JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A stunning turnaround in the previous meeting between the teams this season should serve as motivation for the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team as they go out to face the Northern Kentucky Norse (8-14, 4-6 Atlantic Sun) on Saturday at 3:15 p.m. from the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The Dolphins (8-13, 4-6 A-Sun) led throughout much of the contest last month in Highland Heights, but NKU stormed back for the win late in the game. Now Jacksonville will try to stop a losing streak that has reached four games and climb back up the conference ladder. Scott Manze and Artis Gilmore will have the action on 92.5 FM and ASun.TV.
Lipscomb proved just how lethal its offense can be when it gets rolling on Thursday night. The Bisons knocked down more than 78 percent of its shots in the second half to turn a one-point halftime lead into an 88-76 win over Jacksonville. Keith McDougald had a team-high 20 points for JU and RJ Slawson had his second double-double this season with 11 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with the visitors from Nashville. Now the Dolphins will face a team that prefers a much different pace than the run-and-gun Bisons.
Northern Kentucky plays at one of the slower tempos in the league, running a systematic offense that usually has players filling very specific roles. It has worked well for the Norse, who have been competitive in the A-Sun from the very moment they made the leap to Division I competition last season. NKU commits only 11.5 turnovers a game, tops in the conference and a figure that would be even better if not for the 17 miscues the Dolphins forced from them the first time the two sides met. Jordan Jackson leads the team with 14.3 points a game and is among the best in the league at slashing to the rim. Tyler White is the other double-figure scorer for the Norse with 10.6 points per game, but can be prone to cold-shooting nights as evidenced by his .362 field goal percentage. Jacksonville will have to work hard to contain Jalen Billups as well. The leading rebounder for the Norse, Billups had 10 points and 12 boards against the Dolphins last month in a 73-66 win.
With NKU in just its second year since moving up into the A-Sun, the two teams have met only three times on the hardwood. In each of the previous matchups, the home team has come away victorious, a trend that JU hopes to continue. Jacksonville provided the opposition for Northern Kentucky’s first-ever conference game last season at JVM Arena and came away with a hard-fought 53-51 victory, winning on two free throws with less than two seconds remaining.
Next week will see the Dolphins heading back out on the road to face teams they’ve already beaten on the year. On Feb. 6, Jacksonville will match up with Florida Gulf Coast in a game that can be seen on ESPN3 at 7:05 p.m. Two days later, JU will be in DeLand to face Stetson in a 1 p.m. contest.