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
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.