Game #7: Denver (5-1) vs. Texas Southern (1-5)
Saturday, December 3, 2011 • 4 p.m. MT
Magness Arena (7,200) • Denver, Colo.
TV: Pioneer Vision • Radio: AM 1510 & FM 93.7 • Web: www.DenverPioneers.com
Top Dogs: Fans can purchase $11 tickets good for admission to Saturday's game and a FREE hot dog. Tickets are available online or at the windows. Plus, don't miss out on the halftime performance of the nationally known TP Disc Dogs!
Rising Stars: The Pioneers will honor exemplary elementary school students for excellence in academic, aptitude and character at DU basketball games this season. Public Service Credit Union purchased tickets to provide to the Rising Stars, their families and friends for the game in which they will be honored.
About Denver: The Pioneers return nine players, including four starters from last year's squad that finished third in the Sun Belt Conference West Division with a 13-17 overall record. Additionally, Rob Lewis, who missed last season due to injury, returns for his final season with a career 9.9 points per game average. Denver welcomes five freshmen, including 2011 Colorado Player of the Year Brett Olson. The Pioneers were picked to finish fourth in the SBC West Division in the preseason coaches' poll. Junior Chase Hallam was named Preseason All-SBC Second Team, and senior Brian Stafford landed on the third team.
About Texas Southern: The Tigers return six letterwinners, including three starters from the 2010-11 team that finished 19-13 overall and 16-2 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, won the SWAC regular season championship, and earned a berth in the NIT. TSU was picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll, and Lawrence Johnson-Danner and Aaron Clayborn were voted All-SWAC first and second team, respectively. Omar Strong is leading the Tigers with 13.7 points per game, while Johnson Danner has scored 10.6 per game. Fred Sturdivant is leading the team in rebounding at 5.3 per game, while adding 8.5 points per game. TSU is 1-5 this season, losing all five road games by an average of 18.4 points.
The Match-up: This is the first meeting between Denver and Texas Southern.
Chief of Stafford: Senior guard Brian Stafford, the Sun Belt Player of the Week from Nov. 8-14, is tied for 13th on DU's all-time scoring list with 1,224 career points, just two shy of No. 12 Dave Collignon (1,226). Stafford, who will start his 100th game with the Pioneers on Saturday, also has 202 career three-pointers, putting him in fourth place on DU's all-time list.
Toeing the Line: Denver is leading the nation in free throw shooting this season at 83.3 percent (75-of-90), 2.5 percent higher than Villanova at No. 2. The Pioneers have shot at least 81 percent in five of six games this season.
Hold on Tight: Denver turned the ball over only six times in a win at Utah State on Nov. 30, matching the season low set against Saint Mary's (Nov. 23). DU is 21-7 since 2008-09, when turning the ball over fewer than 10 times.
Streak Busters: The Pioneers beat Utah State 67-54 victory on Nov. 30, snapping USU's 33-game home winning streak, which was the third longest in the nation, trailing only Duke (40) and Kentucky (37). The Aggies had won 85 of their previous 87 games at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, losing only to Saint Mary's (Dec. 5, 2009) and Fresno State (March 3, 2007) since March 2, 2006.
Magness Magic: The Pioneers won their first three home games this season, including a 70-58 win over mid-major power Saint Mary's on Nov. 23, to improve DU's record to 50-11 (.820) at Magness Arena under head coach Joe Scott. The Pioneers were 11-4 at Magness Arena in 2010-11, including a nine-game home winning streak.
The Long Rangers: The Pioneers are averaging 7.3 three-pointers made per game and have hit 38.6 percent of their attempts this season, including an 8-for-20 effort against Utah State on Nov. 30. Chase Hallam has hit 9-of-15 (60.0 percent) of his three-point attempts this season, and Brian Stafford has made 13-of-26 (50.0 percent), first and fourth in the SBC, respectively. DU ranked sixth in the nation and first in the SBC from beyond the arc last season, hitting 40.1 percent (232-of-578). The Pioneers have at least one three-pointer in 157-straight games, dating back to Feb. 2, 2006. Behind the arc, Denver has improved from 23rd in the NCAA in 2009-10 (39.5 percent), 39th (37.7 percent) in 2008-09 and 174th (34.8 percent) in 2007-08.
