The Northern Kentucky men's basketball team secured its third Horizon League title in four years and second-straight courtesy of a 71-62 triumph over UIC at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Tuesday night.
With the win and accompanying berth into the 2020 NCAA Tournament, NKU has played in the postseason in each of the last four seasons, including three NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT (2018). The Norse move to 23-9 on the season, while UIC slips to 18-17.
A 15-2 NKU run beginning at the 11:56 mark in the second half provided the cushion the Norse needed in order grind out another Horizon League Championship victory.
- Tyler Sharpe put up 16 in in his final Horizon League matchup, finishing 5-of-12 (42 percent) from the floor.
- Jalen Tate had a monster first half that ultimately gave him 14 points in the game. He shot at an efficient 6-for-11 (54 percent) rate to go along with four rebounds and four assists.
- Trevon Faulkner had a 13-points with a 4-for-5 (80 percent) shooting effort.
- Dantez Walton was a rebound shy of his sixth double-double of the season. He had 10 points and nine rebounds.
- Paul Djoko also stepped up in a big way, getting nine points on the scoreboard for NKU, with a 2-for-2 field-goal shooting performance and 4-for-6 showing at the charity stripe.
FIRST HALF SUMMARY
- Tate was a man on a mission to begin the game, garnering half of NKU's first 14 points and assisted on a Sharpe three-ball, helping the Norse to a 14-10 lead at the 13:34 mark.
- The Tate magic continued out of the first timeout as he nailed down an and-one jumper and converted for his 10th point of the night. Faulkner then rallied on the next trip down for a 3-pointer to put the Norse up 20-11.
- NKU's lead extended to 11 after Djoko sent in a wide-open three and Sharpe made a free throw thanks to a UIC technical foul.
- After a short break from the bench, Tate came back on the floor and immediately made an impact again with 6:26 left in the half, hitting a jumper and feeding Nelson for a layup.
- Tate closed out the utterly dominant half with a last-second jump shot to give NKU a 34-24 lead at the break. The Norse shot an impressive 14-of-27 (52 percent) from the floor in the first 20 minutes.
SECOND HALF SUMMARY
- A Langdon three on the far side and a bank shot from Sharpe jumpstarted the NKU effort in the second, making it a 15-point advantage for the Norse.
- An 11-3 run by UIC followed to trim it to a 7-point game. Faulkner had the only three points in the spurt.
- Sharpe stopped the bleeding with a crucial and-one jumper with 11:56 left in the game. Djoko then split a pair of free throws to get the advantage back to eight.
- With exactly nine minutes to go, Walton eclipsed the 1000-point mark of his career with a much-needed bucket. Sharpe then fed off the energy and rained from downtown to make it 51-38.
- Another Sharpe jump shot and two freebies from the charity stripe each came from Walton and Djoko to make it a 15-2 run.
- With NKU's lead as large as 17 points with 4:33 to go, UIC was able to cut things to eight, but the Norse never faltered from there thanks to prowess at the line. Free throws from Faulkner, Djoko, Walton and Sharpe sealed the deal.
- NKU held UIC to a 3-of-15 (20 percent) clip from three, forced 18 turnovers, and stole the ball 11 times.
- Ten times this season NKU has shot the ball at a 50 percent or better rate after tonight, all of which led to wins.
- The Norse are now 5-0 on the season when four players reach double figures in scoring.
- Tate was named the Horizon League Tournament MVP after putting up 37 points in two games. Sharpe also joins Tate on the Horizon League All-Tournament Team.
- Djoko's nine points on the night is a new career high. His previous best was seven against Green Bay on March 2, 2019.
- The Norse are now 8-2 all-time in the Horizon League Tournament.
The Norse will wait for the rest of conference tournaments to play out before they enjoy Selection Sunday and find out their NCAA Tournament opponent. Selection Sunday will take place on March 15 and be televised on CBS at 6:00 p.m. ET.
Stay tuned to NKUNorse.com for NCAA Tournament updates, watch party information and Norse basketball coverage.