clermont in overtime, 91-89.

Chris Knight scored six points in the overtime and made two free throws with 8.4 seconds remaining to give the Norse a 91-86 cushion. UC-Clermont’s Maurice McGee drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to account for the final margin.

Jose Narvaez led UC-Clermont with 22 points and 18 rebounds. The Cougars owned a 78-76 lead with 2:07 remaining in regulation.

Tuesday, Nov. 5 (at BB&T Arena)
UC-Clermont at NKU, 7 p.m.
Series Record: NKU leads, 10-0
Last Meeting: NKU 107, UC-Clermont 53 (Dec. 14, 2014)

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

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