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Coming Off Rout of Conference Favorite, NKU's Homecoming Saturday

The Northern Kentucky Norse welcome Kennessaw State to the Bank of Kentucky Center Saturday for Homecoming weekend. The Norse are fresh off a big win over Atlantic Sun Conference favorite Mercer.

On Thursday night, the man known as “Bear” around Northern Kentucky University made life miserable for an opposing team with the same nickname.

Eshaunte “Bear” Jones poured in a career-high 26 points to lead Northern Kentucky to a 63-46 win over the visiting Mercer Bears in The Bank of Kentucky Center. Jones finished 6-for-8 from 3-point range as Northern Kentucky improved to 5-11 overall, 3-5 in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

The senior guard also grabbed six rebounds as the Norse knocked off the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason favorite in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. Ethan Faulkner and Chad Jackson each added 12 points for Northern Kentucky, which held Mercer to 34.9 percent shooting from the field. Bud Thomas led the Bears with 16 points.

Mercer (12-9 overall, 5-3 A-Sun) won at Florida State, 61-56, on Dec. 2, and the Bears also own a 66-59 victory over Alabama – the same Crimson Tide squad that defeated Kentucky earlier this week.

NKU head coach Dave Bezold laughed when asked if he could lay claim to his team being better than UK.

“It's all about matchups,” said Bezold. “We matched up pretty good here. Now would we match up the same way with Kentucky? I don't think so because they have a little more athleticism and size, but it's fun to do that. (Mercer) just beat tremendous teams and we were able to handle them here at home so it's a nice confidence boost.”

Sat., Jan. 26 - Highland Heights, Ky.

The Bank of Kentucky Center (9,400)
Kennesaw State (2-18, 1-7) at NKU (5-11, 3-5), 7 p.m.
NKU Radio: WCVX 1050 AM
•Richard Skinner (play-by-play) & Steve Moeller (color)
Series Record: NKU leads, 1-0
Last Meeting: NKU 78, KSU 65 (11-7-03)


NORSE NOTES (FIVE STARTERS & ONE)

1• NKU is 5-11 overall after cruising to a 63-46 win over Atlantic Sun Conference preseason favorite Mercer on Thursday night. The Norse are 3-5 in the A-Sun.

2• Eshaunte Jones scored a career-high 26 points - including six 3-pointers - to lead NKU past Mercer.

3• NKU held Mercer to 34.9 percent shooting from the field to coast past the visiting Bears.

4• NKU guards Ethan Faulkner and Chad Jackson each finished with 12 points against Mercer.

5• The Norse own a 55-9 all-time record in The Bank of Kentucky Center, including a 2-2 mark this season.

+1• NKU is 1-0 all-time against Kennesaw State.

IMPRESSIVE WIN: NKU collected its most impressive victory of the season with a 63-46 triumph over A-Sun favorite Mercer on Thursday night. It marked the largest margin of victory this season for the Norse, who have gone 5-5 after an 0-6 start to their inaugural Division I campaign.

ONE BEAR IS BETTER THAN FIVE: NKU senior guard Eshaunte “Bear” Jones netted a career-high 26 points to lead the Norse against the Mercer Bears. Jones also knocked down six shots from 3-point range and grabbed six rebounds.

A year ago, Jones scored a career-best 25 points during a win over Ohio Midwestern. Before transferring to NKU from Nebraska, Jones had scored 21 points against Brigham Young as a freshman for the Cornhuskers.

Jones averages a team-leading 14.6 points per game, which is ninth in the A-Sun. He is second in the A-Sun in 3-pointers made per game at 3.0 and sixth in 3-point shooting at .384.

KEEP AN EYE ON THIS: NKU is No. 1 in the A-Sun in 3-point percentage defense at .306. Kennesaw State is last in the A-Sun in 3-point shooting at .281. The Owls are also last in 3-point percentage defense at .383.

KEEP THEM GUESSING: NKU has started eight different lineups this season. A total of 10 players have started at least once.

A LONG TIME AGO: NKU and Kennesaw State have met just once, that being on Nov. 7, 2003, in the Disney Division II Tipoff Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Norse rolled to a 78-65 win in that game, which was in the first round of that tournament.

Kennesaw State, however, would go on to claim the NCAA Division II national championship later that season by defeating Southern Indiana, 84-59, in Bakersfield, Calif.

BEZOLD IN JANUARY: NKU head coach Dave Bezold owns a 51-28 record in the month of January during his career. Bezold is 166-90 in nine seasons at NKU.

THE LAST TIME AGAINST KSU: On Nov. 7, 2003, Mike Kelsey scored 19 points as Northern Kentucky opened the season with a 78-65 win over Kennesaw State at the Disney Division II Tipoff Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Kelsey made four 3-pointers as NKU finished 12-of-23 from behind the arc. NKU's Steve Purdon finished with 16 points and also connected on four 3-point shots.

NKU built a 37-27 halftime lead by shooting 50 percent from the field. The Norse led by as many as 19 points in the second half and coasted to the victory.

Purdon made a pair of 3-pointers to open the game and give NKU a 6-2 lead. Kelsey added another trey  to extend the advantage to 9-2, and the Norse led the entire game.

Adam Howell came off the bench and added 10 points for NKU. Terrence Hill led Kennesaw State, which was ranked No. 22 in the Division II poll, with 19 points. Kevin Reinhardt finished with nine points for NKU. Sean Rowland added six points and seven assists for the Norse.

HOMECOMING 2013: Saturday is the 2013 NKU Homecoming. The Norse Force Tailgate will take place in Lot D from 1 - 3:30 p.m., and the 11th annual Alumni Chili Cook-off is from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. on the West Concourse. The King and Queen will be announced at halftime of the men's game, and the NKU Alumni Homecoming Party will follow the men's game in the Vault in The Bank of Kentucky Center.

Source: NKU Sports Information