Games #18: Denver (7-10, 0-2 Summit) vs. IUPUI (5-15, 0-3 Summit)
Saturday, January 18, 2014 • 4 p.m. MT
Magness Arena (7,200) • Denver, Colo.
TV: None • Radio: AM 1510 & FM 93.7 • Web: Pioneer Vision (Video & Audio)
About Denver: The Pioneers are 7-10 overall and 0-2 in The Summit League. Denver has lost the last three games after winning seven of its previous 10 games. DU returns 10 players, including their top two scorers, from last year’s squad that went 22-10, claimed a share of the WAC regular season title and won a game in the NIT for the first national postseason victory in team history. Denver returns Preseason All-Summit League First Team member Chris Udofia and Second Team selection Brett Olson, as well as starting guard Jalen Love. DU was picked to finish second in the Summit League by conference coaches, media and SIDs.
About IUPUI: The Jaguars are 5-15 overall, 0-3 in The Summit League and 1-7 on the road. IUPUI’s wins have come at home against IU Northwest, North Carolina Central, Cincinnati Christian and Judson, as well as on the road at Bradley. The Jags are led by Ian Chiles’ 16.6 points per game, and Mitch Patton is averaging 11.9 points and 6.2 rebounds. Marcellus Barksdale is third in The Summit League with 7.1 rebounds per game. IUPUI was picked to finish last in The Summit League Preseason Poll, and Patton was selected to the All-League Second Team.
The Matchup: This marks the first meeting between Denver and IUPUI.
Last Time Out: Junior Cam Griffin scored a team-high 13 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists, but the Pioneers fell 67-64 in The Summit League home opener against Fort Wayne at Magness Arena on Thursday night. Junior Brett Olson, redshirt sophomore Marcus Byrd and sophomore Bryant Rucker scored 11 points each. Senior Chris Udofia added six points, six rebounds and three blocks for the Pioneers. Denver shot 51.1 percent (24-of-47) from the field and 41.2 percent (7-of-17) from three-point range. Fort Wayne, which entered the game ranked eighth in the NCAA in field goal percentage, hit 45.2 percent (19-of-42) from the floor and 41.2 percent (7-of-17). However, the Pioneers turned the ball over 15 times, and the Mastodons capitalized with 28 points off those turnovers.
Olson Well: Junior guard Brett Olson scored a game-high 22 points at South Dakota on Jan. 11. Olson, who was named The Summit League Athlete of the Month for December, ranks ninth in the NCAA and first in The Summit League in free throw shooting at 91.7 percent (55-of-60). However, Olson went 5-for-6 from the line against Fort Wayne on Jan. 16, snapping a streak of 31-straight free throws made, dating back to Dec. 7, 2013, at Mercer. Olson has missed consecutive free throws only twice in his career, both of which were spread over consecutive games, and he has missed two free throws in a game only once (Alaska Anchorage on Nov. 30) in his career. The Summit League Player of the Week on Dec. 16, Olson has 165 three-pointers made in his career and sits eighth on DU’s all-time career list, eight shy of Arthur Ireland (1997-00) for seventh. Olson, who was named to the Great Alaska Shootout All-Tournament Team, is first in The Summit League and 18th in the NCAA in minutes per game (36.8). Olson is also second in The Summit League in three-pointers made (2.1), third in assist/turnover ratio (2.0), seventh in both scoring (14.5) and assists (3.5), and 11th in three-point percentage (.393).
Magness Magic: Denver’s loss to Fort Wayne on Jan. 16 was the team’s first conference home loss since Dec. 31, 2011, snapping a 15-game winning streak against conference foes (Sun Belt/WAC/Summit). The Pioneers are 79-18 (.814) at Magness Arena under head coach Joe Scott, including a 46-7 (.868) mark in conference games. DU was 14-2 overall and 9-0 in WAC games at home in 2012-13 after going 15-2 at home in 2011-12. In February 2012, ESPN.com’s Ken Pomeroy wrote that Magness Arena was one of the top two home-court advantages in the nation.
