VIDEO | Norse win big in season opener


Colin Johnson

Drew McDonald (34) talks to Jordan Garnett (1) during a game last season.

The men’s basketball team opened their season Friday night by picking up an impressive 81-63 win against East Tennessee State.

Before the game the Norse unveiled their new Horizon League championship banner in front of 3,586 inside BB&T Arena.

However, the Norse got off to a slow start to begin the game, missing their first 7 shots.  NKU’s head Coach John Brannen said afterwards that there were definite points in the game where you could tell it was both teams first time playing.

The slow start for the Norse would soon fade after the team went on an 8-0 run after the first media timeout to take a 12-6 lead, which they would never surrender.

Despite shooting 35 percent (12-34), the Norse were able to take a 9 point lead into half, 41-32.

NKU opened the second half with an 8-0 run that stretched their lead to 21 points just over three minutes into the period.  

Junior Drew McDonald ended the night with 22 points and 10 rebounds giving him his 17th career double-double.

“We could feel that we were the better team at halftime,” McDonald said.  “We went on a little run to come out of the half and right then you could tell we were ready to end it.  It was good to go up big and see that aggressiveness in the second half.”   

The Norse led by as many as 26 points in the second half.

“I wasn’t making shots early,” McDonald said. “We kept playing defense though, and I think you got to see a little of what this team is about.  We are going to grind it out, we are going to play hard and we are going to play a lot of defense.”

Northern Kentucky forced 20 Buccaneer turnovers, which included nine steals.

“The identity of this team is defense,” Brannen said postgame.  “It’s our toughness, our ability to force turnovers and harass teams on the defensive end.”

The two teams will face each other again in less than a month when the Norse travel to Johnson City on Dec. 6th.   

NKU will host Wilmington College on Sunday at 1 p.m.. The game will be available on ESPN 3.