Game #4: Denver (1-2) vs. Colorado State (2-0)
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 • 7 p.m. MT
Magness Arena (7,200) • Denver, Colo.
TV: ROOT SPORTS • Radio: AM 1510 & FM 93.7 • Web: Pioneer Vision (audio)
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 Colorado State: The Rams won their first two games this season, beating Montana 72-65 and Chadron State 93-50, both at Moby Arena. CSU, which returned 11 letterwinners from last season's NCAA Tournament squad, is led by Coloton Iverson's 18.5 points per game, and Greg Smith has averaged 12.5 points in the first two games. Senior Pierce Hornung is averaging 7.5 points and 12.5 rebounds. The Rams, who were picked fourth in the MWC Preseason Media Poll this season, earned a berth in last year's NCAA Tournament after going 20-12 overall and 8-6 in the MWC.
The Match-up: Denver has played Colorado State more than any other team, taking a 66-93 overall record against the Rams, including a 43-35 mark in Denver, into Wednesday's tilt. The Pioneers are just 2-16 in the last 18 meetings and 5-34 in the last 39. DU is 1-4 against CSU under head coach Joe Scott, including a 79-75 defeat last season in Fort Collins. DU's last victory over the Rams was a 66-55 win at Magness Arena on Dec. 20, 2008.
Magness Magic: Following a rare home loss to Cal on Nov. 16, DU is now 62-14 (.816) at Magness Arena since head coach Joe Scott took over in 2007. The Pioneers went 14-2 at home last year. 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: Sophomore guard Brett Olson had a team-high 17 points, and junior forward Chris Udofia had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but the Pioneers fell 72-61 to California at Magness Arena on Nov. 16. Denver (1-2) shot 36.7 percent (22-of-60) from the field and 36.0 percent (9-of-25) from three-point range in the game. The Golden Bears (3-0) shot 51.0 percent from the floor (25-of-49), including 73.7 percent (14-of-19) in the second half, and went 20-for-25 (80.0 percent) from the free throw line. Sophomore forward Royce O'Neale added 14 points and four steals, and redshirt junior forward Blake Foeman connected on a pair of three-pointers for the Pioneers and totaled eight points.
TV Stars: Wednesday's game against Colorado State will be broadcast live on ROOT SPORTS. Marc Stout (play-by-play), Greg Lackey (color), and Jenny Cavnar (sideline) will call the action. The Pioneers are 23-8 in games on ROOT SPORTS during head coach Joe Scott's five years at DU, including a 6-1 mark in 2011-12. ROOT is available on Comcast (Ch. 26 or 665HD), DirecTV (Ch. 683) or Dish Network (Ch. 414).
U-Tube: Preseason All-WAC First Teamer Chris Udofia recorded his first double-double of the season and fourth career against Cal on Nov. 16. Udofia is ranked fourth in the WAC in scoring (17.7), assists (4.00) and blocks (2.33); sixth in rebounding (7.7); eighth in field goal percentage (.543); ninth in assist/turnover ratio (1.33); and 10th in minutes played (33.67). He is the only player ranked in the Top 10 in the WAC in points, rebounding and assists. 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 72 blocks were the fourth most in a single season at DU, and his 118 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.
The Long Rangers: Sophomore Brett Olson has knocked down 12 of DU's 26 three-pointers this season, scoring all his field goals from beyond the arc. As a team, the Pioneers have attempted 73 of their 148 (49.3 percent) field goal attempts from three-point range, the third-highest percentage in the nation. Olson 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. 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 183-straight games, dating back to Feb. 2, 2006.
Sophomore Surging: Brett Olson and Royce O'Neale, after a successful freshman campaign, have picked up right where they left off. The WAC leader in minutes played (39.0 per game), Olson is averaging 13.3 points a game while making a WAC-best 4.0 three-pointers per game at a 48.0 percent clip, which is ninth in the WAC. O'Neale is a stat stuffer averaging 9.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and a WAC-best 3.0 steals per game.
A Little Help from Their Friends: DU has dished out 44 assists on 63 field goals (69.8 percent) this season, the 11th-highest mark in the nation , according to KenPom.com. 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. Chris Udofia and Royce O'Neale both are tied for fourth in the WAC with 4.0 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 are 23-2 in the past two seasons when holding opponents to 65 or fewer points and 0-9 when the opponent scored more than 65 points, including the loss to Cal on Nov. 16.
Chairmen of the Boards: The Pioneers out-rebounded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 33-31 on Nov. 14, improving DU's record to 6-0 when out-rebounding its opponent in the last two seasons. Junior Chris Udofia, sophomore Royce O'Neale and Chase Hallam have averaged 7.7, 6.3 and 4.3 rebounds per game, respectively.
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.