HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – The Northern Kentucky University men’s basketball team took its lead from the “Jackson Two” on Wednesday night in a 76-72 win over Kennesaw State at The Bank of Kentucky Center on Wednesday night.
Chad Jackson scored a season-high 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Jordan Jackson added 10 points and blocked three shots to lead the Norse, who improved to 7-10 overall and captured their first Atlantic Sun Conference win of the season. Jalen Billups matched his season high with 16 points points and seven boards of his own in the effort.
NKU won the battle on the boards, 37-31, and turned 12 offensive rebounds into 15 points. Northern Kentucky’s bench was again a strong suit, outscoring the KSU reserves, 39-8. NKU finished the game shooting 42.9 percent from the field, but it was the Owls with the touch from beyond the arc, going 8-for-16 (50 percent) on their 3-point tries.
truggled early against the Kennesaw State zone, knocking down just two of their first six shots as the Owls jumped out to a 10-5 lead. NKU’s defense responded, holding Kennesaw State scoreless over a 3:45 stretch to spur a 9-0 run that was keyed by a Jordan Jackson steal and dunk, to make it 14-10.
The shooting picked up on both sides after that, as Kennesaw State hit 7-of-9 shots over a 5:15 stretch while the Norse kept pace with five field goals in a row. Todd Johnson keyed the stretch with back-to-back treys to extend NKU’s lead to 10 points at 33-23.
Jordan Jackson continued his hard work on the defensive end, picking up a pair of blocks late in the first half, however, the Norse were unable to control possession as Kennesaw State picked up second-chance points on both opportunities, keying an 11-2 run to pull the Owls within one point at 35-34. But the Norse finished the half on a 6-0 run, capped off with a tip-in at the buzzer byChad Jackson to make it 41-34 at the break.
The Norse doubled the run just 53 seconds into the second half, as back-to-back threes fromTayler Persons and Tyler White extended the NKU lead to 13 points at 47-34. Kennesaw State responded with speed and hot shooting, as Yonel Brown and Orlando Coleman each hit a pair of shots as the Owls went 5-for-7 from the field over a 3:11 stretch to cut the Norse lead back to single digits at 58-50.
As the Owls got hot, the Norse shooters began to cool off, going four minutes between field goals but keeping pace at the free-throw line to push the lead back to 10 points at 66-56 with 5:53 remaining. Kennesaw State continued the strong shooting, cutting the deficit in half with a 7-2 run. Billups led the response for the Norse, hitting back-to-back free throws, including a three-point play, to maintain the Norse advantage.
A three-pointer from Love with 55 seconds left cut the lead to four at 73-69, but the Norse stayed cool, and free throws from Anthony Monaco and Billups sealed the win for the Norse.
Damien Wilson led all scorers with 22 points for Kennesaw State (5-13, 0-2 A-Sun). Yonel Brown added 20 points and Delbert Love notched 14 for the Owls.
The Norse hit the road for A-Sun action this weekend, traveling to Spartanburg, South Carolina, to take on USC Upstate for a Saturday matinee. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. with the action broadcast on ESPN3 and on The Project 100.7/106.3 FM. Fans can interact with the team by following @NKUNorseGameDay on Twitter.