About Denver: The Pioneers return seven players, including four of the top five scorers, from last year's squad that won a team-record 22 Division I games and finished second in the Sun Belt Conference West Division. Denver returns Preseason All-SBC First Team member Chris Udofia, who was voted 2011-12 SBC Defensive Player of the Year and All-SBC First Team last season. Udofia was tied for fourth in the Sun Belt in scoring (14.5 ppg) last year, and led the team in field goal percentage (.534), assists (2.6 per game) and blocked shots (2.3 per game). Additionally, Royce O'Neale is back after leading the team in rebounding (5.8 per game), Brett Olson, who was second in the SBC in three-point percentage (.456), and 2010-11 All-SBC Second Team selection Chase Hallam. DU welcomes five newcomers to the roster. In their first year in the WAC, the Pioneers were picked to finish third in the WAC Preseason Polls by both the coaches and the media.
About Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: The Islanders went 6-24 overall and 4-12 in the Southland Conference last season. TAMCC, which won its opener 60-49 over Texas Lutheran on Nov. 10, has no seniors on its roster that averages 20.25 years old. Junior college transfer Will Nelson and Johnathan Jordan each had 13 points in the victory to lead the Islanders. Jordan led the Southland in assists last season. Willis Wilson enters his second season as the head coach of the Islanders.
The Match-up: Denver is 3-1 all-time against the Islanders and has won the last two matchups, including a 65-58 win in Corpus Christi, Texas, last season.
For Starters: DU is 78-30 all-time in home openers, 9-5 since returning to NCAA Division I in 1999-00 and 2-3 under head coach Joe Scott.
Magness Magic: The Pioneers went 14-2 record at Magness Arena last season, improving DU's record to 61-13 (.824) at home in head coach Joe Scott's first five years. During that stretch, the Pioneers were 37-6 (.860) against Sun Belt opponents at Magness Arena. In February 2012, ESPN.com's Ken Pomeroy wrote that Magness Arena was one of the top two home-court advantages in the nation.
Last Time Out: Junior forward Chris Udofia scored 20 points, but the Pioneers could not overcome a 23-point halftime deficit, falling 65-58 at Iona on Nov. 9. Udofia added six rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. Senior guard Chase Hallam scored nine of his 14 points in the second half and had three steals in the game, while sophomore guard Brett Olson and sophomore forward Royce O'Neale had 12 and 10 points, respectively. Iona led by as many as 25 points with 19:47 to play in the second half, but Denver ripped into the lead with a 33-17 run over the next 16 minutes to bring the Pioneers back to within six points at 59-53 with 4:44 remaining. However, Iona's MoMo Jones answered with a three-pointer and a layup off a steal on consecutive plays to stretch the Gaels' lead back to 11 points with 3:27 to go in the game. Denver responded again with five-straight points, but the comeback bid came up short, as DU went scoreless for the final 1:48.
U-Tube: Preseason All-WAC First Teamer Chris Udofia had a game-high 20 points at Iona on Nov. 9, while adding team-highs with six rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Udofia was selected as the 2012 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year and an All-SBC First Team member last season. Udofia was fourth in the Sun Belt in scoring (14.5 ppg) and 12th in assists (2.3 per game). The 6-foot-6 Udofia ranked 30th in the NCAA in blocked shots (2.3 per game) and 35th in field goal percentage (.534), which were third and sixth in the Sun Belt Conference, respectively. Udofia's 72 blocks were the fourth most in a single season at DU, and his 113 career blocks rank fifth.
Out of the Gate: Seven of Denver's first nine opponents played in the postseason last year, including Iona, California, Colorado State and Southern Mississippi (three of the first four opponents), which were in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Stanford (NIT) and Mercer (CIT) both won their respective tournaments, while Wyoming reached the CBI quarterfinals. Those seven teams won an average of 24 games last season. Additionally, DU will play home-and-homes with three WAC teams that played in the postseason - New Mexico State played in the NCAA Tournament, Texas Arlington was in the NIT, and Utah State was the CIT runner-up.
U.S. Bank Night: Employees of U.S. Bank, the official bank of University of Denver Athletics, will cheer on the Pioneer men's basketball team in its season opener against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. U.S. Bank, which is in the first year of a multi-year sponsorship with DU, requested the opening game be U.S. Bank Night for its workforce in the Denver metro area. U.S. Bank expects several thousand of its staff and their families to attend the contest. In addition, senior leadership from within the Denver metro area will celebrate the start of the Pioneer men's home basketball season. During the contest, U.S. Bank executives will be welcomed at center court to accept a signed basketball from the men's team as a gesture of thanks for the tremendous support the corporation has given DU.
A Tri-ing Half: Denver went 0-for-8 from three-point range in the first half against Iona on Nov. 9, snapping a streak of 60-straight halves with at least one three-pointer. The last time DU went without a three-pointer in a half was in the second half of last season's opener against Portland State on Nov. 11, 2011 - a span of 364 days.
The Long Rangers Return: Sophomore Brett Olson led a second-half surge, knocking down four of DU's six three-pointers after the break, as the Pioneers battled back in the second half against Iona. Olson led the Sun Belt last season in three-point percentage (.462). Overall, the Pioneers were ranked No. 8 in the nation in three-point shooting at 39.8 percent (255-of-641), which was also the best mark in the Sun Belt. DU averaged 8.2 three-pointers made per game, second most in the SBC and 24th in the NCAA. The Pioneers were 10-1 last season when hitting 10 or more three-pointers. Denver also broke the team's single season record of 251 three-pointers, set in 2009-10. The Pioneers have at least one three-pointer in 181-straight games, dating back to Feb. 2, 2006.
Cut to the Chase: Denver's lone senior, Chase Hallam, scored 13 points at Iona on Nov. 9 in his return to the starting lineup after missing the final three games of the 2011-12 season due to a back injury. Prior to that, Hallam started all 90 of DU's games during his career. A 2010-11 All-Sun Belt Second Team selection, Hallam averaged 10.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals during his first three seasons.
A Little Help from Their Friends: Denver dished out 14 assists on its 21 field goals at Iona on Nov. 9. The Pioneers recorded an assist on 66.5 percent of their field goals (484 assists on 728 field goals) last season, the highest mark in the nation, according to KenPom.com. DU had seven players averaging 1.65 assists per game or better, including Chris Udofia who was 12th in the SBC with 2.3 assists per game. In Joe Scott's first five seasons at DU, the Pioneers recorded an assist on 65.7 percent of their field goals (2,120 assists on 3,228 field goals made), ranking among the top six highest percentages in the nation every year. Only Northwestern - coached by Bill Carmody, who Joe Scott served as assistant coach for at Princeton - has a longer such streak.
Can't Drive 65: Denver's 65-58 loss to Iona marked just the second time since the 2010-11 season that Denver has allowed 65 or fewer points and lost. The Pioneers were 22-1 last season when holding opponents to 65 or fewer points and 0-8 when the opponent scored more than 65 points.