Norse look for road upset at Valparaiso


Matt Sexton

Lavone Holland II (11) and the NKU Norse travel to take on Valparaiso tonight.

Eli Reese, Contributor

Coming off of a huge home victory Saturday, the NKU men’s basketball team will take on Horizon League-leading Valparaiso 8 p.m. tonight.

The Crusaders are first in the conference (20-4 overall, 10-1 Horizon League) and are coming off a 73-55 win over Illinois-Chicago. According to, the team is led by junior forward Alec Peters who averages 17 ppg and 7.8 rpg. The Crusaders will welcome the Norse to town, trying to secure their 11th conference win.

The Norse (9-14, 5-7) are coming off a 75-71 victory over Milwaukee Saturday after trailing 11 points in the second half. The last time NKU overcame a double-digit second half deficit was on Jan. 17, 2015 when it came from 13 down to beat USC Upstate. Over the final 11 minutes, NKU outscored Milwaukee, 26-11.

NKU currently has two wins over teams in the RPI top-200 this year, the most since beginning the reclassification process four years ago. They look to pull off the upset against Valparaiso and earn their third RPI top-200 win. The Crusaders are currently 45th in the RPI, one of the factors used to choose at-large teams for the NCAA tournament.

The Norse are led by seniors Tyler White (11.1 points per game) and Jalen Billups (13.8 ppg). White joined the 1,000-point club with a layup with 15:32 left in the first half against Milwaukee. He now has 1,009 career points.

Billups led NKU past Milwaukee with 20 points, which was his fifth game scoring at least 20 points this year. Both White and Billups are climbing up NKU’s all-time scoring list. Billups ranks 20th with 1,136 points and White with 1,009 sits at 25th.

Other key contributors to the team are junior guard Cole Murray, who has made 68.6 percent (24 of 35) of his threes the last six games. Freshman Drew McDonald is a two-time conference Freshman of the Week, averaging 12.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in league games.

Sophomore guard Lavone Holland II is second on the team in scoring (11.7) and third in rebounds (5.1), but leads the team in assists (4.3).

The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.