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Stingy defensively and quick, unbeaten Arkansas (6-0) awaits NKU (5-2) on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena

By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

Arkansas probably isn’t the opponent a 3-point shooting team would prefer to face on the road. Or at home or on a neutral court, for that matter.

That’s because the Razorbacks excel at defending the 3-pointer. In fact, Arkansas leads the nation in 3-point shooting defense, holding the opposition to 14.1 percent accuracy from beyond the arc.

Northern Kentucky — which is 16th nationally in 3-pointers made — visits Bud Walton Arena on Saturday for a 5 p.m. clash against Arkansas. It will mark the first-ever meeting between the programs.

Arkansas guard Mason Jones averages a team-leading 18.5 points per game and tops the Razorbacks with 16 steals. (Photo courtesy of UA)

Arkansas enters Saturday perfect (6-0) after beating Georgia Tech at the buzzer, 62-61 in overtime on Monday night. Mason Jones banked in a 3-pointer as time expired to keep the Razorbacks unbeaten.

Jones averages a team-leading 18.5 points per game and tops the Razorbacks with 16 steals. He also averages 5.7 rebounds per contest and has converted 91.9 percent of his free throws (34-for-37).

Isaiah Joe is scoring 16.7 points per game and has knocked down 20 shots from 3-point range in 56 attempts. Arkansas also allows opponents to score just 50 points per game, which is No. 3 nationally. The Hogs force 21.3 turnovers per contest, which is No. 4 nationally.

NKU is 5-2 after rolling to an 86-56 win over Midway (Ky.) on Monday night. Karl Harris registered his first career double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Norse. Bryson Langdon added 17 points and five assists, while Adham Eleeda scored a career-best 12 points and grabbed five boards.

Dantez Walton is averaging 14.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game to lead NKU. Walton, who has 772 career points to rank 47th in Norse history, was named Horizon League Player of the Week on Monday.

Tyler Sharpe averages 12.9 points per game for NKU and is 44th in program history with 803 points. NKU’s Trevon Faulkner is averaging 12.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

The win over Midway ended a busy eight-day period for the Norse. “It was our fourth game in eight days, which is brutal,” NKU head coach Darrin Horn said. “I don’t know if there’s many [teams] in the country that have had to do that.”

The Norse have already faced Southeastern Conference opponent Missouri this season, dropping a 71-56 decision to the Tigers on Nov. 8 at Columbia, Mo. NKU is 0-4 all-time against SEC foes, with losses to Kentucky (twice), Texas A&M and Missouri.

NKU is searching for its first signature win (SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten) since making the move to Division I in 2012. The Norse are 0-17 against those six conferences during their Division I era.

While competing in Division II, NKU defeated Xavier twice in the 1970s. NKU is 2-22 all-time against programs from the “Power 6” conferences of college basketball.

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

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