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Belmont (8-3) at Denver (4-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 17, 10 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Magness Arena (7,200) -- Denver, Colorado. Television: ROOT-RM. Home Record: Belmont 3-1, Denver 2-1. Away Record: Belmont 3-2, Denver 2-2. Neutral Record: Belmont 2-0, Denver 0-2. Conference Record: Belmont 0-0, Denver 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The first-ever meeting between Belmont and Denver is set for Tuesday night, as the Pioneers welcome the Bruins to Magness Arena.
Belmont, which lost only once through the first eight games of the campaign, has been dealt a pair of setbacks in the last three outings. The most recent loss took place on Saturday at South Dakota State in an 85-72 final. Prior to defeating Middle Tennessee two weeks ago, the Bruins also suffered an 81-68 loss to VCU at home.
Meanwhile, Denver is coming in from the other direction. The Pioneers were taken down in four consecutive games coming out of the gate, but since then the team has won four of its last five, including a 64-61 triumph over Wyoming at home two days ago.
Four of five starters scored in double figures for the Bruins against South Dakota State over the weekend at Frost Arena, but still that wasn't enough as the hosts had every starter put up double digits. Belmont, which shot 49.0 percent from the floor, was paced by Craig Bradshaw with 17 points as he hit all three of his 3-point tries, but at the same time he was charged with six of the unit's 16 turnovers. JJ Mann posted 15 points, Blake Jenkins 14 and seven boards before fouling out, while Caleb Chowbay dropped in 10 points.
Reece Chamberlain and Evan Bradds missed the meeting with SDSU and figure to be out of action again tonight as well due to injury, which means the Bruins have to make up for a combined 19.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg and the fact that the former leads the program with 34 assists. Mann (18.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg) will be pushed even further to shoulder the load, while Drew Windler (12.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg) has to be careful not to get into early foul trouble again.
Denver led by as many as 10 points in the second half against the Cowboys over the weekend, but in the final seconds it needed a 3-point play by Brett Olson to break the ninth tie of the day and bring home the win. Olson finished the outing with 23 points, shooting 8-of-12 from the field and a perfect 7-of-7 at the free-throw line. Marcus Byrd came off the bench to offer up 14 points on 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, followed by Chris Udofia and his 11 points and six rebounds.
Olson, the leading scorer in each of the last two games for the Pioneers and four times overall this season, is responsible for 14.8 ppg thanks to 89.7 percent shooting at the charity stripe. Udofia (12.8 ppg) hasn't been nearly as accurate at the line (.609), but has tried to make up for that deficiency with 5.9 rpg, 30 assists and a team-high 29 blocked shots. Unfortunately, Denver's offense has been struggling a bit this year with only 64.8 ppg, 4.0 ppg behind the competition.
Not having a couple of key contributors will certainly slow down the Bruins, but still they have enough talent to take down Denver on the road tonight, if all goes according to plan.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 72, Denver 65
12/17 10:32:51 ET
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