Denver (12-8) at Texas State (7-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Strahan Coliseum (7,200) -- San Marcos, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Denver 8-2, TSU 3-8. Away Record: Denver 4-6, TSU 3-5. Neutral Record: Denver 0-0, TSU 1-2. Conference Record: Denver 8-2, TSU 3-7. Series Record: Denver leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Still in the hunt for the top spot in the Western Athletic Conference, the Denver Pioneers continue to surge as they contend against the Texas State Bobcats at Strahan Coliseum in San Marcos on Saturday afternoon.
Aside from a 53-42 setback against New Mexico State on Jan. 23 in Las Cruces, the Pioneers have been cruising along in the new calendar year. The team was in action two nights ago and took care of business against Texas-San Antonio, 71-57, in order to move to 8-2 in conference play which has them tied with NMSU for second place behind only Louisiana Tech which is perfect in nine league outings.
As for the Bobcats, like Denver they are also new to the conference, but the transition for them has been a bit rougher. However, the team did come into this week sporting a three-game win streak, which is rather unusual given that the Bobcats had won just four of their first 18 decisions in 2012-13. Unfortunately, that positive run came to an end two nights ago when TSU bowed to New Mexico State, 86-72.
Denver won the first-ever meeting between the teams last month by a score of 64-53 at home as Chris Udofia scored 15 points, leading three players in double figures for a Pioneers squad that shot 54.8 percent from the floor and held the visitors to only 38.6 percent.
Brett Olson converted 4-of-9 shots behind the 3-point line, en route to 16 points, as he helped guide the Pioneers to the 14-point win over the Roadrunners of Texas-San Antonio in a Western Athletic Conference bout at the Convocation Center two nights ago. Also scoring in double figures for the Pioneers were Chase Hallam and Marcus Byrd with 12 and 10 points, respectively, as the team won for the eighth time in the last nine outings. Of Denver's 47 shots attempts from the floor, 29 came from 3-point range as the team converted 12 of those tries. The Pioneers, who are 36.6 percent accurate beyond the arc this season, have taken nearly twice as many attempts (453-230) from 3-point range than the opposition, which is one of the reasons why foes are being limited to just 54.8 ppg. Udofia (12.0 ppg) and Royce O'Neale (11.8 ppg) lead the team in scoring overall this season, but as the Pioneers have shown, almost anyone on the roster is capable of lighting up the scoreboard.
The Bobcats defense was a bit overwhelmed by New Mexico State on Thursday night as the visitors connected on 55.6 percent from the floor in both the first and second halves, en route to the double-digit victory. Matt Staff paced the hosts with his 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, but still the squad had a three-game win streak snapped. Corey Stern tacked on 16 points and Joel Wright 14 off the bench, although the latter shot a mere 3-of-18 from the floor. As a group, Texas State was just 36.4 percent accurate from the floor, which was only slightly better than their 35.0 percent on the perimeter. Wright continues to be the leading scorer for the Bobcats with his 17.3 ppg, even through he has come off the bench in several games and has fouled out six times. Wright has been a steady fixture at the free-throw line where he has made 120 of the team's 314 conversions. Unfortunately, the defense for the squad continues to be an issue as it gives up 76.8 ppg.
If the Pioneers can lock down on defense again this weekend, just as they have in so many other games this season, there is little chance Texas State will be able to come up with enough shot attempts to survive.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Denver 63, Texas State 54
02/02 10:32:20 ET