Colorado State (2-0) at Denver (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 21, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Magness Arena (7,200) -- Denver, Colorado. Television: ROOT-RM. Home Record: CSU 2-0, Denver 1-2. Away Record: CSU 0-0, Denver 0-1. Neutral Record: CSU 0-0, Denver 0-0. Conference Record: CSU 0-0, Denver 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: A more than century-long rivalry will be rekindled on Wednesday when the Colorado State Rams clash with the Denver Pioneers at Magness Arena.
Colorado State spent its first two games at home and was victorious in each of those contests. The first was a tightly contested affair against Montana (72-65) after which the Rams rolled over Division II foe Chadron State (93-50). This is one of two games the Rams will play on the road before returning home for a pair at the end of the month.
On the other side Denver has sandwiched its one win this season with a pair of losses. First the Pioneers were out-dueled on the road against Iona (65-58) then topped Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (68-51) before a 72-61 setback against California. This is the last matchup of a three-game homestand for the Pioneers who hit the road to face Southern Miss next.
The first time these teams battled it out on the hardwood was in the 1902-03 season. The final score of the game was 19-17 in favor of Denver, but Colorado State leads the all-time series 91-67 and has won three straight.
In a laughable game against Chadron State, Colorado State controlled the game from start to finish and easily took home the win. The Rams shot at a 53.8 percent clip in the game and held Chadron State to just 28.0 percent shooting including just a 3-of-24 effort in the first half. The Rams also forced 20 turnovers and had a 44-30 edge on the boards. Five different players scored in double figures led by Colton Iverson who put in 18 and was a rebound shy of a double-double.
The Rams are at their best when they are feeding it inside and getting points in the paint. Iverson, a 6-foot-10 center, is scoring at a healthy 18.0 points-per-game clip and also pulling in 8.5 rebounds a contest. What has been really impressive about Iverson's early season results is efficient around the rim as he has put in 75.0 percent of his shots through two games. Teaming with Iverson in the backcourt is Greg Smith (12.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg) who hasn't been as productive on the boards as the Rams would like but Pierce Hornung (7.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg) has more than made up for that by attacking the glass aggressively. In the backcourt Daniel Bejarano (10.5 ppg) has been the top option although in a reserve role.
It wasn't until the second half that Denver really fell apart against California. After battling to a 29-28 deficit at the end of the first half the Pioneers were then lit up in the second half by the Golden Bears 73.7 percent shooting and a 14-3 margin from the free throw line. Denver also struggled on the boards (40-28) but did have the superior day in points from beyond the arc (27-6). Chris Udofia was the standout in the contest with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Even after Udofia's showing on the glass the Pioneers have really struggled in that area this season. Denver is bringing in only 27.7 rebounds per contest which is one of the worst marks in the country early on. Forwards Udofia (17.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 4.0 apg) and Royce O'Neale (9.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.0 apg) have each stuffing eh stat sheet from the frontcourt but there is very little help to be had on the boards outside of those two. Brett Olson (13.3 ppg) is the second double figure scorer on the team but has been doing so primarily from beyond the arc where he has hit 12-of-25 attempts. Denver doesn't get much out of it's reserves with JA;en Love (2.3 ppg) and Cam Griffin (3.0 ppg) the only players seeing more than 10 minutes per game.
Controlling the boards will be a huge advantage for Colorado State assuming it continues its inspired play on the glass. With Smith and Iverson matching up with Udofia and O'Neale the inside battle will determine the victor. Give the edge to the Rams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colorado State 68, Denver 65
11/21 10:37:05 ET