Previewing Northern Kentucky

The Tar Heels return from the holiday break for a tuneup game against Northern Kentucky on Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPNU.

North Carolina (8-3) vs. Northern Kentucky (4-7)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Friday, 7 p.m.
ESPNU (Tom Hart, Jay Williams)


"Why are we getting those gaps, that's what we have to figure out, but they also don't quit. They find a way and just keep on playing and keep on playing and when you do that good things will happen. We're lucky we're at home or maybe we don't win two out of three of these games." - Northern Kentucky head coach Dave Bezold following his team's three consecutive wins despite rough stretches

"I'm a blue blood fan. Most of the people in our locker room are." – Bezold following his team's loss at Kentucky on Nov. 10.


Season to Date: Northern Kentucky enters Friday's contest with a 4-7 record. The Norse dropped seven of their first eight games – the lone win coming in overtime against Tulane, 91-86 – before reeling off three wins in a row over Chattanooga, Hampton and Navy. Bezold's squad overcame an 11-point deficit in its win over Navy, marking its third-straight game rallying from a double-digit deficit. NKU is 1-5 away from home this season.

Leading the Way: Junior guard Jordan Jackson leads the Norse in scoring with a 14.3 points-per-game average on 53.9 percent shooting. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder also holds team highs in assists (29) and steals (17). In NKU's overtime win over Hampton, Jackson drained a 17-footer with 0.9 seconds remaining to secure the 69-67 decision. The Williston State transfer earned Atlantic Sun Conference Newcomer of the Week after scoring 21 points in the victory. Jackson ranks second in the league in steals and fifth in assists (3.2 apg).

Hot from Deep: Jack Flournoy has been lethal from 3-point range this season, knocking down 48.7 percent of his attempts (19-of-39). The sophomore forward leads the Atlantic Sun Conference in 3-point field goal percentage. He's averaging 7.2 points in 15.9 minutes per game. NKU is shooting 34.8 percent from beyond the arc as a team.

Stats Not Equaling Wins: Sometimes statistics don't tell the full story, but that hasn't been the case for the Norse this season. NKU is shooting just 43.2 percent from the floor while allowing its opponents to convert on 47.7 percent of its field goal opportunities. The Norse posses negative margins in both rebounding (minus-4.0) and turnovers (-0.8).

Spreading the Wealth: Head coach Dave Bezold has utilized a variety of lineups this season – due in part to injuries – and has limited the number of minutes his starters are logging. Todd Johnson and Tyler White are both averaging 28.8 minutes per game, which is tops on the team, while 11 players are averaging at least 12.1 minutes per outing.

Series History: Friday's game marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs.

Projected Starters:
23 Todd Johnson (5-9, 170, So.) - 8.0 ppg, 2.1 apg
10 Tyler White (6-3, 180, So.) - 10.4 ppg, 2.2 apg
2 Jordan Jackson (6-2, 180, Jr.) - 14.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg
33 Anthony Monaco (6-4, 185, So.) - 3.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg
21 Jalen Billups (6-6, 240, So.) - 8.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg

Top Reserves:
1 Jack Flournoy (6-6, 210, So.) - 7.2 ppg, 1.3 apg
20 Jake Giesler (6-7, 230, So.) - 5.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg

Location: Highland Heights, Ky.
Enrollment: 15,242
Conference: Atlantic Sun
Nickname: Norse
Colors: Black, Gold and White
Head Coach: Dave Bezold (10th season)

NKU Info
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(Photos courtesy USA Today Sports)

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