U-Tube: Sophomore forward Chris Udofia was named to CollegeHoopsNet.com's All-Sun Belt team for November, averaging 14.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.8 blocks per game. Udofia had 15 points, six assists and three assists in Denver's win at Utah State on Nov. 30.
Welcome Back: Senior forward Rob Lewis scored 15 points on 6-of-8 from the field and 1-of-3 from three-point range in just 24 minutes at Utah State (11/30). Lewis, who missed last season with an injury, entered the season eighth in DU history with a 54.2 career field goal percentage to go with his 9.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game average.
For Starters: Denver's starting lineup this season includes players from five different classes: freshman Brett Olson, sophomore Chris Udofia, junior Chase Hallam, senior Brian Stafford and graduate student Rob Lewis. Additionally, all five started games during their freshmen seasons, including Hallam and Stafford who have started every game during their careers.
Six Returning Starters?: Denver returns five players who started at least 15 games last season: Brian Stafford (30), Chase Hallam (30), Travis Hallam (29), Tyler Thalken (18) and Justin Coughlin (15). Additionally Rob Lewis, who has started 48 games in his career, returns to DU's lineup after missing last season due to injury. Stafford and Chase Hallam have both started every game since arriving at Denver.
A Little Help from Their Friends: Denver has a combined 87 assists on 135 field goals (64.4 percent) through six games, the 13th highest total in the NCAA, according to KenPom.com. The Pioneers recorded an assist on 66.1 percent of their field goals last season (371 assists on 601 field goals made), ranking sixth highest in the nation. The same website has DU ranked 15th in the nation, allowing a steal on only 6.0 percent of offensive possessions.
Starting Off: The Pioneers are 5-1 for just the third time since returning to NCAA Division I in 1998-99. DU was also 5-1 in 2005-06 and 2009-10.
November to Remember: Denver won five games in November for the first time in team history. The 2009-10 Pioneers were 4-1 in November, marking the only other time DU has won more than three in the month.
Scott Signs Four Student-Athletes: Denver signed Nate Engesser (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Jalen Love (Wichita, Kan.), Bryant Rucker (Frisco, Texas) and Dom Samac (Zagreb, Croatia) to National Letters of Intent to join the Pioneers in 2012-13. Engesser, a 6-foot-3 guard, was the Colorado Class-3A Player of the Year and All-State selection last season at Colorado Springs Christian School. Love is a 6-foot-2 guard from Wichita (Kan.) East High School. Rucker is a 6-foot point guard from Frisco Centennial High School. Originally from Zagreb, Croatia, Samac is a 6-8 forward/center, who plays for North Broward Prep in Florida.
Welcome to the WAC: On Nov. 11, 2010, the University of Denver accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), effective for the 2012-13 athletic season. The Pioneers will move from the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) to the WAC for 10 of their NCAA Division I sports programs. The Pioneers will join the WAC for men's and women's basketball, women's soccer, gymnastics, men's and women's golf, men's and women's tennis, volleyball, and women's swimming & diving. The Pioneers returned to NCAA Division I in all 17 sports in 1999-2000, when they joined the SBC. Denver has claimed 33 Sun Belt Conference championships since 1999. Denver has enjoyed its 12-year partnership with the SBC. The WAC also added Texas-San Antonio, Texas-Arlington, Seattle and Texas State to its league for 2012, which also includes Utah State, New Mexico State, Idaho, San Jose State and Louisiana Tech. The WAC is nearly 50 years old and is the sixth-oldest conference in the country. In men's basketball, the WAC has sent at least two teams to the NCAA Tournament in 24 of the last 28 seasons.