ThisClose: The Pioneers have played seven games this season that have been within one possession in the final minute of regulation, including each of the last four losses. Denver is 2-5 in such games, going 2-1 at home and 0-4 on the road. Three of those games went to overtime.
Ruck-n-Roll: Sophomore guard Bryant Rucker scored a career-high 11 points, going 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from three-point range, in only 14 minutes against Fort Wayne on Jan. 16. Bryant also had a career-best two steals in the game.
Lights, Cameron, Action: Junior guard Cam Griffin pulled down a team-high six rebounds against Fort Wayne on Jan. 16. At just 6-foot-3, Griffin is fourth in The Summit League in offensive rebounds (2.2), fourth in total rebounds (6.8) and fifth in defensive rebounds (4.6). Griffin also has 1.6 steals per game, which ranks fourth in the conference. The San Antonio native recorded his second career double-double at UTEP (Dec. 29), tying his career high with 15 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Griffin ranked seventh in the WAC last season in steals (1.5 per game), and during conference play he was third in steals (1.7) and eighth in free throw percentage (.750). Griffin moved to the starting lineup this season after being named the WAC 6th Man of the Week five times by StatSheet.com.
U-Tube: At six-foot-six, senior Chris Udofia is ranked 35th in the nation and first in The Summit League with 2.59 blocks per game, and his 230 career blocks are the most in DU history. The team captain, who is playing in his 111th career game, passed Nate Rohnert (2006-10) on DU’s all-time scoring list and now sits in 10th place with 1,326 career points. Udofia played a career-high 49 minutes at UTEP on Dec. 29, and now has a season average of 35.9 per game, 41st in the nation and third in the Summit League. Udofia also ranks fourth in The Summit League in assist/turnover ratio (1.8), fifth in assists (3.6), sixth in both steals (1.5) and offensive rebounding (2.1), ninth in rebounding (5.9), 12th in defensive rebounding (3.9) and 14th in scoring (12.2). A Preseason All-Summit League First Team selection, Udofia was named the Most Underrated Player in the Nation by Bleacher Report, the No. 6 Under-the-Radar Performer by CBSSports.com and a Preseason All-Mid Major Third Team member by College Sports Madness.
U-Tube 2.0: Senior Chris Udofia showed his versatility against Saint Francis on Dec. 31, recording 20 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three blocks in 29 minutes. Udofia pulled down four rebounds against UC Irvine on Dec. 21, reaching 500 for his career and becoming just the 12th player in DU history to join the 1,000-point, 500-rebound club (page 3). Udofia also joined Nate Rohnert (2006-10) as the only players in Denver history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 250 assists. Both Udofia and Rohnert have at least 100 steals, as well. Udofia stands alone as the only DU player with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocks.
Feel the Love: Sophomore Jalen Love tied his season high with 20 points at Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 4. On Dec. 28 against Alcorn State, Love pulled down a career-high eight rebounds, more than doubling his previous career high (3). Love is seventh in The Summit League in minutes played (32.6), 12th in three-pointers made (1.7) and 24th in scoring (9.7). Last season, Love shot 66.3 percent (57-of-86) from two-point range, despite standing just 6-foot-2. Love hit 56.1 percent (60-of-107) from the field during conference play, the third best mark in the WAC behind 7-foot-3 Sim Bhullar (New Mexico State) and 6-foot-10 Kyle Barone (Idaho).
Play Three Byrd: After hitting just nine three-pointers all of last season, redshirt sophomore Marcus Byrd is fifth in The Summit League in three-pointers per game (1.9) and seventh in three-point percentage (.408). Byrd had a career day in DU’s win over Southern on Dec. 3, setting career highs with 20 points and six three-pointers. It was the first time a DU player made six three-pointers in a game since Brian Stafford did so against Louisiana-Monroe on Feb. 18, 2012. At UTEP on Dec. 29, Byrd doubled his previous career high with eight rebounds.
