Nebraska Omaha (2-9) at Denver (2-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 15, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Magness Arena (7,200) -- Denver, Colorado. Television: None. Home Record: Nebraska Omaha 1-1, Denver 2-2. Away Record: Nebraska Omaha 0-7, Denver 0-3. Neutral Record: Nebraska Omaha 1-1, Denver 0-0. Conference Record: Nebraska Omaha 0-2, Denver 0-0. Series Record: Denver leads 2-0.
GAMES NOTES: Looking for back-to-back wins for the first time this season the Denver Pioneers will host the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks on Saturday in non- conference action at Magness Arena.
Wins have also been hard to come by for Nebraska Omaha which has lost four straight contests, all on the road. The most recent setback was a 93-65 rout against Iowa State last Sunday. Nebraska Omaha has spent a bulk of the early season on the road with the team playing seven of 11 games away from home. The Mavericks have lost all seven of those games and are just 2-9 overall. Nebraska Omaha finally returns home on Tuesday to play NAIA foe Benedictine College.
Denver had lost four straight games before posting a 69-40 victory over Mercer last Wednesday. The Pioneers have been off since then and with the extra rest Denver will be trying to turn what has started off as a disappointing season around. Denver is just 2-5 overall but did earn both of those wins on its home floor. Denver hits the road in its next matchup when it squares off with Wyoming on Tuesday.
The Pioneers won both of the previous meetings between these squads. The last matchup came back in 1957.
Nebraska Omaha had 12 fewer field goal than Iowa State in its most recent loss. The Pioneers shot a respectable 45.3 percent from the field and hit 11- of-23 shots from beyond the arc but were outscored 18-0 on second chance points and had 14 turnovers to just six by the Cyclones. The Mavericks also lost the battle of the boards (45-24) and had just one offensive rebound. John Karhoff was the lead scorer with 13 points.
There is no question as to where Nebraska Omaha's biggest weakness lies. The Mavericks are letting up 83.0 points per game on 47.6 percent shooting. The Mavericks' defensive scoring average is the third worst in the nation. The Mavericks have let up more than 90 points five times and only twice as limited an opponent to less than 70. Nebraska Omaha is a mediocre offense itself scoring 64.4 points per game on 44.0 percent shooting. The Mavericks bring in only 29.1 rebounds per game and are victims of a -10.9 differential on the glass. Justin Simmons (11.4 ppg) and John Karhoff (11.0 ppg) are the top scorers on the team and the only players in double figures. Alex Welhouse (7.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg) is the top rebounder in the starting lineup on a team devoid of aggressive front line players.
Denver got out to a 33-19 lead at halftime against Mercer by shooting 53.8 percent from the field. The Pioneers kept up the impressive shooting in the second half by nailing 55.6 percent of their shots. The Pioneers outscored the Bears 21-6 from 3-point range and 38-20 on points in the paint. Denver also forced 18 turnovers which it turned into 17 points. Royce O'Neale powered the offense with 22 points to go along with a team-high five rebounds.
The Pioneers don't have the same type of defensive deficiencies as Nebraska Omaha, but they have been much worse on the offensive end. Denver is scoring only 59.6 points per game and connecting on 40.6 percent from the field. Denver also struggles on the glass bringing in only 27.0 rebounds per game. Much of that is due to the undersized lineup that head coach Joe Scott puts on the floor with 6-foot-6 Chris Udofia being the biggest frontcourt player in the starting lineup. Denver has managed to limit opponents to 60.0 points per game on 46.0 percent shooting. O'Neale (15.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.4 apg) is a versatile player that spreads the floor and fills in just about every column on the stat sheet. Udofia (12.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.3 apg) also contributes across the board while being the only other player scoring in double figures. Chase Hallam (9.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Brett Olson (8.9 ppg) are the only other players scoring more than five points per game.
Nebraska Omaha has a ton of experience on the road but nothing to show for it. Despite being battle-tested, the Mavericks will be at a disadvantage against Denver, with the Pioneers benefiting from having the best player on the floor in O'Neale.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Denver 72, Nebraska Omaha 62
12/15 10:44:25 ET