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NKU opens season with 105-55 victory over UC-Clermont in Horn’s official Norse debut on Tuesday night

By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

If Northern Kentucky University basketball fans could have voted Tuesday on the Norse’s season-opening opponent, the results would’ve likely produced a landslide thumbs-down toward the Cougars from Cincinnati-Clermont.

But, given that NKU plays in the Horizon League — whose members gorge on non-Division I squads out of necessity rather than to just fatten up win totals — boosters should accept the 105-55 thrashing the Norse administered to UC-Clermont as the norm for a mid-major. It’s not going to end.

NKU head coach Darrin Horn isn’t too keen on playing the UC-Clermonts of the world, either. The former Lexington Tates Creek star said he would rather play Division I competition, but it’s not that simple.

NKU’s Silas Adheke netted 11 of his career-high 13 points in the first half against UC-Clermont, including this dunk early in the game on Tuesday night. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

“I’d love to get to the point where we don’t have to [play non-Division I opponents], but our challenge right now is to structure a schedule,” said Horn, who collected his first win on the NKU sideline. “OK, you want a home opener. Well, you can’t just call somebody and say, ‘Hey, we want you to come to our place’ in Division I.”

“It’s more of what I call a structure issue with the schedule,” Horn added. “So if you’re at a school with unlimited resources, they go out and give someone ninety to a hundred grand and say, ‘You’re going to be our home opener.’ We’re not really in a situation where we can do that right now. There’s still probably going to be one or two of those (non-Division I opponents).

“Maybe we can do a better job of making it a more competitive game if we have to play that type of team in terms of whom we schedule. But at this point in time it’s going to be a little bit hard to get away from that.”

It’s not just NKU. In other Horizon League non-conference games from Tuesday night, Oakland entertained Goshen (Ind.), Wright State hosted Central State, Milwaukee played Concordia (Wis.), Youngstown State squared off against Thiel (Pa.), and Illinois-Chicago took on Olivet Nazarene.

Only Cleveland State — which hit the road to face Minnesota — opened the season against a Division I opponent on Tuesday night.

NKU newcomer Bryson Langdon put on a show in front of a crowd of 2,857 at BB&T Arena. The 5-foot-9 sophomore guard scored 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field, including five 3-pointers. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out a pair of assists.

“We brought him in [during recruiting] because it’s late, and we’re scrambling,” said Horn, who was not hired until late April. “We knew that he could shoot the basketball and score, his numbers said that. And we want him to play with that freedom. If he’s going to shoot the ball like he did tonight, by all means, shoot the ball. He just needs to be sure to take care of the basketball.”

NKU’s Trevon Faulkner scores a basket during the first half of the Norse’s 105-55 win over UC-Clermont. Faulkner finished with 14 points. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

Tyler Sharpe added 19 points for NKU, which is 11-0 all-time against UC-Clermont. The Norse shot 53.4 percent from the field, dominated the glass (54-28 rebounding advantage) and forced 26 turnovers by the outmanned visitors.

“It’s essential that you approach it the exact same way every game, whether it’s Texas Tech in the first round of the (NCAA) Tournament or it’s UC-Clermont,” said Sharpe, who also grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists. “That builds your habits going into a game like this Friday, when we play at Missouri. If we had come into this game and just overlooked it, then we’re letting things slip that are going to hurt us when we play much better competition.”

Silas Adheke netted 11 of his career-high 13 points in the first half as NKU built a 55-30 lead at the break. The 6-foot-8 junior was 6-for-7 from the field and grabbed four offensive rebounds. “He’s come a long way, and I hope the fans start to see that,” Sharpe said of Adheke. “He’s going to be a big piece for us this year. For him, it’s setting good screens, rebounding and scoring at the rim.”

Trevon Faulkner and Karl Harris each scored 14 points, while Dantez Walton added nine points and nine rebounds. Jalen Tate netted eight points, grabbed five rebounds and collected four steals. The junior guard also dished out four assists.

NKU held UC-Clermont to 36.8 percent shooting from the field and limited the Cougars to 8-for-25 from beyond the arc. Noah Pedelty led UC-Clermont (0-2) with 18 points and six rebounds.

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.

ELEEDA SITS OUT OPENER: NKU newcomer Adham Eleeda sat out Tuesday’s game while under concussion protocol. Eleeda, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, averaged 13.3 points per game last season at Sheridan (Wyo.) College. Horn said Eleeda should be available to play in Friday’s game at Missouri. Eleeda drained 129 shots from 3-point range last season to rank No. 3 nationally in NJCAA Division I.


Marsh 0-2 2-2 2, Hunter 3-8 0-0 6, Pedelty 6-14 3-6 18, Justice 6-13 0-0 15, Mitchell 1-3 0-0 3, Spivey 4-8 0-0 9, Dowery 0-0 0-0 0, Dia 1-3 0-0 2, Tiemeyer 0-1 0-0 0, Aicholtz 0-3 0-0 0, Gregory 0-1, 0-0 0, Stewart 0-1 0-0 0, Amiduo 0-1 0-0. Totals 21-57 5-6 55.
Tate 2-4 4-8 8, Sharpe 7-14 2-2 19, Adheke 6-7 1-2 13, Walton 4-9 0-0 9, Faulkner 5-11 4-4 14, Mocaby 1-7 0-0 3, Nelson 0-0 1-4 1, Djoko 0-2 0-2 0, Langdon 7-10 1-2 20, Harris 5-6 4-6 14, Cobbs 1-2 0-0 2, Wassler 1-1 0-2 2. Totals 39-73 17-32 105.
HALFTIME: NKU 55-30. 3-POINTERS: (UC-Clermont 8-25, NKU 10-36). REBOUNDS: NKU 54 (Walton 9), UC-Clermont 28 (Pedelty 6).
RECORDS: NKU 1-0, UC-Clermont 0-2.

NKU tipped off the Darrin Horn era on Tuesday night with a 105-55 win over UC-Clermont in front of a crowd of 2,857 at BB&T Arena. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

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