Game #6: Denver (1-4) vs. Stanford (5-3)
Sunday, December 2, 2012 • 3 p.m. MT
Maples Pavilion (7,329) • Stanford, Calif.
TV: Pac-12 Network • Radio: AM 1510 & FM 93.7 • Web: Pioneer Vision (audio)
About Denver: The Pioneers are looking to bounce back from three-straight losses when they travel to Stanford this weekend. Denver, which was ranked eighth in the nation with a 48.8 field goal percentage last season, is shooting just 37.6 percent from the field, 29.9 percent from three-point range and has scored more than 61 points only once this season. 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 Stanford: The Cardinal is 5-3, including a 3-1 mark at Maples Pavilion, including a 68-57 win over Seattle on Nov. 28, when forward Andy Brown scored 17 points, forward Dwight Powell pulled down 13 rebounds and forward Josh Huestis had 10 blocks. Chasson Randle leads the Cardinal with 15.4 points and 3.0 assists per game, while Powell has averaged 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds, and Huestis has pulled down 7.9 rebounds per game. Stanford was picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 by the media in the preseason poll. The Cardinal returns just 12 letterwinners, including two starters, from last season's squad that went 26-11 overall and 10-8 to finish seventh in the Pac-12.
The Match-up: DU is 2-7 all-time against the Cardinal, including a 0-4 mark in Palo Alto, Calif., and has lost the last four meetings since a 77-74 win in Denver in 1972.
Last Time Out: Sophomore forward Royce O'Neale scored a career-high 22 points, including five three-pointers, but the Pioneers fell 61-50 to Southern Mississippi at Reed Green Coliseum on Tuesday night. O'Neale and senior guard Chase Hallam both added a team-best six rebounds, while junior forward Chris Udofia set a career-high with five steals and blocked three shots. However, USM guard Dwayne Davis matched O'Neale's 22 points, sparking the Golden Eagles, who shot 50.0 percent (19-of-38) from the field and 57.1 percent (4-of-7) from three-point range. Southern Miss, which went 25-9 last season and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, also hit 19-of-24 free throws in the contest.
TV Stars: Sunday's game at Stanford will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Network. Mark Neely (play-by-play) and Brevin Knight (color) will call the action. This marks DU's first-ever appearance on the network. The Pac-12 is available on Comcast (Ch. 430 or 840HD), DirecTV (not available) or Dish Network (Ch. 413).
Cut to the Chase: Denver's lone senior, Chase Hallam, is sixth in DU history with 139 career steals, just three shy of moving into fifth. Hallam scored 19 points against Colorado State on Nov. 21, his highest scoring output since recording 21 points against Wyoming on Dec. 19, 2011. Hallam returned 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, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals in his career.
U-Tube: Preseason All-WAC First Teamer Chris Udofia set a career-high with five steals at Southern Miss on Nov. 27 after recording his first double-double of the season and fourth career against Cal on Nov. 16. Udofia was selected as the 2012 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year and an All-SBC First Team member last season. The 6-foot-6 Udofia ranked 30th in the NCAA in blocked shots (2.3 per game) last year and 35th in field goal percentage (.534), which were third and sixth in the Sun Belt Conference, respectively. Udofia's 123 career blocks rank fifth, just one shy of Eric Dow for fourth and only seven away from Dwayne Russell for second place in team lore.
Youth Movement: With an average of only 0.85 years of experience per player, Denver has the eighth youngest team in the nation. The Pioneers have only one senior and two juniors among their scholarship athletes, while sporting six freshmen.
Out of the Gate: The four teams that have beaten Denver this season have a combined record of 20-2 (.909). Seven of Denver's first nine opponents played in the postseason last year, including Iona, California, Colorado State and Southern Mississippi (four of the first five 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.
Royce Rolls: Sophomore guard Royce O'Neale scored a career-high 22 points, hitting a career-best five three-pointers, at Southern Miss on Nov. 27, while pulling down six rebounds. O'Neale is third in the WAC in free throw percentage (.857); fourth in steals (2.4 per game), assists (3.8), assist/turnover ratio (1.9) and minutes played (36.2); seventh in defensive rebounding (5.0); 12th in scoring (13.4); 13th in rebounding (5.8); and 15th in three-point field goals made (1.4). O'Neale finished last season ranked 31st in the nation in free throw percentage (.865), which also led the Sun Belt.
The Long Ranger: Sophomore Brett Olson has knocked down 15 of DU's 40 three-pointers this season, scoring all his field goals from beyond the arc. As a team, the Pioneers have attempted 134 of their 263 (51.0 percent) field goal attempts from three-point range, the highest percentage in the nation. Olson, who leads the WAC this season with 3.0 three-pointers per game, led the Sun Belt Conference in three-point percentage (.462) last season. Overall, Denver was 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. The Pioneers were 10-1 last season and 1-0 this season when hitting 10 or more three-pointers. The Pioneers have at least one three-pointer in 185-straight games, dating back to Feb. 2, 2006.
Denver vs. BCS Conference Teams: Denver is looking for just its second win over a team from a BCS conference in 21 such games since 1990, and its first since beating Oregon State 54-53 on Dec. 13, 2000. Overall, DU is 76-213 against schools that are currently in the six BCS conferences, including a 46-63 mark in Denver. The Pioneers are 0-6 against those schools under head coach Joe Scott.
A Little Help from Their Friends: DU has dished out 68 assists on 99 field goals (68.7 percent) this season, the eighth-highest mark in the nation , according to KenPom.com. Royce O'Neale and Chris Udofia are tied for fourth and sixth in the WAC with 3.8 and 3.6 assists per game, respectively. 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 NCAA. 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.
Road Show: The Pioneers are looking for their first road win this season after going 7-6 on the road last year, marking DU's first Division I winning road record since 1970-71 and only the ninth time in Denver's 89-year Division I history. In the previous five years, Denver had a combined six road victories.
Preseason Honors: Junior forward Chris Udofia was voted to the 2012-13 Preseason All-WAC First Team by both the league coaches and media.
National Letter of Intent: Denver signed Drick Bernstine to a National Letter of Intent to join the Pioneers in 2013-14. A 6-foot-6 forward from Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, Colo., Bernstine averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds as a junior, earning All-League First Team honors. Bernstine also played AAU basketball for the Colorado Miners.