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Tate nets career-high 31 points, extinguishes IUPUI upset attempt (and NKU alarms) during 84-70 win

By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

With Northern Kentucky struggling against IUPUI on Friday night, the alarm system inside BB&T Arena accidentally went off and created a temporary panic during the first half.

Not because IUPUI owned a 20-13 lead over NKU. Nor was it a reaction to leading scorer and rebounder Dantez Walton sitting on the Norse sideline in a walking boot.

On a strange, brutally cold evening in Highland Heights, lots of alarms were triggered for a stunned crowd of 3,013 inside BB&T Arena after IUPUI extended its lead to 28-16. That’s when the Norse unleashed Jalen Tate to extinguish all the problems.

NKU’s Jalen Tate (11) forces a turnover with a steal against IUPUI’s Grant Weatherford. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

Tate scored a career-high 31 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field and totally dominated play on both ends of the court as NKU rallied for an 84-70 win over IUPUI. The junior guard dished out seven assists and collected a career-best six steals as NKU improved to 19-7 overall, 11-3 in the Horizon League.

He also grabbed six rebounds, converted nine free throws in 11 attempts and drew nine fouls from IUPUI defenders.

“I can’t say enough about the individual performance from Jalen Tate, and even more than the points,” NKU head coach Darrin Horn said. “Six steals, he rebounded the ball, drew nine fouls. When we were up double figures late, he burned clock and got to the line. He was terrific.”

Tate ignited a 26-11 first-half spurt that allowed NKU to recover from the 12-point deficit and actually take a 42-39 lead at the break. He hit a jumper in the lane and converted a steal into a breakaway dunk to key the big run. The 6-foot-6 Tate also assisted on six baskets during the opening 20 minutes.

“I just try to affect the game any way possible early on,” Tate said. “Whether it be a steal or a block. The offense just naturally comes by playing the game the right way.”

Trevon Faulkner scored 11 of his 14 points before halftime. The sophomore from Mercer County was ready to shoot free throws when the alarm malfunctioned at the 8:39 mark. The loud warning mechanism instructed everyone to leave the building and sent much of the confused crowd scurrying for the exits.

“It kind of reminded me of when we stay in our dorms,” Faulkner joked of the BB&T Arena false alarm that stopped play for about two minutes. “Everybody was just kind of looking around and saying, ‘What’s going on?’ at that moment.”

NKU’s Adrian Nelson elevates for a shot in the first half against IUPUI’s Elyjah Goss. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

Said Tate of the false alarm: “We just have to stay focused, stay with it. Hopefully it doesn’t go on too long and we get back to playing as soon as possible. You don’t want it to get to the point of where you’re sitting down, getting stiff and then having to warm up all over again.

“I’m glad we got back to action as soon as we could.”

Tate netted 21 points in the second half as NKU led by as many as 14 points and wrapped up the season sweep of IUPUI (6-21, 2-12 Horizon League). The Norse shot 52.9 percent from the field and were 9-for-19 from 3-point range.

Despite not being 100 percent, Tyler Sharpe added 13 points. Horn said that Sharpe is battling an illness, but the senior guard hit a trio of 3-pointers and added two assists.

Adrian Nelson finished with 11 points and six rebounds for NKU, while teammate Silas Adheke grabbed eight boards. Nelson also brought the BB&T crowd to its feet in the second half with a monster alley-oop dunk off a perfectly placed lob pass from Faulkner.

The Norse survived a 30-point performance by IUPUI guard Marcus Burk and held Jaylen Minnett to just nine points on 4-for-15 shooting from the field.

“This IUPUI team, in spite of their record, has some really talented guys,” Horn said. “They have three guys that I think are as good as anybody in the league at what they do. The two perimeter guys and then (Elyjah) Goss on the inside, he is just terrific.”

NKU recorded the win without Walton, who sat out with a right ankle sprain. Horn said Walton rolled the ankle in practice and is “hopeful for Sunday’s game” with Illinois-Chicago.

“I give our guys so much credit for finding ways to win,” Horn said of his squad, which lost Tate for 10 games earlier and has now played 11 contests without Walton. “We just continue (to win) with different guys (in the lineup). We’ve had four games this season with our full roster.”

NKU plays host to UIC at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Flames are 12-15 overall after dropping a 75-58 decision at Wright State on Friday night. UIC is 7-7 in Horizon League play.

Wright State (22-5 overall, 12-2 Horizon League) maintained its one game-lead over NKU for first place in the standings.

IUPUI (70)

Burk 11-20 6-6 30, Minnett 4-15 0-0 9, Goss 2-7 5-7 9, Weatherford 4-9 0-0 10, DePersia 3-3 1-2 8, Kenyon 0-2 0-0 0, White 0-1 0-0 0, Kemp 1-2 2-3 4, Stoltz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-59 14-18 70.
Sharpe 4-7 2-4 13, Adheke 1-4 1-2 3, Faulkner 4-8 4-7 14, Tate 10-14 9-11 31, Langdon 2-7 0-0 5, Eleeda 1-2 0-0 3, Nelson 4-6 3-4 11, Harris 1-1 0-0 2, Mocaby 0-1 0-0 0, Djoko 0-1 0-2 0, Cobbs 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 27-51 21-32 84.
HALFTIME: NKU 42-39. 3-POINTERS: (NKU 9-19, IUPUI 6-19). REBOUNDS: NKU 33 (Adheke 8), IUPUI 31 (Goss 11).
RECORDS: NKU 19-7, 11-3 HL; IUPUI 6-21, 2-12 HL.

NKU’s Adrian Nelson finishes off an alley-oop dunk off a perfectly placed lob pass from Trevon Faulkner in the second half. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

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