Conference Home Openers: The Pioneers fell 67-64 to Fort Wayne at Magness Arena on Jan. 16, marking DU’s first loss in a conference home opener since 2006-07, the season before Joe Scott took over as head coach. Since returning to Division I in 1999-00, Denver is 9-6 in conference home openers. Under Scott, DU is now 6-1 in league home openers. Denver was a member of the Sun Belt Conference from 1999-2012 and the Western Athletic Conference last year.
Fifty-Fifty: Denver shot 51.1 percent (24-of-47) from the field against Fort Wayne on Jan. 16, the sixth time DU has shot over 50 percent this season. However, it was the first time the Pioneers have done so and lost since falling at Wyoming despite hitting 53.5 percent on Dec. 18, 2012. In the past two seasons, DU is a combined 20-2 when hitting at least half its shots.
Talking Turnovers: The Pioneers turned the ball over 15 times against Fort Wayne on Jan. 16. The Mastodons capitalized by scoring 28 points off those turnovers, the most since Louisiana-Monroe scored 30 off of 19 DU turnovers on Jan. 16, 2010, a stretch of four years to the day. Denver has had 10 turnovers or less in 10 games this season. On the season, DU has a 1.43 assist/turnover radio, first in The Summit League and the 26th best mark in the NCAA. Junior Brett Olson is third in the Summit with a 2.0 assist/turnover ratio, and senior Chris Udofia is fourth at 1.8. Last season, DU was first in the WAC and fifth in the nation with a 1.45 assist/turnover ratio, and second in the WAC with a +4.56 turnover margin, the eighth best mark in the nation. Denver also was third in the nation in turnover percentage, forcing opponents to turn the ball over on 26.2 percent of their possessions, according to KenPom.com.
The Long Ranger: The Pioneers hit a season-high 12 three-pointers against Belmont on Dec. 17. Denver is hitting 7.8 three-pointers per game and has a 35.3 three-point percentage, second and fourth in The Summit League, respectively. Last season, Denver was first in the WAC and 29th in the NCAA in three-pointers per game (7.9), and first in the WAC and 37th in the nation in three-point percentage (.375). DU took 43.6 percent of its field goal attempts last season from beyond the three-point arc (ninth-highest rate in the nation), while only 24.5 percent of opponents points came from three-point range (fifth in the NCAA), according to KenPom.com. Denver is 3-0 this season and is a combined 21-2 over the last three seasons when hitting 10 or more three-pointers. The Pioneers have at least one three-pointer in 241-straight games, dating back to Feb. 2, 2006.
Been Caught Stealing: Denver recorded 11 steals at UTEP on Dec. 29, but fell in double overtime. It marked the first time that the Pioneers have lost a game in which they’ve recorded 10 or more steals since registering 12 at Louisiana-Monroe in the Sun Belt Tournament First Round on Feb. 28, 2007. That was DU’s last game before Joe Scott took over the reins. The Pioneers are now 26-1 when making 10 or more steals in a game under Scott. The Pioneers had 288 steals last season, the most in DU’s Division I history and second only to the 309 in 1986-87, when the team was NAIA. Denver was second in the WAC and No. 15 in the NCAA in steals per game (9.0). Additionally, DU ranked No. 3 in the NCAA in steal percentage, recording a steal on 15.0 percent of opponents’ possessions, trailing only VCU (17.0 percent) and Louisville (15.9 percent). Conversely, opponents recorded steals on only 8.0 percent of DU’s possessions, which was the 18th best mark in the nation. DU was 10-0 last season when recording at least 10 steals.
