NKU guard Trey Robinson dunks the ball during the Norse win over Wheeling on Tuesday. (Cameron Nielsen)
NKU guard Trey Robinson dunks the ball during the Norse win over Wheeling on Tuesday.

Cameron Nielsen

Men’s basketball wallops Wheeling in home opener

Dunks, three point shooting highlight Norse victory

November 9, 2021

With the smell of popcorn and hot dogs filling BB&T Arena, the Northern Kentucky men’s basketball team took the court in front of a home crowd for the first time since March 9, 2020. The Norse welcomed Division II Wheeling Jesuit to Highland Heights on the first night of the season. 

It took two and a half minutes of game time and five points from Wheeling for the Norse to get going, but senior Trevon Faulkner connected on back-to-back three pointers to give NKU an early 6-5 lead. 

While NKU showed improvement on the defensive end, the offensive firepower had not yet entered the building, as both teams shot less than 35 percent from the field through the first 12 minutes of the half.

Leading by one point, head Coach Darrin Horn turned to Hubertas Pivorius. The freshman from Lithuania turned out to be a spark plug for the Norse, scoring 14 first half points in eight minutes. With Pivorius in the game, NKU increased their field goal percentage from 33 percent to 44.8. 

“He’s a guy that understands the game,” Horn said of Pivorius. “(He) has terrific basketball IQ and feel.” 

The opening twenty minutes were punctuated by a Trey Robinson steal and one-handed dunk at the other end. A Faulkner three that fell through the basket with two seconds left gave the Norse a 39-23 lead going into the locker room.

The start of the second featured several Chris Brandon highlights, who followed a blocked shot out of bounds with an emphatic one-handed slam after an inbounds pass from Faulkner. 

Trey Robinson also got in on the action, breaking the Cardinal press by throwing an alley-oop to Adrian Nelson. Robinson was later on the receiving end of a high-flying lob from Marques Warrick to give the Norse a commanding 66-38 lead.

“I think it gave us a bunch of energy,” Robinson said of the crowd cheering after energetic plays.

In the end, NKU took home a season-opening 82-54 win behind 50 percent shooting from the field and a staunch defensive effort.

“We all listened to coach in the huddle talking about defense, and how important it is for us,” Faulkner said.

Pivoruis’ 5 of 10 three-point display gave him 19 points to lead the Norse, with Trevon Faulkner not far behind at 17 points. In the low post, Chris Brandon and Adrian Nelson finished with nine rebounds apiece, with Nelson also scoring eight points to fall just shy of a double-double. As a team, NKU scored 48 points off the bench and assisted on 20 of 31 made baskets.

“The combination of production from that five spot with Adrian and Chris is just outstanding, a double-double every night,” Horn said.

Horn also praised the support of the fans in attendance, as well as the students who showed up.

“(The) crowd (was) terrific tonight for a random Tuesday against a Division II team, and our student crowd was fantastic. I really appreciate them being there, and we need them out in full force on Friday,” Horn said.

NKU returns to the court on Friday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. to face UNC-Greensboro in a game that can be seen on ESPN+.

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