A Little Help from Their Friends: Denver recorded an assist on 16-of-24 field goals against Fort Wayne on Jan. 16. The Pioneers are have recorded assists on 67.9 percent (258-of-380) of their shots this season, the second highest mark in the nation according to KenPom.com. Denver had assists on 69.8 percent (516-of-739) of their field goals last year, second most in the country. Chris Udofia (3.6) and Brett Olson (3.5) are ranked fifth and seventh in The Summit League in assists, respectively. In Joe Scott’s first six seasons at DU, the Pioneers recorded an assist on 66.4 percent of their field goals (2,636 assists on 3,967 field goals made), ranking among the top six highest percentages in the nation every year.
Working Overtime: Denver fell to UTEP 60-54 in double overtime on Dec. 29, marking DU’s first multi-overtime game since Jan. 3, 2009, at Louisiana-Lafayette. Earlier this season, the Pioneers played back-to-back overtime games for the first time since 2009. The Pioneers beat Southern on Dec. 3 for the team’s first overtime win of the season and first since beating Utah State in Logan, Utah, on Feb. 14, 2013, and they fell at Mercer on Dec. 7 for the first overtime loss since falling at Louisiana-Lafayette on Dec. 2, 2012. Denver is 5-21 in overtime games since returning to NCAA Division I in 1998-99, and 4-13 in such games since head coach Joe Scott took over the program in 2006-07, including a 76-75 neutral-site win in Norman, Okla., against East Central University in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic on Nov. 8, 2008, in Scott’s first game with the Pioneers.
From the Stripe: The Pioneers were 12-for-12 from the free throw line against Saint Francis on Dec. 31, the team’s first 100 percent performance of the season. DU did so twice last year with both coming against San Jose State: 11-for-11 at Magness Arena on Jan. 17, 2013, and 8-for-8 in San Jose, Calif., on Feb. 16, 2013.
The Year that Was: The Pioneers won 24 games in the 2013 calendar year, tying the team record. However, when DU won 24 games each year from 1982-84, the team was a member of NAIA. Denver has won 20 games in a calendar year only three times: 2013, 2005 and 1943 (see chart).
To a Point: The Pioneers eclipsed the 80-point mark for the third time this season, when they beat Saint Francis 83-61 on Dec. 31. DU’s game against Belmont on Dec. 17 marked the first time a Joe Scott-coached team scored 90 points. In his 14th season, Scott is now 17-0 when his team scores at least 80 points, which also includes an 80-70 win at Colorado State on Dec. 11.
Out of the Gate: Nine of Denver’s first 11 games were against teams that played in the postseason last year, including Cal, Harvard, Southern, Colorado State and Belmont, which all played in the NCAA Tournament. The Pioneers are 3-2 this season against 2013 NCAA Tournament teams. Overall, Denver’s schedule includes 16 postseason teams from last year.
Road More Traveled: Senior Chris Udofia has played in 46 arenas, 24 states and against 59 opposing teams. By the end of this regular season, the Pioneers will have played 70 different opponents in 53 arenas, 28 states, three conferences and three countries during Udofia’s career, including a trip to Spain and Andorra prior to his freshman year.
Short Stop: At 5-foot-4, senior Charles Webb is the shortest player in college basketball. The walk-on guard appeared in seven games last season, scoring his first career points against Southern Utah (Dec. 21, 2012).
National Letters of Intent: DU signed Cameron Delaney and Jake Pemberton to a National Letter of Intent to join the Pioneers in 2014-15. A 6-foot-3 guard from Harker Heights High School in Harker Heights, Texas, Delaney was selected as All-District First Team as a junior, averaging 12.4 points per game. Harker Heights named him the team’s most valuable player and defensive player of the year. Pemberton was named to the Colorado State All-Tournament Team last year after leading Mountain Vista High School to the Final Four. The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native was named All-State Second Team as a junior.
Catch-22, Again: Denver had 22 wins each of the past two seasons, tying the most in the team’s 90-year Division I history.
Preseason Honors: Senior forward Chris Udofia was voted to the 2013-14 Preseason All-Summit League First Team and junior Brett Olson made the Second Team in a vote by the league coaches, media and SIDs.